Text and Photos by PIA KLAAR
Central 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.
In 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.
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.
Central Florida Memory in Second Life: An Introduction
Central Florida Memory in Second Life: A Look at Daily Life
Central Florida Memory
Central Florida Memory in Second Life