Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Second Life as Machinima Wonderland

Soni & Lowe at Tiny Nation

This week I finished the introduction to my upcoming machinima book. LOL. Yes I have a long way to go, but I have so many talented contributors, it will be fun - and my summer project. The first question I dealt with is in the book: How does one explain machinima to someone not familiar with the art and practice? I will stray a bit from my book intro, but here's the jist. Maybe we should begin with a description of the imagery of the amazing set possibilities within virtual environments such as Second Life. I decided to plug Second Life this blog, although I am pleased with the results from Moviestorm and like programs. Alas, Second Life will always be special to me - as it is, to me, the land for/of machinima and its possibilities. It is a virtual world unlike Blue Mars, Sims and World of Warcraft, because Second Life allows the members to create their own landscapes and soundscapes from scratch, to create spaces to be inhabited by the Mad Hatter in a mock wonderland to virtual lands that encompass Ill Clan's Tiny Nation which was created to serve as a machinima set.

It is a land where bunnies, squirrels and other little creatures can exist outside of the imagination in a fantasy forest created for them - created for machinima. It is now a well-visited tourist showplace in Second Life. Many of the contributors (so far) for my book project have seen such virtual lands rich with possibilities for story settings. Imagine walking into a storybook of a children's classic. But then again you can also experience with dark fascination an environment based on H. P. Lovecraft's novels - twisted trees, dilapidated buildings and homes, empty playgrounds - all waiting for one of his stories to come alive. (Or check out Lainy Voom's latest work, and see how SL was used.) These environments, and many others, exist in Second Life. Some are created by machinima makers, while others are created for specific plots or purposes, maybe a music video. Imagine creating your own set for a video featuring an independent music artist at a fraction of the cost of Hollywood style productions. With minor adjustments, you can achieve the feeling of romance through a watercolored skyline. Now add two people dancing on top of a skyscraper in New York City. Avatars are becoming extremely life-like through improvements in virtual skin textures and advancements in sophisticated motion graphics and animations. Post Production software can add a near human appearance. All this can be done through machinima. Much can be done in Second Life, more and more every day. I might tackle defining machinima next blog - I said I might! I do so in the intro of my book - but I need it to simmer for a couple of weeks in my mind. :)
- Soni
Machinima Art & Practice (working title) by Sonicity Fitzroy & Lowe Runo (2011)