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Prokofy Neva

Is Second Life Just Turning Into a Lot of Backdrops?

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I've just been going around to events, and buying things at events, and I've been marveling once again how many backdrops there are! Most events have more backdrops than real houses!

The idea is to have a thing to pose in that isn't a whole house or park so that you can take fabulous photos for Flickr or your fashion blog -- which is more of a thing than the actual living in virtuality these days. It's weird how it evolved.

These backdrops are often prettier and better designed than full-blown houses or forests -- which is why I buy them sometimes even though I don't do fashion or home & garden photography but just blog my thoughts or experiences. But the reality is, they have way more prims often than a real house.

I have even written to some of the authors and asked if they *could* make a real house out of their backdrop, it is so nice.

In fact, I just made a Secret Garden area with backdrops out of the Enchantment event because some of them were so cool. And what, people are going to come and pose around them and then post to their blogs or social media? They might. But I always try to make them into actual houses or chambers or forests, I try to string some of them together. Or take them apart and mix and match them.

But this is madness because they not only are high prim, they often have no backs! And sometimes I've had to spend a day applying backstops to the backdrops so they aren't weird from behind, and even put walking prims on them, and by the time I've done, I've built a whole town and have no prims left over for tenants.

I am still trying to understand the psychology of wanting to come into a virtual world, with all its magnificence, the ability to fly and teleport and explore, geographic contiguity and so on, and spend your time posing in front of a backdrop you can't even walk or sit on. Is it due to lag?

Thoughts?

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Some just want to pose, play dress up and take pics.  It is just as simple as that. They enjoy it.  Like you enjoy what you enjoy. 

 

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In one sense all of SL is just a backdrop.

I get that people like to pose and play dress up and take pictures -- but why wouldn't they want to do this more in the round, with action, in full-fledged builds? There are so many amazing places in SL. Destinations is just the tip of the iceberg. You could be posing without the edges cutting off.

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I saw an amazing picture on Flickr of a beautifully decorated venue with all these great Cuban buildings, they looked to be exceptionally high quality builds so I went straight there to see who had made them in the hope that they could be purchased somewhere. Of course they were damn backdrops. I am definitely noticing the trend too and it's annoying me, being teased with the facade of what could be a beautiful place to live.

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5 hours ago, Prokofy Neva said:

In one sense all of SL is just a backdrop.

I get that people like to pose and play dress up and take pictures -- but why wouldn't they want to do this more in the round, with action, in full-fledged builds? There are so many amazing places in SL. Destinations is just the tip of the iceberg. You could be posing without the edges cutting off.

Because the backdrop isn't there to be part of the subject; it's about the people in the picture. The backdrop just adds whatever context they want to place the people into. As someone who does lots of RL photography, I've always felt the one and only legitimate use of a backdrop is in a portrait and it's only a defocused blur of color. All others are the same kind of amateur tool the way snapchat filters are: they hide bad photographs and make them look better than they actually are.

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7 hours ago, Prokofy Neva said:

In one sense all of SL is just a backdrop.

I get that people like to pose and play dress up and take pictures -- but why wouldn't they want to do this more in the round, with action, in full-fledged builds? There are so many amazing places in SL. Destinations is just the tip of the iceberg. You could be posing without the edges cutting off.

I suspect that predictions of the demise of the full build at the hands of the nefarious backdrop are probably unfounded, but it's certainly true, I think, that the photo prop has become a more important thing of late. At least, that's my perception.

I actually buy a lot of these -- probably at least one a week. And they are, by definition, ephemeral and "fake." But then, as Prok implies, so to some degree is SL itself.

Alyona's point about how these are sometimes used is well taken. There is a really large community of people who are in SL primarily to take photographs, and a backdrop is a fast and easy way to set that up. I suspect that for some photographers, whose main focus is upon fashion, or upon pics that focus on their avi, the backdrop is a kind of easy cheat: they are often cheap, and intentionally disposable: most of them are good for a couple of pictures at best.

But they can also be used imaginatively to produce something that has value in its own right: a beautiful or interesting picture. And one of the advantages of them is that you can place them in places where lag is low: it can sometimes be challenging to take a really high-quality pic in a beautiful, fully-realized sim, because they are often really laggy places. And, finally, it's useful to distinguish between the cheap, if often really well-done, backdrop, and some that are more extensive, more fully sketched out, and often modular (meaning that you can use them again and again in different configurations). I have quite a few of both varieties.

One sees, on Flickr particularly, the same backdrops being used over and over again, often rather poorly and unimaginatively. But then, that's because the person who is taking the picture is probably a little unimaginative, a poor photographer, or just relatively uninterested in producing anything more than a quick and cheerful pic showing off clothes or a new skin or a "fun" pose. Backdrops are like anything else: they are tools that can be well, or poorly, used, but they are legitimate because the form that they are designed to support, SL photography, is itself a legitimate self-expression and use of SL. You might just as well argue that the badly composed IMs are threatening the art of conversation in SL.

