World Premiere: Second Life Machinima Trailer to Promote a Book

My wife is launching her first book this week, “Les Naufragés de Chélon“. It’s an adventure book (in French) targeted to 9-12 year-olds. She has an editor that’s progressive enough to allow us to experiment with the launch strategy and we’ve decided we would try using some of the Web’s social tools to promote it.

The first thing we built was a machinima (see definition) trailer using Second Life. We hired a US firm, Riel Life Productions, to shoot it for us. It’s now available on YouTube or on the book’s web site. That was a fascinating process involving set building (most notably the huge volcano), hiring SecondLife actors and shooting the trailer.

Even though book trailers are used more and more, I believe using a Second Life machinima movie to promote a book is a world premiere. The book also has a Facebook group.

What it means: this will be an interesting social web experiment to try to measure the impact of social tools on an offline product. Like I blogged about a month ago, I suspect the intrinsic value of Second Life today is more offline than online.

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Machinima: Leveraging Second Life in the Offline World

(via the Washington Post)

HBO said on Tuesday it has acquired the rights to a short-form documentary shot entirely within Second Life, as entertainment companies increasingly turn to virtual worlds as a source for new content. “My Second Life: The video diaries of Molotov Alta” purports to tell the story of a man who “disappeared from his California home” and began issuing video dispatches from Second Life.

The popular virtual world, which has its own currency and a growing economy, has drawn millions of users who create alter egos called avatars and interact with people from around the world. HBO, the premium channel owned by Time Warner Inc, paid a six-figure sum for the rights, Douglas Gayeton, who made the film, said in an interview. Gayeton, who uses the avatar Molotov Alta in Second Life, said the documentary is scheduled for release in 2008.

Second Life has hosted dozens of real world companies in the past year, usually as a means of promoting products like cars or movies. However, Hollywood has been increasingly interested in using worlds like Second Life as virtual movie sets, a process known as machinima. (…) The pilot episode of “My Second Life” is available on YouTube.

What it means: There was a lot of excitement around Second Life in the last 12 months but it seems to be dying down. Wired even said: “The Internet will eventually be full of such 3-D environments; Second Life might even be one of them. But in the meantime, it’s just slurping up corporate dollars and delivering little in return.” But I wonder: maybe the big potential currently is leveraging Second Life in the real life?

Mitch Kapor on Virtual Worlds: Like a Drug Experience

(Via Information Week)

PC pioneer Mitch Kapor described his moment of insight into the potential of virtual worlds as being like a drug experience. Kapor, who is chairman of Linden Lab, which operates Second Life, said he realized the potential of Second Life at an in-world Suzanne Vega concert last year. Vega performed from a recording studio, and her audience were sitting at personal computers all around the world, and yet the concert brought them all together in the same virtual place. The realization, he said, was like the drug experiences of the ’60s.

“What’s driving virtual worlds is a shared sense, by a few hundred thousand crazy people, that this is important, and they’re going to drop everything and go after this,” he said. (…) Virtual worlds, like PCs, are disruptive technology, with unforeseen consequences, Kapor said. They will become mainstream quickly, but — like PCs in the very early years — they’re now a very marginal phenomenon, Kapor said. Like PCs, virtual worlds will enable people to do new things, and will create new economies of winners and losers.

But virtual worlds are still in the early adopter stage. The next, larger stage of users — pragmatists looking for a payoff in uselulness — has yet to begin. (…) Virtual worlds are succeeding now, where they’ve previously failed, because of faster PC hardware, global broadband, and an Internet culture which now accepts an “ethic of participation” in areas such as open source, free culture, GNU/Linux and Wikipedia, Kapor said. But virtual worlds have a long way to go until they become mainstream, Kapor said. They need the equivalent of the Web application server — building content in virtual worlds is still equivalent to hand-coding Web pages and code. They need an improved user interface; Second Life is dificult to use. They need to be decentralized, to permit creation of private spaces — the equivalents of intranets and extranets.

What it means: people often ask me: “do you believe in the Second Life phenomenon?” I answer: “I don’t specifically believe in Second Life but I strongly believe in virtual worlds as a way to navigate, access information and interact with people in the future. It’s the simple convergence of videogames, real life, social networking and computing power. I believe people should at least try Second Life to get a taste what this could all become in the future. Many experiments are going on there currently which will eventually lead to new standards and business models.

What is Social Media?

In my daily work, I often use the expression “social media”. I’ve been asked to define it before but I always end up talking about user-generated content and reciprocal, two-way conversation between the user and the media. Wikipedia has a good definition but Joe Marchese from the Mediapost’s Online Spin adds more meat:

Social media describes the online technologies and practices that people use to share opinions, insights, experiences, perspectives and media itself. Social media can take many different forms, including text, images, audio, and video. These sites typically use technologies such as blogs, message boards, podcasts, wikis, and vlogs to allow users to interact. A few prominent examples of social media applications are Wikipedia (reference), MySpace (social networking), Gather.com (social networking),YouTube (video sharing), Second Life (virtual reality), Digg (news sharing), Flickr (photo sharing) and Miniclip (game sharing).” (source: Wikipedia)

Marchese begins: “first I think one of the biggest myths regarding social media is that it equals user-generated content. (…) Second, there is nothing about social media that demands user creation. The “media” part of social media can be anything from professional content to home videos. Just because “America’s Funniest Home Videos” consisted of user-generated content certainly didn’t make it social media. Conversely, just because “Heroes” is professionally produced doesn’t mean that it can’t be social media.”

He continues: “the real difference between broadcast media and social media is not the media itself, but the system of discovery, distribution, consumption and conversation surrounding the media. (…) What many of us are defining as social media today are actually just technologies specifically architected to facilitate people’s natural tendencies to seek out, share and discuss media content. Think about it. How is MySpace social medium? I would certainly say that MySpace is the largest and most influential social media platform of our time, but it doesn’t create media (at least not for most of it). The media one finds on MySpace is a mix of professional, semi-professional and (I hate using the term) “user- generated” content, and that media is made social by the context of its distribution and its ability to create dialogue between people. ANY TYPE OF MEDIA CAN BE SOCIAL MEDIA — and eventually all media will be social media in the most literal definition. This will have serious implications for media companies and advertisers alike, so it is important that we are not dismissing social media as the user-generated portion of the Internet.”

What it means: so my quasi, minimalistic definition wasn’t too far off. I agree that social media is all about the conversation but I think that, as part of that conversation, there will be some “user-generated content” happening. I agree that all media can be social media. I would even say that all media will have to become social media. Consumers are getting used to contributing to the conversation and that’s not going away. BTW, I like his thoughts regarding America’s Funniest Home Videos.

Meta-Praized: Social Charity, Clustering, Is Google Too Big?, IM Predictions for 2007, Second Life, World of Warcraft, Revver, Guba

Meta-Praized is a collection of links & stories we’ve “dugg” on Digg.com in the last few weeks. By clicking on that link, you can always follow what’s on our mind.