Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Phantasmagoria! Edited transcript

Serafina Puchkina: Welcome, Ladies, Gentlemen, and urchins. Miss Viv, Mr. Jasper, and I are pleased to welcome you to the September Aether Salon, entitled Phantasmagoria! Learn about the origins, traditions, and future of machinema in SL. Miss Jed is off exploring exotic locales but we hope she will be with us later. I would like to thank each and every one of you for joining us today.

As many of you know, the Aether Salon meets to discuss steam and Victorian topics on the third Sunday of each month, in Palisades and Academy, New Babbage. This is our 19th salon and I hope you are all as excited about being here today as I am.

A few reminders before we begin: if you are standing in the back, please move forward onto the maze so that you can be assured of hearing the speaker. Please hold your questions until the end, and as a courtesy to all, please turn off everything that creates lag: all HUDs, scripts, AOs and so on. Please no weapons, rogue scripts, or ill-mannered, guitar throwing musicians.

Your cooperation is appreciated. Edited and unedited transcripts will be posted this week at http://aethersalon.blogspot.com so you can revisit today’s merriment, read transcripts of past salons, and for a laugh, peruse “overheard at the salon.” You are encouraged to join the Aether Salon group and receive notifications of future salon events. To join, click the lower right hand corner of the large brown sign by the entrance. We sincerely appreciate the support we receive from everyone in the community and we humbly thank you all.

Many fine people have contributed to today’s salon: We are grateful to Miss Canolli Capalini of Capalini Fine Furnishings for the wonderful salon chairs. Mr. Jasper Kiergarten for today’s craft. We also appreciate Miss Canolli and Miss Ianthe Farshore for their contributions to the craft. Miss Ceejay Writer, Mr. Rafael Fabre, Miss Redgirl Llewellen, Miss Breezy Carver, Miss Ahnyanka Delphin, and, last but not least, the citizens of New Babbage who make this event possible.

Next month’s salon will officially open our second year of the Aether Salon on October 17 at 2 pm SLT. It’s certain to be a grand event for all. As a reminder, all speakers' fund jar donations go directly to the speaker. Now I will turn the stage over to Miss Viv for the introduction of today’s speaker. Miss Viv?

Viv Trafalgar: Thank you Serafina. I cannot tell you all how grateful I am to have Serafina Puchkina as my co-host here. We cannot do this without her, or Jed, or Jasper. Not to mention all of you. Thank you for coming today.

Let me tell you a little something about our speaker. This is a rare treat, and we are very grateful to him for being here, and to Miss Janus for suggesting it.

Brilliant, creative, imaginative. A builder of worlds and a weaver of story and mystery. This is Loki Eliot. For years, his machinimas have captured the spirit of New Babbage and introduced New Babbage to a wider audience in SL and in the real world.

Several citizens have no doubt immigrated to our sooty city after viewing one of Loki’s machinemas. As one of New Babbage’s first settlers, Loki has used the opportunity to document our city’s growth over the past 4 years. Loki has organized the Burning Barrel race and Pancake race in Babbage, races that inevitably attract fierce competitors as well as large crowds (also, sooty knees, scraped hands, and singed/sticky hair).

In addition, he has promoted and supported a range of communities - especially child avatar communities - and activities in Burning Life. His latest region opened on Friday, and we hope he will say more about it today. Ladies and Gentlemen, urchins and everyone, please welcome Loki Eliot!

Loki Eliot: thank you Viv :)

Greetings everyone, those of you who don't know me im Loki Eliot, I've been a resident of New Babbage since it first opened and im mostly known for my Machinema video i have done.

My first New Babbage Video "tour of new Babbage" introduced a lot of people to the idea that Steampunks could explore their interests in virtual worlds, but it was my second video "New Babbage - A Steampunk City in Second Life" that sparked a huge response and was featured on many blogs, to date it has had over 30,000 views and is my most popular video to date. Since then i have enjoyed capturing the moments that keep me coming back to second life

I could talk about ways to edit film, or what software best to use, the composition of your shots (i will mention those things later), but i feel at the heart of your films should be an understanding of how your movie effects its viewers. As we are in New Babbage, the home of all things dark, steamy and fantastical i shall start my talk of mechinema with the Phantasmagoria. Apparently invented in France in the late 18th century, it gained popularity through most of Europe throughout the 19th century.

