Black Dragon, a third party Second Life viewer with a cult following, has a new update which comes with a sort of silly but also pretty amazing feature: MANDATORY DANCING. In other words, you can make avatars around you seem to dance (or do any other animation) at the push of some buttons. As Black Dragon creator Niran Dean explains on his blog:
How it works? Go into a crowd, go to 'Dragon - World - Animation Control' select any avatar whose animations you want to save into your list, stop, restart, freeze or slow down. Hit the the 'Save' button if you want to save them. Down below you'll then find a list of all motions you saved and who they belong to, select one you want to play and select one or more avatars in the above list, hit 'Apply To' and BAM everyone does exactly what you want them to do.
So the operative word is "seem", because the avatars aren't actually dancing -- it just seems that way on your Black Dragon viewer. Niran tells me this is an expanded update to an already existing feature:
"Long ago I added the ability to change animation play speed for your own avatar," he says. "My next plan was to allow doing that to other avatars too, and now I finally got around to do it with a lot of extra functionality." As for what people will do with this feature: "Probably similar to what people already do, but it will make doing so much easier, faster, and offers additional options, potentially enhancing timing and quality of certain aspects of videos.
"Also funny pictures, lot's of funny pictures of people cartwheeling around."
I can definitely see this as a very useful tool for machinima makers, too. There's an interesting ethical component worth talking about at some point: If you can depict well-known avatars doing silly or even offensive things in screenshots and videos, does it matter that they're not actually doing them in Second Life?