Friday, January 15, 2016

Ontario Arts Council grant award

     I am pleased and excited to announce that I have just been informed that I am one of the 17 who received a new grant from the Canadian government for art projects.   This is the third one that I have been awarded with the first one being for Standby and the second for Imogen and the pigeons which you can see the machinima for below.



The funding for this grant will be to assemble and film The Singularity of Kumiko, to create a first life exhibit using the Occulus Rift and Stem system, and various other things such as marketing, voice acting, music, travel etc.

     I am very excited and pleased with Canada's / Ontario's continued support of what is not considered a mainstream artform.  I have spent a long time working in this area now and have witnessed the resistance of some curators to see outside their comfort zone.   Many curators have spent a life learning how to evaluate and understand painting, sculpture, film etc and to be honest, I think some of the resistance is from being intimidated by the prospect of having to learn something completely new and difficult for them.  "Virtual what? I have to make an avatar?? install .. I barely know how to turn on my computer!" etc.  I am kidding but only partially this time.  The truth is that to understand an immersive artwork then one must become immersed, so the simplicity of pictures and text don't apply to the Immersivist artwork and a curator just can't hope to evaluate our artform by looking at pictures or even watching machinima.  They have to experience it and it's not easy to do so.  When occasionally faced with this reaction it is even more rewarding to know I have a staunch supporter and believer with the Ontario Arts Council, a very progressive organization for the arts.
    So the Gathering will remain on Immersiva for another month or so and then I will begin to assemble the Singularity of Kumiko and film.  Yay!


Friday, January 8, 2016

Clean up your life by Megan Bernard

     I had a commission to create a music video machinima for the talented musician Megan Bernard, and she has just now made it public.  Here is the YouTube video hope you enjoy!  BTW the avatar and figure in the grass look like Megan... well minus being 40 stories tall.


Saturday, January 2, 2016

The new year

     I was thinking to myself.. oh I should do a post on my blog! and so I sat down to write and realized that I didn't really know what to write about.  Oh Tony Dyson asked to be friends with me on Linkedin today.. that was kind of cool.  He made R2D2.  That is sort of something to write about.  I don't know how he would have discovered Bryn Oh nor why he would want to be friends, so likely it was some kind of mistake .. but I accept odd mistakes and it's kind of fun.  Speaking of which, I saw the new Star Wars movie and I think it was the best one of them all.  I actually saw it twice because I am a nerd.   Anyway, so I was trying to think what to write and just as I was contemplating this a song came on the radio which has some really dumb lyrics.  It is called Locked Away by Rock City featuring Adam Levine.  It begins...

 "If I got locked away
And we lost it all today...
Tell me honestly...
Would you still love me the same?"

     So the song essentially is about a guy giving scenarios to a girl wondering if she really would love him when things are rough.  And the message is that if her answer is no to these questions then maybe he is better off without her.. that she is lacking in some way.   So if there are any impressionable young ladies reading my blog then please listen to me when I say that you are not obligated to stay with a guy who gets arrested and in the process of that crime loses everything you have built up together.  So for example...

"If I got locked away
because I did lots of crack
and ran over a family in my jeep.
And we both got sued
and lost the house and our friends
Tell me honestly...
would you still love me the same?"

You would reply

"No you silly prick
you selfish arsehole
I really don't love you the same."

