Steampunk Aviator Redux


Back in August, we released a couple great outfits that, in retrospect, were kind of confusing. The Steampunk Aviator Dress and the Steampunk Lady Aviator Outfit both looked great, but the names didn’t do a very good job of explaining what they were. Both were outfits. Both were dresses. And in talking with a number of our customers, most had no interest in the hat (don’t get me wrong, it’s a great hat - but quite a few folks out there prefer not to wear hats in general).

So we took the occasion of the new blue version as an opportunity to repackage and re-introduce the line in less confusing terms. Long gowns and short dresses. The hat’s no longer included, and we’ve reduced the price. Still a lot of pieces to each outfit, and still a great victorian steampunk design. Click here to see more photos.

Eridu Society at Burn2

It’s been more than two months since my last post, and for that I apologize. RL and SL adventures and projects have kept us incredibly busy, and I’ve fallen behind in both maintaining and updating the site. I’ll tease you by saying that a major site update is in the works, as well as more blog posts (both shoppe-related and personal). then I’ll dive right into the subject of this post... The Eridu Society build at Burn2.

What is Burn2?

For the last several years, there has been an SL equivalent of the Burning Man Arts Festival called Burning Life. This year, Linden Lab has (finally) turned the event over to the Burning Man organizers, and the new incarnation of the event is called Burn2. In keeping with the Burning Man core principles, Burn 2 is a radically self-reliant event. That means that this year the event is a lot smaller in scale - instead of 30 sims of land provided by Linden Lab, it's 6 regions of artist-supported awesome.

What is the Eridu Society?

I think of it as "a steampunk adventurer's club, for traveller's from some sort of imaginary future." BlakOpal and I created the Eridu Society in 2007 to both reflect the creative idea of 'ancient culture meets high technology' and to keep Burning Man-related projects separated from more commercial pursuits. It takes its name from Eridu, which according to Sumerian legend was the first city. All our cities, cultures, forms of religion, and forms of decadence (woohoo decadence!) have its roots in Eridu, and it seems perfectly appropriate to bring a city from the cradle of civilization in the heart of Mesopotamia to the cutting edge of technology in both Black Rock City and Second Life.

What is this Communications Tower?

This year’s art theme is Metropolis, and good communications are an essential part of any successful metropolis. With that in mind, and with a few ideas in my head of how to design a structure that will look great and keep lag to a minimum, I’ve designed a giant tower and adjoining multi-purpose facility (it looks a little like a warehouse, but it can also double as an event space in SL).

I avoided the use of sculpts entirely on the external structure, and blended elements from the world of steampunk and classic 20th century science fiction. After spending several months bouncing different ideas and concepts around this spring and early summer, I had something I was happy with and ready to pitch to BlakOpal. She loved the iconic design right away, and soon we set upon endless hours of work to take the structure to a finished form, cook up and then refine textures (in some cases dozens of times), and get the tower ready to ‘place’ on the playa (in other words, drop the build down at the Burn2 site and wiggle it into place).

From there, we still had a lot of work to do. More texturing work was to be done, and the prims were flying as I worked on designing and building the final elements in-place. To help speed up rez times and reduce lag, we re-used sculpts and textures wherever possible, and made minimal use of scripts for an added touch in a few spots. Riffing on the idea of a communications tower pulling in signals from both RL and SL, we filled the space with equipment and signage that we felt would show and explain a few things about Burning Man.

We took advantage of two awesome pieces of Viewer 2.x technology for the project. The first is Shared Media - if you’re in a 2.x compatible viewer and touch the display screens, you’ll see some video segments that BlakOpal and I put together, we think it adds a lot to the build, yet doesn’t cause/create massive amounts of lag. The second is in the outfits we’ve made for this year’s event - Viewer 2.x’s Alpha Layer technology. Using the avatar Alpha Layer, we can make awesome boots that don’t need invisi-prim scripts, and look great on any surface (no more alpha glitch issues when walking on certain textured surfaces or flying over water).

Gifting is a great tradition at the RL Burning Man event, and we’re happy to see it at Burn2 as well. For this year’s Desert Expedition Outfit, we reached back further in time and pulled together something inspired by Sudan Lancer uniforms and classic safari gear (our idea of a victorian steampunk explorer). BlakOpal worked her magic in the most incredible ways, and the result is an awesome ensemble, from head to toe with all the trimmings. Sculpted pith helmet, awesome goggles, and even a pair of worn/dusty boots. We also went a step further this year, creating a pair of Mech Skins (brass or steel). They’ve got a great steampunk-meets-scifi look to them, and as an added bonus you can strip down to just the Mech Skin if you want to experience Burn2 with as little lag as possible.

While we were working on all that, I had been working on several different ideas for music. We had a great “Beer Bash” event at our previous virtual burns, and this year was no exception. I haven’t had spent any time in the studio working on anything music-related in many months, so I was a little worried that I’d be a little rusty or that I wouldn’t pull something together in time. Fortunately my fears were unfounded, and instead of coming out of the studio with a couple two-hour performances I managed to record a number of sets, and I think I captured a really incredible performance - my best effort yet.

So, that’s what we’ve been up to for Burn2. Come to the Beer Bash, it’s on Sunday 17 October from Noon-4PM SLT, or just stop by when you get the chance to check out what we’ve built and help yourself to the skins and outfits. It’s just one of many, many amazing pieces of virtual art at this year’s Burn2 event, and if you’re familiar with the RL Burning Man event you’ll appreciate the amazing touches that the Burn2 DPW have put on the event.


Steampunk Music, You Say?

Monday seems like it was just moments ago. But here we are, at the week's end. Having gotten the more pressing matters of getting the flagship stores updated and tended to, I'm happily playing with some prims and working out some ideas for new structures.

I've had a couple interesting conversations this week regarding the notion of "steampunk music." While most RL friends I talked to agree the whole idea is ludicrous ("it's more of a visual art style... is there impressionist music too?"), SL friends have some specific ideas. While I wouldn't dispute that Abney Park and the like are steampunk bands, I think the moniker fits because steampunk is their visual style as well. Otherwise, people seemed to have flocked to a few misguided notions that circus/cabaret music is the official sound of steampunk. *shudders* No offense to Nick Cave and the like it's just not my cup of tea.

Personally I've enjoyed exploring different sounds and styles as I've explored the steamlands in Second Life. I've been meaning to do some experimenting and toying around with video for the last several weeks, perhaps I'll play around with a few different soundtracks and see how things come together in the cutting room. *Adds to the ever-growing to-do list*

Moving on, I have mixed feelings regarding all the posts and live streams coming out of this year's Burning Man arts festival. On one hand, everyone should be free to do what they want. Even if that means playing with web cams and removing yourself from the event to sort through and process and then post your pictures ahead of everyone else. But on the other hand, a big part of the event's appeal is its isolation. Going to a faraway place, disconnected from the rest of the world, and seeing what happens. I'm still very interested in returning to the playa in 2010, though with every live feed link I see that interest wanes just a little bit. I'm not exactly sure why, but we'll see how that plays out over the next eleven months.

In the nearer term, BlakOpal and I are excited about Burning Life. The event doesn't happen until October, but we've been tossing around ideas for a while and are about to start more serious planning. Beyond that, we're also looking at another Gothic Fashion Fair event, though juggling the SL events with our RL travel plans this fall will be a bit of a challenge. Should be fun :-)