Saturday, December 19, 2009

My first Machinima film!

I have been wanting to try this for a long time and today I suddenly found the time.
I have read all that Torley wrote about Machinima and I have searched the web for proper information, more on that later. Well... here is my first try...

I used a Macbook Pro and as most instructions on the web are for Windows I will provide some here for useful information.

 Machinima great tips

Using the Mac for Machinima

I used ultra resolution and was mostly in Mouselook...
However there are some interesting tools that I will examine later, and comment on them here. For example this tool looks great:

For now I used the Snapz Pro demo for the capturing and Imovie (included with every Mac) for the editing and posting on YouTube.  This short film is edited from maybe 10 min in four different clips.

Well... this is my first try.... so be nice to me... will you..  ;o)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Those of you that read my post this Monday is probably dying of curiosity on how to find this Smilla place. Well, just read on and you will discover that a bit further down.... and show some neat photos from that amazing place.

It was my friend Eta (from Poland) that introduced me to these people and for a period of my second life I was totally absorbed with what was going on in there. If it wasn't the art exhibition it might be a flying circus at high altitude or the the wonderful turtles in the incredible underwater world or a new film in the Star Trek cinema in the sky. It was definitely the most beautiful creation I had seen so far. Every day something new to explore and to learn from.

Coolzor (from Belgium) was the builder and Immersive (from UK) the scripter while Lena (from Switzerland and on the photo above) held an observant eye over the whole creation and was the final judge of what to be. When they had the photo competition the sim was fludded with people all day.  One day Cool would introduce me to the holodeck principle and the next day Immy was scripting the elevators. I learned so much in those magic months....

Smilla is still there for you to enjoy, but now mostly empty of people. Dont miss the two tours and dont miss the underwater life. But I am a bit concerned for how long it will be here so please go there now and be amazed of all beauty and the incredible attention to details. Sometimes I miss the intensity of that period in my second life and i hope to find it somewhere else...

Because THAT i do know! It is out there somewhere so I really need to explore more and get to know more people from all over.

I have posted some of my photos of Smilla from that period here. Even if my SL photographic skills have improved a bit since those early days... I still find it hard to find better motifs than in this beautiful gem.

Recently Coolzor and I had a chat late in the evening and somehow I think I could spot that he misses that period too... who knows maybe there will be a new project like this unique one some day to come...  ;-)  

Ohhh... I almost forgot... LOL

Monday, November 30, 2009

The secret world of Coolz0r Courier, avatar – conqueror of a virtual world.

Please read this article from a friend of mine:

He has a great story to tell and we can learn so much from it!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Dont miss this oportunity to get the best sl sailboat for 1 Linden!!!

At the Tradewind sim   there is a big exhibition right now for seaplanes. The big opening was yesterday on November 21 and the show will go on for further two weeks.

Even if you don't fancy aircraft's there is a huge point in getting there as fast as possible. The big catch there is that you can get the amazing Flying Fizz dingie for just 1 Linden dollar there. Please do that as soon as possible and do also get some Fizz keys (you will find them in the small shop there) for also 1 Linden there... I will explain why really soon.... just read on.

The Flying Fizz is one of the most popular sailing dingies in SL and behaves very realistic. You can sail it in different modes from "Fun mode", "Novice mode", "competition mode" all the way up to "Expert mode" so it is perfect for learning advanced sailing in SL.

Every week there are a number of Fizz races around the different sailing sims in SL and world championships are arranged.

Home in Tangelo we have set up a practice racetrack for us to practice, learn the rules and learn how to handle the Fizz in easy going circumstances. We will invite those of you who are interested in learning more about sailing in SL...  to come and learn in your own pace and get ready for friendly races with us.

Later maybe we can compete in the weekly races.

Hmmm... well now is the time to introduce the long term big plan.....  ;o)
If enough people are interested and gets to a certain skill level within time..... maybe... maybe

maybe we can put together an entry for making a challenge of the Americas Cup in 2010. I also hope to put together a Team for the J-class competitions with those wonderful big wooden yachts.

But one step at the time so lets start with the Flying Fizz!   So...  anybody interested?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Sailing: Part 2

In the first sailing post I showed two boats from Trudeau and I must point out that there are so many different kinds of sailing dingies and yachts here in SL. One favourite for many are the Flying Fizz 3, because of the very realistic sailing experience with it.

You dont need a hud for sailing this as you can see on the photo above. The round instrument in the middle of the dingie is all you need. There you can see wind direction and speed. This is an extremely fun boat to sail and as it very weak you have to balance it with your body weight.

