Tips and Tricks: Ten Tips on Creating Machinima in Second Life

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Some of this is deprecated. For newer info, see the Machinima and Movie help pages.

The following is excerpted from the June 2006 issue of Second Opinion, our official newsletter.

Ten Tips on Creating Machinima in Second Life

Machinima is the art of making real movies in virtual worlds. Movies made in Second Life use the world's building, scripting, and avatar customization tools, working in real-time collaboration with people around the globe.

You can use Second Life as your own virtual back lot, soundstage, choreography studio, costume and prop repository, and special effects house. Eric Linden, Linden Lab's machinima expert extraordinaire, gives ten tips for creating machinima in Second Life.

  • Set up screen capture software. I recommend downloading FRAPS to capture your footage. FRAPS captures very clean footage while maintaining the best possible frame rates.
  • For dolly shots, contact Alt-Zoom Studios to get their free, scripted camera object. This is currently the best-scripted camera in Second Life, and will give you the ability to capture smooth camera moves.
  • Try to isolate your action in a way that prevents extraneous background objects and scripts from coming into view. This will help you maintain a more consistent frame rate, especially if there is a lot of action in the scene.
  • Try capturing in Mouselook Mode. You can get smoother camera movements this way.
  • Try to capture footage in a larger format than what you plan to deliver it in. For example, I always capture at 640x480 when I know my output is going to be 320x240. You'll maintain higher quality throughout the editing process this way.
  • Try to limit the number of actors in any given scene. Having a lot of avatars within a scene, especially if they are all using unique animations or have a lot of attachments, will reduce your frame rate.
  • Always capture several frames in front of and at the end of your action. This helps greatly when you're editing scenes together.
  • Try not to move the camera too fast; this can be confusing for the audience and disrupts continuity.
  • Try several views of the same action sequence. Capture more than you think you will need. You can always delete. This will allow you to make more creative decisions when you're editing.
  • Hide the Second Life UI (Ctrl+Alt+1) when capturing.

Have fun making movies and be sure to check out Eric's film,Silver Bells and Golden Spurs!