A modified lantern was used to project frightening images such as skeletons, demons, and ghosts onto walls, smoke, or semi-transparent screens, frequently using rear projection. The projector was mobile, allowing the projected image to move and change size on the screen, and multiple projecting devices allowed for quick switching of different images. The magic lantern has been credited to both Athanasius Kircher and Christiaan Huygens in the early to mid-17th century. Huygens’ magic lantern has been described as the predecessor of today’s slide projector and the forerunner of the motion picture projector.

Images were hand painted onto the glass slide until the mid-19th century when photographic slides were employed. Though Huygens’ magic lantern was often used for amusement by projecting quaint and pastoral imagery, phantoms, devils, and other macabre objects were also sometimes projected, thus giving rise to phantasmagoria. Something that tickles a steampunk i know. Here i have a small youtube video of a collector showing his collection of magic lantern slides. Notice how some of the slides have push/pull parts for basic animations. It's a couple minutes long http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sqNfr7ISCgc&p
Please say once you have seen the video. Sorry, my other video examples will be using quicktime

Ok, In the mid-18th century a german coffee shop owner named Johann Schröpfer began offering séances in a converted billiards room which became so popular that by the 1760s he had transformed himself into a full-time showman, using elaborate effects including projections of ghosts to create a convincing spirit experience. In 1774, he committed suicide, apparently a victim of delusions of his own apparitions.

The last decades of the 18th century saw the rise of the age of Romanticism. This movement had elements of the bizarre and irrational, and often centered on mystery and the psychology of characters. The popular interest in such topics explained the rise and, more specifically, the success of phantasmagoria for the productions to come.

In 1797, Etienne Robertson presented his first “fantasmagorie” in Paris. The macabre atmosphere in the post-revolutionary city was perfect for Robertson's Gothic extravaganza complete with elaborate creations and Radcliffean décor.

After discovering that he could put the magic lantern on wheels to create either a moving image or one that increased and decreased in size, Robertson moved his show. In an abandoned crypt of a Capuchin convent near the Place Vendôme, he staged hauntings, using several lanterns, special sound effects and the eerie atmosphere of the tomb. In order to add to the horror, Robertson and his assistants would sometimes create voices for the phantoms. Often, the audience forgot that these were tricks and were completely terrified.... He said “I am only satisfied if my spectators, shivering and shuddering, raise their hands or cover their eyes out of fear of ghosts and devils dashing towards them." In fact, many people were so convinced of the reality of his shows that police temporarily halted the proceedings, believing that Robertson had the power to bring Louis XVI back to life.

The phantasmagoria was used to effect people by showing things that were not real and started a whole new way to influence peoples feelings with images and music. Even today how we feel about things are greatly influenced by visual and musical impact of our media. News reports can give biased opinions using soundfx, a dramatic situation in a film can be amplified by its music. To understand these tricks and use them in your machinema is vital to hooking the viewer and engraving the experience into their memories.

Example 1: The Battle for the Narcadon video. Here i have a short video i produced for my Escapades Island. It's about 4 minutes long, tell me once you have all seen it :) i hope it works for you and does not crash anyone :) http://tinyurl.com/38wkhrj

The phantasmagoria was used to effect people by showing things that were not real and started a whole new way to influence peoples feelings with images and music. Even today how we feel about things are greatly influenced by visual and musical impact of our media. Anyways, Keen eyes will have noticed that the video has no film in it. It is made only with flat 2d images, music and narrator. Not to different an effect used in phantasmagoria.

Film you see is not just the recorded image, film is Voice, visuals and Music and if all three are at their best thats when film becomes most powerful. Thats not to say that film cant have moments where a single element cant work as well on its own.

