Sunday, 24 July 2011

Reflected Projected Textures and Quinn Ying's Magical Mirror Ball

Quinn Ying and I have known about projected textures for some little while.

I posted a test/demonstration video of the technique back in August 2010 and used it extensively in 'Sex With Strangers' (0:36 - 0:49; 1:09 - 1:21; 2:03 - 2:22; 4:15 - 4:45)

The important thing to understand about projected textures is that it is a graphics effect, dependant on one's graphic card and your graphics settings in 'Preferences'. It is not enabled by default.

The effect created by projected textures is empathically not the same as that prim property that is controlled by the LSL (Linden Scripting Language) function 'llSetTextureAnim' Or, in layman's terms, "projected textures" should not be confused with "animated textures".

Whereas an animated texture only affects the surface face(s) of the prim it is associated with, a projected texture literally "projects" (or "beams", if you prefer) out of the originating prim and affects the lighting of other nearby objects and avatars in a manner that is analogous to a light beam. Note, that the technique can be used with *any* texture and this is what makes it significantly more useful than prim lighting.

Projected textures can be used to create a number of innovative effects, an example of which is Quinn's Magical Mirror Ball pictured in this blog.

As you can see from these pictures, Quinn and I (and our clothing, [or lack of clothing, in Quinn's case]) become illuminated by the coloured "light beams" (projected textures) as they rotate and revolve. The effect is dynamic and in real time.

Last week I became aware of the latest evolution of projected textures - the ability to reflect projected textures on high-shine prims!

Excitedly, I IM'd Quinn with the news.

I was not entirely surprised when Quinn replied that she had independently discovered this new effect herself, as part of her own experimentation.

"Yes, it is possible", Quinn told me, "I've noticed that yesterday :) At my place I have a spotlight pointed on a sculpted sofa. Setting the sofa texture shininess at "high" i noticed that it reflected the spotlight light."

Quinn tp'd over to my sim, bringing a demonstration unit with her. For the record, I was using 'Firestorm' and Quinn 'Kirstens'.

In this last picture, two prims have been set to high-shine. Ringed in purple are the reflections of the projected textures.

Expect to see 'Reflected Projected Textures' used soon in a Quinn Ying Production near you!

    (click images to enlarge)

Saturday, 23 July 2011

The Spirit of The Looking Glass

Marcus Inkpen and Sharni Azalee have created a beautifully detailed full-sim build - 'The Looking Glass'.

To the Looking-Glass world it was Alice that said
"I've a sceptre in hand, I've a crown on my head.
Let the Looking-Glass creatures, whatever they be
Come dine with the Red Queen, the White Queen and Me!"

(click images to enlarge)

Before I film or take pictures at any sim, I almost always remember to check the Covenant to see if there is any 'snapshot' or 'machinima' policy in place. There very rarely is.

However, such a policy is in place at 'The Looking Glass'. The policy seems fair. It protects the creators' interests and the creations themselves while simultaneously allowing others to enjoy the work and feed off of it.

And you will want to take snapshots or create artistic photographs; you will want to film or make machinima.

The urge to do so is just irresistible, as I hope this blog demonstrates.

Whether you are exploring the underground sewer network...

... or admiring the many different and beautiful forms of plants, grasses and foliage...

... what strikes you at each and every turn is how detailed and lovingly crafted Sharni's and Marcus's creations are.

Even the layout of the sim itself seems as carefully planned as a small town:

Look at the next picture, as one of many possible examples...

Not only is the ambiance and atmosphere "just right" but so are the proportions and the sizing, the colouring and the blemishes, the placement and the patterns.

The mirror's surface is textured such that it "reflects" the wall opposite but, even more so, let me draw your attention to the external surface of the bath tub....look at how its shiny surface is textured to "reflect" the bathroom floor tiles.

Astonishing and wonderful.

Whilst it is true that the individual pieces are superb and the resulting sim-wide build magnificent, what makes 'The Looking Glass' particularly special, in my opinion, is how it makes you feel.

Let me try and explain what I mean.

Just as Louis Carroll's 'Wonderland' only becomes vibrant and fascinating to us once Alice falls down the rabbit hole, 'The Looking Glass' comes alive with human interaction.

