Ephemeral Premiere Wrap Up
I'd like to thank everyone who attended the Ephemeral Premiere today (Sunday, Jan 18). It was well attended and the conversations about the film were excellent. Particular thanks to Dizzy Banjo for coming despite a bad cold (drink that lemon tea!) and to Poid Mahlovich for her comments. And thanks go to Sol Bartz (Phil Rice) for letting us use his theatre and for setting up the video.
Despite having some problems with our video server for the day, we manage to play the film as a file and everyone got a chance to see Ephemeral, although at different times. Dizzy commented on some aspects of the production via text while the film was playing. I've copied and edited the local chat logs, so you can read them here in pdf format (Dizzy's words are in blue):
To summarize some of the voice comments (we are working on recording the sessions for those who can't make it), Dizzy created "Ephemeral" in Second Life as a way of documenting the excellent work that Poid Mahlovich did on a section of the Princeton University SL site called "Princeton Aspire". He mentions that most of the work on the film was already done (in Poid's build) and he just pointed the camera and recorded. In a session that I remember he said took about a day, he captured footage in Fraps and then edited it in Sony Vegas, which he felt very comfortable with since it was much like the music/audio programs he was used to working with.
Dizzy works as a composer for games, commercials and many Second Life installations like the Ruta Maya region in Mexico's Second Life island. His DynaFleur installation at the Princeton Unviersity Sim is remarkable as well. The guitar music composed for Ephemeral was actually written some time before the film was made and he ended up cutting the piece a bit and re-performing it so that it had a more melancholy feel. All of the other sounds, with the exception of a few weather elements he drew from his own stock sound collection, are a part of the Princeton Aspire setting. He mentions that Ephemeral is an extension of an earlier film he worked on called "Passage to Zhong Fu"
Dizzy mentioned that in creating the film he was trying to depict "the passage of characters through a landscape" with just a little bit of story involved. Poid added that she loves the Narnia
series and brought some of that influence to the world of the film. You can see this in the big cabinet that the main character comes out of at the beginning of the film. The spider at the end perhaps has echoes of the Shelob character in Lord of the Rings.
Considerable work was done in tweaking the world build in Second Life by adding fog and adjust other elements of how SL renders. It certainly was beautifully done. The lighting in particular is superb. Dizzy initially rendered the film as a jpeg mov file then he compressed the film in quick time pro using the h264 codec, although he wasn't completely happy with the results (some banding issues). He ended up getting the best results, he said, by exporting the film directly out of vegas in the .wmv format. He followed a process created by Torley and documented here.
Finally, Dizzy and Poid reflected a bit on Second Life machinima. Dizzy felt that SL machinima was different than other forms of machinima in that everything in the film is custom content and hand made. SL machinima is influenced by SL culture a good deal, too. This is evident in Ephemeral itself, being the offshoot of a lot of sound/music installation work Dizzy has done in Second Life. Certainly the stories and types of films you see being created in Second Life are often more adventurous in form and content than other types of machinima.
A site both Dizzy and Poid recommended as a good one to see new SL machinima is:
Second Life Showcase
You can read Dizzy's blog here; and Poid's blog here. And here's an excellent interview with Dizzy at the "7" site. He mentions his method of composing music and creating installations. There's also mention of his work on an interesting program called "Parsec" which is a way of creating music/sound in Second Life through gestures and speeach. Dizzy spoke a bit about his goals of creating a kind of music synesthesia for virtual worlds.
Poid has a first machinima posted at her site. It's called "Life is a bowl of...". You can watch it right here, if you like. Congratulations, Poid. Really wonderful work.