Thursday, June 03, 2010

Machinema with Students in OpenSim

Our virtual drama project is wrapping up. Towards the end I need to make machinema recordings of the students' rehearsals of their 2- and 3-person scenes that they watch and use to improve their in-world performances and in the final class I make recordings of their performances. It's taken me a year, but I finally have an optimal recipe for making the machinema recordings:

  • Voice: Rehearse with 3rd party voice app and final performance with onboard voice. Teamspeak was the best option for students to rehearse simultaneously in their own groups as it offers spatial voice by virtue of separate channels. For the final performances we drop that and use the FreeSWITCH module because the rest of the students are being audience members and need to hear the actors.
  • Hide the UI: It takes practice and seems to work better on a PC than a Mac, but looks so much better. Elsewhere on this link there are some other great tips, worthy of another year of practice, but this is the most important.
  • Drop the SLViewer, get Imprudence: Hiding the UI in the Second Life Viewer has the unfortunate effect of filling the space around avatars with swirlies, a problem documented here. Linden Labs has let this annoying feature persist despite its being outdated. Imprudence lets the swirlies decay quickly and has a host of other improvements that I've only begun to discover. The beta installers are here, but it's reported that the weekly updates are actually more stable and my experience bears that out, with the beta 1.3.0 beta 4 crashing pretty frequently for no reason I can see.
  • Getting FreeSWITCH voice in Imprudence: Imprudence can't be distributed with the proprietary SLVoice app so you'll have to drop it in yourself. Fortunately, it's an easy fix.
  • Finally, the setup is complete! But wait, you need something to record it. Fraps is the standard on PC.  Fraps is excellent as long as you have a good enough sound card to get the "Stereo Mix" or "What U Hear" settings and don't use a USB headset as there is a little documented but known issue with them. I haven't found anything for Mac that successfully records the voice when using a separate app, like the Teamspeak/Imprudence combo for rehearsals. 

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