Second Life as a Backlot

4 09 2007

File this into the “News only to those who haven’t been paying attention” category.

Reuters reports that HBO has bought the film “My Second Life: The video diaries of Molotov Alta”, a film about a man who has disappeared from California and is now filing dispatches from Second Life.

For those of you who haven’t been paying attention, Second Life is the web site, run by Linden Labs, which is a web-based virtual world, in which many people create alternate world personae, who fly from one area to another, interacting in real time. Some Real World companies (I believe that Reuters may be one of them) have created spaces within SL, counting on the other members of that community to stop by and view content, which is wrapped around with ads.

The show, the introductory episode of which has already been seeded on YouTube, is actually fairly clever, if derivative of films like THE MATRIX and books like, oh, anything by Philip K. Dick, William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, Pat Cadigan, Rudy Rucker or John Shirley. Molotov Alta has, somehow, been sucked into Second Life and is now recording his experiences and memories.

What it looks like is a CAD program used to create storyboards for films. It is the roughest visuals imaginable applied to a film, completely justified by it being the experience of someone within the graphics engine used by Linden Labs for SL.

In fact, it is the cheapest animation possible because the producer/director (California media artist/photograph, Douglas Gayeton) is animating using the cheapest animation engine available — Linden Labs own Second Life. And it’s free.

It’s brilliant. It’s an entrancing concept. Now we just have to see if the scripts can be anything more than the Introduction’s, which was mostly a gee-whiz, this is what Second Life can do, sorta thing.

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