 

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I find all those backdrops, that have been floading shopping events in recent months/years disgusting. I don't care if any of those "I live for my flickr account"-people have fun. I feel like those backdrops are eating away the potential of real builds, because all efforts for intersting and new designs seems to flow exclusivly into backdrops and nobody cares to build a full version of any of those buildings. Its frustrating to see a cool advertisement for what seems to be a building and then its just another backdrop.

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Backdrops, such as Scylla mentioned, serve valid purposes in places like RP sims. Reduced prim usage/LI and the added benefit of less lag to name two.

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Photography within Second Life is what inspired me to find out more about Second Life.

Art is sometimes a better advertisement than professional advertising.

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Posted (edited)
12 hours ago, Syo Emerald said:

I find all those backdrops, that have been floading shopping events in recent months/years disgusting. I don't care if any of those "I live for my flickr account"-people have fun. I feel like those backdrops are eating away the potential of real builds, because all efforts for intersting and new designs seems to flow exclusivly into backdrops and nobody cares to build a full version of any of those buildings. Its frustrating to see a cool advertisement for what seems to be a building and then its just another backdrop.

I will buy a full building in preference to a backdrop -- when an analogous product, within a reasonable price range exists. So, for instance, I own probably about 10 houses, an equal number of full skyboxes, and a host of smaller builds (sheds, greenhouses, and so forth) that I own primarily because they are useful for photographs. Generally (although not always) full builds are higher quality, with better textures, and so forth, but more to the point, they are much more versatile. The average cheap and disposable backdrop is useful for a half dozen shots, at the outside, and it really only works from one angle, because that's how it's designed. But a full house, or even a really good skybox (I own some pretty expensive ones) can be used over and over again, in different configurations.

Part of the problem here, though, is price point and function. As I suggested, for many photographers, it doesn't make sense to buy a full structure for, say, L$400, when they can get a backdrop for, quite probably, less than a quarter of that. (Again, though a high quality modular backdrop -- I have one that represents an entire urban alleyway, about a block long -- can cost as much  or even more than a house.)

You are talking as though backdrops and full builds were interchangeable items, or that one is usurping the role of the other. They aren't: they serve different functions, for different kinds of customers. The makers of backdrops are filling an identified need of people who don't want a full house. What you're essentially asking is that people who don't want, or need, or have use for a particular product, should buy it anyway. The market doesn't work that way, nor should it.

Edited by Scylla Rhiadra
Edited for clarity
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If the backdrops are copy/mod, it's fun to mix and match. And you can come up with some amazing backdrops of your own that way. Of course, that is true of any copy/mod build. Your world! Your imagination! DO EET! joy.gif.72c4d84dd0728b692c5827ce8fefbabc.gif

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On 8/18/2019 at 7:00 AM, Prokofy Neva said:

I am still trying to understand the psychology of wanting to come into a virtual world, with all its magnificence, the ability to fly and teleport and explore, geographic contiguity and so on, and spend your time posing in front of a backdrop you can't even walk or sit on. Is it due to lag

Several reasons for myself

A lot of those amazing looking places do not allow you to rez a poser, spotlights or any props. There are several very well designed regions out there, well known, that allow rez, and you will usually see a lot of photography visitors there when they are new. But there's only so many photo's you want to take on a specific region setting so at some point they are no longer interesting from a photo point of view.

Also more adult themed photography, you can not just go do everywhere. And in general I prefer the privacy of my own place where I can set up a picture undisturbed.

From a non photography point of view, some of those backdrops are so well made, but incredibly LI and texture heavy. A region designed in that quality would be way to laggy and out of "prims" before half the place was finished.

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Posted (edited)

It may not look like it, but I'm actually a regular visitor of such events, partially because I'm also selling things in some of them. I see 0.8 backdrops for sale at every major event, on average, and that number has been stable for years now. By your logic you should be more worried by SL turning into vast droves of colorful pointy fingernails attached to avatars.

The reality, I'm afraid, is much worse. Second life his not just turning into this, but has already turned into this for some time now.

sl_view.thumb.jpg.4c0d4b85b9771d9a009a845346dd3622.jpg.7a566235553f36b21f853c14276c87f8.jpg

And that's at the maximum draw distance of 1024 m. Imagine this, stretching out for miles and miles. And don't just take my word for it, but go see for yourself. Just go to the mainland and fly around between the ground and the maximum building height, say, around 2000 m. This is objectively the 'average' look of SL.

On the bright side, it's still not too hard to find nice new places in SL.

