Sunday, May 2, 2010

No! Not The Call to Service!

Sometimes it seems difficult to balance the deadlines between SL and RL. Then you have somebody ask you for a favor or two. And it is always for a good cause, right? Really, it can be downright exhausting. Some people even jest, "no good deed goes unpunished." I want to counter that mindset today, although it is a humorous and sometimes accurate statement.

Among professionals, there is an expectation that we must extend our skills beyond our immediate audiences, and to give back to society or a community. Part of that thinking has to do with the fact that our skills may often be attributed to the many people who have directly or indirectly inspired us along the way. This is YOUR call to be a super hero in a small way!

Those who succeed well in their craft are those professionals who define themselves beyond their exceptional skill level to a level of community awareness. In what ways as professionals can we give back to the communities that often rely on our talents and perspectives (framed by our professional media lens) to consider a community lens? In part that can be done through partnerships with universities and community groups, and that has happened more often than not through machinima contests and competitions. Other machinima artists take on projects, at minimum cost, that are outside of their scope of interest to serve a particular community that would cherish the recognition and assistance. Others work directly with students at high school or college level, and help to mentor them. All are valid ways to extend our professional reach into the larger communities to which we might consider offering our talents.

I am not advocating that you give away your talent, but rather at times you give back to others without consideration of profit or personal gain. I do believe the experience between the giver and the recipient can be a powerful connection, and might help others to understand the value of machinima as a form of communication.

I would like to keep this blog simple and just say a MAGNUM thank you to Lowe Runo, founder of the Machinima Artist Guild, for inspiring my students this semester in so many ways. He has spoken to both my graduate students and my undergraduate students through Second Life this year. In my undergraduate advanced sound course, he created a video for which they were required to design sound (dialogue, foley, music, ambience). The two best will be posted on the Second Life Machinima Artist Guild soon, as my class winds down.

Other media professionals who have reached out to my students have included Doug Story, Drax Despres, and Pooky Amstersdam. Doug took my students on an incredible journey through sound installations more than once. Drax shared professional insights into what it takes to be a virtual journalist. Pooky gave "my kids" insight into the business side of machinima in Second Life and its RL extensions.

In closing, Lowe gave my students an opportunity to get to know him on a personal and professional level, serving as their machinima mentor and "SL sage" in so many ways. He invested in their lives beyond the call of conventional community service duty.

Thank you to ALL who have invested time into the education of my students! You are all true professionals, and you asked me for nothing in return. In fact, some of you might be a bit further behind in your production schedules from knowing me and my students. But the reward, I believe, is you have contributed to the next generation of Magnum Machinima professionals. Kudos.
Note above: future machinima set makers! JK, but you never know.

Soni :)