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Linden Lab

Today we are shining a spotlight on Sirux Mahoney, the CEO of FANTASYLAND Estate since 2006 who is now venturing into an impressive NFT/Second Life crossover project called Universe v2.

Sirux.pngHow long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it?

I have been in Second Life since 2006. Prior to that, I was in another 3D world and became quite popular, so much that I became its official partner for my region. My community kept on growing over the months and then one night, one of my good friends, who went missing for some days, reappeared and told us that she had been spending time in Second Life. She had lots of praise for Second Life and insisted that we should all try it out. While many of my community members felt enthusiastic about the idea, I was rather skeptical, though I have to admit that I Googled it to find out more. My concern was about leaving everything behind, especially my good friends, going back to square one in another world. I could see my community crumbling. I decided to stick around and watch how things developed. And things did develop. The inevitable happened. I witnessed an exodus of my community members to Second Life. And when my good friends started moving too, I realised that my initial concern was no longer valid. I entertained mixed thoughts in my mind over the next couple of days and then one day, as I was driving back home, I decided to take the plunge! The next thing I remember I was creating my account on Second Life and logging in to discover what the hype was all about. The rest is history. I found my way on Second Life and made it even bigger than in that other 3D world. I never went back!

You are already well known for FANTASYLAND Estate, a virtual real estate provider in Second Life and you have been very active in this market since 2006. What got you interested in it? Tell us more about your business and how you got started in virtual real estate.

When I joined Second Life and connected again with my friends from the other 3D world, where we mostly spent time chatting, we found out that Second Life had so much more to offer. Instead of just meeting up and chatting, we started to explore, visit places, shop around and get engaged in various activities all over Second Life. We quickly noticed the business potential of Second Life and while some of my friends became designers, builders, and scripters among other things, I decided to try my luck at the real estate business as the common thing we all spent money on was land! That's how FANTASYLAND Estate was born. I was lucky that my business jump-started as all my friends started to rent from me and kept on recommending their friends. The orders came pouring in and FANTASYLAND Estate kept on expanding to become what it is today, thanks to the dedication and customer care shown by our team over those 15 years. I take this opportunity to thank all my staff members, and all my tenants for trusting us and making us what we are today. And last but not least, all the wonderful people at Linden Research, Inc., for working with me and providing me with the support needed.

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Outside of your real estate endeavours, what are some of your favorite things to do or places to visit in Second Life?

Honestly, I would love to find more time out of my busy schedule to be able to enjoy what Second Life has to offer. When I do have some free time though, which happens very rarely, I log on to an anonymous account to meet up with friends and go around freely and unnoticed! Apart from my real estate business, I have been actively involved for a long period of time with breeding horses on Second Life. Actually, I still have a large collection and do it from time to time. I love horses, and I am fascinated by the uncertainty and reasoning involved in the breeding mechanics.

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We hear that you have a brand new project debuting this week -- Universe v2 - Rise of the Robots. This appears to be an NFT project that has a unique Second Life component. Can you explain a bit about this project, which I understand has an elaborate backstory about the robots. Can you tell us a bit about the story - and how will this work for people who want to check it out and potentially participate?

Oh yeah I love the storyline of our new project, Universe v2:

'The Law of Conservation of Mass states that matter can neither be created nor destroyed, although it may be rearranged in space and the entities associated with it may be changed in form.

End of 2021. This is what actually happened. During a cataclysm, the universe got rearranged. The sun remained but the planets {that we know} disappeared, and two new planets were formed: Onerion and Zerotia. But what happened to the living entities? Well, they changed in form! Onerion and Zerotia are inhabited by different colonies of robots, each one having unique characteristics that are passed on through fusion. Onerion and Zerotia move along different elliptical orbits around the sun and every three months, they concurrently become aligned with the sun causing a cosmic tunnel to open up in space, linking the two planets. What happens next? Well, some things never change: Onerions and Zerotians travel along the tunnel, waging war against each other in the New Universe. Universe v2, Rise of the Robots.'

The ‘Universe v2’ NFT collection consists of 9,998 robots (4,999 Onerions and 4,999 Zerotians) minted on the Solana network, each robot with a unique combination of attributes. We are launching our whitelist registration on 4th Dec at 12.00pm UTC, limited to 1,500 slots with max 4 NFTs per slot, which gives registrants access to our PreSale Round 1 mint at only SOL1.35 (roughly USD285). Presale Round 1 mint will start once all whitelist slots are taken, followed by PreSale Round 2 mint, limited to 3,000 NFTs at SOL1.35 still. The last minting stage will be Public Minting at SOL2.50. The Second Life component of the project is that we are giving away the corresponding 3D Models of the NFTs on Second Life to those who mint during PreSale.

As with any NFT project, early minting is crucial. If you are new to the NFT world, basically early minting an NFT is similar to you buying at wholesale, getting the distribution rights to a product direct from the ‘manufacturer’ and then deciding to keep it, use it or even onsell it at a higher price. I would therefore recommend anyone interested to book a whitelist spot on our website as soon as registration opens on 4th Dec. For the records, we have seen NFTs getting resold at USD $170,000 just one month later while the minting price was less than USD $20.

While full information, including the Road Map and FAQ, about the Universe v2 project is available on our website, it is indispensable to anyone interested to join our Discord server as this is where we actually keep in touch with all our members, providing regular and important updates.

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Second Life 3D Model

Is this your first NFT project? What made you interested in entering into this space?

Yes, this is my maiden NFT project. What got me interested in the first place was the hype. However, since the beginning, I felt that there was something just not right about them. I didn't like the idea of people buying an NFT to keep as a collection piece or immediately reselling it for a profit. I wanted to make something different. And that's what the Universe v2 NFT collection is all about! A Universe v2 NFT is not just an NFT which you keep or try to onsell for a profit straightaway. It is a living piece of technology which you can use for your enjoyment while even earning rewards, which also evolves, making its worth soar for you to show off or eventually onsell for an unbelievable profit! Our road map has it all planned out to make this happen. We have invested a lot in this project and have big hopes. For these to come to fruition, we rely on our community to trust us as we work together to make this project enjoyable and rewarding all along for everyone, and achieve its full potential. We plan to build a Universe v2 Legacy, together with our members!

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Second Life 3D Model

While this sounds really cool, we know that not everybody may be a fan of NFTs -- and/or there may be some hesitation or confusion about them. Can people participate in Second Life without the NFTs - or is that something you are considering for the future?

Indeed you are right. While the NFT market is very promising, it is a niche market and fairly new too. On top of that, we have a limited number of 9,998 NFTs which means that they won't be available for everyone. The limited supply is actually an intrinsic feature of any NFT collection, contributing to make the floor price of the collection soar above the original release price (the minting price) and actually reach astronomical values in some cases, as I pointed out earlier. With that in mind, we understand that some people, without the NFTs, would love to have one of our robots and participate in our MMORPG further down our road map. We shall definitely give it due consideration and look into ways of properly integrating new components in the future, making the project progress further. This is perfectly in line with the last point mentioned in the road map on our website.

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Universe v2 NFT Robot (left) - Second Life 3D Model (right)

It seems like this has the potential to introduce Second Life to entirely new audiences. How are you planning to help connect your new NFT consumers directly to Second Life -- and potentially explore more of the virtual world beyond claiming their robots?

Yes, we could be among the first, if not the first, projects to be giving away corresponding 3D models of the NFTs right off the bat! Since my team is actively involved in Second Life on a daily basis, it provides us with the ideal platform to do that. Our 3D Artist team did an awesome job delivering the quality we aspire for. We understood from the beginning that this endeavour would entail getting Second Life introduced to new audiences and we got our team prepared for that. We have a link on our website for our community members to register for a Second Life account and log on to visit us on the Universe v2 region, where they can see the 3D robots being made and even meet and greet them! We know this experience can be a bit tricky for first-time users. We have a specific channel on our Discord server dedicated to providing the initial help to our members regarding registration and logging on for the first time. And once in-world, we have our team to guide them and cater for their orientation. We believe this process will become easier once we have Second Life Residents join us in this project, make new friends in the community and contribute towards helping them not only with the Universe v2 project on Second Life, but also with discovering the immense outreach of Second Life.

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Universe v2 NFT Robot (left) - Second Life 3D Model (right)

This is all pretty exciting -- are there other new projects that can we expect from you in the future, too?

We do have two more projects planned. The first one, which is actually already in the works, is related to the NFT metaverse though it won't be an NFT collection as such. The second is the development of a mobile app which will link people worldwide and make it much easier for them to communicate and cooperate while playing a popular augmented reality (AR) mobile game, thus allowing them to progress faster in the game.

Where can people learn more about your work? Please share links to your sites and social media accounts.

While our website provides all information about Universe v2, our Discord server is where we actually make important announcements, provide regular updates, hold discussions, answer questions and work together with our community members towards our common goal. We would say it is indispensable to anyone interested in the project to join our Discord.

Website: https://universev2.com 
Discord: https://discord.gg/universev2 
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Universe_v2 
Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/people/universev2 
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGhxlI0SLzIiACgbLzUqGxQ 

 

View the Universe v2 Official Trailer, shot in Second Life, video production by Vrutega.

 

We hope you enjoyed learning more about Sirux and his impressive new project. Each of these weekly Spotlight posts will feature a different Resident to showcase the spectrum of experiences and personalities found in our virtual world. If you have created something inworld that you’re proud of, or have had a deeply meaningful experience that could brighten someone else’s day, please sign up! More info here: https://second.life/spotlight-signup 
 

Linden Lab

This week we are placing a Spotlight on Angel Manor, a palatial estate adorned in some of the most impressive architecture we've ever seen. The Duke (Kaya Angel, Owner & Builder) and Duchess (Kezzy Forwzy, Co-founder & General Manager) of Angel Manor have proven to be a powerhouse duo in terms of creativity and event management.

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How long have each of you been in Second Life?