The trick is to sail it as upright as possible to get maximum speed. But you better be careful or...

it might end in a bath that you had not planned for. Great animations for that to though!

If you both put you weight on the centerboard you might be able to fix the situation.

If you want to try a demo of the Fizz 3 or even buy it, the builder Mothgirl is just selling through other channels and the one she recommends is Starboards shopping mall in Hollywood sailing sims.

On good thing about the Fizz is that you can start at a newbie level and work your way up to competition level but setting the boats different mods. Two days ago Marlia had never held in a rudder now she is the skipper when we are sailing together, thanks to the Fizz.

Another great thing with the Fizz 3 is that you can adopt the look to your own taste. So of course my dingie have a bird motif on the genacker sail.

Well, I think my love got inspired a bit.... but maybe let the it all go overboard..... juust a tiiiiny little bit. ROFL!!!

She argues that she will win the races because either the competition will be hanging over board throwing up or they will laugh to death. LOL 

Yes, I know she is just teasing me...  (look at the genacker here) and if that was not enough that crazy woman really took the full step into madness....   I just love her!

What can I say... she is at least not a coward.. LOL

Later that night we went dancing at the Icehotel with Jesper and Ewa. Marlia was persistent and arrived like this and strangely enough they started talking to us.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Songs from the woods... where I live

I had a long trainride back home tonight and I spent most on the time on Youtube....  ;o)
I cant keep this clip from you from one of my favourite bands. I have played in band most of my life and cheated on lots of different instruments, so I know a bit about how hard this piece is to handle...

I really love this album "Songs from the Woods" and this is maybe not the best song from it... but I cant help admiring the talent and the skill of these incredible musicians on display here. 

Hmm.. now I got an idea... I get back to that in the morning... I really need a good nights sleep. While waiting for that.... think about the tunes that has been most important for you, not necessary the best ones, but the most important ones in your life.

Hmmm, maybe I need to balance that old stuff with some more modern things... with Gordian Knot.

If you think it is a bit hard at the beginning please just wait... this music is full of contrasts, emotions, panic, romance, hysteria and just fantastic music...

This music is perfect form me in my current chaotic condition... one moment relaxed and in harmony and the next in total panic.

Well no photage here so you just better close your eyes and turn up the volume.... kisses

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sailing in Fruit Islands

I am on the train at the moment and as the bandwidth is rather low I cant do anything more useful then to write another post here....   ;o)

Sailing is one of the great things I enjoy in SL. OK... I have to many boats and yachts I admit that. Most of them are nothing to write home about, but the masterpieces from Trudeau Yacht or the more fantastic.

The creator is Jacqueline Trudeau and she has a wonderful blog at go there and read more about her amazing creations. I have two of them the Trudeau Twenty that is very easy to use as it is below the magic limit of 31 prims. This is what she writes about this in the Q&A section of her blog:

Q: Ride??? Attach??? What’s the deal with all these parts? Why can’t I just rez a boat, climb in and sail it?
A: Currently SL limits physics enabled objects, like vehicles, to a maximum of 31 linked prims. On top of that, each riding avatar counts as one linked prim so that pretty much limits the detail a modeler is able to put into their vehicle. However, prims that are worn by an avatar do not count against that limit. So we made the vehicle part (including the scripts, sails and avatar riding positions) of the boat well under 31 prims and the appearance part well over. Just think of that part of the boat like any other avatar attachment, such as shoes or prim hair. If you really just want a one piece vehicle, we make and sell those as well.

Here Marlia is doing her first tour at the rudder in our Trudeau Twenty. Just by the motor on the first tour to get a feeling for whats happening. The sails can be the next step. You can let anybody be the skipper and change a lot of settings by command, a hud or by editing a notecard. Just read the instruction notecard, wear the hud and sit at the rudder and of you go. The finer details you can learn as you go....   ;o)

We also have the much bigger Trudeau Trucordia that is 217 prims. It is more complicated to use as you have too wear one part and sit on the other part because of that 31-prim limit. It is a really beautiful yacht but I find that I tend to use the smaller one because of that problem. There are some yachts in between in size but still below that limit and I think I will get one of those in due time.

Out here in the archipelago of Fruit Islands they have regular free sailing courses for total newbies every week. So it is very easy to get over the first steep steps out here. New is also the Mango Yacht club that is arranging competitions and regattas.

Just a while ago the big J-Classic competition was in Fruit Islands for a regatta. So great!

