Central Florida Memory in Second Life PDF Print E-mail

Text and Photos by PIA KLAAR

centralflorida_008sCentral Florida Memory (CFM) started as a pilot project in 2002 by three institutions: The University of Central Florida Library, The Orange County Library System and the Orange County Regional History Center. The initial pilot project was completed in may 2003. The project now includes the Museum of Seminole County History and the Rollins College Olin Library.

Central Florida Memory was created to provide access to library, museum, historical society, digital resources , and the archival content in Central Florida. The goal of The Central Florida Memory http://www.cfmemory.org/ is to provide a digital collection of material in a virtual place where visitors can discover the history of Central Florida. Diaries, letters, maps, photographs, postcards, voters' registration and funeral records are some of the primary sources used to create a sense of history first hand. One nice feature that is on the web site is the teacher resources which include historical background information, lesson plans, classroom activities and educational links.

centralflorida_001sIn the summer of 2008, the Orange County Library System (OCLS) brought the Central Florida Memory project www.cfmemory.org to a new audience through an interactive exhibit built within the virtual world of Second Life www.secondlife.com. The virtual exhibit in Second Life provides an interactive and immersive experience that lets the visitors witness history first hand. Visitors are also provided with resources on starting a digitization project, the types of documents included in Central Florida memory, and much more.

This initial start-up phase of the project focused on Central Florida during the years 1880 - 1930, a booming time of transition from pioneer frontier, to the early development of the citrus industry, to established towns, cities, and transportation networks.

Video Tours
The two video tours introduce, promote, and explain both the exhibit and the project.
The videos follow the adventures of Nik Mortenwold (real world OCLS employee Nick Martinolich) as he explores a turn of the century Florida homestead complete with Cracker House, barn, school, and more. Throughout the video the avatar Nik Mortenwold interacts with the residents of the exhibit to learn more about their daily lives and routines.
Nick Martinolich holds a degree in film from the University of Central Florida. This was his first use of machinima. He comments, “It is exciting to think of all the innovations in film and video that have laid the groundwork for the freedom in creation we have today. The ability for a single individual with a computer to tell a complete story is one of the beauties of machinima and is providing independence to filmmakers like never before.”

Nick Martinolich (Nik Mortenwold in SL) comments on the process of machinima.

Pia Klaar: Were these the first machinimas that you had done?
Nick Martinolich :These are the first machinima videos I have produced. In fact, I had not used Second Life until this project. However, I spent a lot of time when I was younger building content for commercially available video games. My friends and I would build custom player models or levels and then share them online with others in the customization community. Several video game companies took wise steps in allowing users to add in their own content and record gameplay. Diary of a Camper, often credited as one of the first machinima, was simply a recording of an online match in the game Quake. Machinima was born out of the mindset that a video game (or a virtual world like Second Life) is not just a “read-only” experience but a “read/write” one. It seems our entire culture is moving in this direction!

Pia Klaar: How did you find machinima compared to film making in general?
Nick Martinolich : Like traditional filmmaking, you piece together a series of moving images in order to tell a story. Those images don’t exist until you orchestrate hundreds of small elements that work in unison to create the final product. In both mediums you have to “break down” your script, a process in which you create a thorough inventory of all those small elements. In traditional filmmaking these elements can be everything from props, to special camera equipment, all the way up to the actual talent appearing on screen. In machinima it is essentially the same process but instead of requiring cameras and actors you require computers and avatars. One benefit to machinima is that you can tell large stories, in even larger settings, with a small crew and no budget. However, since machinima takes place in a virtual world you are limited to the parameters of that world. If a shot is needed of a character swimming in the real world you simply have the actor jump in the water and swim. There is no default way to have an avatar swim in Second Life. You have to employ a pre-defined animation that makes the avatar move through a series of swimming motions. There are benefits and draw backs to every medium of expression, machinima is no different.

