"Someone is live on YouTube doing motion capture dancing and streaming that motion straight into SL realtime," Damien Fate just told me. Yes, watch, she's dancing IRL in the bottom right corner, with her avatar imitating her moves accordingly:
There I was randomly watching SL machinima videos when suddenly my face got shredded off:
This is Ninja Do-Jo, a guitar duo from Japan, and they play live, epic, guitar god shows in Second Life. Their avatars are Akuma Millar and Sawa India, whose profile makes an even more amazing claim: These two perform in separate geographic locations in Japan. Yes:
Via Medhue Animations, here's a pretty mesmerizing timelapse video of a fully articulated 3D penguin avatar, created from a screengrab of a real penguin, lovingly modeled in Blender, and then brought to life in the virtual world.
"FREE SPEACH" is a pretty entertaining (if a bit technically rudimentary) Second Life machinima parodying videogame sexism and gender attitudes through Mario, Princess Peach, Laura Croft, and other classic characters:
Anyone who's viewed Anita Sarkeesian's videos, especially this one on the "Damsel in Distress" trope, will get a lot of the jokes. The machinima was produced by Gabrielle Trépanier-Jobin, an Associate Professor at Concordia, who tells me it spins off her PhD thesis on the role of parodies in criticizing gender representation, and is connected to a survey on the topic which you can take here.
Professor Gabrielle Trépanier-Jobin created the machinima with the MIT Game Lab and six MIT undergraduate students. "Second Life seemed to be the only online world where I could mix all video game characters and buy them on the marketplace. Second Life was a little glitchy," she allows, "and we had many technical problems during the shooting, but it was overall a great experience." (Maybe MIT should ask SL machinima master Lainy Voom to give a tutorial.)
Curiously, the title, "Free Speach", evokes the "Freeze Peach" parody of Gamergate and other online misogynists, but Gabrielle says that wasn't intentional:
Shot by NWN alum Coley, here's a beautiful, atmospheric look at this year's Hair Fair:
Now in its 10th year, Second Life's Hair Fair is a massive annual event bringing together dozens of content creators selling virtual hair and accessories, with Linden Dollar proceeds converted to US dollars and then donated to Wigs for Kids, a non-profit providing hair pieces to kids undergoing chemotherapy and other medical issues. It's epic in scope and talent, and a case study in how powerful collaborative charity online can truly be.
I've never really got the point of displaying 2D art in a 3D virtual art gallery that's actually displayed on a 2D screen, but when it leads to machinima as strange and surreal as this, I do:
(Possibly NSFW for some, as it contains a bit of arty nudity. Then again, if there are people at work looking over your shoulder might just be wondering WTF's the deal with the monkey.) The gallery itself is Berg by Nordan Art:
In this powerful machinima, SLer Anjelikka Kowalski explains how using Second Life, admiring the creativity within it, and learning how to create herself, has helped her recover from post-traumatic stress disorder:
PTSD is usually associated with soldiers returning from war, but in Anjelikka's case, she was a secondary victim to war's tragic aftermath:
"It was due to a terrible incident that included my husband at the time," she explains to me. "He went to Iraq numerous times and every time he came back, he changed. Four years ago, he came back from Iraq on a two week vacation, and he got so violent and tried to kill me, I ended up with a broken nose.
"Needless to say I am lucky to be alive since this could have ended bad. But I suffered badly from PTSD because of fear he would return."
She tells me all this in a rush, and I ask if she's comfortable discussing such deeply personal real life details for a blog post.
"Feel free to do so," she says. "It took me all these years to finally being able to say I suffered through this. Second Life helped me in so many ways I was able to escape, make new friends, and create beautiful things. It was really therapy for me and I was able to find peace."
Linden Lab's 12 anniversary "What Second Life Means to Me" marketing campaign is a bit too marketing-y for my taste, but this new entry by Huckleberry Hax has a dreamy, vivid poetry (both visual and in Hax's resonant narration) that's well-worth watching:
If you're wondering about the poetry part, there's a very good reason for that: