How I Became a ‘Movie Star’ in Second Life

by Joan Kremer on August 21, 2008 · 8 comments

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PhotobucketAs a jaded, website know-it-all teen and young adult in the ’60s and ’70s, I smirked self-righteously whenever I met a groupie: you know, those star-struck teeny-boppers who swooned at the mere sight of Mick Jagger or fought their way to the front at a Beatles concert and screamed and fainted as John, Paul, George, and Ringo came running onto the stage. Even worse were the ones (mostly girls) who would trade sexual favors for the “privilege” of hanging out with the rock stars of the day.

Yuck!

But now I’m a groupie and loving every minute of it! Because I’ve discovered that the best way to get involved and have fun in Second Life is to join its groups.

Virtual worlds are huge, and Second Life is becoming almost as big and complicated as the physical world. So when “newbies,” as they are called, take their first avatar-steps on Orientation Island, they often have the virtual-world equivalent of that “all dressed up and nowhere to go” sensation. How do I conquer this strange, immense territory?

“Groups,” I tell them. “Become a groupie.”

Here’s how it works: Just like in First Life, people in Second Life gravitate into communities with shared interests and goals. These are the groups that filter the vast resources of SL into containers you can actually get your hands around. Groups are essentially communities of like-minded avatars, and often provide places to go and activities to participate in.

How do you find the right groups? Often by trial and error–but we’re talking fast, easy trials!

At the bottom of your SL viewer is a button labeled Search. (The Search window in general is an avatar’s best friend, especially as you get acquainted with SL.) One of the tabs in the Search window is Groups. Click that tab and your fun is about to begin.

Here’s how I discovered the writing wealth in SL through its groups:

  1. I ran several Group searches on words such as writer, writing, literary, and author.
  2. I ordered the results by the number-of-members column, figuring that the groups with the most members probably had the most going on (though that turned out not always to be true).
  3. I read the intro details for each group whose name seemed to fit my interest and had no joining fee. (I still haven’t joined a group with a fee!)
  4. If the details sounded promising, I immediately joined the group, which gave me access to its Notices page. There I looked at the past notices. If there were none and the group had been around for a while, I put it on my “probably not” list. Otherwise I read the notices to get more of a sense of what they did.
  5. When I had a comfortable number of groups, I began to explore them: I teleported to their “home base” and attended every reading, workshop, meeting, party, and other event they offered.
  6. I began to meet other writers—people from all over the world—and would look at their profiles to see what groups they belonged to. When I found groups I hadn’t heard of yet, I’d check them out.
  7. I also looked at the Picks in their profiles, looking for places geared toward writers. I’d check out these places, and sometimes find a great group to join there.
  8. Within a short time, I’d hit my SL limit of 25 groups and had to start culling. I left those that seemed inactive and those in niches (such as sci-fi and horror) that I wasn’t particularly interested in.

Using this process, I quickly got to know a lot of what was happening on the Second Life writing scene, and before long, I was so busy networking and sharing and learning with my new writer friends, that I felt like an old hand at SL.

I’ve heard rumors that the 25-group cap will someday be removed from Second Life, and I can hardly wait—because I have a lot of other interests for which I want to become a “groupie”!

A few of my favorite active groups for writers (with links to their blog or website if they have one):

In future posts, I’ll describe some of the great programs these and other groups offer writers in Second Life, including professional workshops, classes for all levels, contests, open mic events, conversations with widely acclaimed First Life authors, and more!
A kid in a candy store! Yeah, price I know it’s a cliche, but sometimes those are the only ways to describe something. And I’d never felt more like a kid surrounded by all the free candy I wanted — or like Alice in only the best parts of Wonderland — than I did when I first stepped foot on Second Life’s Orientation Island as Alas Zerbino, newbie avatar.

Not only could I combine my fascination with technology, my love of computer graphic design, and my addiction to learning and information-gathering in this magical 3D world, but I also, quite accidentally, discovered a vast wealth of resources for writers, available 24/7, at no cost, and as easy as opening a computer app!

I was quite head over heels in love with my brave new “world.”

Kristin Hannah appears on Authors in Your Pocket!

Peggy Hicks of Second Life Cable Network TV interviews best-selling novelist Kristin Hannah during her twice-monthly Authors in Your Pocket! show, where SL avatars can interact directly with the author. I’ve met more published authors in SL through this and other events than I have in all my years in First Life!

In only the first month in Second Life, I:

  • Took writing workshops from published authors
  • Entered (and won) writing contests
  • Discovered a ton of new nonfiction markets
  • Chatted face-to-face (or avatar-to-avatar) with well-known authors from around the world.

And that’s just the beginning!

I tried to describe this incredible virtual world to friends and family, but found it impossible to do it justice. A few of my attempts:

  • Parallel universe
  • Nearly infinite playground
  • Mind-blower
  • The Matrix run by the good guys

But the best part for a writer like me, living in a small town in a rural part of the physical world, it gave me a mainline injection of ideas, inspiration, and markets for my writing.

The funny thing is, I first meandered into Second Life for a totally different reason (a story I’ll share another time), never dreaming it would completely revamp and exponentially expand my writing life.

I decided to start this blog to share my findings on the many ways that Second Life (and other virtual worlds) can help writers of every genre improve their writing, increase their publishing opportunities, and expand their writing community to truly “meta-physical” levels!

