Feature-Length SL Documentary slated for October release

by Pixeleen Mistral on 09/08/06 at 8:38 am

by Pixeleen Mistral, Herald National Affairs desk.

“We aren’t doing this to show what Second Life ‘plays’ like, we are here to make a documentary about what people do in it”, said Anders Ogre when I spoke with him recently. Mr. Ogre is a filmmaker creating a feature-length documentary about Second Life due to be released in late October.

Taking a break after the evening’s virtual filming was over, Mr. Ogre and some SL pirates got a lift to a pirate pub on my pet elephant — filming seems to be thirsty work for pirates. The pirates were in Sanchon sim for an evening battle scene shoot using Chase Specualaas’s pirate ships and melee fighting system. After we slaked the parched pirates’ thirst, I prodded my pet pachyderm down to the water’s edge, and there we discussed Mr. Ogre’s project. Anders Ogre (aka Anders von Reis Crooks in RL) is one of the principles in RoboStudios, an independent documentary film company based in Bainbridge Island, Washington. According to Anders, this project is currently privately funded and financially independent of Linden Lab — though he did contact the Lindens to tell them what he is up to.

RoboStudios’s project is an example of how virtual worlds and machinima can put film production in reach of technically savvy smaller production houses. The tricky part of the virtual film making art is in working around the limits of Second Life’s technology. There are certainly challenges. “Even as a tourist, I find the constant updates grating, because it seems to really ruin stability regularly. The latency issues especially as the sims get above a few people can be a real problem, especially for someone like me who is filming”, said Mr. Ogre.

Pirate battles may make for good cinema/machinima, but this sort of thing is not the primary focus of the project, so Johnny Depp is probably safe for now. Audio interviews with various SL residents drive the film’s narrative. I was wondering how the film would handle SL’s many trans-gendered avatars, but Anders told me that “the avatar is not as important as the voice really. Avatars will be used rarely in our film.” While 350,000 avatars can’t be wrong, I don’t think we can expect to see much in the way of tringo or camping chairs in the film, since Anders thought they were the most boring part of SL. Odd he would think that. . . .

There is a faint hope that the rest of the media takes a hint from Mr. Ogre, who wants to “bring more than just the economics of Second Life to the rest of the world. It seems that economics has been the most sellable issue for the media outlets, but there’s a lot more to Second Life than the economics: relationships, events, real-world applications.” That made me think maybe Anshe Chung will not be on the movie poster. Maybe.

Anders is also a World of Warcraft player, so I asked for his thoughts on the effect of increasing hype and real life incursions into Second Life. Anders said, “I think that SL is essentially in a mutation phase and no one is quite sure how the mutation is working. It’s interesting to watch it from the perspective of a tourist, though I think I too would be displeased if it was happening to my game, my pastime.” Whether it is good or bad for the SL experience, more virtual films and RL crossovers are a near certainly for Second Life. Virtual worlds make it easier to make movies without the big budget, as there is no film cost, no travel cost, and no setup fees. Expect to see more ventures like RoboStudios’ Second Life documentary coming to a DVD (if not a theater) near you.

One Response to “Feature-Length SL Documentary slated for October release”

  1. Length

    Aug 19th, 2006


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