Jo Yardley

Well-known machinima creator and virtual worlds enthusiast Draxtor Despres participated in the 5th New Media Film Festival with the second episode of his acclaimed series “The Drax Files: World Makers”, which I had covered back in March 2013. The episode’s subject was the 1920s Berlin Project and Jo Yardley, who created it as her personal labour of love.

Draxtor’s coverage of the 1920s Berlin Project featured a free-flowing interview with Jo; his approach eschews the typical interviewer-led “standard”. He happily takes the back seat, giving the floor to the interviewee. So, in this award-winning episode, Jo shares with us how she chose to experience Second Life, what her project is all about and how it evolved, and how SL mixes with her RL in Amsterdam.

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cropped-draxfiles_logofinal_1-1As I mentioned earlier, the ninth installment of The Drax Files Radio Hour podcast aired on Friday and its main topic was the launch of the public beta of SL Go, a cloud streaming service developed by OnLive for access to Second Life on the go. Please note that I didn’t use the term “viewer”, but opted for the term “service” instead; although it does employ a (nearly full-featured) viewer, it uses the Software as a Service (SaaS) model that has become quite popular in the corporate world lately.

SL Go is, as mentioned a few lines above, cloud-based. It runs on a remote, high-performance server and streams the result to the user’s client – computer, television set (via the mini-console provided with OnLive’s Online Games System), or tablet or other mobile device that has a screen of adequate size, providing the best graphics one could expect from Second Life – regardless of the hardware available locally. Right now, the mobile viewer is available only for Android, but an iOS version is in the works. For a thorough review of the service, you’d do well to go to Inara Pey’s blog.

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cropped-draxfiles_logofinal_1-1Yesterday (March 7th, 2014), the 9th episode of The Drax Files Radio Hour podcast was aired. For those who are not familiar with it, it’s a podcast run by renowned machinima creator Draxtor Despres and Jo Yardley (of the 1920s Berlin project) that focuses on virtual worlds and Second Life, draws heavily on the community for input, feedback and topics and is targeted at the community. You can listen to the show here – and I highly recommend that you do.

This week’s main topic is, expectably, the launch of the public beta of SL Go, featuring interviews with OnLive’s Nate Barsetti and Dennis Harper. These interviews are crucial in helping people understand the purpose, scope and usefulness of this new service, and I believe they should help put a number of misconceptions to rest, including misconceptions regarding the usage model and payment structure, which are both under review, since the service is, as noted earlier, in public beta. If you want some concise reviews/beta tests of SL Go and opinions on it, I recommend the ones by Inara Pey and Strawberry Singh, as well as Iris Ophelia‘s commentary.

I hope to be able to review this installment soon – I regret having been unable to cover previous episodes, what with RL obligations being what they are. In the meantime, though, be sure to listen to the podcast!

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Mona

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Shortlink: http://wp.me/p2pUmX-rT

To say I lcropped-draxfiles_logofinal_1-1ike Draxtor Despres‘ video series “The Drax Files: World Makers” would be an understatement. His work on the series has been excellent and I’ve tried, within the constraints imposed on me by my RL, to cover it as much as possible. There are, of course, certain episodes I’ve missed; some because RL has been extremely hectic lately and I never got around to watching them (to be honest, there’s been very little blogging activity here in the past few weeks), and some because I had doubts regarding my own suitability to cover them, as well as what the message I would end up sending to the readers (especially regarding very sensitive matters that are far beyond my own area of knowledge in RL) would be.

Taking the lead from The Drax Files series of videos, the machinima creator has moved to the creation of a series of radio-like broadcasts, titled The Drax Files Radio Hour, hosted by him and Jo Yardley who runs the 1920s Berlin project. The show is all about the community of Second Life; it is driven by it and the community is its target group. The show offers commentary and also features interviews with people relevant to various topics.