Edited by Arduenn Schwartzman
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@Arduenn Schwartzman Mainland sky clutter was my biggest shock when returning to SL after a long break in other grids. That and humungous 2D backdrops.

As for photo backdrops, I think SL survives because it is so flexible. I get that it makes photos more interesting to get every available bit of detail in frame, and the sets created are really well done, but the lack of appeal to me is in more or less recreating the same shot taken by so many other photographers. If I was more focused on fashion instead of landscape it would probably be different.

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I had no idea that you could buy backdrops. Another new known unknown for me.

 

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4 hours ago, Zeta Vandyke said:

Several reasons for myself

A lot of those amazing looking places do not allow you to rez a poser, spotlights or any props. There are several very well designed regions out there, well known, that allow rez, and you will usually see a lot of photography visitors there when they are new. But there's only so many photo's you want to take on a specific region setting so at some point they are no longer interesting from a photo point of view.

Also more adult themed photography, you can not just go do everywhere. And in general I prefer the privacy of my own place where I can set up a picture undisturbed.

From a non photography point of view, some of those backdrops are so well made, but incredibly LI and texture heavy. A region designed in that quality would be way to laggy and out of "prims" before half the place was finished.

You've just hit upon something here -- it's about the poses. Good fashion or exploration photographer shows the avatar not just in some vacant-eyed, system feet-splay, but often with elaborate poses that feign action and even facial expressions.

The reason those gorgeous exploration sims in destination can't have poses is because poses seldom can be used by third parties! That is, if I buy a pose for, say, reaching up to a bookshelf, or twirling an umbrella, I can't put an umbrella or bookshelf out with that pose either in it or in a poseball (not used so much anymore) because only I can use it, nobody else. Then what's the point? I can only use it to pose my avatar and snap some pics for Flickr, since Twitter doesn't work anymore. To be sure, sex furniture has poses that enable couples to sync. That's not all of SL, however. I will even go out on a limb and say that I actually think people spend more time shopping and decorating and photographing than having sex in SL. Seriously. 

But an ordinary rock or tree pose thing doesn't have what an adult chair has. And that's likely because of permission issues. If you sell an animation a thing that can be used by a third party, it would have to be on transfer and copy (I think that's the story). There are theft deterrence scripts for such things (I've commissioned one that works pretty well and I see others, on various principles) but in general, the issue of furniture and its poses and the abuse by thieves is an age-old story.

So that means it is rare to have a thing, a station, a tree, a rock, stairs, that other people besides the creator (initially) and you, the owner, can interact with. Interact! With groups of friends. So you're not just in a pose by yourself photographing.

I have wrestled with this mightily, and have got various scripters to make, for example, a music box that third parties can play (in a hunt); some food and drink dispensers that the buyer and his guests can both use; perhaps a few other things. But mainly it's not possible -- hence backdrops I suppose.

I once got this Necromancer set that I thought would enable me OR a visitor to a haunted monastery be able to cycle through things like wielding an axe or flying or crouching or whatever, in some kind of smooth routine (I know there is a dining table that enables all the guests to be in a smooth set of animations, for example).

But t'was not to be -- what it did enabled me to pose with it as if I was in the act of wielding an axe, etc. but not animated, just posed. That would be perfect for fashion magazines. Or making story books, which I have also tried to make in SL (the way we used to do with the Sims Family Albums) but it's all just too hard and time-consuming.

When you point this out, people inevitably reference Experience. I've also wrestled with that. It's somewhat buggy. And the things you can do with it are limited, like you can have a woosh teleporter without the map pulling up, or you can have a thing you buy or pick up and then you can walk through a wall or a gate, or you can have a HUD and collect things in a basket or backpack in conjunction with the HUD -- horribly laggy. But that's about it.

Somehow I thought Experience was going to enable the ability to have third parties (not creator or owner but visitor) click on a thing and have it take you through, let's say, wielding a pick axe to pound on a rock, find a gem, pick it up, polish it, etc. The way the first Linden machina about the Wild West had "acting" in machina (people argue about this) actually a big set of anims that you click on once and it takes you through the whole series.

I realize the reason there aren't more of these is that it is hard and time-consuming and then becomes costly. I was hoping Sansar would advance this more and maybe it has but I was there a year or so ago the only thing that was better was being able to control signs in the environment.

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8 hours ago, Scylla Rhiadra said:

You are talking as though backdrops and full builds were interchangeable items, or that one is usurping the role of the other. They aren't: they serve different functions, for different kinds of customers. The makers of backdrops are filling an identified need of people who don't want a full house. What you're essentially asking is that people who don't want, or need, or have use for a particular product, should buy it anyway. The market doesn't work that way, nor should it.

