13 Dec 2010

Know Thy Avatar

Pooky was asked to write the Online Video Insider column on the new medium of real-time animation often called machinima.

You can read the full article on MediaPost

16 Oct 2010

Soul of the Pioneers

100th show of The 1st Question

While I write quite a bit and usually on topic of the passion which is always uppermost in mind, that of entertainment and film in Virtual Worlds, I wanted to give life to some text about what being in a Virtual World means to me.

I was doing some dishes, hands bathed in soapy suds, obviously away from the computer, reflecting on being an Avatar. I thought, as you might have thought at times, trying to explain this to "outworlders" that I am a pioneer. So I thought of other pioneers, those who settled lands like Canada or the Old West of the United States. Pioneers who left the comfort of their homeland, their community and ventured forth. Surely some went for the adventure, some went for economic reasons and some went because they just weren't comfortable where they lived and wanted something else. Something of their own.

I thought of this and realized that, I have come to Second Life for much the same reasons. I can produce on this platform that which I couldn't quite elsewhere and I can do it with far greater economic savings. And I am comfortable here, the people I meet get what I am doing, get the platform and engine we are a part of. Even get the hours we devote to it without seeing any sacrifice, not at all, they see the gain and understand that the new territory we are carving out for ourselves here virtually has meaning and value. Much the same as the Old Pioneers found meaning and value in the lands they had to carve out.

The hardships might be more social in nature, acceptance, understanding, things of this sort. And it is harder to explain to those who have never been virtually enhanced. It must also have been difficult to explain to those left behind in an old country, what the thrill and pull of the new frontier was too. The Freedoms....

When AVATAR the Movie explained it for a wider audience, it was as if some Press Release shouted "Gold Discovered in Alaska." And the greater awareness and acceptance of what we are a part of might bring in more positive attention. Already I have been reading about what this film means for "us." And I think this is great.

Still, I know what those of us who have made a journey measured not in wagon wheels but in mouse clicks have gone through. And I am proud of us because we have been pioneers, on a new plateau. Brave and restless and looking in our own way.

16 Sept 2010

British Science Festival - Virtual World Contributions

Being part of the scientific community in Second Life means being part of a virtual world of wonder and education. Great minds have used this grid for many remarkable projects ranging from nanotechnology to outer space, and many points inbetween. The 1st Question has been recognized as a contributor in this field and it is with great pride, we present the British Science Festival listings with our inclusion. Please if you can, see many of the amazing builds during this period of the 14th to the 19th September.

And scroll down to see the show!

25 Aug 2010

AVENUE Magazine - Present Day Pioneers

In excellent company, Pooky Amsterdam joins Bryn Oh, Phaylen Fairchild and Chantal Harvey to speak with AVENUE Magazine's Carissa Sockington. Machinima is a very important new genre for filmmakers and those of us working in 3D Virtual Worlds are pioneering new directions for this nascent technology. For those of you who wish to see a history of Machinima, check out Pooky's Metanomics presentation where you might even catch a glimpse of Diary of a Camper, the 1996 film made with the Quake engine. It all started there, but look how far it's come and hold onto your seats for where it's going.

24 Aug 2010

Radio Round Up With Pooky On TMOA

One of the most happening machinima communities is to be found at The Movies Underground (TMU) and its signature radio station TMOA. Hot off the SLCC convention, Pooky was asked to be on the very influential Roger and Ken show on Sunday 22 August (download here). Prior to that Pooky was on the Spotlight on Thursday 19 August (download here) with Kinte.

Talking Machinima and Virtual World entertainment is always something Pooky is in the mood for. Hope you enjoy these candid and lively conversations because the element of excitement abounds.

When the avid listeners heard Pooky's trademark voice, there were many requests for voiceover work for which Pooky is only to happy to oblige.

21 Aug 2010

Pooky Amsterdam's SLCC Machinima Presentation at Metanomics Forum

After a successful presentation at the Second Life Community Convention, the Metanomics team asked Pooky to give her talk live inworld. Here is a brief history and some tools of the trade.

18 Aug 2010

Philip Rosedale to be on the 100th Show of the 1st Question

The original 2003 State of Play in New York was where much happened, including Philip Rosedale’s (Philip Linden) announcement that Second Life would grant its creators IP rights. It was a seminal convention and the one where Pooky originally met Philip. A lot has happened since then, as Philip remarked, “that was a long time ago,” and at this year’s SLCC, Pooky got a chance to talk to Philip a bit, thanking him as well. Somehow the conversation got around to the The 1st Question, and the upcoming 100th show in October. And the great news is that Philip will be on The 100th Episode of The 1st Question! So please stay tuned.

