One of my favourite things to do in Second Life is dance. I’m always dancing, and I don’t mean just at a club. I dance in my house, I dance when I’m sorting inventory, I dance when I’m stalking lucky chairs… everywhere really. Why stand when you can dance right?
In fact, when I’m having an off day or just want a little silly time in SL I often go hang out at Humanoid Motioncapture Animations. They have these giant laptops set up each containing a different dance series and each key is a different dance component in that series. I find my favorite music, skip along the keys dancing my butt off and before I know it everything is right in the world. One of the coolest things about Humanoid is that they provide videos of the RL dancers they used to capture the animations. I’ve never seen motion capture being done before, so to me it was pretty amazing.
I stopped over the other day and noticed that they have one of the animations for their new Ally series set to only 1L. Yes, only 1L. I couldn’t believe my luck. I love love the dances from Humanoid but my budget has only allowed me to buy a few so adding another was like winning the lotto. I was going to get it whether it suited me or not. Luckily, I hopped on and guess what. It’s totally me! My new signature dance. I just had to show you guys but how do you photograph a dance? Well, you can’t and so begins my journey into learning video capturing and eventually, I hope, machinima.
I’ll never be one of those people who can say “Oh, I just whipped together a little video”. Not even a little bit. That one minute video took me two days to make! Well, not a whole 48 hours or anything, but I worked on it over the course of two days. Rather than baffle you with bull and make it sound like I was just born knowing how to do this I thought I’d share the struggles I had and the things I learned on the off chance there is someone else out there like me who would like to try and doesn’t know how.
I started by downloading Xfire because it’s free and I heard it has better recording quality than WeGame. It looked pretty easy, there is just one thing you can do with it, record, and the command is ScrollLock + V. I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve been typing for many many years and did not know what or where the Scroll Lock key was. I finally had to ask someone. That’s when I learned it’s the wheel on your mouse, you hold it down, that’s scroll lock. Naturally, my next question was “Why didn’t they call it the mouse wheel?” to which I learned that there is also a Scroll Lock key up by the Print Screen Button. Oh. Look at that. So there is.
Now I was ready for sure. Log into Xfire, Log into SL, hold down the Scroll Lock and V and nothing happens. Nothing. An hour or more of googling and browsing their forums I finally stumbled on this blog post with some instructions that put me on the right path. Basically, Xfire does recognize Second Life but doesn’t recognize third party viewers so you have take a copy of the folder with your TPV in it, and in the copy rename the .exe to SecondLife. Then make sure you log in with that copy! I learned this the hard way. Then you have go into the options panel of Xfire and manually set it to find and recognize the new Second Life exe you copied. It’s all described with pictures in the blog post, far better than I could, so go have a look if you need to know more.
So I finally captured a few videos, just trying to get the hang of it, but I didn’t like that the SL interface was showing up, the header bar and such. Again, I asked if there was a way to hide this with Xfire but learned that pressing Ctrl+Alt+F1 in SL hides your interface. Did you know this? I didn’t know this. I think I’m need to start a “Things I learned today” section in this blog.
I then played around with multiple lightings to get the effect I wanted. I liked this one as it has that dancing at night feel, but also if you look at the ground there is a shadow of her dancing. I’ll wait while you go watch it again, I knew wearing my physics layer for this would prove to be a distraction.
Once I had a video clip I liked, the hard part started, as if it hadn’t been trying enough already. I’m using Windows Movie maker, which also is new to me and though it looks pretty simple it’s trickier than it sounds to edit the clips just right. In the end, I gave up trying to piece together multiple clips and just stuck with a segment of one.
Then came music. Trying to find the right piece of music to match the dance, and then chose the one minute of the song that I wanted and set the timing to the video.
At the end of the day, it’s not what I was hoping to create, it’s really just a screen shot clip with music but I’m really proud of myself. Yes I do realize my alpha peeks out by my hip now and again, but I don’t even mind, I love this dance and these are my happy pants so a little alpha slip isn’t going to hurt anyone. The video is no masterpiece, but it’s a lot further ahead than I was two days ago and I’m confidant that future attempts will be faster and smoother now that I’ve learned a few basics.
I think I’ll be doing some more experiments with Xfire and MovieMaker to see what I can come up with. I’ve always been fascinated with machinima, and though I’ll never be an artist in this field, I think some of these tools will come in handy to capture some of the incredible places I visit in Second Life.
If you are looking for a new dance, or just something fun to do one night, stop by HUMANOID Motioncapture Animations and skip along the keys. I dare you not to smile.
Dance: Ally 31 only 1L at HUMANOID Motioncapture Animations http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/HUMANOID/124/114/22
Music: Organismic – Unexpected Sky http://www.ektoplazm.com/free-music/uprising
Mesh Jeans: Class Act Pants from [Aura] (also known as my happy pants)
Shirt: Pinstripe Cropped Top from Waffle
Shoes: Orange Mary Janes from Duh!
Tattoos: Take Flight Makeup and Tattoo hunt gift from Yayo
Necklace and Ring VIP group gift from ::LEO-NT::
Hair: Rhonda w/Roots – strawberry from >TRUTH<
Skin: Giulia former Diamond Hunt prize from Al Vulo
Eyes: Ellis-Lavender from [LeLutka]