Pia Klaar: Have you considered doing more?
Nick Martinolich : Given the opportunity I would love to produce more machinima videos, either through the library or personally. I had the chance to apply several traditional filmmaking procedures to the production of our machinima videos and eventually would love to give back to the community by sharing the steps we took.

centralflorida_004sMachinima:
Central Florida Memory in Second Life: An Introduction
Central Florida Memory in Second Life: A Look at Daily Life

Central Florida Memory
http://www.cfmemory.org/
http://www.ocls.info/about/collaborations.asp

slurl_icon Central Florida Memory in Second Life



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Last Updated on Thursday, 10 September 2009 06:44
 
The Art and Function of Machinima PDF Print E-mail

by PIA KLAAR

The term machinima is constructed from these three words, like this:
machine * animation * cinema
pronounced: mashinima

Machinima is the making of animated movies in real time through the use of computer game technology. In an expanded definition, it is the convergence of filmmaking, animation and game development. Machinima is real-world filmmaking techniques applied within an interactive virtual space where characters and events can either be controlled by humans, scripts or artificial intelligence. Basically, it is making movies in virtual platforms like Second Life, World of Warcraft, Moviestorm, Sims, Halflife, Google Earth.

Game developers produce or utilize software called “game engines” to manage sophisticated real-time graphics, physics, lighting, camera views and other facets of their games. By combining the techniques of filmmaking, animation production and the technology of real-time 3D game engines, Machinima makes for a very cost- and time-efficient way to produce films, with a large amount of creative control.

Machinima’s strongest point is its accessibility. Anyone can make movies out of a game engine. It lets people create and express themselves in a manner that anyone can view, share and enjoy.

Where did it Begin?
The machinima genre has its roots in the early 1990s in games such as “Doom” and “Quake”. In 1994 the software game “Doom” was released. This was the first game to “record” multiplayer game play. Then in 1996 the game “Quake” was released and the first machinima movie “Diary of a Camper” was created by a group named “The Rangers”. As more and more games started to have virtual filmmaking, “Quake movies” became too narrow a term to use and so it was called machinima in 2000.That same year  also brought the website of machinima.com that has continued to provide a forum and web space for machinima movies and their producers.

The Future of Machinima
The future of machinima is one that seems to be continuing to grow and expand.
The Los Angeles Business Journal January 26, 2009 printed an article written by Charles Proctor named “Rewriting the script: machinima.com hires TV vets to pen shorts made with video game imagery”.

The article describes the new venture that the Hollywood startup Machinima.com Inc is attempting to begin. Machinima.com is trying to professionalize the machinima genre by signing up 15 experienced television writers to create original machinima shows for its Web site. These writers have been with television shows such as “Cheers,” “The Simpsons” and “The Late Show With David Letterman.” Machinima.com hopes to have its shows on cable channels like Spike TV.

Advertising in video games is one of the main factors in this trend with an estimated $829 million sale in 2009 and is projected to continue so that by 2011 it will be close to $1 billion, according to Emarketer Inc.

With this projection in mind, it is no wonder that professional writers are being asked to join the future of machinima. Another attraction that machinima has for writers is the possibility of more creative control and less interference from studio executives says Patric M. Verrone, president of Writers Guild of America West and one of the 15 writers who signed up with Machinima.com.

AllBusiness

MMIF 2009
MaMachinima International Festival
February 28, 2009


The first MaMachinima International Festival, in short: the MMIF – took  place in Second Life on February 28th, 2009. Entries consisted of machinima from games such as SL, WoW, Halflife, Moviestorm, and Sims. As well as having the festival streamed into Second Life, it was broadcasted simultaneously in real life, by PLANETART in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

The entries were also shown on a special YouTube account thus creating a memento for everybody - not limiting the works to Second Life but sharing with the world.

you_tube_logo channel

Books:

theartofmachinima_book
The Art of Machinima (Paul Marino, Paraglyph Press, Aug. 2004)

 A hands-on book showing you both the art form and the basics of how to get started in your Machinima production.

 

machinima_makinganimatedmovies_book
Machinima : Making Animated Movies in 3D Virtual Environments
(Dave Morris, Matt Kelland and Dave Lloyd, Ilex Press, Aug. 2005)

- which gives a great overview of the medium and its filmmakers.


Some communities and weblogs that focus on machinima are:
Machinima Premiere
Machinima.com
Thinking Machinima



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Lighting for a Machinima Production in Second Life PDF Print E-mail
Text and Photos By ARIELLA LANGUISH

Few remember the days in Second Life when users didn't have control over the environment; only land owners did. Those times are now long gone as a new interface and innovative Windlight system takes over. Not only can we toggle with such settings as Haze, density, tint, clouds, and stars, we also have a collection of decent environment pre-sets that create some interesting effects on their own. Having these tools at my fingertips, I have to admit, sometimes makes me feel like I'm a Goddess that can control anything. The biggest point is, they deliver a new way of looking at the Second world around us.