Kaya: Well, I first came into Second Life to see what this new virtual world was all about when it first went live. I was fascinated by what Philip Rosedale had said about this new world and his vision for it, and I was specifically interested to see what the proposed freedoms were in a {world composed of user-generated content}. At the very start, I wanted to see if people would explore the ideas of new social groups and societies that tested new ideas about how people could work together: if they would build environments and create businesses, or if people would just copy and replicate the real world as we know it. It was perhaps too early right at the start, it was such a new concept that it took us all a long time to understand what potential existed here. It wasn't until a few years later I really found my feet on the platform and created a new avatar who had a mission to create and build a community. So in one form or another I've been in Second Life from its birth and watched it change and grow into the world it is today.

Kezzy: I've been here just over 14 years now. A {physical world} friend had an avatar and had told me all about this online world where you can meet people from across the globe and enjoy amazing live music. I was really intrigued; I was already an online gamer and an active member of several community forums as well as running some myself, so I thought I would make an account. I was fascinated by the premise of being able to socialise in real time with people across the world, and at that time several {regions} had sprung up in likeness to where I lived in {the physical world} which really made me curious. I logged in, followed my friend to some live music venues and I was instantly hooked. I met Kaya within a week of logging in and the rest, as they say, is history!

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Do either of you have a background in design, and what drew you to creating things in a virtual world?

Kaya: I do have a background in design, as my full time job is as an event designer. I specialise in lighting and set design currently for large corporate events, but my background is based in theatre and concerts. It's often strange how much Second Life replicates my real life work! Doing technical design in RL has really helped in Second Life as a key part of my design role is to understand how people are affected by different environments, such as how light, space and sound influence the experience people have. Here at Angel Manor we really try to ensure we create a very real immersive world, which we often describe as “hyper reality” in that it's just a little exaggerated, but very much based on the world we are used to. This means there are rules such as items can't be floating, and even though we don't have the laws of physics it should feel as if they do. So structures must look like they would stand under their own weight and we don't want the estate to feel like a film set in that every door should lead to a real room and every window should have a view both inside and out. But Second Life has also helped me so much in my professional career as I now use the 3D modelling skills I gained from Second Life in other 3D programs to create the designs to showcase to clients as proposals. So it’s very much been a two way learning of which I'm very thankful for.

Kezzy: I am not a designer at all! Kaya is absolutely the design genius in this partnership, although I enjoy the design process throughout. I deal with the logistics side - running the estate in terms of the day-to-day management and organising live events and private bookings. However, our strengths feed off each other, which is why I think we make such a great team. For me, I get great joy from bringing our talents together to create spectacular events and seasonal treats that will inspire and motivate all Residents of Second Life to live their best lives by joining us in our world. When we bring together our skills and create a magical event or a new build that has people talking about it for weeks and months, that is the biggest draw for me.

Angel Manor is such an immaculate and huge place. How long did it take to build, and how would you describe your artistic vision?

Kaya: It's hard to put a time on how long it has taken to build as there are always updates and upgrades taking place. The best time scale I can give is to say that based on past experience, a full {region} here takes about two months to complete and a homestead about two weeks. But as I say, it’s always changing. The artistic vision is to ensure there is always something new to find, either because you did not find something on your first visit or something new has been added. Our vision is very much created by the influence of people who live and visit here. We always listen to the Residents who call Angel Manor their home and are open to new ideas they would like to see here. We get wonderful comments and take note of what people like and what areas may not get much use. This is how Angel Manor has been shaped over the years.

Kezzy: We also consistently hold ourselves to the highest standard of events that we can. We pride ourselves in delivering unique and exciting events whether that is by allowing the use of the venue for charity, cultural and large scale events or our own live music events. We've been really fortunate to have some of the very best in Second Life talent grace our stages over the past 14 years, and I think that all comes back to what we have created.

Angel Manor Estate 2.jpg

How would you describe the architectural style, and what are some things that inspired it?

Kaya: Starting as a 1930's ballroom, it has become more regal and palace-like over the years as that is what people seem to enjoy the most. The best way to describe the style is that it's based around a mix of English and French architecture from the golden era, but as this is Second Life we also like to add a mix of Disney magic, a touch of Phantom of the Opera and not forgetting the most recent influences of Downton Abbey! Just like the grand estates that are still around today, we act as the modern day custodians, here to keep the estate running and to keep it serving the community as best as we can while also ensuring all the roofs remain leak free and no aging stone work falls endangering visitors!

Kezzy: I think the biggest inspiration we have is being driven by the power Second Life gives us to create this very real feeling, very immersive world that allows Second Life Residents to come and experience whatever it is that they want it to be. We best describe the Angel Manor as themed as a modern day aristocratic palace that aims to create an environment that allows our visitors, Residents and staff to experience a standard of life and culture that encourages, inspires and motivates us to live our best lives in both worlds. It is not a traditional roleplay location, but a place people can come as their true avatar self and act as they would if they were visiting or living in an old aristocratic estate.