     Thank you song for easing me into this blog post.  I just needed something to get me started.  So I can also write some thoughts about Sansar I guess.   What I am curious about right now is whether Linden Lab will have a separate TOS for both second life and sansar.  I suspect they will but I wonder because a while back Linden Lab said that they made the unpopular changes to the original TOS because they wished to unify all their products under a single TOS (terms of service).  So why is this topic interesting to me?  Mostly just because the TOS in is current form states that everything the user creates in SL is equally the property of Linden Lab.  We share ownership and while it sounds terrible, I think it is safe to say that Linden Lab would not take anything we created and try to make money from it.  They legally could under the TOS.. but it would be a form of suicide once word got out... just yeah I can't see them doing it.  A long time ago IBM pulled away from Second Life due to this problem.  They naturally would not invent something in Second Life with the chance they would have to share the intellectual property with Linden Lab.  They went behind a firewall and remained in Second Life for a while but likely they are completely gone now.  This is what IBM employees told me .. not my own interpretation.  The casual user might accept this but a big company likely wouldn't.
     So lets look at Sansar now.  Sansar, from what I understand, is focused on using Maya first and foremost.  Maya is a high end computer animation and building tool used in most CG movies you see, and it has a price tag of around $5000 depending on the suite.  It is quite difficult to learn and is used mostly by professional studios.  I am not going to say that those in SL who use Maya have all pirated it... but I would bet that many did.  After art school at OCAD University I went back to school to learn a program similar to Maya called Softimage XSI... when I finished the course I didn't have a copy of the program and I couldn't afford one, so now I use Zbrush instead while others use Blender which is free.   But you know, if I had not become a painter then I probably would have had to pirate Softimage if I wanted to keep my skills sharp, improve my portfolio and get a job in the computer animation field.  If Sansar's focus is on Maya then it seems safe to say that it will be professional studios who they are wooing... and I don't think a professional studio would accept the current TOS.  So that is why I am interested.  This is just speculation on my part though.  I like to throw out ideas.  But it's also possible they may be starting with Maya and then will include everything else after they have Maya working perfectly. 
    I get the feeling that Sansar is not going to be a replacement for Second Life but rather a medium to stage projects from.  That it may not be the social world that SL is in the same way we know it.   For example maybe a new movie or game creates a high end virtual trailer of some sort hosted on Sansar and the marketing team gives the location for people to go to on their phones or tablet, VR headset or whatever.   People from around the world go to the trailer or virtual experience and enjoy it... then never return or perhaps didn't even need to make an account.  I think there would also be various permanent locations all promoting something.. but I am not sure if it will be a community world like Second Life.  If I am wrong on the other hand, and it is similar to Second Life then I really hope that they focus on the embedded building tools similar to the prims that Second Life came with.  I say this because with many who I talk to they all refer to the sandbox and social building era as the golden age of Second Life.  It didn't look as good as it does now with mesh ... but it felt different in that people stood around and socially created in real time side by side.  I remember building on IBM with AM Radio thirty feet away making trains or Spiral Walcher, Colin Fizgig or others making fun little things that we would all chat about.  You would see a basic object rezzed.. then manipulated in real time.. then it would float over to the spot it was meant to go and so on like a puzzle being put together.  You get to watch things grow.  With mesh we build outside of SL and import entire fully textured and completed objects... it is a different sense of communal creativity.
     If Minecraft has shown us anything it is that graphics are not everything.  People often talk to me about old creations like Greenies or Black Swan but they would look dated compared to the mesh we use today... but people remember them because of the experience.  The best thing you see in Sansar when it opens will look dated in five years... if you saw it again you would think to yourself .. why did I think this thing was so wonderful?  That is if you were able to see it again five years later, which is unlikely.  So what is important will be the experience that one is left with, that is what will create the memory.  If Linden Lab can create decent building tools that come with the viewer then it will spur creativity across the user base where all users build on the same playing field.  Why is that important?  Because I know many prim builders who feel insecure about exhibiting their work because mesh has, unintentionally, created self consciousness in those who don't have the time or interest in learning a complex 3D program.  I mean it is supposed to be fun right?  There will always be those who excel over others using the exact same tools and everyone can appreciate when someone takes those same tools that all of us use but create something remarkable beyond what is expected.  That object you can appreciate because you understand the tools used and recognize the skill needed.  For example friends sometimes say to me oh I love this artists work the human figure they built is so realistic and graceful... and I look at the model and think..  umm yeah that's the default human female body that comes with Cinema 4D or whatever... they just kind of imported it.   If you see eyeballs separate in a human model the chances are that they didn't build it themself because separate eyeballs from the model are used generally just for animating the eyes to look around or whatever.  We don't animate in Second Life so building like that is not necessary, there would be no need to build separate objects for eyes, also you would be creating two structures that are hidden but the viewer still has to render... just not a good idea.  I don't tell them this as it is kind of like throwing a wet blanket over their hero but at the same time I don't like the idea of someone who is trying to build a human form with all the muscles and sinews to struggle and feel inadequate because they can't measure up to another artists work, who didn't actually make what they exhibit.  And it is because they just don't recognize that the model is a default one often taken directly from a professional 3D program.
     I think if you make something and have the opportunity to exhibit it to others, you might feel reluctant if you know that there is someone out there who might put down a work beside yours that is created with a far superior tool to that which you use, and that it makes yours look amateuristic.  It involves embarrassment.  It is just not the same playing field and that is fine under most circumstances.. it's just progress.. except it just might not work well if Linden Lab wish to devise a creators universe where everyone is excited and showing each other their work.  Anyway just throwing out some ideas, but I think a successful building community can work provided the native tools are accessible and powerful enough to compete in all aspects including whatever marketplace is developed.  And if Sansar is not a replacement for Second Life as we know it, then Linden Lab please make a replacement for Second Life too when you get a moment.