US comedians in line-up for new Sansar series

Image courtesy of Linden Lab

On Wednesday, November 28th, Linden Lab announced a new series for Sansar: Comedy Gladiators, hosted by American comedian and television personality, Steven Hofstetter, which Linden Lab describes as:

A live comedy showcase that lets anyone, anywhere step directly into a comedy club for the night. The series will allow fans to do everything in VR that they would do at a real-life comedy club: purchase tickets in advance, shop for custom merchandise and memorabilia, even order drinks.

– From the Linden Lab announcement

Steven Hofstetter – Hosting and participating in Comedy Gladiators

The first event in the series is scheduled for 19:30 Pacific Time (US) on Monday, December 10th, and will feature the talents of Ben Gleib, Maz Jobrani, Alonzo Bodden, and Mary Lynn Rajskub – perhaps best known on television for her role as Chloe O’Brian in the action thriller series 24.

Comedy Gladiators represents a number of firsts for Sansar.

It is the first ticketed event on the platform. Ticketing is a capability the Lab have been developing for a while for Sansar, with the idea that in time, experience creators will be able to sell tickets to events held within their own experiences.

For Comedy Gladiators, tickets are offered for sale through the Sansar Store at US $4.99 through until December 5th, and then US $9.99 thereafter, up to the event itself. I would anticipate that in the future, experience creators will be able to sell their tickets the same way.

Another interesting factor with Comedy Gladiators is that it mixes the ability to purchase both virtual and physical through the Sansar Store – in this case, copies of Hofstetter’s latest book, Ginger Kidd – with the virtual goods including t-shirts, beer mugs.

Finally, the series is potentially the first large-scale showcasing of Sansar’s “Avatar Broadcasting” feature. This allows performers and presenters working from a single stage / experience in Sansar to reach a potentially unlimited audience through multiple linked instances of the event.

Every day, I get emails and DMs from fans who want to see a live show, but they live in parts of the world I’ll probably never tour in. VR allows those fans to not only see a live show, but feel like they’re part of a bigger community.

– Comedy Gladiators host, Steven Hofstetter

It’s not clear where else the event is being advertised – in checking various websites, including Hofstetter’s own, I didn’t come across any direct adverts. However, the media have picked-up on the event, with reports in the likes of  Variety, with the original press release being reproduced in multiple on-line media covering business, VR, and entertainment.

The Lab is clearly hoping for big things from this move, with Ebbe Altberg noting:

By bringing these commercial opportunities into VR, Sansar is taking virtual events to a whole new level – enhancing and expanding on what’s possible in-person. We look at Comedy Gladiators as the first ripple in a larger wave – the first event of many more that bring entertainers into VR.

– Ebbe Altberg, Linden Lab CEO

The line up for the first Comedy Gladiators: Mary Lynn Rajskub, Ben Gleib, Maz Jobrani and Alonzo Bodden

It’s not clear how often this series will take place, or whether this first event is simply experimental. However, it is a daring move to bring something new and different to VR, and to extend the concept of social VR within the realm of entertainment.

One potential stumbling block is the comparatively low uptake of VR headsets; given Comedy Gladiators is being promoted as a “social VR event”, without very clear underlining that Sansar can also be enjoyed as a desktop activity, there is a risk people might avoid the opportunity to join the audience even if advertising does reach a wide audience due to the misapprehension that a VR headset is a requirement.

On a personal note, I am also curious as to the origins of this series – Comedy Gladiators is a monthly live event held in Bristol,  UK – which I believe is where Sansar’s community manager, Eliot, originally hails from…

With thanks to Wurfi for the heads-up.

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Drew Struzan Gallery and Studio to open in Sansar

Opening on Friday. March 23rd, 16:00: Drew Struzan Gallery and Studio at the Hollywood Art Museum

Drew Struzan is a giant in the fields of art and film. Over his 40-year career, his talent has graced more than 150 movie posters for some of cinema’s most memorable films – including Indiana Jones, Back to the Future, and Star Wars – and extends to book covers, album covers, and other fine art. And on Friday, March 23rd, his art will be available within Sansar as a part of the The Hollywood Art Museum (HWAM) project, established by Greg Aronowitz.