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What have been some of your favorite events that have taken place at Angel Manor? Anything coming up that you’d like to share?

Kaya: When it comes to events I think we are best known for the stage production we add to the live music events. We work to support artists that perform on our main ballroom stage by providing changing lights and sets that visually support the artist. The reason for this was not just because this is my real life background, but because we wanted people to feel they are at a very real show. Often with live music it can be easy for people to arrive and listen and enjoy the performance, but they will be either camming around to see who else is there or maybe deep in chat with other friends while listening to the performance. We really want people to be not just listening but watching the performance. The visual aspect of our shows should also help convey the emotion of the song being performed to enhance the overall experience. The other events that stand out are the large themed events we do which are normally based around holidays. We have created large Halloween events such as a masquerade ball, and enjoyed Easter with {a nod to} Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, complete with chocolate river and waterfall to get the perfect mix!

Kezzy: We have been really lucky to showcase the best artistic talent across Second Life, be that in art, music and culture. We have two live music events across our various venues every week but I think my favourite events are also the Grand Balls we put on twice a year at Easter and Halloween. These are custom built, themed events that we have so much fun brainstorming and designing together. The most recent ball was the Enchanted Ballroom, themed as if we had sneaked all of our guests into the ballroom from Beauty and the Beast! This summer we celebrated our 14th anniversary with a grand "Celebration of the Arts" festival, with live music spanning across a whole weekend. We invited musicians who had performed on our very first stage right up to musicians who are relatively new to the Second Life music scene, and we were delighted that the {regions} were full for the entire weekend. This festive season sees the return of our annual Christmas Market, built in the Estate Gardens that will feature market stalls from some of SL's finest designers as well as a full calendar of live music events so we would encourage everyone to wrap up warm and join us for some festive cheer through December.

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Do you consider Angel Manor to be finished, or do any parts get remodeled after a certain amount of time?

Kaya: Angel Manor is never finished as I just love building too much! There is always something that can be improved or made fresh. We never want the place to feel dated in SL terms. There are always new techniques or new mesh that improves on the design, but most of all we want anyone who lives or visits here to always find something new. Also, from a business point of view, the homes here are on a continuous cycle of updates to ensure we always offer the grandest of regal living.

Kezzy: I call it tinkering! It's not unusual for me to log in and find Kaya trying something new, or rebuilding a wing, or excitedly showing me the inspiration behind a new idea. Part of the magic is seeing what we will come up with next to add to the estate. It's forever evolving to meet the needs and desires of the Residents and visitors but also our own needs and desires as well.

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What are some of the day to day tasks of managing such a large estate?

Kaya: When it comes to day to day tasks I know Kezzy is always out looking for new performers to bring to the our stages, while I do the rounds of the estate tending to the grounds and buildings. It's not uncommon that a Resident may have had a car crash into a bush, or maybe a horse has broken free and is roaming the estate. There may be the odd golf or tennis ball that has been hit off course. Some of the largest tasks are dealing with all the season changes, as the estate has wonderful summers and golden falls and not forgetting very cold and snowy winters. Ensuring the estate feels alive and is always changing is a key part to my day to day tasks.

Kezzy: I love how incredibly varied each of my SL days are! I like to check in with any residents that are online, and see what they are up to or if they need any help. I encourage them all to run social events within the estate which fosters a great sense of community, something that we are very proud of here. If we have a show or an event that day, I will be prepping notices and promotional material and checking in with the event organiser, musician or their manager to make sure everything is going ahead. Otherwise, I'll be checking the calendar for the weekly events, answering notecards and IMs with inquiries about the estate and the store and booking the next month's worth of shows. Each day is completely different, I never know who I will come across when walking around the estate, and I love that. The diversity and breadth of our visitors never fails to amaze and inspire me.

For more information on Angel Manor, follow them here:
Website - www.angelmanor.org
Facebook - www.facebook.com/angelmanor
Flickr - https://www.flickr.com/groups/angelmanor/
YouTube - www.youtube.com/user/ThePurpleRoseTheatre
Instagram - www.instagram.com/angelmanor
Twitter - www.twitter.com/angelmanor
Teleports - angelmanor.org/visit-us

We hope you enjoyed learning more about Angel Manor. Each of these weekly Spotlight posts will feature a different Resident to showcase the spectrum of experiences and personalities found in our virtual world. If you have created something inworld that you’re proud of, or have had a deeply meaningful experience that could brighten someone else’s day, please sign up! More info here: https://second.life/spotlight-signup

Linden Lab

This week we are shining a spotlight on Aufwie Mysterious, whose cathartic experiences performing live music in SL have helped him grow as an artist and encouraged him to positively impact others with his songs.

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How long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it?
I've been a Resident in Second Life since 2010 and I remember hearing about it on the telly as they were talking about these new virtual worlds and how you were able to do almost anything you wanted, such as meeting new people, learning new things, attending art venues and so on. The idea of having the chance to create an alter ego caught my attention as I struggled with depression and PTSD from an early age. It was then that Second Life became the perfect place for me to learn how to socialize again and be who I wanted to be without being judged or exposed. Since then Second Life has played a very important role in my development and it became a safe place for me. Eventually this alter ego merged with my real self and became a virtual representation of what I am. 

