Dim Sum meets the characters of SL13B

Dim Sum comes out of retirement to explore the SL13B sims.

A couple of months ago, I was looking through the SL Community Celebration site to check out this year's theme, since we were discussing the application at the International Spaceflight Museum planning meetings.

Naturally, I got distracted by the call for volunteer machinimatographers. To be honest, I wasn't looking forward to doing a build for the ISM, because I end up doing most of the work and I'm all out of ideas. And I did say in my 365 post-mortem that I want to get back to doing more machinima.

Well, the ISM didn't get a parcel in the first round, so that was a bit of a relief. Then last week, I got an email from Harper Beresford, asking if I was interested in doing 30-second teasers for the event. So, per her instructions, I contacted Doc Gascoigne to get early access to the sims, and I requested access for Dim Sum too.

I asked Doc a few questions to figure out what they had in mind, but he just told me to visit the sims and see what inspires me. I was free to do what I wanted, as long as it was PG.

So, I spent Thursday night scouting the sims and noting SLURLs of interesting builds. And when I was done with my list, I realized that I could group them into categories.

The log reindeer was the first one I noticed. It seemed to want attention, like a puppy dog peering from the edge of the pool. I imagined that it was asking if I wanted it to ferry me across the pool of water. I decided against using words in the video though, because SL is very international, so I wanted the video to tell a story with just images. (The second video will have spoken words though.)

I was too exhausted and cranky on Friday night, so I went to bed at 6:30pm. I spent most of Saturday coding a camera tool that still won't work properly. By late Saturday afternoon, I decided to just go out and film using hacks. By midnight, I was already editing. I went to bed at 4am Sunday morning.

So this first video is about the animal characters in SL13B. There are 13 scenes excluding the intro, which only has Dim Sum in it. I had to add that intro because I realized that a large percentage of people who would see this video would not know about Dim Sum. And she was the anchor — the running thread — throughout the video. So she had to be introduced. Not all scenes have her in it. I had to severely shorten the clips. Then, I had to speed them up to squeeze them more. I still couldn't them it under 30 seconds. The final version is 1 minute and 4 seconds long.

As I write this post, Harper had already blogged about it in the SL13B website.  :)

Machinima posted in:

location: SL13B sims

Technical notes

windlight: Fine Day (modified)
water: Glassy

Postmortem - End of the milky cat's way

Where's Dim Sum? - End of the milky cat's way (Postmortem)

On 2013 January 19, almost three years ago, Dim Sum's journey started. Today, I finished the last set that includes #365.

First, I want to thank everyone we've met on this journey:

  • Who chose to follow us on Flickr and Google+. 
  • Who clicked the stars or +1 to fave images or blog posts.
  • Who encouraged me with their compliments and other comments.
  • Who played along and searched for Dim Sum in the images.
  • Who crafted awesome (and often witty!) 6-word captions.
  • Who patiently sat so I could include them in the picture.
  • Who graciously allowed photographers and machinimatographers in their beautiful sims.
  • Who invited images to Flickr groups or added them to galleries.
And everyone else who have been involved in this project, in any way.

Many many many thanks!

A long time ago, Avon sponsored the 3Day Breast Cancer Walks. To join the walk, you had to raise about US$1,000. Then you had to train so that you could walk 60 miles in three days. Sixty miles is very long. Twenty miles a day is very long. Training for almost a year to build up muscles to be able to walk 20 miles a day is very long. But at the end of the 60 miles, you have such a high that you pledge to do it again the following year. You get a heady sense of achievement, of strength, of a new realization of what you can do, what you can endure. And you realize you are stronger than you thought you were.

This 365 project is like that.

Challenges stretch your self-concept and break down your self-imposed barriers. In a sense, Dim Sum's journey has done the same for me.

There have been times when I had to choose between Dim Sum and much needed sleep. There have been times when I've actually hated Dim Sum because I really didn't want to do this anymore. There have been times when I regretted having to push back old and new projects because I needed to finish this first.

