SL Machinima: Starting The Second Project

My last (and first) film was, as I mentioned, not my first choice or idea. My first idea was very different but I only had snatches of it in my head – images, really. I toyed with them for a while, trying to find a hook, trying to expand it, but I was always held back by lack of technical know-how and the fact I was to be working entirely on my own. It was as I pondered this for the double plus umpteenth time that the film which was to become The Missing Saloon of Oak Grove popped into my head almost in its entirety. But I have made that one now. It is done and I need to move on. And so I find myself returning to my original idea.

I’m a little more knowledgeable now. I have a better handle on what can be done and what can’t be done. I have the tools in place and a slightly-better-than-basic grasp of them. It is time to move on to my second film.

I’m still aiming for a short run time – about 5 to 7 mins – and I still think I’ll be working alone so the story telling will have to be unambiguous, but really I’m going for visual impact anyhoo so I think I’ll be ok. This one will be gritty and urban, dark and fast. Again I have images, only this time there is a narrative stringing them together. In this way, this feels to me more like a music video than a film, but I see nothing wrong in that – sometimes the story leads, other times the visuals.

This time I’ll be editing on Sony Vegas 8 (basic Movie Studio edition rather than Platinum or Pro). I’ve downloaded the free 30 day trail to see if I like it. Why did I change from VideoSpin? Simple really – VideoSpin only gives 1 video track and 2 audio and I found that quite limiting even for a simple film like “The Missing Saloon…”. To be fair, that is not what the program is intended for and I still think it is a lovely, simple fun thing to use, but it is meant for stitching home movies together, or making fun videos for YouTube or mobile phones and not for making complex movies. OK, so why not upgrade it to Pinnacle’s Studio 12? Well, I so nearly did, but I couldn’t find anywhere how many video and audio tracks it supported until I stumbled across some gripes on a forum about it ‘still only having 2’. Sony Vegas Home has 4 (so does the Platinum whereas the Pro is unlimited but costs £400+). It was a no-brainer from then on really.

My first task has been to write down a brief outline of what is going to happen, but the idea is so simple that it was very, very brief. I tried to make some storyboard sketches but found I was blocked by not knowing what the filming location was going to be like. What to do? Why find my location, of course!

A few months ago (maybe many – I am losing my sense of time as my RL-as-responsible-new-parent and SL-as-escaping-new-parent blend and merge) I entered Osprey’s photo contest called City Streets. I searched for ages and ages for a decent city to take some snaps in and it was hard work to locate one. Of course, you are reading this reeling of half-a-dozen names off at the screen but back then I was on the old laptop and it was hard to find nice places where I could see past 96 (or sometimes 64) meters so cities were often no-go areas for me. Anyhoo, I found one and even did quite well in the contest, but on my travels I came across the rather gorgeous build of Suffugium*, a futuristic dystopian build with some lovely touches of warmth and humour. So I’ve returned and it looks perfect for what I want. Dark streets, narrow alleys, high roofs… lovely…

I suppose I better get on with scouting for locations for shots so I can storyboard this thing 🙂

Cecil B DeBurro 😉

* IIRC, I had come across it once before after reading about it in NWN.



  1. As nice as that vague offer is, Sandy, Suffugium exists only inside the virtual world of Second Life. As do I. Numbers for locations and Real Estate in Northern Califonia and Hollywood are about as much use to me as a chocolate fireguard. But thanks and all that.

  2. Excellent location Head . I once spent nearly a whole rl day in Suffugium just soaking up that futuristic quirky atmosphere. I thought that the Missing Saloon was spookey and great a bit like that Clint eastwood film where he’s a ghost and gets the town folks to paint everything red ! do you know thew one Any how I’m looking even more forward to this next one 🙂

  3. Cheers Nish, although I was having a really good look around last ngith and don’t think I can make the story work there – the buildings don’t give me enough rooftop space to play with. I need to have another look as well as maybe find 1 or 2 more locations – maybe I can cut scenes together from them all…

    “A Town Called Hell” is that film – he was the ghost of the sheriff the townsfolk allowed to be killed, iirc. That was in his period of redefining the western that cumulated with the amazing Unforgiven. As much as I love those films, I still can’t help loving ‘Good, Bad, Ugly’ more and if I’m honest, I’d love to make something like that in SL 🙂

  4. i just noticed this entry, today.

    thank you for the kind words about Suffugium 😀

    i just wanted to let anyone who may be interested know that Suffugium will be shutting down come the beginning of May, so if anyone was wanting to get a last bit of sightseeing in, now is the time to do it. 😐

    i’m organizing a fairly large-scale party on the 1st of May with various DJs, musicians, etc al to give it a proper send off.

    perhaps see some of you, there!

  5. Gomi, I had no idea you were the owner! You were the person I spoke to way back in June/July 08 🙂 I never did get around the a second film as I simply don’t have the time (and working alone on films in SL is a bit of a ballache if I’m honest – I work better with collaboration 😀 )

    I’m really sorry to hear Suffuguim is to close down – what has happened?

  6. actually, i’m merely a representative/admin

    suffugium is owned and operated by a small group of people including lex neva, binne ming, aliasi stonebender, myself and others.

    as for the reason, well, for over a year now, suffugium has barely been scraping by as far as tier payments go. and as of late, the money just isn’t there, at all.

    it’s had a long, healthy run of 4 years this may. it’s sad to see it go and i’m going to miss it a lot but what can you do?

    1. Awww man, it is a shame… I actually thought about moving into Suff a while back, but there didn’t seem to be any RP or building going on, so I just assumed (probably wrongly) that the sim had stalled long ago and was only used by a few friends as their hangout. I joined Steelhead instead which is RP optional but was expanding from 4 to 6 sims and has weekly events & meetings on – in the end I wanted to be in a community rather than find a new hangout. Like I say, I may have been wrong about Suff though.

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