It is the difference between a dusty museum with each exhibit carefully protected behind glass cabinets and an exciting, stimulating venue where touching, holding and playing are encouraged and promoted.

It is the spirit of 'The Looking Glass' that motivates you to explore, look, search and enjoy. 

It is a place to go alone or with a friend or with a lover.

But in all these cases it is a place that thrives on the human spirit because it is derived from the very best of the human spirit.

This interaction is palpable.

Of the different places to explore, my personal favorite is the abandoned theatre. 

"Born for the stage, that one is" my Uncle JimBob used to say of me.

"Aye", Father replied, striking a Swan Vesta to re-ignite the damp musky tobacco in his pipe, "and happen she'll die in a Mental Hospital !"

They both nod sagely.

Again, the feel here is "just right". Not overdone or strained. Everything is just lovingly crafted.

'The Looking Glass' is perfect for the photographer and the filmmaker. It is a delight for the lone explorer; it is a joy for lovers and friends.

My trip to 'The Looking Glass' moved me to do something I very rarely do - make a spontaneous film. Usually, I pore over each frame numerous times, constantly adjusting and tweaking; forever editing.

This film is unedited and is "as-is". I think it conveys well how I felt at the end of my trip to 'The Looking Glass'. Even through technically it is a "warts and all" production, it is emotionally accurate. 

The Spirit of 'The Looking Glass' motivated and moved me.

I hope it does you, too.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Lucian Freud 1922 - 2011

Influential British artist Lucian Freud, probably best known for this portrait of my Mother before she started to put weight on, has died aged 88.

Freud's portraits never particularly concern themselves with flattering the subject - "disturbing" is one adjective frequently applied to them although many agree that "insulting" is equally appropriate. Some of the portraits are even said to have "compelling nastiness".

Other than my Mother, other notables to fall victim to serial portraitist Lucian Freud include Queen Elizabeth v2, Kate Moss, Lilly Allen, Gemma Kidd and Minch Yoda.

Freud was fond of saying:

"I would wish my portraits to be of the people, not like them. Not having a look of the sitter, being them."
and he has never even denied the accusation that he is in fact the grandson of notorious psycho-analyst Sigmund Freud.

Since his death yesterday, Freud's work has been introduced to millions of new people via. Twitter, Facebook, breakfast television, Google Blogger and Fox News.

Lucian The Painter is Dead!!!   Long, nvm.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

'Rapture' Not Ruptured

'Rapture', my latest film-in-progress, is, well, progressing. Just slowly. Slower than it should be. Slower, even, than my usual slowness.

And that is pretty damn slow.

'Rapture' is centred around a voyeur living in a big city.

There are still two major scenes to with Christoph Chiantelle and Kitty Sinn and another with Aiden Lexenstar and SuicideGirl a dozen or so minor filler shots.

Next week I have a holiday from my summer job. I intend devoting that spare time to completing the filming and getting the numerous sequences working together in Premiere.

I'll then need another week to tweek and twiddle before the final render.

'Rapture' will be released the weekend of 6/7th August.

Unless, of course, it isn't.

Monday, 18 July 2011

On The Pull....


    (click to enlarge images)

... despite all the things your Mother told you...

...despite having a loving and caring boyfriend...

...despite your Father paying for all this year's course books...

...and your Step Father buying you a new iPod Touch....

...despite all these things, and all the 'AA' batteries that Uncle JimBob insists on buying for you... still go on the pull for strangers.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Claudia's Magnificent Jewells

When you stand to admire claudia222 Jewell's magnificent 3D sculptures, you are immediately aware of the numerous and diverse influences that pervade the work.

You sense India and the Far East, you perceive Lovecraft and Poe, you recognise the reptile-like textures, the leviathan-like sea monsters, the insect-like creatures, the lotus-inspired flowers and the pod-like plants.

You intuitively discern that there are also many other influences within the work of which you will never be aware of.

(click to enlarge images)

But, more than any of this, you understand at a deep level that once these diverse influences have been digested, processed and added to within the consciousness of such a talented artist as Claudia, that the resulting sculpture is unique and original - a piece in its own right.

In short, each item manifests itself as a genuine "claudia222 Jewel".

