Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Machinima: Art and Practice in Virtual Filmmaking

This Spring, Lowe Runo and I presented at the Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education Conference on machinima, as a creative new tool for filmmakers. Machinima is defined as virtual filmmaking for a new generation of media makers. We present our topic as avatars, http://business.treet.tv/shows/bpeducation/episodes/bpe2011-051

Our Web site, http://www.machinimaguild.com, serves a resource for educators wanting to experimenting with this new medium. Our book, Machinima: Art and Practice in Virtual Filmmaking, will be released Fall 2011, and we look forward to sharing more machinima examples and ideas in the near future. I will be returning to Bangor University, Wales, this Fall to share my thoughts on machinima as a social forum.

As the machinima reviews editor for the Journal of Gaming and Virtual Worlds (published by Intellect, with the editorial team based at Bangor University), I seek for publication well-informed and articulated machinima reviews. For the journal guidelines, see JGVW's web site or email me at phylisj@yahoo.com.

Be sure to check out our machinima groups, Professional Machinima Artist Guild and The Second Life Machinima Artist Guild.

My updated profile

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Composing in Second Life through Virtual Media

Computers & Writing 2010:
Conference Dates: Thursday, May 20-Sunday, May 23, 2010
Place: Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana

Composing in Second Life:
Documenting Virtual Life Through Virtual Media
Phylis Johnson (Southern Illinois University) and Lowe Runo (Lowe Runo Productions)
Saturday, May 22, 2010, 1-2:15 PM.

An overview of how machinima can provide student writing opportunities evolving from experiences within virtual environments like Second Life. Writers can test stories and characters, and explore concepts of diversity through gender, race, and ethnicity "avatar" representation. This presentation gives examples of various genres of storytelling that have been transformed into machinima (digital filmmaking in virtual environments), with an emphasis on how to construct a culturally rich storyline that taps into real life emotions.

Second Life is a world where residents create and perform through avatar representations. Stories generated can be that of narratives constructed from individual experiences and interactions with others in situations that evolve naturally - a dynamic cast of avatars that interact in various unfolding contexts. How might Second Life help students improve their understanding of the writing process? Good stories boil down to credible plots and characters. Second Life can allow writers to test stories and characters, and explore concepts of diversity through gender, race, and ethnicity. This presentation discusses the benefits of in-world journaling, role-playing, journalistic reporting, as well as the creation of music videos and machinima (animated) films, as a means to help students engage in expressive, relatable storytelling whether in virtual or real worlds. The cost of experimentation is minimal in virtual worlds, where set and avatar construction are on-going features of the game.

This presentation evolves from my research for a chapter in my book Second Life, Media, and the Other Society (Peter Lang, 2010), which examines, in part, how the interactive nature of the game allows residents to document their experiences through digital storytelling. A significant feature of this presentation will involve a virtual presentation from Lowe Runo, founder of the Machinima Artist Guild.

Related videos and sites:
Storytelling in Second Life, http://www.machinimaguild.com/
Many Faces of Machinima, Lowe Runo Productions
Virtually Social, Sonicity Fitzroy
Re-Imagine Media, Sonicity Fitzroy
Virtual McLuhan in the Mix, Sonicity Fitzroy

And I recently came across a video "Victim of Society" by music composer Gene Williams (Miles Eleventhauer, SL) , new to machinima, who captures a urban message set in Second Life's virtual NYC, New York. He recently made the video based on a song he created years ago. He got the idea from his students who asked him if he had ever made a video to the song. Now he has! Great work for his first time!

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Virtual Worlds Best Practices Education

This past weekend I attended a wonderful conference that brought thousands of educators together for more than 150 presentations on just about every aspect of education - the social, political and economic aspects, framed theoretically or via practice. What fun! and meaningful - and all sessions were conducted within the virtual world of Second Life.

Here's my blog post for BEST OF SL Magazine pertaining to my involvement on the first day of the VWBPE conference. I have some flickr pics from my experience over the two days (some of which will be published in the April BOSL issue along with an updated feature story in the society/events section.

Here's my video "Virtually Social: Experiencing Learning" that can be viewed on my VIRTUAL MCLUHAN YouTube site. I made this for a VWBPE presentation related to my forthcoming book on SL.