Example 2: Moments in film. Here is another video about 10 minutes long showing moments in film that to me represent good examples of how Music and visuals working together can effect our feelings and in doing so engrain those moments into us.
http://tinyurl.com/2fc4lnh You may need to turn your sound up

Thanx for sitting through that long video :) these are all moments that have engrained these films into my memory, from back when i was a small child, to as recent as last year. Whether you get a tear when spock dies, or have an uplifting feeling of hope in Return of the king as the fires light, or cry your eyes out when E.T. says bye, these moments or others effect us because of the way these moments were arranged visually and musically to effect us.

Does anyone here off the top of their had have a favourite moment in film that? and if so how important is the music in that films moment?

Jasper Kiergarten: Kagemusha
Jimmy Branagh: Vangelis score from Blade Runner
Loki Eliot: not heard that one before
Rowan Derryth: Somewhere in TIme... that theme :-)
Darlingmonster Ember: magnificent seven....very music intense
Sam Ermintrood: chariots of fire
Ordinal Malaprop: The end of Videodrome.
Sky Netizen: Casablanca has a great score.
Ceejay Writer: Oddly, the opening music to Logans Run, just before the story starts.
Jimmy Branagh: Lawrence of Arabia

Loki Eliot: These are moments you should look out for when making machinema. Moments where the visuals and music you choose come together in such a way that it effects your viewer emotionally, or if your viewers hear the music again in future they think of your machinema.

Salazar Jack: Poltergeist, when Tangina is first telling them that their daughter, Carol Ann, is okay. Yes the music is very good there.
Linus Lacombe: The theme from the Magnificent Seven is one of the great movie themes of all time
Bela Lubezki: complete "Fargo" score
Jimmy Branagh: Stuff by Miklos Rotza
Nat Merit: I tend to get immersed and not think conciously of the music
Ordinal Malaprop: In general, music in Cronenberg films is quite terrible or absent.
Rowan Derryth: O the downside, Tangerine Dream almost Ruined Ladyhawke.
Jimmy Branagh: Max Steiner

Loki Eliot: It's not easy either to find those moments. If you film an event that is unplanned and unpredictable its only after you have filmed that you can play around with music and see what fits. For example is last years Christmas film i did of New Babbage Steam Santa.

Myrtil Igaly: Star Wars :op
Rowan Derryth: Greenaway/Nyman

Loki Eliot: I knew i wanted to do a film where Santa was flying around the town and the kids looking up to see him. But what i did not count on was a random moment when my friend Nat in his dirty clothes would walk through the crowd to meet Santa. At the time it was nothing special until i laid down a music track. The moment where the camera zooms in on Nat's expectant face married with a wonderful light vocal moment in the music and suddenly the whole scene took on a powerful new moment.
I shall let you watch that scene now, it's about 1 min long…. http://tinyurl.com/348s5gu When that moment appeared while editing i was like "YES thats got it

I see many machinema online where people have just plonked music onto of their visuals and they can end up feeling out of place and jarring to the experience. great care should be taken to make the music and visuals flow together.

Linus Lacombe: They are excellent to watch, too, when you have those days when you wonder why you are in SL!

Loki Eliot: If you edit your film to cut to another scene as a keychange occurs or in time with the tempo or beat you will find your movie flowing much more comfortably.
Of course when it comes to music and Machinema you have to watch out for copyright issues, but im not here to discuss copyrights.XD

Ok that enough about the relationships between visuals and music, here are some basic tips i use when filming machinema in second life, get your pen and papyrus ready.

1. FILM HOURS EDIT MINUTES: I tend to film A LOT, i film it all sometimes up to an hour or more if my computer can handle it. To stop and start filming can be time consuming and when filming live events you don't know what you might miss. So make sure you have plenty of storage space for raw screen grabs.

2. COMPOSITION: Consider your shots, where people stand, don't cut heads off unless your do EXTREME closeups. Never centre things, always have focused items slightly off centre. It just makes the scene more interesting and has something to do with the Golden Mean.