How did music come into your life, and what instruments do you play?
Music has always been there for me, I can't remember a moment in my life in which I wasn't surrounded by it. My father was a professional drummer, my mother an amateur singer, and in such a tiny house like the one in which I spent my very early years with them, my crib, the drumset, and the many recordings my father had (big fan of David Bowie, Pink Floyd, Supertramp, Genesis, The Police and Elton John) it was pretty difficult to not to feel involved in that world. So I started playing drums at the age of 4; I loved to play and sing, just like Phil Collins from Genesis. It wasn't until about 2006 that I discovered all these punk rock and indie rock bands such as The Libertines, The Smiths, Sex Pistols or Green Day (to name a few) that completely blew my mind to bits and I felt the need to get my hands on a guitar and make songs. So my father got me this low, low, low budget generic stratocaster that, for me, was the most marvelous thing I had ever held in my hands and there it all began. I was already playing drums and doing live shows with a band when I was 12 but I wanted to become a frontman, so I kept drumming while taking guitar and singing lessons and it wasn't until I was 18 that I formed a band called Love Paranoia (you can still find some songs on spotify) with which I finally got to experience what I means to be in front of a band, staring at a crowd in the eye and speaking your heart out to them. And I loved it. Since then, I've dedicated my life to music completely. Today I play drums, guitar, bass, synths, ukulele and whatever instrument I can get my hands on for my homonym project called ''AUFWIE''. My professional life now consists of doing live shows in Second Life, writing and releasing my own music, and also producing music for other artists as well.

When did you start performing live in Second Life, and what regions can people visit to hear you play?
The truth is that since my early days in Second Life, I would be busking around the grid, literally anywhere I could open my mic and sing. I always loved to use music as a way to cheer people up, to distract them from their busy lives for a moment, so that's what I did for nearly 8 years; Just log in and hop from one place to another singing my heart out for the few that would listen. It wasn't until this whole Covid pandemic started that I realized it could become something bigger. Some friends encouraged me to start doing live shows properly, and before I could realize what was going on, I was performing once a week for 50 people, more or less. I never really thought of myself as someone special or particularly skillful, but I guess people liked it! Nowadays I'm performing three to four days a week, in almost every venue in Second Life, and I really couldn't be happier about it. Every time I log in to perform, it doesn't matter how awful my day or my week has been; the very moment that I plug my stream in, everything feels better instantly. Some venues I regularly perform at are Seaside Lounge, After Dark on Idle Rogue, and The Grand Strand.

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How would you describe your music, and who are some of the musicians who have influenced your style?
I don't think I can properly describe my music when it comes to style. I think it doesn't follow any particular style or genre, it's more about what I feel like writing and composing at the moment inspiration hits. If I were to make a list of the artists that have influenced me I could do an everlasting list, just 'cause I'm so profoundly in love with music that every single witted song in the world makes me want to create. As I mentioned before, the UK progressive rock scene was of great importance 'cause that's what my father would listen to all the time. Besides that, I remember going to my best friend's house and her sister (the embodiment of punk rock in my eyes back then) would lock us inside her room and make us listen to The Clash, Sex Pistols, Green Day, The Libertines, Arctic Monkeys... All those bands were exactly what I needed, even though I didn't know that I did! Later in high school, I got to share time with the weirdest kids (just like me) and we would listen to absolutely everything, from reggae to industrial metal and whatever comes in between. So today, I'm a mixture of a hundred different artists who paved the way for me, and my music and I are ever changing. 

Tell us about some of the other Residents in SL that inspire you and whose work you admire.
Skye Galaxy. Probably the most professional Second Life music performer. This bloke cracked the code and made me realize it was possible to be a pro musician here. First time I got to one of his shows I understood what it meant to take Second Life as a job when it comes to live music. It just made me rethink my shows, my setlists, everything. Besides him, there are dozens of great artists that I love to hear in Second Life, let me mention Rara Destiny, Sol (Puppi OwO) and J. Doe to name a few. They're all amazingly talented and beautiful singers, and it's always wonderful to share the stage with them. Also shout out to my mate Dj Noizy (noizyzapp) for his pure hard work and commitment. I don't think there's a more professional DJ in the whole grid. 

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Where can people follow you to know more about your next releases and shows? Please share links to your sites and social media accounts.
Spotify: aufwie | Spotify 
Instagram: @aufwie_ | Instagram
Youtube: aufwie - YouTube
Twitch: @aufwie_ | Twitch

 

We hope you enjoyed learning more about Aufwie. Each of these weekly Spotlight posts will feature a different Resident to showcase the spectrum of experiences and personalities found in our virtual world. If you have created something inworld that you’re proud of, or have had a deeply meaningful experience that could brighten someone else’s day, please sign up! More info here: https://second.life/spotlight-signup

 

Linden Lab

This week we are shining a spotlight on Vrutega, a new Resident who is already creating visually striking and memorable machinima. 

