Using SL for RL Design Mockups

This is hardly ground-breaking SL news, but it is a fun project that I wanted to share. On top of all the fun SL stuff that BlakOpal and I use prims to build using Second Life, we’re also using it to help design the art for our RL camp at the Burning Man Arts Festival. I’m not sure if you’ve ever worked on DIY art installations in remote (2+ hours from civilization), isolated (no running water or power), and somewhat hostile areas (high altitude desert with high temperatures by day and cold by night, plus occasionally high winds and crazy dust storms), but it can be tricky. It is a huge challenge, but we’re big arty dorks who enjoy that sort of thing quite a bit. One of the keys to success is to have a good plan communicated clearly to team members, updating and making changes as necessary. This can really help when it comes to making sure the advance work gets done, and that when you get out there everyone has an idea of what’s supposed to happen.

On the first big desert art project I’d helped work on, the leader of the team had built a couple physical architectural models. That was a huge benefit for the project - in addition to any scribbled notes or sketches, we had a way to visualize it in three dimensions. As computer hardware and software capabilities have increased over the years, I can now get the same result with a 3D model. Sure, I had wanted to use this project as an opportunity to learn more about modeling and working with Cinema 4D, but I just do not have the time to do that. June is approaching, and BlakOpal and I both want to avoid getting buried in last-minute Burning Man preparations. So I decided that how I built the model wasn’t as important as getting something done quickly.

Enter Second Life. Prims are easily squashed, stretched, and mashed as needed, with the added benefit that you can walk around and virtually inhabit the space as well. It’s a very rough draft (think of it as a 3D sketch), but as we bang around different ideas and work out details I can update the model fairly easily. Fun!

This Is Halloween!

Got the extraordinary opportunity last night to see the annual screening of Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas at the El Capitan in Hollywood. It has the distinction of not only being the very theater where the film premiere was held back in 1993, but the El Capitan is also the very first theater built for ‘talkies.’ Fortunately, that very first sound system has long since been replaced with something state-of-the art, and Disney (the current owners) have lovingly restored the theater to its glory days.

While I’ve made the annual screening at the El Capitan a few times when I lived in Los Angeles, BlakOpal had never been, so we took the timing of our trip as a sign that we should remedy the situation. In addition to just seeing the film in such a great location, they go the extra mile and put some of the art and set pieces on display - since we’re both arty design nuts, this was even better than seeing one of our favorites on the big screen. Yes, the photo above is the actual model of the iconic cemetary - it’s more than 9 feet wide and richly detailed. Below are a few of the concept sketches from the early stages of production.

An Intimate Evening With 100,000 Close Friends

Had a wonderful time at the U2 concert last night in Pasadena. Despite some 100,000 people (the biggest crowd in the venue’s long history, as well as the fastest sell-out), the remarkable stage design made the whole night feel very, very intimate.

The stage design amazes me to no end. Tens of thousands of parts, all custom-made to an exacting specification, yet looking at the pieces closely you’d think they’d picked them up at the local Home Depot. I snapped the pic above before the show got started, I love the strange symmetry offered by the speaker stacks, stretched fabric, and transformational LED screen. That’s right, transformational - it actually moves and changes shape at various points throughout the show.

Adding to the excitement of the show (beyond one of the greatest live bands in the world, a gaggle of celebrities in the audience, and a crowd of 100,000 screaming fans) was the live filming. The concert was broadcast to over 10 million people around the world on YouTube, and will be released on DVD sometime in the near future. A very beautiful day indeed - if you look carefully, you can probably see BlakOpal and I in the crowd ;-)