3. EXTREME CLOSE UPS: Close ups of people's faces allow viewers to emphasise and relate. Eyes are very important even though they are virtual, seeing them move and blink gives people something to relate to in a character.

4. EXTREME BACK UPS: Adding the occasional wide shot to determine the atmosphere and situation of your film can say a thousand words of description in a couple seconds.

5. DOUBLE THE SPEED: A trick i often use in SL, if you cant get high enough frames per second on a wide draw distance, pan very slow and then double the speed in your editing software. This will double the frames per-second and give a smoother look.

6. RE-ARRANGE ORDER OF EVENTS: Sometimes just playing a video in the order they were recorded is boring. It is there for acceptable to swap events over, or intersect events between each other. This can make a film a much more richer experience. An entertaining video of what did not exactly happen is better that a boring video of what did exactly happen.
Unfortunately this is sometimes how news programmes edit their news.

i also once filmed a battle between me and my brother where my brother won the fight, but becos i edited the video in sch a way that it looked like i won, it is generally accepted now becos of the video that i won the battle

7. SOUND FX: Sound FX can help tell a story and create atmosphere. i get most of my sound effects from http://www.freesound.org, and awesome resource to be sure.

Ordinal Malaprop: I also use freesound extensively.

Finally 8. USE GOOD SOFTWARE AND HARDWARE. Yeh pretty obvious really, you need a powerful computer, good software (i use imovie which i love) and i recommend the Space navigator 3D mouse from connexion, allows smooth panning and floating camera as you may have seen in many of my films.

Ordinal Malaprop: Be sure to upload random noises to it as well, in case somebody else finds them useful.

Nat Merit: 3dconnexion is the company

Loki Eliot: I also use Snapz Pro screen grab software. It has good options for capturing a selected area and ignoring the cursor. I tend to record a small part of the viewer space and have all my inventory and chat boxes to the side of my recording area. That's all i have for you

OH EXCEPT. ONE MORE THING. i have a special little video to show you all before the Q&A's


Viv Trafalgar: ((please hold your questions for a moment and we'll set the craft out after)

Loki Eliot: Thank you all for listening :)

Viv Trafalgar: Perhaps some of you have questions now? I'll keep a list and try and be organized about it. Yes, Dame Malaprop please go ahead

Loki Eliot: i know it says end of october, but could be later due to my stupidly busy hobby

Ordinal Malaprop: Mr Eliot - I wasn't quite sure of what, for you, distinguished a "phantasmagorical" scene from a film from one that was just generally dramatic and engaging. Could you elaborate on that?

Loki Eliot: The phantasmagoria was used to effect people emotionally with visuals, erm, trying to put into words. Creating drama and engaging moments in film all started with the pironeers of phantasmagoria in my opinion. Every time you get excited, uplifted or sad or scared while watching a film, thats what they were doing back then with the phantasmagoria is what im saying. i hope i understood your question miss malaprop

Ordinal Malaprop: Well, I was just thinking that there are all sorts of sources of drama and engagement.

Loki Eliot: yes SL is a great source for drama

Viv Trafalgar: Dame Malaprop, would you mind if we returned to the question after Darlingmonster and Nat's questions?

Ordinal Malaprop: By all means

Viv Trafalgar: Thank you! Miss Ember, your question please

Darlingmonster Ember: my question: most of us feel very fortunate when textures rez and objects appear.... yet you seem to create vistas where you are seldom fouled by gray or 'fuzzy' textures. Just how is this wizardry done when you work?

Beq Janus: its the film hours edit minutes, if you stand in babbage for an hour the last minute will be rezzed fully

Loki Eliot: i make sure ive arrived beforehand and let everything load into the cache, then i relog, i dunno if technically that has anything to do with it. It also might be that i just cut out all the grey bits during editing ;)

Viv Trafalgar: Mr. Merit - your question, please - anyone else please IM me

Nat Merit: also take the advice from Blakopal's blogs about settings for making sculpties rez at greater distances

Loki Eliot: yes Blaopals tips on performance i follow

Nat Merit: how would you recommend we locate and choose appropriate music for machinima? are there resources for finding music designed to provoke a particular mood? or do you just own a lot of film soundtracks and listen to them often enough to know what music fits? where should the beginner start?