Claudia creates 3-dimensional worlds and invites you to enter.

By accepting her invitation, you agree to enter a world of curious fantasy and enquiring dreams, of ascent perfumed by a haunting fear, of memorable beauty tainted by a exquisite dread. 

Claudia's work is the Unconscious Made Manifest.

I visited two of Claudia's exhibitions:

I spent hours looking at these two exhibitions, on a number of different visits, and enjoyed every moment.

Each of the exhibitions has strange flying creatures that you can jump on board to travel.

It was fun exploring the very friendly and welcoming Hobo sim this way. Be sure to stop off at the circus tent to see the acrobatic elephant, the fearless rabbit and to pick up a free pair of stilts from Heb Dexler.

It seems to me that the 3D virtual environment offered by Second Life would be an almost ideal canvas for artists such as Claudia.

I am, however, acutely aware that the 2D images I have posted on this blog - despite my working them with 3D lighting and cameras in After Effects - absolutely do not do justice to Claudia's work. Claudia herself has posted pictures of her work here and doubtless this is a better place to see 2D images.

Nevertheless, I think it is fair to say that to fully appreciate what Claudia has created, one does indeed need to go visit the work in-world.

Failing that, this video 'Visions' by Gaia Clary does a damn good job imo...

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Seeks Actress Opportunities

I rarely appear in others' films. Not out of any kind of high-minded principle but simply because I rarely ever get asked !

You can imagine how thrilled I was therefore when well-known SL photographer Phillip Sidek IM'd out-of-the-blue one Sunday morning asking to film a short video portrait of me.

Just as I was thinking "It doesn't get any better than this!" why, Tutsy Navarathna - this year's joint-winner of the UWAIII machinima contest - surprises me with "I have made a short fun film of you, Pixie".

Tutsy's film is shot wholly on my beautiful and selfishly lag-free home sim. The "Pile of Leaves" were created by the incredible Pandora Wrigglesworth, the realistic bonfire in the background and massive rainbow created by Debbie Trilling and the amazing Guantanamo Bay sculpture (used in my 'Personal Jesus' film) by Igor Ballyhoo. Oh, and I made the sign board textures, fed the rabbits, watered the flowers, oiled the spy machine, tickled the creature and fucked in the sex bed.

So, here is "Tutsy Plays With Pixie" for your viewing delight....

Monday, 11 July 2011

'PRON' and The Art of Machinima Storytelling

'PRON' is the newest SL adult machinima bearing the "Serenity Juneberry" hallmark of quality and distinction.

Jointly directed by Emeelee Rage and Serenity herself, the film opens with a smart and sleek After Effects composition set to the beat of The Eurythmics 'Sweet Dreams'.

This opening sequence sets the scene for what is to follow - a phantasmagoria of colour, sexual imagery and story telling.

Whilst Serenity directed the opening and first five minutes of the film, Emeelee took firm hold of the director's rein to steer the actors through the action scenes that follow.

Collaboration is never easy even at the best of times, but Emeelee and Serenity seem to have negotiated the many pitfalls and pulled off a near miraculous sharing of the directorial responsibilities.

The film concept is broadly based on the popular 1982 science-fiction film 'Tron' -  a computer user is enticed into a neon world of digital adventure. We follow a digitalised Serenity as she searches for the the Grid-Babe, played by Arwen Juneberry.

However, in contrast with the 1982 film where nerds and geeks get to play at being cool, in 'PRON' we are delighted to have an array of gorgeous and sexy avatars in various states of undress.

Starring alongside Co-Directors Serenity and Emeelee are Louise Silverweb, T413, Ivori Faith, Alyssa Drechsler, Stryker Ninetails, Natalie Xenga, Jinx Jiersen, Rayven Baily, VanHelsing Svoboda, Booya Bombacci, Haylie Joles, Elizabeth Firelyte, Dsfargeg Batista and, of course, the inimitable and beautiful Arwen Juneberry.

A lot of time, effort and love has gone into the making of 'PRON' - and this is evident is almost every scene and scene transition - but the film sets themselves definitely deserve singling out for special mention.