There are all kinds of sailing competitions in SL and for very different boat types and I will cover that in a future post here as a plan a small series of posts about sailing in SL.

Totally exhausted after the first attempt....   Nice to relax in the wonderful waters of Tangelo  ;o)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Bentham forest

We went for a photosession in the amazing Bentham forest. A bit late you might think.... well concerning Halloween you are right... but if you you dont want people in every image the timing is right ;-)    

(please just click on the photos if you want to see them in their full glory)

I love the attention to details here. For me it is just beautiful and reminds me of some of the wilder places home in Sweden. The scary thing I don't get at all... I just love woods!

 Everywhere you have all these beautiful sceneries.

Ok... I have changed the environment settings a bit... just to get a a little better lights.

Suddenly my favourite witch sneaks up on me from behind.... scary huh?

This is a bit more scary though. It is from the crystal cave and this Japanese woman have a really nice hat in my opinion... ;-) How funny...  LOL.

Oh... I almost forgot... I found a way here to improve my photos a bit further... curious are you? Well you have to learn be patient my friend... because that will be the next chapter in my series about High quality photography in Second Life. Ahh... yes... I know it is hard to wait...  ;-)

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Best love song

Well this is my love song.... to love and to life..

This is so strong for me that I will either cry or crack..... no other way for a sensible man ;-)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

HiQ photography in SL, Part 4: Edit with Gimp, the cheap way

Many people don't have the funds necessary for buying Photoshop and end up using a cracked (and possibly infected) illegal copy or some really bad editing solutions.

However there is a completely legal and really good quality alternative available for you. This article tries to recreate the workflow I showed in an earlier article about working with Photoshop but with this alternative instead.

The Gimp is a free (as in no cost) open source tool very similar to Photoshop and you can do almost anything you can with Photoshop in in a similar way. It also has the same kind of tools and is organized in the same way. With the proper training you can achieve the same quality with a program that costs...... nothing more than your effort.

There are versions for Windows, Mac OSX and Linux and translations exists for many languages... like my native Swedish (and that you will see in the screenshots below). You can download it here:

If you are used to Photoshop you will find the the default shortcuts rather different. However that is no problem as you can set your own shortcuts for almost anything in the program. Look above to see the menu for that. I find it easy to search for a tool in that settings instead of digging for it. I have set my most used Photoshop shortcuts to be the same in The Gimp like:

Resize: alt + cmd + S
Layers: cmd + L
Contrast: cmd + K
Saturation: cmd + U
Brush tool: B
Crop tool: C
and so on......

In the rest of the article I will use those shortcuts above, but if you do not change them they will be completely different.

My workflow is like this:

1. Open the file in The Gimp.

Never make a photo bigger without special tools for that, because it will degrade horrible. There are plugins and other tools to do that because it needs to interpolate the new pixels, but these tools are rather expensive. So best is only to keep pictures at the original size or to make them smaller.

2. Start with crop. Shortcut = C. Hold down and drag with the mouse to get an even square if you plan to post at flickr, because square photos looks best there. Press enter when you have the right size of your crop.

If you plan to use them in your profile... have a look at this page for details:

3.Look under Textures on that page, for the correct proportions for picks and profile. There is video for showing how to do that in photoshop. Look at the video a bit down on that page.

4. Set the levels if the important part are too dark. Ctrl-L (CMD-L on Mac) opens the Levels tool. Often there is no info staples at the rightmost part like in this image. The photo is badly exposed in photo language. If so drag the rightmost handle to the left until it touches the staples of black.

I hope you see the difference between those two images. I happens quite often that SL photos gets this way and are wrongly exposed in my opinion. Now you know the trick to fix that...  ;-)

Sometimes you have staples to the right but it still looks to dark, then you can try to move the middle handle to get it to look right.

5. I think it is almost always necessary to increase saturation in the images from SL.
Ctrl-U (CMD-U on the Mac) opens the Saturation tool. For me it is often +15 increase or so.

As you see I have a Swedish version of The Gimp, but I think you will be able to find the right spot in your version of The Gimp despite that.

6. Make the final size. I normally choose 800 or 600 pixel at the longest size, that works good on Flickr and blog sites. If it is already smaller then that's so... just leave it. Never make a photo bigger without special tools. Use the shortcuts CMD-ALT-S on Mac (I think it is Ctrl-alt-S on PC).

Now be sure that the link tool (marked by the arrow here) is turned on so that the proportions dont gets changed. Then enter 700 in the example above in the field with the highest number).