Pooky Amsterdam and Philip Rosedale
Picture by ArminasX Saiman

17 Aug 2010

SLCC 2010 Business Track Presentation - Second Life as a Media Platform

Working and writing on topic for many years, Pooky presented an indepth market analysis of the current state of online video, advertising, Internet TV and the future.

23 May 2010

Weekend Whimsy cites PookyMedia for Machinima

This week brought a wonderful mention by a great publication, THE METAVERSE JOURNAL. This online paper sets a great standard for reportage of important Virtual World news.

They report top quality articles relevant to what is happening with 3D Avatar based environments across the board. They have a whitepaper out now I recommend - The agenda-setting challenges for virtual worlds: a discussion paper.

13 May 2010

Daily PWN Weekly Review Talks to Pooky Amsterdam

Pooky gets a chance to talk to another treet.tv host in this fascinating look behind the screen. Talking tinies and virtual talent, we get some insight that we would not normally have. Congratulation Zen Paine on having such a cool show - give us each day - our Daily Pwn. (Can anyone tell me why PWN rhymes with Zone instead of lawn?)


3 May 2010

PookyMedia Films at Shanghai World Expo 2010

The first life curator Cristina García-Lasuén owner of the OPEN THIS END Second Life group and also known as AinoBaar in Second Life, approached Spanish officials for the World Expo several months ago with the purpose of bringing Second Life machinima to the attention of a greater audience. She was successful as they granted her several hours per week to display machinima simultaneously over five four metre wide HD screens which are attached to a structure called the "Air Tree" built specifically for the Expo at the Madrid Pavilion.
In the picture you can see a child in a blue shirt on one of the monitors that will exhibit Second Life machinima (image from Expo Shanghai Online)

Wikipedia gives this info for the Expo:
"More than 190 countries and more than 50 international organizations have registered to participate in the Shanghai World Expo, the largest ever. China expects to receive almost 100 foreign leaders and millions of people from across the world to come and visit the World Expo. More than 70-100 million visitors are expected to visit the expo, the largest in history."

As Bryn Oh said on her blog “Whats even better is that the Madrid Pavilion is right beside the Shanghai Pavilion so we should be right in the hub of it all. Even if a mere 1% of the 70-100 million guests pay attention then we are doing ok.”

PookyMediaFilms has “I’m Too Busy To Date Your Avatar”
Showing at the Madrid Pavillion. Here is the full program:

27 Apr 2010

April 20th Show a huge hit!

The 1st Question is seen on Smartplanet.com which is also a source of information for the show in great synergy!

21 Apr 2010

Second Life & A Whole New World

TechStartup blog by Boonsri Dickinson as she prepares for the 1st Question.

"Meet my avatar, Sydney Caramel. I will be on with Mark Kingdon, the CEO of Linden Labs, tonight." Boonsri Dickinson

29 Mar 2010

Alan Boyle from MSNBC blogs The 1st Question

Alan Boyle Science Editor of MSNBC.Com and author of "The Case For Pluto" made an appearence worth seeing on The 1st Question - so much so, he has it on his blog, the Cosmic Log!

24 Mar 2010

The Business Benefits Of Second Life

Asked to write a guest blog on using Second Life for business, Pooky describes with supporting video the many reasons this is the best platform for the next wave of industry, meetings and conferences.

9 Mar 2010

Holocaust survivor works to preserve history

Fanny Starr, in an interview produced by PookyMedia, was reported in Colorado's NBC news.

2 Feb 2010

PookyMedia features in Vizworld with Philip Rosedale

Vizworld embeds Philip Rosedale's presentation to Singularity University where one of the advantages of Second Life he describe is to hold business meetings. PookyMedia's Agile Dimension Conference video is a great illustration of this and embedded alongside.

26 Jan 2010

Second Life TV

*door opens*

Woman walks into living room and immediately drops briefcase on couch as she negotiates her way to the fridge where she takes out a drink and goes to sit down in front of her computer.

Looks at time and smiles, taking a sip she types in one key stroke and the website appears for her favorite game show, “The Dating Casino.” As the Avatars are talking, smiling and interacting on the screen, a chatbridge allows her to register her answers and comments as well. She is prompted to predict which man and woman will match up on the next question, and when she guesses correctly, she is invited to accept a promotional code which will give her a discount on a 6 pack of a beverage she is not drinking……yet. She starts to flirt in text with a man who is also in the chatbridge, in fact there is a community of people who are logging in this time of day to watch and play right along with the program going on. She recognizes some and welcomes the others as the community is building. During the break to the next show, she will actually become an Avatar and go to the set of that show, seeing where one of her favorite events of the week takes place, joining the audience this time in the 3D virtual platform, she will meet her friends from around the world, and take part in the next show called “Typonese.” PS it also has a mobile component.