If you have questions you want answered or ideas for me to write about, please send me an email! I look forward to expanding our collective understanding of this new writers’ world!

Where else but in a virtual world (or if your name was Judy Garland) would a small-town Midwest-U.S. gal get to star in a movie?

Well, information pills “starring in a move” may be stretching it a bit (or a lot!), more about but fact is, story I had the awesome experience of being among the cast of one of the most acclaimed machinima videos created recently in Second Life.


“Chameleon” is a 4min 30sec music video (machinima), filmed entirely in the virtual world of Second Life. It is a ground-breaking film that uses techniques never before used in Second Life. Click to view the video Chameleon

Writers are not the only creative types drawn to Second Life. And why not, given the recipe available to anyone who enters:

Your Imagination +
Infinite Combinations of Bits and Bytes =
Just About Anything You Want to Create!

It began with the basic dynamic of Second Life, which is simply getting to know other people through their avatars.

In this case, I was lucky enough to meet Brigitte Kungler through a mutual friend. We got to talking and found we had lots in common. So just like in first life, we hung out, shared our SL activities, laughed, and so on. Turns out Brigitte is as passionate about visual art as I am about verbal art. Turns out further that she is a film producer and machinima artist.  Way cool.

One day I got an IM from Brigitte: Would I have time to help her with a scene she was filming in a video?

Why not? It sounded like an interesting new experience, and besides, I like to help friends.

So she teleported me to the set and began to video me in my first (and probably last) movie role, which involved that so-very-difficult skill (ha-ha) of riding a bike. I didn’t even have to put on a costume (except change shoes, from heels to sneakers).

I rode that bike back and forth, and back and forth, over the strangest looking set: an old-fashioned map spread out over hills, with a globe revolving in the sky above.   And just like in first-life moviemaking, I got to do the scene over and over and over . . . until Brigitte had enough footage to edit.  (I’m told that aspect, anyway, is no different from first life.)

Alas Zerbino on set of Chameleon machinima

Me riding my bicycle on the set while filming “Chameleon”

It was fun and fascinating to be part of the process, and the professionalism of the process impressed me. Yet, I was still blown away by the quality of the final video. My biking scene ended up being a few seconds out of a 4.5 minute music video for the song “Chameleon” by the musician Vandal–a video that wows everyone I’ve shown it to.

Brigitte’s artistry in creating the sets is amazing enough, but the addition of her machinima skills results in an extraordinarily powerful, moving video that showcases the talents of both herself and musician Vandal, as well as the amazing creative possibilities provided by Second Life for artists of all genres.

“It’s one of the best I’ve seen so far, and it gives me hope for the future of Second Life as an artistic medium.” ~ Eliza Wrigglesworth on the Booflubber Gibberish blog.

Credits from the video Chameleon
Even got my name in the credits!










“Chameleon” has since become a top-viewed video on bliptv.com. And Brigitte and the video were featured on the Second Life Cable Network show Tonight Live with Paisley Beebe late last month.  Which, by the way, provided me with yet another new experience: I got to be part of the “studio” audience watching the filming of that Tonight Live show, something virtually (pun intended) impossible to do in my first life!

What kinds of experiences have you had in Second Life that are almost beyond possibility in first life?  Post a comment and share, please!

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Brigitte Kungler (1 comments.) August 21, 2008 at 10:05 pm

Why Alas!

What a nice thing to read! About me!!! You were great to work with and I wouldn’t count out being asked to participate in another one in the near future 🙂

Brigitte Kunglers last blog post..Check it out!

2 Joan Kremer (71 comments.) August 22, 2008 at 8:02 am

Hi Brigitte! So glad you saw this right away. It was great fun, and I’m just amazed at the art+machinima process, so I wanted to share it with others. I’ll be delighted to participate in any more you do! 🙂

3 Bettina Tizzy (1 comments.) August 26, 2008 at 11:10 pm

Can you feel your brain growing? I understand! And oh my goodness, we are both on the same wave length! Go Joan, go!

Your Imagination +
Infinite Combinations of Bits and Bytes =
Just About Anything You Want to Create!

Indeed…

Bettina Tizzys last blog post..Dusan Writer surveys NPIRL on content protection

4 Joan Kremer (71 comments.) August 27, 2008 at 9:39 am

Yes, Bettina — I have felt myself expanding! Glad to meet another person who gets it! I talk even more about it in this post, too: Second Life Experiences: As Real as Your Brain Thinks”

I really appreciate your comment!
Joan

5 John (2 comments.) February 25, 2010 at 2:37 pm

Wow, I knew about Second Life, but I had no idea that this sort of thing went on… It’s all very surreal.
John´s last blog ..Anchor Text Test Landing Page My ComLuv Profile

6 Ketin (1 comments.) February 28, 2010 at 2:38 pm

wow , that was awesome . second life rocks

7 Mule Sneakers (1 comments.) May 18, 2010 at 9:31 pm

Very cool! Didn’t know this was so serious. I mean I knew about Second Life, buy this is pretty neat stuff. Thanks..

8 Jake@Mountain Biking (2 comments.) September 9, 2010 at 11:23 pm

I have friends who have been trying to get me to Second Life. I guess you can do and be anything/anyone there. Wild.
Jake@Mountain Biking´s last blog ..Travel Plans My ComLuv Profile

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