HWAM’s mission is to encourage artists in the digital medium to find fresh inspiration in the traditional arts of Hollywood’s past, through the preservation and education of art used in entertainment. Its first major exhibition, featuring reproductions of pieces – models, production drawings, props, merchandise from the Star Wars franchise films – which came ahead of the US opening of the latest film in the series Star Wars: The Last Jedi (read more about the Star Wars exhibition here).

Drew Struzan

The Drew Struzan Gallery and Studio marks HWAM’s second gallery space in Sansar, and presents visitors with a unique opportunity to view the work of one of the greatest illustrators of modern times, and to also get a peek inside his private studio.

Born in Oregon City, Oregon in 1947, Drew Struzan fell in love with art and drawing while a boy. “I didn’t go to movies, I didn’t watch TV,” he once recalled. “I didn’t have comic books. The closest I would ever come, is I would go to the library and get out art books and draw from the old masters. So I had an education and background in the masters of the art I liked to paint.”

A school Counsellor asked him about his interest in art and told him he had a choice between fine art or illustration, saying that as a fine artist he could paint what he wanted, but as an illustrator he could paint for money.

Struzan opted for the latter, later saying, “I was poor and hungry, and illustration was the shortest path to a slice of bread, as compared to a gallery showing.”

The 1977 Star Wars “Circus” poster, featuring Drew Struzan’s oil painting portraits of the film’s characters (1977)

From college, Struzan started his career not in film, but in music, creating the album covers art for artists like  Tony Orlando and Dawn, The Beach Boys, Bee Gees, Roy Orbison, Black Sabbath, Earth, Wind and Fire, Liberace and Alice Cooper.

In 1977 he was contacted by fellow artist Charles White III, who had been hired to produce a poster for the upcoming 1978 re-release of the original Star Wars film. Uncomfortable with portraiture, White asked Struzan for help, and between them they came up with a distinctive poster design, which became known as the “Circus” poster, depicting what appears to be a torn posted bill on a plywood construction site wall.

It was the start of an enduring relationship with top-flight movies. For the next 30+ years, Struzan would create some of the most iconic and memorable one-sheets for some of Hollywood’s biggest and highest grossing films and film franchises, including the Indiana Jones franchise, the Star Wars franchise, Blade Runner, the Police Academy series, Back to the Future, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Hellboy, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and many, many more.

For the Sansar exhibition, Greg Aronowitz work closely with Struzan and members of Linden Lab’s Sansar Studios team led by Jason Gholston, to carefully and painstakingly reproduce Struzan’s art – including the “Circus” poster – within an immersive virtual setting. Many of the pieces have interactive elements associated with them: wall-mounted buttons can be pressed to hear audio relating to the pieces.

Also involved in the work is Kevin Cain, CEO of Insight Digital. This is the company that, working with the Lab’s Sansar Studios team, brought three real-world sites of antiquity in Egypt into Sansar, allowing people to visit and appreciate them in ways which cannot be shared in the physical world because the sites in question are not open to the public (read more about this project here).

A poster celebrating George Lucas and his filmmatic legacy, by Drew Struzan

For this project, Kevin Cain brought the same techniques used by Insight Digital to map ancient Egyptian tombs and monuments – laser scanning and photogrammetry to accurately reproduce Struzan’s own private studio and then upload it into Sansar as a place for people to visit.

The result is a stunning environment – gallery and Studio together – in which Struzan’s art and artistry can be fully appreciated, as a sneak previewed via livestream video by Deviant Art on Thursday, March 22nd revealed.

From left to right: Jason Gholston, Drew Struzan, Greg Aronowitz discuss the Drew Struzan Gallery in Sansar during a Deviant Art livestream event with host Matthew Holt. Credit: Deviant Art

The grand opening of the Drew Struzan Art Gallery and Studio in Sansar will take place between 16:00 and 20:00 PDT on Friday, March 23rd, and will comprise the following events:

  • 16:00-17:00: Greg Aronowitz and Drew Struzan reflect on their careers in film and Hollywood, and on Drew’s artistic legacy.
  • 17:00-18:00: an exclusive walk-through of Drew’s never-before-seen private studio, 3D-scanned into Sansar, and find out how the space came together from Insight Digital’s Kevin Cain and Jason Gholston, Head of Sansar Studios.
  • 18:00-20:00 the grand opening party and a chance to tour the entire experience on your own or with friends.

