Sunday, January 31, 2010

Reaction Grid preview...

Reaction Grid is another Grid that is acessable with a second life capable viewer (I use Hippo to access RG). Today I had my 1st conversation with a fellow gridizen. Smart guy, named paul... a teacher of High School arts. I also was over at Wizzy's region on RG... and was blown away by what can be done with huge (compared to sl) prim limits. I hear the limit on Open Sims can be as high as 45,000 compared to 15,000 in sl. I hope to feature more content from Reaction Grid and other open sims soon. Reaction Grid can be accessed via: Reaction Grid.

This machinima was kicked out in record time and shows it... not horrible, but nothing fancy.

Reaction Grid Previews from Robward Antwerp on Vimeo.

Chairs and more...

Originally built with whimsical poses for guests at the reception of a recent second life performance piece - The wedding of Selavy Oh and Misprint Thursday. Created by Jo Ellsmere, these chairs delighted the guests and were a perfect complement to a truly elegant build of the cathedral (designed and built by Marko Seurat).

Jo’s creativity with the seemingly simple idea of a chair has impressed many. I was happy to be able to help her when she wondered aloud how she might make a record of her creations while still also capturing their moving bits.

I love their deceptive simplicity, all are clearly recognizable as chairs, yet utterly impossible. For me the process was enjoyable and instructive. I learned to focus my work flow and to work without a music score (I’ve found that when working with a music score the music is what drives the timing of the piece).

Look for Jo’s chairs at the upcoming show (details to come) in sl.

Follow these links for:

Photos from the reception:

Selvay Oh’s blog announcing the wedding:

My machinima shot in and around Marko Seurat’s Cathedral:

9 Chairs & a Table from Robward Antwerp on Vimeo

Saturday, January 16, 2010

My two bits... to the SL is empty, it is too hard debate

I commented similarly here The New World Notes discussion... , you can read others comments before mine if you like.  I've seen a lot of posts lately about this and while I am late to the party, I thought I would chime in with a few brief points and then hopefully add an additional dimension to the discussion.
  • All communities go thru the social dynamic where those with the most invested drive the discussion and direction within the community.
  • The UI of Second Life is not more complicated to a new user, than Photoshop, Blender, GIMP or for that matter Office 07. This does not make it easy, but it is not exceptionally difficult.
  • I agree that Linden Labs could do more to improve those critical 1st 30 minutes. They are perhaps more painful for the new user than Photoshop, but that is not due to the UI. I believe it is because there is understandable fear on the part of a new user that they will embarrass themselves by doing something foolish or become hopelessly stuck in public. To some degree this is true of other social networking sites, but it is amplified by the real time immediacy and intimacy of ‘messing’ up in front of others in SL.
However there is an aspect of this discussion I’ve not seen mentioned much, it relates to the expectations an average new user might bring to Second Life. In other words; to those people who come into Second Life and say there is nothing to do, I ask what are you looking for? I think there is a fairly obvious answer to why they wonder what there is to do. Upon entering Second Life, they notice the lack of an obvious point system… you are not offered incentives for collecting things, there are no explicit puzzles to solve and there appears to be no one available to shoot. All of this IS possible in Second Life - if you look and work to find it, but it will not be immediately apparent. There is no imposed, required or obvious hierarchy of rank. Of course everyone brings these social expectations to second life and obviously Linden Labs imposes an external order; but, I believe part of the appeal of Second Life is the opportunity it provides to make a fresh social start; to be part of creating a community with as much order or lack of order as you or your chosen community desires.

In my opinion, to criticize veteran power users of Second Life as some cliquish oligarchy is disingenuous. I am sure the absence of an obvious ranking system makes some folks uncomfortable (dare I say those more comfortable within our more hierarchical real life). It is criticizing the customers who took the time to figure out how to use the shiny new tool faster than others, and because they want to use, add features and improve the tool. To that criticism; I say, give me a break… have you bothered to check for classes and user groups available within Second Life? If you do, you will find a lot of “oligarchs” sharing their expertise, often freely or in support of a product the user may have purchased.

