Does your life suck?

By CAMILLE DODERO  |  July 17, 2006

Already, SL machinima creations are spilling out of Second Life. This past March, Silver Bells and Golden Spurs, a Western shot “on location in Second Life,” screened at the South by Southwest Festival. Plus, SL machinima shorts are posted online and added to YouTube almost daily. Right now, you can find “Better Life,” a music-video-styled meditation on an avatar-man and his loneliness, shot by resident Robbie Dingo; an evening-news-narrated segment on intermittent SL events created by avatar auteur Pierce Portocarrero; and “Video Camping,” a two-plus-minute Blair Witch Project homage that’s actually an advertisement for an SL video camera (that doesn’t actually record anything; it’s just an avatar accessory). Residents are even vlogging about their avatar lives: Tao Takashi narrates the avatar life of an Asian-sounding name with a distinctly German-sounding voice. Linden encourages such creativity, and recently announced that it will hold a second-annual SL trailer contest; the best entry will win L$100,000 — or about USD$300.

Other creative disciplines are toying with the technology. Science-fiction author and Boing Boing blogger Cory Doctorow has appeared in-world for two book releases, the most recent of which had him clicking on virtual copies of his book, thereby autographing them. “Live” audio performances also take place in Second Life. A resident can sit at home and sing into a headset or a microphone that transmits his or her real-world voice through a Shoutcast server; it looks like the audio is being projected by the avatar.

THE NEW HOLLYWOOD: Sliver Bells and Golden Spurs, a short filim shot entirely in Second Life
While an audience of 15 or 20 avatars drifted around an inner-tube-choked pond at an idyllic spot called  Mill Pond , and a friendly green dragon surf-danced on a pool float, Micala Lumiere — a reddish-haired avatar in a camisole, heels, and jeans — stood on a wooden dock above us, belting out Lilith Fair–like cover tunes such as Jill Sobule’s “I Kissed a Girl” and Jewel’s “Morning Song.” At first, Lumiere’s lilt seemed prerecorded. But when a giant gingerbread man materialized behind her mid-song, Lumiere finished her karaoke and then giggled about how having a huge cookie looking over her shoulder made her nervous.

“I would love to be able to get involved with an artist having virtual concerts,” says Jeff Watson, senior director of new media at Warner Brothers Records, who helped orchestrate the in-world listening station for Regina Spektor. Spektor’s SL pad is a NYC-style loft with a reel-to-reel that streams six songs from the record, hardwood floors that glow colors corresponding to each track’s mood, and a clever furniture-piece tie-in: click on a glass coffee table underneath the tape player and a URL for a page vending a $450 real-world model of the very same table comes up. “You could have a fan interview or an interview with a journalist or a roundtable — you could completely geek out in this thing,” Watson continues. “I would love to even have a band record a special Second Life song and sell it with Linden bucks.”

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