To attend the gallery opening, go to the Drew Struzan Gallery & Studio – Grand Opening in the Events section of the Sansar client or on the web 15 minutes before the event is due to start and click the Join option.

And for those who want to know a little more about Drew Struzan, here’s the trailer for the 2013 documentary, Drew: The Man Behind The Poster.

 

Events in Sansar 2018, week #12

Courtesy of Linden Lab

Here is a summary of events currently planned in Sansar for the week of Monday, March 12th through Sunday, March 18th, 2018, as currently listed in the official events page.

Notes:

  • The times given here are all PST (the default Sansar time) however, times given in the Atlas are given in your own local time, so times / dates may appear to be at variance to those quoted here.
  • Be aware that voice chat is the preferred – but not exclusive – means of communication at many of these events.
  • Check the events page for events that may be added through the week.

Community Meet-ups

Sansar community meet-ups are social gatherings where almost anything is open to discussion and which may be associated activities.

Meet-up are held between 14:00-15:00 at the following venues:

The Diner

Product Meetings

Product Meetings are twice-weekly opportunities for Sansar users to discuss Sansar’s development with members of the Product Team and specialists working on specific aspects of the platform.

Hover Derby

Hover Derby is Sansar’s first competitive team sport. Training and practice sessions are held 5 days a week, with newcomers welcome. The first official game day is scheduled for April 1st, 2018.

Other Events

Opening on Friday. March 23rd, 16:00: Drew Struzan Gallery & Studio at the Hollywood Art Museum
  • Thursday, March 22nd:
    • 15:00-15:30: World Water Day Celebration with SpaceSailor at Water.
  • Friday, March 23rd:
  • Saturday, March 24th:
  • Sunday, March 25th, 14:00-15:00: Drew Struzan Gallery & Studio – Pop Trivia Quiz at the Hollywood Art Museum.

Events in Sansar 2018, week #11

Courtesy of Linden Lab

Here is a summary of events currently planned in Sansar for the week of Monday, March 12th through Sunday, March 18th, 2018, as currently listed in the official events page.

Notes:

  • The times given here are all PST (the default Sansar time) however, times given in the Atlas are given in your own local time, so times / dates may appear to be at variance to those quoted here.
  • Be aware that voice chat is the preferred – but not exclusive – means of communication at many of these events.
  • Check the events page for events that may be added through the week.

Community Meet-ups

Sansar community meet-ups are social gatherings where almost anything is open to discussion and which may be associated activities.

Meet-up are held between 14:00-15:00 at the following venues:

Product Meetings

Product Meetings are twice-weekly opportunities for Sansar users to discuss Sansar’s development with members of Sansar’s Product Team and specialists working on specific aspects of the platform.

Skye Naturae Virtualis – Alex Bader: location for a Sansar product Meeting

Hover Derby

Hover Derby is Sansar’s first competitive team sport. Training and practice sessions are held 5 days a week, with newcomers welcome. The first official game day is scheduled for April 1st, 2018.

Other Events

  • Tuesday, March 13th, 11:00: Ready Player One – Torley’s guided tour of Aech’s Garage (see my experience review here).

Aech's Garage, Sansar; Inara Pey, January 2018, on FlickrAech’s Garage

Events in Sansar, 2018 week #10

Courtesy of Linden Lab

A critique oft levelled at Sansar is there while it looks very nice, there is little to actually do. To a degree, given the state of the platform’s interactive capabilities, this is true; compared to Second Life, Sansar is still very limited in terms of providing people with things to do – but this is gradually changing (see my Product Meeting report for Wednesday, February 28th for more on plans to increase interactive capabilities in Sansar).

However, one of the things that Sansar is already enjoying is a strong and growing range of social activities which are open to anyone wishing to participate. So, if you are curious about Sansar, and want to learn more about it, trying the platform’s social calendar can be a good place to start. These are displayed in both the Web and Client versions of the Atlas.

To help get you started, here’s a summary of Sansar events for week #10 2018 (Monday, March 5th through Sunday, March 11th, 2018). If popular, I’ll run this as a weekly series.