Designed and built by Louise Silverweb and Serenity, the sets - and indeed the actors outfits - constantly reinforce the iconic 'Tron' neon imagery. You are never left in any doubt that Serenity and the glamorous beings she encounters are denizens of a digital world.

The story presented in 'PRON' is a fun and rather clever re-working of the aeon-old "Initiation Story".

Whether it be Osiris entering the Otherworld,  the descent into Hades, modern interpretations like 'Jason and the Argonauts' and 'Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure' or a thousand and one other variations, the story is always the same.

In initiation stories, the protagonist is forced to descend into a dark world (representing the Unconscious) where s/he encounters various strange and wonderful people, beasts and animals (representing various unconscious unresolved conflicts, complexes and confusions). Only by successfully negotiating with said beings can the protagonist continue on to eventually meet the Loved One (representing, of course, wholeness and resolution).

And so it is with 'PRON'. Our heroine Serenity willingly submits to the unknown experience of the digital world in the hope of becoming reconciled with her Ideal, the Grid-Babe. But, to do so, she must first pass through the portal of The Cyber Clit Club having satisfied its patrons of her worthiness.

'PRON' comprises two parts (of approx. 17mins and 14mins) and uses a text-based narration technique. The text is clear and legible and for the most part does not interfere with or obscure the visual aesthetic of the film.

This is important. The danger of text-based narration is that perfectly fine visual images can be ruined or obscured by misplacement or mistiming of text. Like everything else in 'PRON' it is clear that thought and effort has gone into the narration and, as a result, the story is able to be told with the minimum of disruption to the viewer.

However, due to the very nature of the medium, text-based narration inevitably causes some lose of immersion, just as it does while reading sub-titles on a foreign-language film.

To some extent, I submit, we need to ask ourselves whether we are writing a book or making a movie. Both are equally valid forms of storytelling but they do not necessarily make natural bedfellows.

Machinima is a very new art form, and the adult/porn genre a relatively immature but rapidly evolving expression of that art. The next logical step, it seems to me, is making voice the staple diet of machinima storytelling - as has already been done to great effect by Rysan Fall and other directors - but also, as alluded to by Peter Greenaway in a recent lecture in Second Life, voice itself could well merely be a stepping stone, and one that may in fact itself be left behind...

I keep hoping to see a visionary machinima maker - someone who uses the medium as the message. At present we are only seeing other art forms rewrit - the short-form feature-film, the music video-clip, the catwalk presentation, the dance-movie, the documentary-fiction with commentary - it's related of course to a loop of what you want is what we can produce for you - but I am truly full of excited hope that it is coming - an increased demand for new and better tools by machinima makers will increase the soft-ware and even the hardware thinking.
As artists, we should be looking to how we can develop machinima as an art form beyond the comfortable familiarity of the book and the blockbuster feature film.

This is, undoubtedly, a tall order but it is also almost an inevitability. It will not be a smooth, gentle growth but rather an evolution consisting of fits and spurts with terrible tantrums and hurtful growing pains.

But, please consider, most every new art form and most every new technology has been, is, fuelled by "pornography" (or erotica or libido or sexuality etc).

Personally, I cannot think of a single reason why the newly developing Art of Machinima should not also be fuelled by adult film makers. Can you?

Even now, in its early stages of evolution, we can see individual adult machinima directors taking the first tentative steps out of the comforting watery-womb of familiarity onto the more uncharted shores of experimenting and artistry - I refer you to the work of Hitomi Crystal, Quinn Ying and Aleeah as but three examples of an ever increasing pool of talent - but, ever leading the vanguard, few would disagree, is Serenity Juneberry.

Whereas 'Pandoras Box' should certainly be considered as a milestone on the evolutionary path of adult machinima, 'PRON', I think, could be characterised as one of numerous essential and important rest-stops where we can review how far we have come, survey the surroundings, take stock and prepare for the next step of the journey.

'PRON' takes a story line and runs with it to its logical and sexy conclusion. It does this with class and style, with humour and love. Emeelee and Serenity have done a very fine job of co-directing this movie.

I believe that every individual involved in the creation of 'PRON' has the right to feel justly proud.

So, without further ado, please allow me to present to you Serenity and Emeelee's 'PRON' (Parts 1 and 2):

Pixie xxx