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How long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it?
I have been on Second Life for a little over a year. I first found out about Second Life in 2020 through friends who are Second Life Residents. One day my friends were video streaming a Second Life party that they were hosting. I was drawn to the realism that their party showcased, from the party decor down to the house they were all gathered in. At that moment I realized Second Life is a great social platform, and has the ability to bring people from all around the world together in digital spaces. During the beginning phases of COVID-19, a lot of people lost that basic human component of socialization and connecting with people.

Second Life provided me with an opportunity to reclaim some of that human connection on a digital platform. With the help of my friends, my transition into Second Life was easy. Within a week I created my first avatar, and was up and running in no time. From the very beginning I was enamored with the Second Life world, and got involved with everything the platform had to offer from live music events, visiting art exhibits, and shopping. It wasn’t until February 2021 that I realized that I could create storytelling video content on Second Life. I studied all types of machinima video genres and artists, and became inspired by all of the talented Residents and creators around the grid.

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Every aspect of the machinima you create in Second Life is very professional, from the editing to the voiceovers. Do you have a background in video production and editing?
Yes, I have a professional background in video production and editing. My experience in video production stems from my professional work in commercials, advertisements, and short films. Realism and continuity are important to me. I treat every aspect of my machinima projects like I would treat a film industry installment/project. From sourcing actors, music, props and backdrops, hashing out project logistics is very similar to the industry work I do on a weekly basis.

The benefit of working on Second Life is that I have everything a producer could need at my fingertips. With everything being digitally available on the Marketplace to inworld stores, the sourcing process is expedited considerably. And with the availability of Second Life social media, finding actors, set designers and collaborating creators has never been easier. 

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What kind of software do you use to capture and edit your videos?
I use a wide variety of post production software for my machinima projects. However I primarily edit my videos using Adobe Premiere Pro, and Adobe After Effects. I use OBS Studio to record my machinima, and capture my footage using various Second Life Viewers.

Tell us about some of the other creators in SL that inspire you, or whose work you admire.
I am inspired by a wide variety of Second Life Residents, artists and other content creators from all around the world. The person who inspires me the most in the machinima world is my dear friend and Second Life Resident Sere Vene. Sere is the artistic catalyst who pushed me to take Second Life machinima seriously. Sere’s phenomenal Second Life machinima projects made me rethink how important storytelling is, and how I should implement storytelling in each machinima I produce. Sere is a true artist, and her creativity and attention to detail knows no boundaries. I am truly honored to now work alongside her in my studio and call her my friend.

Without my small team of friends and family, there is no Vrutega. I attribute a lot of my growth and success as an artist to them. Lilith Lamia is like a mother figure to me. Lilith has industry roots in photography and cinema, and has consistently reminded me to pay attention to detail when it comes to framing and posing subjects in a scene. Spartin Parx is a creator who pushes me to think outside the box when it comes to filming a project. Just when I think I’ve perfected something in a project, Spartin often gives me that “Aha” moment that enables me to make amendments to a scene. Professional {region} builders and set designers like Agnes Whittle and Lemony Nova have inspired me to make every inch of space in a scene count. These two have helped me build the beautiful landscapes and worlds that you see in my machinimas. 

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What can we expect from you in the future? Are there any interesting projects you are currently working on?
I am always looking for inspiration in music, movies, television, and other pop culture references from all around the world. One of my future machinima projects will be a Pokemon-inspired video, which should excite a lot of fans of the beloved Nintendo franchise. And like all of my machinimas, this project will be done in collaboration with other Second Life Residents and content creators. 

I’m a firm believer in supporting Second Life artists and the content they create. I often find myself face to face with content creators from all types of background experiences. From seasoned video veterans to new content creators, I make it my mission to support, build and uplift those that I surround myself with. Second Life is proof that drive, determination, and raw talent can thrive in any environment when it’s nurtured.

The future of Second Life machinima is bright. Every day I see more emerging machinima creators and Second Life Residents utilizing video in their everyday lives. Machinima makers like Lipe Hax, Any Bergan, and Kelie Ladys are all promising beacons of hope and inspiration within the machinima world. Their creative machinimas have been enjoyed by thousands of Residents all over the world, and have paved the way for the next generation of machinima creators. With the introduction of independent film companies like Film Threat, Second Life is now on the threshold of bringing in film industry influences that can reshape the way we think about machinima.

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Where can people see examples of your work?
People can find my work on Flickr. I can also be found on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Check out one of Vrutega’s latest videos, a carnival themed thriller that takes place in a mysterious small town. The location is Cirque du Mystere, an interactive MadPea event.

We hope you enjoyed learning about Vrutega’s experiences creating machinima in Second Life. Any budding machinima artists out there? You never know until you try!