Being a perfectionist, I usually like to get the most perfect scene settings going when I film. You can easily access the environment settings under World- Environmental Settings- Environmental Editor. At first glance, this interface can be confusing, but hopefully this article will make these toggles a little more user-friendly for you.

I selected 2 mock movie scenes to perform some lighting tests on, one during the day, and one at night : A Western and a Horror scene.

Western:

 Broken Rose



I wanted to start off with a preset that will give me the most saturated colors in the scene, and then toggle the settings in the preset. I selected the preset called "Sheer Surreality." Here is how I created the photo below (this is a raw picture- nothing was toggled in Photoshop):

Under Atmosphere:

-I took the "Haze Horizon" a little up, towards the middle, so that it looked like the background behind the cabin appeared a little foggy, giving the impression of a lot of dust, or sand.
-I proceeded to shift the "atmosphere" red (R) color a bit to the right, to add more reds since Westerns have a warmer toned feel to the dry, sunny environment.
-I played around with the "Blue Density" settings until my sky was blue, sliding sliders and watching the effect in real-time.

Under Lighting:

-I shifted "Sun/Moon" color Red (R) to the right just a bit, to continue giving it that warm feel.
-I wanted to see the sun in the image, so I changed the "East Angle" until it popped up in the horizon. What's nice is that its positioning was giving my cabin a nice backlight, creating a rim on the door and pillars, as well as creating some shadows on the ground for depth.
-Since "East Angle" just changed the horizontal positioning of the sun, I grabbed the "Sun/Moon Position" toggle and slid it until the sun moved upward in the sky and placed it just between the two cabins in the background. Having a sun or moon appear in the image/video can really take it up a level.

Under Clouds

-The Sheer Surreality preset gave me some really unpleasant colored clouds, so I boosted the "Cloud Color" Settings until all were to the right, since all colors joined together form white.
-I felt the clouds were a little too heavy, so I calmed them down by dragging the "Cloud Coverage" slider to the left.
-The clouds also scrolled too fast, as not seen by the image. They were scrolling fast in both the x (left and right) and y (up and down) margins, so I grabbed the "Cloud Scroll" arrows to the left, slowing down the speed.

Extra Lighting

Unfortunately, this lovely land at Broken Rose wouldn't allow me bill rights. If I were to make one more tweak to this image, I would have created an invisible prim (just a box), went into its settings under Feature and turned it on as a light, making its color yellow. I would have placed it into the cabin window (the one in the center of the image), so that it looked like there was some activity inside.

That's a wrap!

That's pretty much it for this scene! I basically always start with looking at some Western scenes in movies for influence and trying to replicate the environment there. It took a while to know what all the sliders did, but I couldn't have learned with aimlessly toggling all the sliders to see what they did. I think I still do that to this day! However, knowing what they do speeds up the production process. Since a lot of times, one has a limited time to actually film something, it would be good to set your preset before you shoot and then save it under the Advanced Sky Editor. That way, you can come back the next day and have your lighting be pre-set.

Horror:

 Avalon Skin



I wanted this to have a foggy feel, with a little of toned down colors and very hazy. The preset that seemed to be best to start with was "Ghost" because it automatically muted a lot of colors and made the image not as sharp.

Under Atmosphere

-The key to atmosphere was not to let one color dominate another in the horizon, but to keep it relatively bleak. Under "Blue Horizon," all my sliders are set to the middle and are located far to the left, so all the colors are equal and toned down, which gives it a gray horizon.
-I brought the "Haze Density" up to make the image feel foggier.

Under Lighting

-One of the things I noticed about my image was some fall red leaves flying around. They seemed to be the only color existing in the image outside a palette of grays. Rather than finding them to be an obstruction, I thought adding a little color would make the image more creepy, rather than less. This will show how much gray there is in comparison to the innocent orange leaves. I decided to be bold and also set the "Sun/Moon color" to a similar red/orange as the leaves, so increased the red.
-I didn't want the sun to be obvious in the image, however, so I used "East Angle" to horizontally move it behind the tree. Now it compliments the leaves.
-I also used "Scene Gamma" to bring the overall light quality of the image down more than what the preset had it set as.

Under Clouds

-There was not much I could do in this section as the sim builder had prim clouds. They were static white and there wasn't anything I could do to make them disappear. Therefore, I reduced "Cloud Coverage" to nothing and just stuck with what I had.