However, there have also been numerous times when I missed Dim Sum, when I feel a vague homesickness for a "place". It's not as simple as yearning for a specific sim. It's a yearning for an ambiance. An ambiance that's created by windlight and shadows and DoF. It is that yearning that kept me logging Dim Sum in.

Is this the end of Dim Sum? No. First, I will always feel that yearning, that homesickness, so I will continue to explore sims. Second, like the characters of a novel, Dim Sum has become "real," not just to me but to many people.

Time is a scarcer resource now than ever before, due to RL commitments and requirements. I have also neglected other projects (stereoscopy, machinima), I have more product ideas I'd like to implement and sell, and I started a new service provider directory that I need to build up and promote.

I strove for realism and depth in Dim Sum's images. I learned how to use windlight, shadows, and DoF to achieve that without post-processing. That skill would help me create better machinima. But I think I've hit the boundary of what's possible with 2D images without post-processing. Or I've already done the best I could, given the no-processing restriction.

When we get new capabilities and new features that drastically improve realism, I'll do more experiments. For now, it's time to go back to stereoscopy and machinima. And you'll likely see the white cat in those too. :)

365 - End of the Milky Way

Where's Dim Sum? #365 - End of the Milky Way

Dim Sum wonders why the lights ended after the long tunnel of trees.

After I took this picture, I thought it kinda looked like the Milky Way. The lights all over the sim make it look absolutely starkly beautiful. It almost feels like a scene in a sci-fi movie. I should play more with prim lights.

Anyway, #365.... The next post will be a postmortem to conclude this project. Or at least the first 365.

The "Skye Tangled Cherry Arch" was created by Alex Bader (Studio Skye).

location: Loch Noble Winter by aaliyahblossom

Technical notes

windlight: Phototools- B/W Light 13 (modified)

364 - A bright spot

Where's Dim Sum? #364 - A bright spot

Dim Sum goes outdoors to watch the twinkling lights on the trees. Of course, the cart of sweet baked goods didn't tempt her at all.... No, no, no....

I really wish there was a way to manage how bright prim lights are. It took me some time to get to this composition. I'm still not happy.

The "05 - 8f8 - Green Grocers - Market Cart Stand" was created by 8f8.

location: Loch Noble Winter by aaliyahblossom

Technical notes

windlight: Phototools- B/W Light 13 (modified)

363 - Room for rent

Where's Dim Sum? #363 - Room for rent

Dim Sum ponders the moonlight in the empty room.

There were lace curtains that could have added more interest, but they were alpha from inside of the room, so I just derendered them. Because the room is very small, it took some manipulation to get the composition I wanted. Well, close enough. ;)

The "Apple Fall: Chelsea Townhouse" was created by warehousefifteendesigns (Apple Fall).

location: Loch Noble Winter by aaliyahblossom

Technical notes

windlight: Phototools- B/W Light 11 (modified)

362 - Dressmaker's shop

Where's Dim Sum? #362 - Dressmaker's shop

Dim Sum joins the party of the dressmaker's cats. These cats are all over the place!

I had to put Dim Sum in a visible place here, because there are so many inanimate cats all over the shop.

The "AF Dress Form" was created by warehousefifteendesigns (Apple Fall).
The "Kuro - Vintage sewing machine" was created by Luana Dawg (Kuro).

location: Loch Noble Winter by aaliyahblossom

Technical notes

windlight: Phototools- B/W Light 11 (modified)

361 - The birds and the beer

Where's Dim Sum? #361 - The birds and the beer

Dim Sum gives up trying to lick more of the frothy brew on the counter. Hic!

I was actually surprised to see that the birds in the cage are origami cranes! :D

I'm focused on shadows and prim lights in this final series.

The "Trompe Loeil - Home Pub Barstool" was created by Cory Edo (Trompe Loeil).

location: Loch Noble Winter by aaliyahblossom

Technical notes

windlight: Phototools- B/W Light 11 (modified)