Loki Eliot: hmm... it's trial and error to see what music fits. I have a few soundtracks, not really a huge collection

Nat Merit: do you start by looking at scenes with a similar mood in memorable films?

Loki Eliot: but i do tend to think about what sort of music would best suit this video, and im lucky that i have a very wide range of music taste to help with that

Nat Merit: and you usually use copyrighted music?

Loki Eliot: lol, i use what ever happens to fit. I have dabbled with composing my own music, The Burning life Trailer for 2009 had music i composed myself, and for a live roleplay vido i composed some battle music

Nat Merit: most of Loki's music is orchestral film scores, not classical though

Beq Janus: copyright law ruined a movie I was in. We filmed a wonderful movie in Berlin, I was dancing a routine to Fats Domino's ain't misbehavin' but the copyright law prevented viewers in Germany of all places so they replaced it with another piece and the whole atmosphere was killed as we had custom choreographed to the earlier piece

Nat Merit: I think you'd need to find 'podsafe' or creative commons licensed music

Ordinal Malaprop: There is an awful lot of "safe" music on Project Gutenberg.

Nat Merit: although these days most rights holders get youtube to link videos to iTunes links rather than take the music down so it's possibly less of an issue now...

Loki Eliot: going back to malaprops question, Part of what i love doing here in SL is to me the on going legacey of those phantasmogoria wizards. here in SL creating experiences that excite and effect people emotionally in this virtual phantasmagoria.

Loki Eliot scribbles down Project Gutenberg.

Linus Lacombe: Does archive.org have music that can be used as well?

Nat Merit: for podcasting, I've used creative commons licensed music. http://search.creativecommons.org/

Beq Janus: ooooh, the berlin video has been republished with the music back in place

Nat Merit: (as well as just asking the rights holders for permission)

Viv Trafalgar: Ladies and Gentlemen thank you so very much for joining us today! This is a great crowd- please come back next month for our special 2 year anniversary

Loki Eliot: Thank you all for coming, and i hope you have found what ive talked about enlightening if not interesting :)

Viv Trafalgar: and visit flickr and the website for the transcript and links to Loki's movies, if he'll let us. All the funds in the speaker's jar go directly to loki. We are proud to support Babbage's community of artists and bright minds and hope that you will continue to support us with your presence

Nat Merit: here's BlakOpal's performance tips: http://www.blakopal.com/mac/

Beq Janus: But do not forget to support tis wonderful venue too please. There is a group to join and a sign on the wall that will accept your lindens

Viv Trafalgar: any last words, co-hosts and others?

Serafina Puchkina: Please join us in October for the official opening to our second year of Aether Salon. Excitement builds! Thank you so much Loki

Loki Eliot: :)

Nat Merit: tutorial videos mixed in here too http://il.youtube.com/user/BlakOpalDesigns

Jasper Kiergarten: this month's craft box is beside the stage there

Serafina Puchkina: Good evening all and thank you for attending

Viv Trafalgar: Speaker's fund delivered - what a wonderful community support -

Jedburgh30 Dagger: Thank you for the Jasper, craft!

Serafina Puchkina: I will post transcripts early this week on the aether salon blog and put notice in the not-ning

Loki Eliot: I must also invite everyone to check out Escapades Island, there are some steampunky places you must visit including the Cliffton Labratory and maybe also the castle ruins. Oh and the BIGGeST windmill in second life. It's even bigger than my mountain

Nat Merit: Myrtil has a steampunky build under construction there too

Loki Eliot: She asked me, what can i build? and i said think big, and she really did think BIG

Nat Merit: I think we'll find out the windmill is secretly a rocketship at some point :)

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