Lastly there is the infamous “No One Is There – SL Is Empty” criticism. When you go into World of Warcraft, City of Heros or other MMOGs, what is one of the first things you do? You choose a server. How are the servers sorted? Geographically. This does not happen in Second Life and this could mean the users of the region you are exploring may be on the other side of the planet. This explains why in Second Life I have neighbors on one side I rarely see (oddly enough not so different in real life for many)… but why? They are live in France and are asleep when I am on. If a Second Life resident were to look at their list of friends, take a map with time zones… and do a scatter plot; they will find most of their friends will likely have at least these two features in common with them… language and real world locations near their time zone. Another more anecdotal example of what I would call the “more folks than you first notice” phenomena of is the NOAA site (YouTube of NOAA in SL ). If you go there you are likely to be the only one there. It is not the most creative site in the world, but it is a well done educational site hosted by the National Oceanographic and Atmosphere Agency. Yet their traffic statistics in second life averaged 50 people per day over a year. Many shop keepers would be thrilled by those numbers. (The Imagination Age blog

Clearly, a person’s experience in Second life is what they make of it. Of course Linden Labs should tailor their new user experience to be as painless as possible. There are many things they or any company does that irritate the hell out of their customers… and they should fix them. But to suggest that second life is being held back by some elite user base is a very narrow analysis. There are many factors contributing to the growth (some suggest decline or stagnancy) of Second Life.

I know I find myself wondering just what they are being held back from… the mass market adoption, such as that found with the ubiquitous flash applications in Facebook? Perhaps so, I do enjoy goofing around in Farmville a bit myself and I was a beta tester for MetaPlace… but they are (or sadly were in case of MetaPlace) well… too flat… by that I mean not immersive enough. Much of the time I want more than points to accumulate from my virtual world experience (If points were my priority I could get that playing solitaire). What I want from Linden Labs is the continued use (happily paid for) of the immersive creative community that makes Second Life (literally). I want to learn, grow and be challenged by Second Life, Reaction Grid and other OpenSim’s (perhaps even, one day, Blue Mars). If M. Linden and crew decide they would rather emulate Farmville as a profit making model… well good luck. I doubt I would be the only customer who would seek out alternative immersive communities; besides, there is room in the MetaVerse for everyone, if not there then where?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Outro with serindipity...

This piece of machinima was pure serendipity. In the process of planning for a more involved project; working with specific poses, building a portion of the set, working with particular music and scouting appropriate sims… I saw in a small portion of the material I’d collected another possibility… I chased the tail created by the combination of an inspiring song and a remarkable sim…

In the end… this is what came of following that impulse. I am generally pleased with it… I see growth… and I see rough spots. Mostly I enjoyed the process immensely. I hope others find it enjoyable… if not you will not suffer long... :)

Thank you to my friends and loved ones for encouraging this bit of serendipity.

Outro at Vimeo

Outro from Robward Antwerp on Vimeo.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The process of making this machinima was interesting. Beyond the tool using element of learning to edit I saw the idea that began with seeing a very cool build morph from a collection of bits and pieces… none of which ‘hung together’ until I paired it to music. I must have listened to dozens of possible pieces of music. From the beginning I saw that any song with a narrative structure was out. It was as if what I heard lead me to what I wanted the viewer to see.

I certainly learned a lot… and that education was my purpose and frankly my excuse for “stealing” the use of part of the sound track from Alegria. Of course I see several mistakes… I managed to misspell the title!(Fixed now) ... some jump cuts that shouldn’t be there… it is a good minute too long (I heard somewhere that about 4 minutes is all most will sit thru… so if you fast forwarded it, don’t feel bad… I must admit I do it a lot too)… and in at least one section the ghost of an AO remains on screen. Over all I am pleased with how it turned out, with what I learned and with the opportunity it gave me to meet new and interesting people (thank you Marko & Jo). I hope you all enjoy…

Cathedral from Robward Antwerp on Vimeo.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

What do people think about anonymity, identity and privacy in SL?

Today I offered the following response to an interesting post in the Dwell On It blog by Tateru Nino. She lead her comments off with the following statement.
“Here’s the thing I don’t get. People talk as if they expect life to just cease or suspend itself while certain activities are performed.

