Check it out!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Yesterday I was interviewed on Tonight Live with Paisley Beebe about the machinima Chameleon and what I was doing in SL in general!!! Unfortunately I was loosing my voice, not to mention all the ummmms :)

Chameleon at SL5B

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Not only am I showing "Chameleon" at Second Life's 5th Birthday Party, but I have put out most of the sets and left a box of skins I made, free for people to use. What I am hoping is that people will take photos of themselves in the sets and "Be the Chameleon".

I have created a Flickr group for people to post their photos here.

The build is here.

Hope you can take the time to put up some photos :)

I have been trying to film some stuff to put on here for a while, showing some of my other work.  Of course, because I am a filmmaker by heart,  I wanted it to be perfect!  Also when I made "Chamleon" I had certain images in mind that did not really take up a lot of processor power, so I did not really experience the difficulties I am coming across now.  As a matter of fact the shots with the reflections in the water and the moving sky were that hardest to do!

Anyway, I have been doing a lot of research and have found that most detailed advice and techniques in capturing machinima seem to be for PCs.  I am using a MacBook Pro with a 2.16 GHz Intel Core Duo processor with 2GB of memory on version 10.4.11 osx.  So I decided in my own convoluted way I would record my process to making the best machinima with what I have at hand and share it with anyone who is interested.

Put in the most basic way, when you make a machinima you are actually just recording what you have going on on your screen.  The problem is, Second Life graphics use a lot of processor power and when you try recording (and compressing) on top of that you use even more processor power.  So far I have found that if you go for detail, you lose frames and if you go for frames you lose detail (sigh).  And the testing goes on.

To start with there are 2 programs to capture screen shots for a mac - SnapZ Pro and iShowU.   Both are fairly reasonably priced $69 and $20 respectively.  I have now tried both and I have to say, even though I used SnapZ Pro for my first machinima, I definitely like iShowU much better.  Not only is it cheaper, but it has a lot more options than SnapZ.  Firstly, every time I captured something in SnapZ, it took a fairly long time to render the clip after capturing, some times up to 5 minutes.  So after you record your scene in SL, you can't film anything else until the darn thing has rendered!  With iShowU it literally took seconds.  There are also a lot more compression choices which make your file as small as possible without losing quality.  So far with the testing I have done the Apple Intermediate Codec has given me the best result.  Although this does not mean that things are perfect!  Right now my problem is still related to compromise, which I am loath to do!  If I use the full settings of Windlight - beautiful sky, reflective water, and try to do a smooth zoom, I already have problems - without even trying to record it!!!  So I have to lower something.  Depending on what I am shooting, the first things to go are either the water or the sky.  On my Mac, these seem to take the most processor power.  So I am constantly switching my settings around, depending on what I am shooting.  When you add recording on top of that, you have to fiddle around some more.  And remember, even if it says you are shooting 29.97 frames per second, depending on the size of your video and the settings in SL the fps can go down to as low as 9 fps!!!!!  Eeeeek!  

Below is the best video quality I got shooting this scene.  It was shot in a 960x540 format at 29.97 fps.  What I got was good quality and a frame rate of 24, which is pretty good.  Here are some of the less good results: 1280x720, 29.97 fps came in at 15 fps, 960x720, 29.97 fps came in at 19 fps, and 640x360, 29.97 fps came in at 28 fps but didn't look so good in the detail department.  Again the good thing about iShowU is that it will show you the actual frame rate while you are recording instead of later (SnapZ Pro) when you are trying to play it back in Quick Time.

(btw - links files as flash if you go here you will see the original as a QT file if you want to see the true quality)

One more thing about using SnapZ Pro if you are going to use something like FinalCut Pro to edit in.  When you try to import your clips the frame rates go to 9 fps and they play even worse.  When I made "Chameleon", I had to export all the files I shot to DV Stream, then into FCP and then I had to resize and rerender each file.  It definitely was a convoluted process.  If I would have used iShowU, I would not have had to go through that process.  Oh well, I guess the only way you learn is to keep doing things over and over again.

I will be doing more experiments in the days to come and will be posting as I go along, so that you too can make the best possible machinima using a Mac.  The next thing I am going to look into is using 2 computers and harnessing the processor power of both.  I will let you know what I discover.

A great build called Remedy

Monday, June 2, 2008

Yesterday I went to an amazing build called Remedy Exploration by Bid Messmer and I have to say that I was totally blown away.  Not only was it engaging and interactive, but it was absolutely beautiful.  This is one of the first times that I have seen the glow options used in a tasteful way.  I think I could have stayed in there all day!  Once you tp and look at that part of the build, don't forget to click the tp button to see the rest of it, and take your time there is a lot to see here.  I am definitely going back.  You can also take some pretty amazing photos there too!

This is my first blog

Monday, May 26, 2008

Below is my new machinima called "Chameleon".  It has been made to a song produced by Vandal.  I hope you like it.  Thanks for all the help from my friends.