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)


360 - Wall fountain

Where's Dim Sum? #360 - Wall fountain


Dim Sum listens to the water as it pours and splashes to the little pool.


I couldn't decide whether to go find a mainland scene as the fifth image in the set, but that would be too much work. So I took this one which really has nothing specific about it. Just a path.

It imitates the colors of #358 but with more intensity.

The "Culprit Roman Arch Fountain" was created by eku Zhong (Culprit Fine Furniture).

location: Saint Pete City by NevaCrystall


Technical notes

windlight: AnaLutetia-outdoor2 (modified)
filter: AutoContrast


359 - Seagull sunset

Where's Dim Sum? #359 - Seagull sunset


Dim Sum watches the sunset while listening to the seagull preach. I hear ya, Jonathan Livingston.


The windlight for the previous image flattened the lighthouse, so I had to find another one. Silhouettes against the sunset are kinda cliche, but, hey!, they're still eye-catching. :)

The "{vespertine}-dreamers vehicle/frankie" was created by amelie.knelstrom (vespertine).

location: Saint Pete City by NevaCrystall


Technical notes

windlight: Places Eugene BL (modified)
filter: No Filter


358 - Swing the bell

Where's Dim Sum? #358 - Swing the bell


Dim Sum stays as far as possible from the swinging bell.


This pathway is off to the side, and it was a nice surprise. It's like walking through a hidden garden. Most of the sim were cobbled streets with buildings on both sides. Surprises like this makes a sim feel more finished and more complex.

The "..::Alarm_Bell_touch-on/off sound&swing ::.." was created by qutsal.alex (Outworld Design).

location: Saint Pete City by NevaCrystall


Technical notes

windlight: AnaLutetia-outdoor2 (modified)
filter: AutoContrast


357 - Family bikes

Where's Dim Sum? #357 - Family bikes


Dim Sum eyes the little tricycle, wondering if the owner would miss it if it suddenly disappeared....


This was a difficult one to compose. I'm still not happy with it. But, oh well. :)

The "xin + toro / Rideable Fixie Bicycle (Soil)" was created by jammeh (Toro).
The "*Little Hopper* Tricycle Green" was created by hide Mint (Little Hopper).

location: Saint Pete City by NevaCrystall


Technical notes

windlight: Annan Adored Dusty (modified)
filter: Center focus


356 - Stoop dee doop

Where's Dim Sum? #356 - Stoop dee doop


Dim Sum watches the new people pop in and walk by, looking all lost and confused.


I had a surprise last week. Windows 10 offered to be upgraded and I agreed. It looked like a major upgrade because the upgrade took a while and then it had to reboot. It's not like one of those where it would upgrade when you turned off your machine anyway. This one specifically asked when you would like to restart.

After the upgrade, everything looked normal. That is, until I tried to open Firestorm.

First, the login page looked strange, like this:


The components of the page were all over the place. And there was that message that said:
We were unable to decode the file storing your saved login credentials. At this point saving or deleting credentials will erase all those that were previously stored. This may happen when you change network setup. Restarting the viewer with previous network configuration may help recovering your saved login credentials. 
Ooookay. I was seriously wondering if I had just installed malware. But I reentered my credentials and logged in. O... M... G....

That's when I realized the resolution somehow increased. The UI components shrunk so I had to change the setting for that. But the image was OMG!

Anyway, that change in resolution changed my workflow with Dim Sum's images. In the past, I did Ctrl-` to get 3840x2054. Then I used Firestorm's Snapshot feature to take pictures of the settings for the Technical Notes section below.

Now, when I do Ctrl-`, I get 7680x4110 but part of the image is cropped off the top and the right side, by about an inch. So, I now use the Snapshot feature with Current Window to get 3840x2054, and I use a Custom size of 1920x1027 for the Technical Notes. The good news is that I can now use the Filter in Snapshot! That adds interest to the windlight!

*sigh* Just as the series is ending! How cruel is that?!? Oh, well, at least I can use it in machinimas.

location: Saint Pete City by NevaCrystall


Technical notes

windlight: Annan Adored Dusty (modified)
filter: AutoContrast