What the heck is up with that?...”
See the following link for full quote:  Dwell On It

It is an interesting read. Check it out. I would be interested to hear anyone’s thoughts about the issue of identity, “real life”, “alternatives to real life” and the role of virtual worlds in your life. I certainly don’t expect us all to agree… and clearly that is also part of the diversity that enriches all of life.

My response in support of Tateru’s post follows (with some cleaned up editing):

“I couldn't agree more. I know folks like to compartmentalize aspects of their life... we all do it. My professional work life from my weekend activities. But this separation is only a mental construction. Sure that construction has it's uses, but I often see other folks in "virtual worlds" (note the phrase... a mental construct) who place phrases in their profile such as: “What happens in sl stays in sl.” I find such sentiments interesting. Are they really that good at compartmentalizing? Others will express sentiments such as:  “SL is a game… don’t ask about my rl”. I don’t mind careful people when it comes to protecting one’s privacy… and anonymity in sl is perhaps a topic for another day… but I am not sure why responding to a nosey question can’t be something like, “I’m sorry I don’t know you well enough to share that info with you.” Even I try not to carelessly broadcast my full name and details around on the web, but it isn't hard to figure me out. Usually just asking me will work.

As for labeling the compartmentalized aspect of their lives that include SL by calling it a game… I fear it is usually intended to mean “I am not taking this activity seriously”. I am sure folks will argue, but again… why not say in your profile something like “ I am not sure what I think of this place… it is hard for me to take it seriously.” Besides… I personally think Play is vital to a healthy life. In fact Play (unstructured, exploring, learning, interacting, pretending, being childish, etc) is vital to healthy brain development in ALL humans… children or not. Perhaps I just prefer a more relaxed honesty from folks. But hey that is just me. In the mean time I continue to explore all aspects of the Metaverse. (For those more comfortable with more rigid compartmentalization Metaverse for me connotes the all encompassing Universe of life… from the playful to the virtual to the professional or ‘real life’). “

Saturday, January 2, 2010

At home in Anzac

Another attempt at Machinima… still very basic.  I reshot the same pan, changed the music and hopefully the resolution.

Friday, January 1, 2010

At the turn of the decade...

Around the time I was 8 I recall vivid fantasies about the future. Not just my future, but The Future. Then I remember, at about 10 years old, sitting up all night reading Michael Crichton’s - The Andromeda Strain. While, this was the beginning of my lifelong interest in Science and Science Fiction, it was also the first hint of a future that may not turn out quite as I imagined. Still, the rose colored glasses of the American middle class held firmly to my sense of the future. I recall eagerly imagining all the interesting devices I would see and read about in Popular Mechanics, I remember knowing I would be 43 years old when the year 2000 began. I would be an adult, have a job… and assumed so much more.

Of course as time flowed, I began to discover life is not so neat and tidy. Anyone observing the hubris of men and women (including myself) cannot help but be amazed if not surprised. In short, it isn’t like they said it would be. Life is full of surprises. While my faith in the ongoing human march toward a better world remains regularly shaken; I have, what I hope, is a more balanced sense of the world. A world view made up of a reasonable amount of cynicism balanced against an innate sense of hope. Clearly, I don’t expect peace to break out across the planet anytime soon; yet, I do retain a strong measure of that youthful enthusiasm for the future. I find myself drawn to those glinting hints of a positive future.

Still,there are times one should reminisce, even regret. As we turn and hurtle more fully into the 21st century, it is worth stopping briefly to observe the passing of time. To ponder those that have fallen away from this time line… or perhaps better put… those who have settled into their place in time, to rest and yes sadly… eventually to fade.

Rather than ruminate upon personal losses, I think a fonder farewell is in order. With time and in music I find a balance of sadness and hope. Take a moment to remember the musicians who have passed as we’ve moved along. True, all of us are worthy of love, remembrance and appreciation… in life and in death… yet to few it is granted.

As I move forward, eager to learn and grow, I ponder this list of wondrous human talent … saddened and happily amazed all at once. I know I will try to step more humbly into this day… wondering both, how long before the red beans and rice are done and what more I can do to learn and create… this is good.