 

Each of these weekly posts will feature a different Resident to showcase the spectrum of experiences and personalities found in our virtual world. If you have created something inworld that you’re proud of, or have had a deeply meaningful experience that could brighten someone else’s day, please sign up! More info here: https://second.life/spotlight-signup 
 

Linden Lab

Second Life can be hard to categorize, but at its core, it is a celebration of creativity. Today we are shining a spotlight on Bryn Oh to kick off a new series of SL creator featurettes. Many Residents are familiar with her work, as she is one of the most talented virtual artists of our time and has spent more than a decade creating art in the virtual world of Second Life.

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The Brittle Epoch by Bryn Oh

What first brought you to Second Life?
I discovered Second Life after reading an article about a person who purchased a condominium in a virtual world for $200,000 USD. A bit like an NFT that you could go into and inhabit, I suppose. Anyway, I had to go see this building and made a Second Life account. I hadn’t really been in multi-user environments much before so it really amazed me to meet people from around the world in real time. I was actually so enthralled that I forgot to even look for the condominium.

What was your first project in Second Life - and is it still accessible?
My first project was a bit strange. One day, as I was exploring, I accidentally created a prim box on the ground. I discovered that I could edit it and played {with it} for a while before logging out. When I returned the following day the box was still there, which gave me an epiphany of sorts. I realized that anything I made could have duration in the virtual space and that I could change the space itself. The ground we stood upon was supplied by Linden Lab but the world itself was created by its users, a type of MUD, MOO or LambdaMOO. I began to build steampunk insects daily and while doing this a couple Residents would come to watch me create each day. After what seemed a long time they told me that they really loved all my steampunk insects, but could I perhaps take some back into my inventory because I was filling up their land. I then realized that I was actually building in someone’s backyard and that people lived in all the houses around me and they, very generously, let me build dozens of robotic insects. I then went to build on an IBM sandbox and met many artists creating there. The person who built beside me on the sandbox really impressed me with an elaborate train he was creating. His name was AM Radio and he was quite popular at the time.


Hand by Bryn Oh

You’ve been pretty prolific in SL over the years -- are any of your past projects still open to visitors?
Most of my work is in my inventory but I have three regions of my artwork that can be visited. There is a gateway region called Bryn Oh where I keep my work Hand. It will stay there for years as it is part of a course on the art of Bryn Oh being taught at York University and needs to remain there for the students. A second region called Immersivist has another work called The Singularity of Kumiko on it currently, but that region will rotate my large scale artwork from my inventory every six months or so. My main region is called Immersiva and it is where my new work The Brittle Epoch is. The Brittle Epoch is actually connected to Hand and Singularity of Kumiko so it’s good to visit them for that reason too.

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Brittle Epoch Oil Painting by Bryn Oh

How have your inworld creations evolved over the years?
Before I came to Second Life I was an artist and oil painter. In art school at OCAD we would study various art styles, schools, and movements, looking at art as it evolved through human history. From cave paintings to modern art. Through this lens I see Second Life, or specifically the persistent virtual space, as a new art medium. When I created paintings I would essentially create a snapshot in time; a 2D moment where I would try to capture the viewer's attention and immerse them using various techniques like colour theory and composition, as well as creating narrative within my imagery.

However, immersion is very fragile and if, say, a baby cries or your phone rings while looking at a painting in a gallery, your attention wanes and the immersion is broken. Suppose we now look at cinema. You have a seat, the lights go dark, and the large screen blocks out your peripheral vision to reduce any distractions. They then turn the sound up high so that you are dominated by your senses. They want your vision to be dominated exclusively by their narrative. Of course, the glowing red EXIT sign always reminds you that you are not “in” the movie but rather “watching” a movie, keeping you from being fully immersed. 

There is a narrative and each scene has its own composition. But with cinema you are a passive observer to the story. You do not interact with, but remain separate from the medium. Once the movie ends you can restart it, but the narrative is fixed as well as the camera movement. If you see a drawer in a room you can’t stop and open it. The experience is fixed and will never change regardless of how many times you watch it.

The goal for an immersive artist, or an Immersivist, is to eliminate as many barriers as you can. My inworld creations in the virtual space have evolved where I look at our medium as a unique and very powerful immersive tool for creating the style of art I am interested in. I want to create art where you are not a passive observer but an active participant in an open ended artwork where you are not led around as in cinema but instead you have the freedom to interact with the environment as you wish to. And when you combine that with VR it is a very powerful immersive medium. Virtual art may be written about in history books one day and these may be the first stumbling steps to a new movement in art not unlike the Cubists, Surrealists, Minimalists and so on.

Perhaps a movement may begin where the artists are called the Immersivists and the movement is born and thrives within the virtual space.

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Brittle Epoch Model in ZBrush

Tell us about some of the other creators in SL that inspire you.
When I first came to Second Life I was impressed by the creativity of an artist named Starax / Lightwaves and then later, as I mentioned, I enjoyed the work of AM Radio. I also came across the work of Glyph Graves and Selavy Oh who both were creating compelling art that often treated the virtual space as its own medium for art as opposed to mimicking real life. Though I think my favorite was the Petrovsky Flux that was built by Blotto Epsilon and Cutea Benelli. It was a steampunk creation that would slowly build itself in modules of hallways and rooms into a form a bit like a giant tree. It built itself randomly growing up into the sky and then at a certain point it collapsed to pieces only to begin anew. To be honest though, there are many artists whose work I enjoy.