The show is not about investigative journalism, as Drax himself quickly admits in the beginning of the second instalment. It serves as a way to extend the discussion of topics related to Second Life outside its confines; beyond blogs, beyond social networks, beyond forums and, to be honest, beyond the drama that is all too often present there. Now, podcasts about virtual worlds are not new at all, so no prizes won for novelty here. Still, Draxtor is a very friendly host who succeeds in getting people to speak about various topics, and the interplay between him and Jo further relaxes the show’s atmosphere.

One of the things Drax succeeded in with The Drax Files was to portray Second Life in a positive manner, in spite of all the bad rap it has been getting ever since… Quite possibly, ever since its launch; at least, already after I had first joined it in September 2006 with my first account, controversies, gossip, drama and scandalmongering have been the order of the day, and that’s without taking into account all the instances in which the Press gave both Linden Lab and Second Life a serious beating for various reasons. In The Drax Files, Drax focused on the positive side of Second Life, aptly demonstrating that it really is not a pastime for losers at all.

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Moving somewhat ahead of schedule, renowned SL machinima creator Draxtor Despres aired the second episode of his monthly documentary series titled “The Drax Files: World Makers”. As I mentioned in my coverage of the first episode, this show examines the people behind the avatars who, with their passion and persistence, continue to push Second Life forward. Staying consistent to the first episode and the overall tone of the series, this episode uses mixed reality, cutting between SL and Real Life (RL) to provide insight into aspects of the former and introduce the viewer to the persons behind the avatars and their creations in the  virtual world.

The second episode in the series focuses on Jo Yardley’s 1920s Berlin Project and the woman who created this excellent sim. Jo has been working on this project since the time she first entered Second Life and her work on this project aptly demonstrates one of the platform’s main abilities: the ability to create immersive environments which, rather than being mere dioramas, static reproductions of a place and era, or a particular moment in time, bring the depicted place, era and – yes – world to life; in the case of the 1920s Berlin Project, visitors are given the opportunity to experience life as it was in Berlin of the inter-war years of the twentieth century.

Following the paradigm he set in the first episode of the series, Draxtor eschews the conventional interviewer-led approach and instead takes the back seat, allowing his interviewees to speak freely of their involvement in Second Life and their vision: the same is happening here – Jo presented to us the way she chose to experience Second Life, her creative project and the way Second Life overlaps with her RL in Amsterdam. The format chosen by Draxtor is highly successful, as it feels natural, free-flowing and draws the viewer in, giving an intimate view of Jo’s real life and passion for history.

Second Life has often been unfairly maligned as a pastime for people with “no life”; a pastime for people without any interests, friends or presence in the real world. The format chosen by Draxtor, in allowing the viewer to look into Jo’s RL and her SL work side-by-side, demonstrates the human heart and soul of Second Life, i.e. the ability of the platform to extend one’s hobbies, interests and passions through the opportunities it gives for the creation of immersive, engaging and informative worlds and, in so doing, allowing for acquaintance and friendship with people from all over the world, forming bonds, communities and connections that are perhaps stronger and deeper than what can be achieved in “conventional” social media like Facebook and meat markets like Hi5.

What the viewer sees in Draxtor’s “World Makers” series is a warm, endearing and informative picture of Second Life and the reasons its users care so much about it, as well as a clear and concise presentation of the opportunities it offers for exploration of the platform itself and other people’s creative work. Also, it is evident that Draxtor’s choice of the “mixed reality” format is ideal for showcasing and promoting Second Life. The projection of Jo’s RL activities on the silver screen of her 1920’s movie theatre in Second Life, with the audience seeing them is a brilliant example.

The care that Draxtor exhibits in the composition and editing of the show makes it a glowing example for all those who wish to promote Second Life to an audience unfamiliar with it (or even leery of it) through the use of machinima and mixed media. Draxtor clearly has an intuitive skill and is a highly talented artist, and spurred by his personal passion for Second Life, he produces a finely balanced show, with great attention to the very last detail and offers a unique insight into Second Life and its users, who are, in fact, the people that make it so unique.

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Mona (formerly slutrix)

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Shortlink: http://wp.me/p2pUmX-7B

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First posted at: http://wp.me/p2RycE-7B