Dancing in stereo again

I'm back. Wow, it's been more than four years.

Actually, I've done stereo versions of a few of my work for my 365 project, so I wasn't entirely gone. But when my time became scarcer and scarcer, the stereo work fell to the side, because it does take quite a bit of time.

Now that the 365 project is done (after three long years ;) ), I have more time to do other projects and to return to old joys.

I accidentally stumbled on the beauty of "prim light" against a pitch black windlight when I did "End of the Milky Way" for the 365 project.

So, I wanted to play with light sources on other subjects. And I came up with this:

Dance in the Darkness

Without prim light, it would be completely black. And it was a single prim light source approximately at the face level. I purposely didn't light the feet directly to show that it was an artificial light (as opposed to windlight) and to avoid lighting the floor (which was set to black and full bright). It gave the impression of the avatar being on stage with one gentle spotlight.

Very simple. Very minimal.

And yet, with stereo framing, I'm able to define the shape of the space around my avatar, as though it were something tangible, like half of a 3D vase:

Dance in the Darkness, X3D

There is something about this that is very Zen-like. By defining a border around nothingness, I created something. This is what fascinates me about stereo framing.

Where the fun is

Taking photos in SL is both easier and more difficult than real-life photography.

It's easier because I don't have to leave the comfort of my home.  I can manipulate the ambient lighting, the color of the sky, the time of day, the angle of the sun, the clarity of the water, the cloudiness, etc, all very easily without additional cost.  I can freeze the waves, the clouds, even the wind.  I don't have to coordinate schedules with a model.

It is more difficult because we are limited by what's available to us, like poses and facial expressions and avatar components.  It's not as easy to "strike a pose" as in the real world, especially if you have a specific pose in mind, because that animation has to be created.

The interesting thing about Second Life photography is that each photo is really the sum of the creativity of several people, not just the photographer.  Everything that is in the photo was consciously created by someone.  For example, the skin, the hair, the eyes, the jewelry, the shoes and the clothing are all created by other people.  Not to mention the engineers who programmed the software to render the avatar and the shadows and generally to "create" the space for this to be possible.

But the reason I focus on Second Life stereoscopy is because there are very few of us who do this.  Probably only four of us.  It's a wide open niche and there's so much that hasn't been tried yet.  It's the same with the stereo framing -- not many people do it.  So, there's lots of room for innovation.

And that's where the fun is.  :)

Stereo framing vidtuts done!

I promised it in Flickr eleven months ago.  Sascha Becher reminded me last month.  It took me a couple of weeks or so to get it done.  But the "Stereo Framing" series of vidtuts is all done!  You can also view it directly in YouTube.

Opal's 5th Rez Day Anniversary 20110831, X3D

Whew! This was a bit of a challenge, but well worth the effort.

First, I've never done video tutorials before, so there was a lot of technical research that I had to do, as well as best practices research on teaching using videos.

Thankfully, and perhaps synchronistically, TechSmith.com offered a 30-day free trial of Camtasia Studio 7.  I had tried CamStudio, but it was very limited and the frame rate wasn't fast enough so that the mouse was jumping around.  I may end up buying a license for Camtasia so I can continue doing vidtuts in the future, but I'll have to figure out finances first.

I think $300 is too much for Camtasia, when Sony Vegas sells for 1/10th that price and has pretty much the same video editing functionality except for the screen capture.  I think Sony Vegas even has more features. But I'm not familiar enough with either product to make a reliable comparison.

Besides, Camtasia is missing some basic functionality, like the ability to select multiple objects in the timeline to be able to move/copy them at the same time to another location, or the ability to define custom callouts.  The set of callouts is very limited.  I would also like to be able to "unhide" the parts of the raw videos that I "deleted" in case I change my mind long after an Undo is no longer feasible.  I guess I'm comparing it to hiding columns in Excel.

I'm going to try Fraps next time, since I've already tried Fraps with the machinima ad I made for Mer Betta.

Anyway, now I can add video tutorials to my list of things I know how to make.  *grins*

Second, I got a chance to explore the other features of Stereomasken that I've never really played with before.

Third, I got a chance to get to know Bernd Paksa, who created Stereomasken.  Our communications have been all by email.  He writes in German, I write in English, and Google translates.  :D  He's telling me tips and tricks and he has more, so I think it's better to just create a new series instead of cramming them all in this seies.

Fourth, I've also fleshed out the website as I've worked on the vidtuts, so things are more organized.

Instantly beautiful

I read somewhere that the Mayas (yes, the same ones who ran out of rope for their calendar) had a peculiar sense of beauty. They believed that flat foreheads and crossed eyes are symbols of beauty, so they would tie flat boards around their babies' foreheads to flatten their skulls and hang a bead between their eyes to make them cross-eyed.

Well, if you're able to read this blog, you're already too hard-headed to flatten your skull. But you can still be instantly beautiful if you cross your eyes. And you can view stereo photo pairs while you're at it. *grins*

I discovered stereoscopy in Flickr while doing a search for "3D", actually hoping to find photos from other virtual worlds besides Second Life®. I didn't find what I was looking for.  Instead, I stumbled upon Sascha Becher's stream, particularly this photo. And I've been hooked since.

After doing a lot of research on stereoscopy and creating stereo images, I created my first stereo pair, which was also my holiday greetings card for 2009, and I received many encouraging comments about it and subsequent works.

Through one of Sascha's notes, I discovered Stereomasken by Bernd Paksa, and a whole new creative world opened for me. I had so much fun with stereo framing and I still do. After a few prods from Sascha for a video tutorial on Stereomasken during a span of ten months, I finally found the time to start creating them. And you'll find them in YouTube and in my website.

I used to document my process in Flickr as well, but it is difficult to find that information there, so I'm slowly transferring them to the Cross-Eyed Beauties website.

Meanwhile, I hope to create short clips and such about my process in this blog as I create more stereo works. And then I'll compress them into tutorials in the main website.