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Bronze Sculptures by Bryn Oh

What keeps you coming back to SL?
I am endlessly fascinated by Second Life’s potential as an art medium. Not really sure how to explain but it is very unique as a medium. So the Immersivist artist often creates within a different environment than traditional art is experienced, and thus focuses on different goals. The role of art varies depending on location, for example, in a museum or gallery we are kept separate from the art and often can feel the gaze of security guards on us as we experience the artwork. We are not just separate from the art but greatly encouraged to be so. The art often is placed for the viewer to observe but not interact with, and it is housed in a structure designed to protect the art from both people and the elements such as rain or snow. The art is created and then shaped by the necessities of its own real world environment and needs. When you see the Mona Lisa in the Louvre there is often a crowd surrounding it, and of necessity people must move on to keep the flow of traffic through the gallery space. So, our experience with art is often bound and shaped by the realities of the real world and we shape opinions and feelings based on elements outside the artwork itself.

I design immersive virtual exploratory spaces with the mindset that it is a unique medium free of many constraints. I want to determine what makes it unique over other forms of art. I don’t want to mimic the way art is shown in real life as it is not necessary to do so in a virtual space, and as such I can redefine how the viewer interacts with my art. There need not be gravity nor chairs nor roofs, walls, etc. unless the viewer needs these familiar sights to feel immersed. The viewer is an active participant in the story rather than a passive observer. They have the freedom to explore in an open-ended space in whichever way they choose. I think of immersive artwork itself as a whole rather than individual pieces or components. When I make a sculpture of a ballet dancer in the environment, I don’t see it as a standalone artwork but rather a component of the entire environment. Within my work the visitor is often challenged with tasks. They are not handed the artwork to look at but rather they inhabit it and must put in effort to experience it. The more effort they put in the more they get back, and it is my feeling that someone who works to achieve something in my art will feel a deeper connection to it. This can be in the form of climbing difficult towers in an almost gamified way, to simply looking under beds or in drawers to find hidden notes. The visitor solves problems, detects hidden elements, and explores layers. They become experts in the current work, which in itself is connected to earlier works and upcoming works, creating layers upon layers of understanding and expertise, and these visitors have earned it.

Each viewer interacts with the artwork in their own fashion which often does not mirror the experience of visitors around them. It is shared but unique to each person. In contrast to a crowd seeing the Mona Lisa and walking away with the same {physical} experience as the others around them, the visitor to a virtual space has a unique experience all to themselves and explores at their own pace. Some stay hours and some stay weeks, and in some cases their interactions can influence the outcome of the artwork. It is experiential, interactive and highly immersive. The goal is for people to forget the real world for a time and live within another place that I have created.


Standby by Bryn Oh

Tell us about your most recent work and what impression you hope it makes upon visitors.
My new artwork, The Brittle Epoch, is the second part in a trilogy. The trilogy itself sits within a narrative of dozens of other creations spanning over a decade. The first part, which is pretty important to know, is called Hand. It is also important to be familiar with Standby, a work created for IBM in 2009 or so. The Singularity of Kumiko is referenced in the Brittle Epoch as well. My art in Second Life is one long narrative artwork told through large scale builds, similar to chapters, that can take years to make. The Brittle Epoch took about eight months to create: writing the story, the sound, scripting, building models in Zbrush, and texturing everything within the artwork. And I would like to thank the Ontario Arts Council who have supplied me with four grants to support the creation of these three works and more.


The Singularity of Kumiko by Bryn Oh

My artistic focus is on how contemporary society is affected by technology, ranging between human/machine and machine/machine relationships. Often we believe technology opens channels for people to interact and engage socially. However, the opposite can occur where people become isolated within their own personal bubble. They are separate and witnessing the world from a distance, an online entity with brittle popularity. My work expresses a yearning for meaningful connections within our new technological realm. I build virtual reality environments that explore the juxtapositions between human emotion and machine sentience, but I also want to challenge and create debate through the introduction of various concepts in my work. In the Brittle Epoch we follow children whose perception of our world is blurred between fantasy and fiction, where moral concepts are not black and white but grey and indistinct, much like a winter storm.


The Brittle Epoch

Follow Bryn Oh on her various social platforms to learn more about her work. 
Blog - http://brynoh.blogspot.com
Patreon - https://www.patreon.com/brynoh 
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/BrynOhh 
Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/bryn_oh 
Flickr - https://www.flickr.com/photos/bryn_oh 
Youtube - https://www.youtube.com/c/BrynOh

 

We hope you enjoyed learning about Bryn Oh’s experiences creating art in Second Life. Each weekly post will feature a different Resident to showcase the spectrum of experiences and personalities found in our virtual world. If you have created something inworld that you’re proud of, or have had a deeply meaningful experience that could brighten someone else’s day, please sign up! More info here: https://second.life/spotlight-signup

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