What I have just described is the future of TV and entertainment. It is where the lines between the screen and the audience completely blur. So much in fact as to become non existent. In 3D immersive worlds we are an audience which is playing on the show, we are interacting with the action, sometimes helping direct it with comments. We can access the show, and with a chatbridge (which is a text box embedded on a site for real time commentary) can play right along and be part of the group that is watching. It is a form of entertainment better then the collective dark of the movie theatre as we are able to communicate to the person sitting virtually next to us without any fear of being hushed. Our opinions and sentiments matter, we are sharing our reactions in real time as the programming is going on and we are also developing that sense of community around a program which appeals and interests us.

There is also the very great chance that we can also participate on the panel or as a contestant. The shows’ host, though many physical miles away is there reading our every word and if we really want to, we can send a message they will immediately receive. Even if we just want to say, “Hey, this is cool.” We can. This is immediate TV, this is immediate interaction. This is the best kind of entertainment there is because it’s live and completely engaging. This is Second Life TV. And yes this is what I am doing every week because the rewards of being able to inform and entertain with this much feedback are one of the greatest experiences I know. “Sit back & relax” has become “Lean forward & Engage.”

Second Life TV is a fantastic form of communication and entertainment. It enables people from all around the world to be present together watching and participating in the proceedings before them. It means laughs, it means learning and it is exciting. The audience can not wait to be part of the show, and to be honest they are an extremely important component of it. In the 1st Question, the panel ignores the audience a their own risk, yes the audience is that good!

I have developed these game shows for many reasons:

1- Real time interaction is something I believe enriches people and offers value.
2- Second Life has unique tools for this including scripts and the ability to build what I envisioned for them.
3- Giving a great population, intelligent and technically savvy, dynamic excitement.
4- Location Location Location – being able to play right along at our new favorite place; the computer is a draw
5- It is very cost effective to produce on this platform. Traditionally games shows are always less expensive to produce than heavily edited dramas or comedies – A real life game show costs roughly $90,000USD to produce. On Second Life the cost is a small fraction of this price.
6- The opportunities to try new elements in game show development are endless, I do foresee using a chatbridge to allow people to play without even logging in soon
7- Product placement and brand sponsorship are both this close to happening. This means that the commercial is built into the program – and the product is sold during the show, which incorporates the viewer additionally into the commercial, as they are not clicking through or around it.
8- AVATAR based entertainment will get bigger and bigger with the virtual platform being more widely adopted and readily acceptable. My viewer base is growing all the time.

Game Shows are a great draw for the public, “The Price is Right” has been broadcasting since 1956! People do love that “play right along” aspect to TV shows, and being able to offer a game which is this, with friends in real time is a formula for success.

I do two very different kinds of shows in terms of content, however both are funny, accessible and informative. Both are played in real time and both are recorded live.

The 1st Question is a science quiz show which is pretty smart and funny. It is a competitive game as well between the 4 panelists, usually Second Life All – Stars and people of interesting backgrounds and accomplishments inworld.

I break news on the science, technology and education front through a series of questions, and true and false statements. The panels are asked to tell what element of the Periodic table they most identify with and why, which brings them back to something most of them haven’t studied since High School. And it also makes them think what qualities they identify with. The Carbon, Hydrogen and Oxygen “Clubs” are the most populated and the reasons given for this are always interesting. It is truly great theater and a wonderful way for people to introduce themselves in a science milieu. We move on to Yay Me or Nay Me, and I try to include some very funny and absurd statements, which make for a hilarious segment.

We have the audience guess a quotes, we have a secret word (In the “You Bet Your Life “tradition, when it is guessed we set off a rocket and give them $500 Lindens, the coin of Second Life) The panel comes up with a Nugget of Knowledge for Hydra Shaftoe, my co-host, to determine if its right or wrong, and this makes for an incredibly diverse kind of knowledge base, and then the panel supply’s a made up word of their own for the PookyPedia I am compiling. Here they have to sell the word to the assemblage which is about 50 – 60 people per week, as the audience here does some real time voting and the high score wins points. It’s a great exercise in real time voting, and there are no hanging chads.

The show’s last segment is “AVATARO Y AVATARO” and here we use a buzzer system and the audience is again encouraged to help out, often providing a lifeline to the answers. It’s smart, it’s funny and it’s broadcast live. Doing a live show where anything can happen has it’s own element of Adrenaline, one I have been familiar with for so long, it is almost second nature. But be sure, it is break neck and risky. It is The Golden Age of The Internet for many reasons, this is certainly among them. And like the Golden Age, I know that programs of this sort are going to be growing and growing. They must, people want that level of engagement and also respect. You will sell a lot more products respecting your audience, than putting them down.