I don't ask anyone to buy anything and I do not see full builds and backdrops as interchangeable items. Quite the opposite, as this is exactly the problem I have with backdrops. They can look as cool from the front as they want, they are not a substitute for a real building. Backdrops don't need to be interchangeable with full builds in order to push full builds out of the picture. The talent and time to build a structure just goes into backdrops these days. I've seen amazing ideas for build...entirely wasted on some backdrop, never turned into a full build. I assume backdrops just sell better and are faster to produce.

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Photography has become the thing to do in the past couple of years. It’s relatively easy to set up a Flickr account, snap some pictures, upload them and get a fair number of faves, just because you liked someone else’s pics.

It kind of goes with the clothing boom and the event boom. Some of the backdrops have become elaborate, fully lit with materials. People love showing off.

This is just where we are right now. I don’t see as many backdrops like I used to. But some creators have definitely come up with some truly fantastic builds. I think the wheat has separated from the chaff.

 

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1 hour ago, Syo Emerald said:

I've seen amazing ideas for build...entirely wasted on some backdrop, never turned into a full build. I assume backdrops just sell better and are faster to produce.

Well, yes. But I still think you're kind of missing my point. It's like complaining that there are too many people making and buying lawnmowers, and not enough producing and purchasing bicycles.

But yes, I will agree that, while there are some really terrific full builds out there (I just dropped an exorbitant amount on a beautiful one from Apple Fall), I don't see the variety that I used to.

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4 hours ago, Prokofy Neva said:

You've just hit upon something here -- it's about the poses. Good fashion or exploration photographer shows the avatar not just in some vacant-eyed, system feet-splay, but often with elaborate poses that feign action and even facial expressions.

The reason those gorgeous exploration sims in destination can't have poses is because poses seldom can be used by third parties!

Region owners that like to attract traffic, and photographing explorers, should just allow for rezzing with auto return. Some put it behind a group with some join fee to support the region, which is also fine. With advanced posers you can also pose your avatar live, without rezzing, it's a lot more limited though. So if you like your region to pop up on a lot of Flickrs, allow rezzing one way or another.

Backdrops are used for a whole different aspect of photography though than exploration or building.

Simple backdrops (like the hundreds you find in Backdrop City) are nice for a quick snap, a profile pic or blog, where color matching is more important since most of the picture focus is on the avatar.

The more advanced really well designed backdrops are generally way too detailed to be usable in that quality as region building, due to lag, LI limit and such. But they make for awesome  photo scenes  due to their amazing detail. And being a backdrop you can rez on your own land, you have all the freedom to use it how you like, add props, work undisturbed, and so on. Those are hardly just backdrops, but more environments or scenes.

 

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43 minutes ago, Zeta Vandyke said:

Region owners that like to attract traffic, and photographing explorers, should just allow for rezzing with auto return. Some put it behind a group with some join fee to support the region, which is also fine. With advanced posers you can also pose your avatar live, without rezzing, it's a lot more limited though. So if you like your region to pop up on a lot of Flickrs, allow rezzing one way or another.

Backdrops are used for a whole different aspect of photography though than exploration or building.

Simple backdrops (like the hundreds you find in Backdrop City) are nice for a quick snap, a profile pic or blog, where color matching is more important since most of the picture focus is on the avatar.

The more advanced really well designed backdrops are generally way too detailed to be usable in that quality as region building, due to lag, LI limit and such. But they make for awesome  photo scenes  due to their amazing detail. And being a backdrop you can rez on your own land, you have all the freedom to use it how you like, add props, work undisturbed, and so on. Those are hardly just backdrops, but more environments or scenes.

 

I wish more scenic region owners would allow this. I will gladly pay a join fee for group access to rez props and poses. I usually donate to the sim anyway. But like others have said there's just more I can do with a backdrop rezzed on my sky platform in terms of poses and props, than on land where I cannot rezz anything and have to attach things may need. This is strictly photography related.

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6 hours ago, BelindaN said:

I had no idea that you could buy backdrops. Another new known unknown for me.

Me either, Belinda.  It's fascinating to read this thread and discover a SL feature that I was totally unaware of -- one that seems useful to some people too.  I can't imagine any need for a backdrop myself, but Scylla and others have pointed out some situations when a backdrop could be a nice, low-cost, convenient alternative to using a "real" SL location for photography.  I learn something new every day.

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27 minutes ago, Eva Knoller said:

I wish more scenic region owners would allow this. I will gladly pay a join fee for group access to rez props and poses. I usually donate to the sim anyway. But like others have said there's just more I can do with a backdrop rezzed on my sky platform in terms of poses and props, than on land where I cannot rezz anything and have to attach things may need. This is strictly photography related.

Just to piggyback off of this: A lot of bloggers that dealt with cool, interesting, photogenic sims are gone. This further exacerbates the situation because more people are taking pictures but don’t know where to go. What becomes the easiest way to find someplace cool and interesting for your picture? Buy it.

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