Notes:

  • The times given here are all PST (the default Sansar time) however, times given in the Atlas are given in your own local time, so times / dates may appear to be at variance to those quoted here.
  • Be aware that voice chat is the preferred – but not exclusive – means of communication at many of these events.

Community Meet-ups

Sansar community meet-ups are social gatherings where almost anything is open to discussion and which may be associated activities.

Meet-up are held between 14:00-15:00 at the following venues:

Try your hand at 10-pin bowling at a Community Meet-up

Product Meetings

Product Meetings are twice-weekly opportunities for Sansar users to discuss Sansar’s development with members of Sansar’s Product Team and specialists working on specific aspects of the platform. This week the topic for both meetings is: events in Sansar.

Twitch TV Events

  • Thursday, March 8th 19:00-20:00: Geek and Sundry Lounge – watch livestreams from the Geek & Sundry Twitch channel. Today: dungeons and Dragons.
  • Friday, March 9th
    • 14:00-16:00: Chess TV Lounge –  watch John Urschel, ex-NFL star and current MIT mathmetician, makes moves towards becoming a chess master via the Twitch Chess TV channel.
    • 17:00-18:00: Joy of Painting – on the Bob Ross Twitch channel.

Hover Derby

Hover Derby is Sansar’s first competitive team sport. Training and practice sessions are held 5 days a week, with newcomers welcome. The first official game day is scheduled for April 1st, 2018.

Other Events

  • Wednesday, March 7th, 17:00-18:00: Marvelous Designer Workshop – a hands-on workshop on clothing making in Sansar using Marvelous Designer (MD), with members of the MD team.
  • Thursday, March 8th, 17:00-17:30: Sansar Top 5 -Mars! – a livestream event with Sam and Boden Linden, who explore  Sansar via VR. This week – living on Mars.
  • Saturday, March 10th, 19:00-21:00: Red Bull Crashed Ice – watch the heart-pounding finale of this downhill ice skating championship and the Sansar Origin Cinema.

Sansar Top 5: Linden Lab’s monthly video look at Sansar

Sansar: Anu by AnuAmun, one of the destinations in the January edition of Sansar’s Top 5

Sansar Top 5 is a new monthly live stream event put together by the Lab to help highlight experiences within Sansar the Lab feel are worthy of note. The first episode took place on December 21st, 2017 – which I completely missed – and the second is due to be streamed via the Lab’s Sansar YouTube channel from 5:00pm PST (SLT) on Thursday, January 4th.

There is already a weekly Sansar-focused live stream event, hosted by Strawberry Singh and Draxtor Despres, which can be seen on their respectively YouTube channels – here for Berry, and here for Drax, which include an archive of past travels as well). Currently, the Lab’s events don’t appear to be archived.

Sam Distaso, Manager, Strategic Business Development and a Sansar’s Top 5 co-host

Sansar Top 5 is hosted by Boden Linden, a member of Sansar’s Product Team, and Sam Linden, otherwise known as Sam Distaso, who joined the Lab in September 2017 from AltspaceVR, where he worked as the Virtual Reality Business Manager. His function at the Lab is that of Manager, Strategic Business Development for Sansar.

If I’m honest, I find Sam’s role somewhat more interesting than the live stream event, as it seems to point towards the Lab following through on their aim of directly engaging with businesses and organisations that have a use for VR, and who may wish to leverage Sansar, something I hope to follow-up on at some point in the near future. Sam is also no stranger to VR media events and shows, having co-hosted the VR Sports Show for AltspaceVR and is also known as TheGuyInVR with IG.

For the Thursday, January 4th Sansar Top 5, Boden and Sam will be visiting Alex Bader’s Skye Naturae Virtualis, which you can also read about here; AnuAmun’s Anu, which you can read about here; M2D Magic Night, by Mario2 Helstein; Pantone’s Psychedelic Phenomenon; and Honeybadger Inn, by David Hall.

Sansar users are invited to join Boden and Sam on their journey, with the initial meet-up taking place at Skye Naturae Virtualis. Those who cannot make it into Sansar, or are curious about seeing Sansar and don’t have an account, can follow the live stream via the Sansar YouTube channel, as noted above.

Skye Naturae Virtualis by Alex Bader, launch point for the January edition of Sansar’s Top 5