I was in fact tired of being dumbed down in my entertainment choices so this led me to be pro active and create my own, better entertainment. An entertainment I would find interesting to watch and be part of, something smart and with humor. The show has evolved greatly over time, since I first launched it in April of 2008, and we get about 40,000 views a month from the inworld televisions of Treet.tv, my network and from the website both live and recorded views. We offer persistent entertainment.

In order to stage a great show I have a tremendous team who help this enterprise take off each week. While I write and book each show, I have an expert sound director Petlove Petshop, a stage manager who has been with me from the beginning, Robwag Soothsayer and a great opening act Kat2 Kit a tiny panda in a space suit is our show mascot and Emmo Wei a tiny Koala in various outfits too amazing to list, is our show daredevil. My co-host who is a wolf, Hydra provides an incredible warm and funny brilliant foil for me, as well. I couldn’t do it without them and like all great productions it is a group effort.

After I got the world to be smarter I wanted it to be more loving, and so to demystify the relationship between men and women and with a deep and persistent vision in mind for how a game show showing matches between people who have not only similarities in taste but also tolerance for each others weaknesses, I invented “The Dating Casino.”

I wanted to do this show because I saw it start to finish, the sets, the use of tools and how I wanted the show to run. While “The 1st Question” has evolved its format overtime to some extent, “the dating Casino” was something I saw and knew I had to do. Second Life TV means if you can imagine it, envision it and have he strength o make it happen, you can do it. The “DC” as we call it, is a fantastically funny 30 minutes where the contestants answer very personal multiple choice questions. The questions and their answers bring great responses which are incredibly hilarious and the audience again plays right along.

There are 7 questions and the moment of “Flirtrage!” a segment where the women are given a situation they have to “flirt” their way out of. The men are pre-asked questions 1 – 6 and their answers are recorded, the women are asked first during the show. This strategy prevents collusion. For the last question which is the bonus round, the women have been pre-asked, and the men have to bet a total of 5 hearts distributed among the 3 women, before they even know what the question is on who will match their last answer.

When I say, “everything I learned about love, I learned on The Dating Casino” I am not joking. It is a remarkable show.

PookyMedia grew from more than a pixel and a dream. It grew from years of devoted work on my part in pushing the way we could use virtual worlds for entertainment. From 6 years of producing live events ranging from Shakespeare festivals to Improv to talk shows on the text based only site of Habbo Hotel. When going to see one of my plays was the hottest ticket in town, and sometimes people waited 24 hours to be guaranteed a seat to watch “The Bizkit Show,” I knew this form of entertainment was a powerful new wave. And the programming, the ability to act and be part of the show from all over the world on a virtual platform had also broad age and gender appeal. When I came to Second Life, I knew what I was doing, and how to do it. Having been forged in the highly charged emotional atmosphere which is no stranger to behind the scenes drama, I can attest to needing fortitude, foresight and determination to getting a live show on the boards. If you want to put on a show you must have fortitude – people will cancel last minute, people won’t always take what you are doing seriously, you must plan and prepare for any and all emergencies. Pre -Production is key, and in live recordings, sound is THE GOD. Recording on Skype has been a huge benefit to the shows, I recommend it.

PookyMedia is also about something greater than the shows itself, it’s about real entertainment value and real use of the platform of Second Life as a media platform. I believe in Video as the new way of distributing content to people. MarketingVox supports my thinking -

“The December 2009 Nielsen VideoCensus reveals that unique viewers of online video topped 137 million for the month, representing a 10.3% year-over-year increase. Total streams viewed totaled more than 10.7 billion, a nearly 12% increase over 2008. Approximately 78 streams per viewer were watched, a 1.4% increase over 2008. Time per viewer increased 13.2% to 193.2 minutes, Nielsen said. In a comparison with the Nielsen data, comScore Inc. - which uses a different methodology to measure online video viewing - recently reported that more than 170 million US internet users watched online video during November 2009, and a record high of nearly 31 billion videos were viewed during the month.”

These are huge numbers, video is the answer to the question, “What do you want to watch tonight, Honey?”

PookyMedia is the answer to “What do you want to Do tonight, Honey?”

11 Jan 2010

Vizworld cites PookyMedia

State of the Second Union

Pooky Amsterdam and Draxtor Despres see it as a virtual media platform, complete with configurable studios and environments and capable of everything from sitcoms to documentaries game-shows to music videos.