You will see amazing results from the VWBPE conference - wait and watch, for many connections and ideas were shared!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

McLuhan in Second Life: Media 's Role in Virtual Learning

McLuhan in Second Life: How Media contributes to Learning in the Virtual Community

Phylis Johnson (a.k.a. Sonicity Fitzroy, SL) - assoc. professor, Southern Illinois University
Lowe Runo, media producer, owner of Lowe Runo Productions/administrative staff, University of South Florida

a presentation at the The 2nd Louisiana Invitational Conference on Virtual Worlds in Higher Education. Overarching Theme: Getting Virtual Worlds into the Businesses of Higher Education: Teaching, Research, Scholarship, and Service.

Second Life provides a venue for virtual residents to elaborate on nearly every aspect of their mediated life. Life is an extension of real life, allowing them to overcome emotional and physical disabilities and/or challenges, and providing opportunities to extend their creativity in ways not possible in real life. This presentation explores the social realities of Second Life and how they are communicated to our students through the forming of communities as well as how they are communicated within these communities. This presentation provides an overview of the diversity of voices present within Second Life and how these ideas are represented and communicated to other residents through media. An elaborate network of media organizations has emerged over the past several years that has increasingly become the means for educators and students to express ideas, events and form social networks that extend beyond Second Life. This presentation reviews the importation of traditional media into these second spaces and the emergence and exportation of in-world media into real life, as well as how these media help to convey the validity of virtual educational experiences. Intro Video on Vimeo (VirtualSoni - McLuhan in the Virtual Mix)

My part of the presentation evolves from my research for a forthcoming book Second Life, Media and The Other Society (Peter Lang, 2010). I teach a graduate course on Virtual Communities that explores social issues inworld, including the use of media within virtual environments. Topics: use of virtual media in learning, media resources (SL educational videos and documentaries), SL media coverage of education, diversity considerations, and opportunities for the future.

Lowe Runo will present on the various genres of digital filmmaking, as well as those which help support instruction and learning and may even serve as promotional pieces for inworld institututions showcasing the virtues of virtual learning environments. Runo's video is The Many Faces of Machinima http://www.youtube.com/user/SmackyWeezles#p/a/u/0/u9MQTZraJtk

Johnson/Runo Presentation time: Thursday, Nov. 12, 2009, 12:15pm-1:15PM SLT

Conference: Thursday, Nov. 12 and Friday, Nov. 13, 2009, 10:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m. CST (8:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. SLT), Louisiana Regents Estate in Second Life – Louisiana Regents, New Orleans, SELU Regents, Tulane Regents, and SUNO Regents Islands

contact: SonicityFitzroy@yahoo.com

sources/references (presentation):

The McLuhan Remix: Virtually Tuned

a remix, redit of Marshall McLuhan's 1968 album, The Medium is the Massage. SL founder Philip Linden is included in this new mix as well (based on his speech on the SL 1st anniversary). 7:30 minutes, edited from 45 minutes of McLuhan material - as well as other tracks from Creative Commons, etc.

Behind The McLuhan Mix

How does McLuhan's thoughts relate to today's emergence of virtual worlds and convergence of media? I decided to import Side A & B into a Protools session and edit down the nearly 45 minutes to under 10 minutes, and focus on those ideas that speak to today's media specificially - and particularly toward the emergence of immersive virtual spaces like Second Life. I radically edited the piece, but I didn't not take McLuhan's words out of context. I added some music tracks from Creative Commons (specific tunes to be listed below soon) to provide continuity to the piece. You might hear a dab of some other music, but all within the intellectual copyright regulations of this day. As for McLuhan's album excerpts, I am using them only for educational purposes :), and hope this piece can remain online to propagate the powerful role media has for distributing ideas and for shaping society in new ways, allowing for innovative perspectives. McLuhan's work remains relevant more than 40 years later. [Source for ProTools image: http://media.createdigitalmedia.net/cdmu/images/stories/2006/may/protools71.jpg]
Below, a machinima mashup featuring Second Life images that accompany my McLuhan remix (LOL, think Paul Miller, a.k.a. DJ Spooky). Larger view on youtube:

Tuned into McLuhan!

The Medium is the Massage...Good reading and Good listening, or so it seems. I came across an album that accompanied Marshall McLuhan's 1967 book, The Medium is the Massage (1967). It is amazingly produced, given that there was no sophisticated digital editing software programs as there are today. You can download the album from this site. There are two tracks, Side A (19:22) and Side B (23:09). Both are downloadable at the following link
http://bavatuesdays.com/audio-of-the-medium-is-the-massage-from-ubuweb/. For an interesting perspective on the album, visit the following site: http://www.culturalfarming.com/Ethnography/Extensions_of_McLuhan.html

McLuhan in Second Life
View more presentations from SonicityFitzroy2012.