That's a wrap!

That's it for this scene! Just a quick note about fog, though. Fog in Second Life can really be an asset to your production, depending on its quality. When lights hit fog, the light diffuse in real life. In Second Life I notice the lights actually get dispersed and glow. This can have an incredible quality depending on what you're trying to do. Mind you, the glow looks more angelic than otherwise, but by setting the lighting the right way to compensate, it can have a really great effect.

In conclusion, the Second Life Environmental Setting presets can really help start you off. However, the fun comes when you experiment with the different options and create your own look and feel to the scene.


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Land of Lincoln PDF Print E-mail

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Land of Lincoln

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Corwin Howlett narrated the Gettsyburg Address. Introduction by Daisyblue Hefferman

A crowd gathered to commemorate the dedication ceremony of the Gettysburg National Cemetery in which President Abraham Lincoln had delivered his speech, the Gettysburg Address on November 19, 1863.

Daisyblue Hefferman began the ceremony by setting the scene with a brief introduction on the historical highlights of that time.

I see you are as drawn to this spot as I am. They call it the hallowed ground, you know, and for good reason.

The sleepy little town of Gettysburg, home to 2400 in 1863, became the final resting place of 3,512 Union soldiers. A great battle was fought here, some on this very ground where we are standing. On July 1st, 2nd and 3rd, 1863, Union forces engaged those of the successionist South. 82,000 Union troops fought some 75,000 Confederates. After the three days of fierce battle, there were over 51,000 casualties strewn across the battlefield. Shallow graves were dug and many lay unburied on open ground. The armies moved on, and the citizens were left to deal with the dead and wounded. To properly bury the Union soldiers who died at Gettysburg, a soldiers' cemetery was established on the battleground near the center of the Union line. Pennsylvania Governor Curtin supported the offer to purchase the land and to pay for the reinterment of the Union dead from the inadequate sites that surrounded the battlefield. Named Gettysburg National Cemetery, it was designed and landscaped by William Saunders.

It is also the site of numerous monuments and memorials. The cemetery  was not completed until 1872. However, a dedication of the grounds was scheduled for November 19, 1863. Principal speaker was Edward Everett, considered one of the greatest orators of the time. Among various other prayers, hymns and music done by others, President Lincoln was invited to give a few brief dedicatory remarks.

Everett spoke for almost three hours. Not unusual for that time. Lincoln’s remarks totaled 272 words in ten sentences. Though delivered 145 years ago today, Lincoln’s brief Gettysburg Address has taken its place among the most famous speeches in American History. Its words touched a chord in our hearts and resonated over the years and throughout our nation.

As we stand here today in this special place, let us look off to your right--

Perhaps we can imagine Abe on that reviewing stand,

perhaps we can even hear the words of that stirring speech once again .........

 

Fourscore and seven years ago

our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation,

conceived in liberty

and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war,

testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure.

We are met on a great battlefield of that war.

We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who

here gave their lives that that nation might live.

It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense,

we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground.

The brave men, living and dead who struggled here have consecrated it far above our

poor power to add or detract.

The world will little note nor long remember what we say here,

but it can never forget what they did here.

It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who

fought here have thus so nobly advanced.

It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us --

that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they

gave their last full measure of devotion --

that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain,

that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom,

and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.

 

 



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Last Updated on Monday, 08 December 2008 19:15
 
Will Second Life machinima be adopted by mainstream media in the future? PDF Print E-mail
By ARIELLA FURMAN aka ARIELLA LANGUISH IN SECOND LIFE

Virtual Filmmaking makes many leaps and bounds over real life filmmaking, mostly due to its nature to cost less and take less time. It doesn't usually require large crews, manual labor, insurance, permits, equipment, vehicles, craft services, or other headaches that tend to be production obstacles. The world is at one's fingertips. A task that proves to be daunting in real life can be accomplished through the click of a button in Second Life. There is no doubt that it will draw artistic talent through its doors. The art of storytelling has never been so accessible.

Of course, there are limitations to its oasis, many of which take time and patience to work through. Before this revolution can happen, a number of events need to take place to stabilize the Second Life client. If these technical issues are resolved and the below suggested innovations applied to new releases of SL, the movie-making industry will be sure to take notice of machinima as a storytelling device for filmmakers.



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Last Updated on Sunday, 07 December 2008 07:08
 


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