7. Sharpen it. This is always the final step and must be done after the photo is in its final size. Use the built-in unsharp mask filter for this. There are also some more advanced and free plugins for The Gimp and you will find them on the links above.

Settings: Amount=0.50 (if you get white borders like sugar crust at hight contrast areas, then lower to 0.4),  Radius= 5.0, Treshold= 0...... thats it.

8. Save as: PNG (Use only JPG if you have to make them smaller in filesize for some reasob).

Voila! You are done....

Now the next time you are using the free Gimp instead of expensive Photoshop or some really bad tool... think a nice thought about me...   ;o)


Monday, October 26, 2009

Moving.... to a new paradise and escaping misery

When real life is as miserable as it is right now for me, it is absolutely wonderful to be able to escape into the paradise we are creating for ourselves here in Tangelo. Things are really beginning to shape up and we have now done the waters and some planting.  So much fun work still needs to be done...

 Marlia bought us a new great spa instead of a normal house. I always have problems manoeuvring in small spaces so this kind of open places are perfect for me. If we want privacy we have the oriental palace in the sky.

There are so many great details in that palace, look at the frosted glass in the photo below... I am such a freak for details...   ;-)

At the moment Marlia and I are participating in the great Fairy Tale hunt. That is so much fun as you get to see so many new places and receive so many nice gifts. Marlia is miles ahead of me... on one of the places she got this great drawing table. Just perfect for her..... she is a real drawing freak.

You can see the a part of the great Spa in the background here. The amazing woman there in the foreground is truly admirable for accepting moody me and my swings.

Another view of the spa...   looks nice... huh?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Well... I couldnt let go of that thought...

So we decided to move from Otherland to Fruit islands when we found the perfect place out there...  ;o)
So perfect, no lag, lots of prims, great sailing, beautiful surroundings and some really wonderful people. I even met some people I knew when I lived in the New England sims out in Nantucket, back in the "old days". It seems people are moving from Nantucket to Fruit island....

This is what our islands looked like we we found them. Totally empty without any vegetation but lying in just the perfect place.

The islands needed almost no terraforming so the minor adjustments was done rather swiftly and then we can concentrate and what we would like the place out there to be like. Even if we have the palace in the sky we need a small house done here and the proper vegetation for all the animals and birds...

Here the terraforming is done and we just have the big yacht there for sailing around among those beautiful waters and participation in all the amazing events out there.

We will move out there rather gradual as we still have the old place in Otherland and need to figure out how to plan things. There we have three different layers in the sky. The oriental palace, the photo studio in a Holodeck and the building place and Xstreet shop. Maybe there is a better way to organize all that... ;-)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Exploring Fruit Island

Fruit islands is an amazing part of the sailing world in SL

This amazing tropical world consists of more than 70 connected sims. There is over 250 islands for rent and as they are rather small there is lots of free water for sailing.

Fruit islands is one of the communities that arranges the big regattas in SL and as the sim crossing often are quite smooth, it is really perfect for sailing or flying out there.

But besides all that residential areas there is also more than 30 public open places that are just waiting for exploration.

Below this wonderful lighthouse a beautiful under water world unfolds. Take the sub there if you get tired of all the swimming because the reef is enormous and continues over several sims.

So many places to explore in this amazing creation. This is from one of the secret cave, with fishing Herons and all. I just love it!

But beware of the traps if you bring your beloved like I did....   ;-)
At least if your loved one are as playful as mine is......  LOL

HiQ photography in SL, Part 5: Environment settings

In the three earlier parts I have tried to describe the things in a photo you can affect with settings in the SL client or in the afterwork in Photoshop. But sometimes you can also change the condition for a photo to make it look better.

1. The aspect, view of angle, composition are traditional photographic subjects that you can read about in any book or web site about photography. I will in a later post try to spread some lights over the SL specific things here.

2. Environment, lightning and so on. There are two different aspects to this. First you can add artificial lightning with lamps and other lightsources in world. The next post will cover that and some neat tools for making better portraits.

But now i will try to show how you can affect a photo by using the environment editor i the SL client. Have a look at the photo below:

It is a nice photo of an octopus from the great underwater world in the Fruit sims. However you cant se much of the surroundings because of the light of that time of SL day. That is an easy fix..  ;-).

Just bring up the environment editor in your SL client. Use the World menu -> Environment -> Environment editor, and you get the little windows in the top of these images.

The top left slider just changes the time of day. Just try to drag it and adjust so you get the right color and direction of light. In this example I also changed the Water fog slider to the lower right side of the window and the Water color. Just experiment until you get the right impression for your purpose.