A holiday greeting

Every year, it's a challenge to think of a new way to send a holiday greeting.
  • I've done the generic buy-from-the-Hallmark-store packs of cards with handwritten signatures.
  • I've done the cards with your name already preprinted, so you don't have to strain your hand signing all of them.
  • I've done the personally designed handmade cards.
  • I've done the Plaxo e-cards.
  • I've done the email greetings.
  • I've done the scrapblog.com greetings.
  • I've done the create-a-website greetings.
  • I've done the stereoscopy greetings.
This year, I did a machinima.

There's still a very personal homemade feel to it.  That's me singing into my Logitech headset mic.  Complete with pops, scratchy voice, and sniffly inhales.  While searching for podsafe music, I found a website called ujam.com that generates an accompaniment for you in different styles and lets you add effects to your voice as well.  They were having a contest for Christmas songs and, since I was planning to do this song for the machinima anyway, I thought I'd shoot two birds with one song.  ;)

That took me a whole night.  It's HARD to sing karaoke.  You have to sing it in their style at their speed and you can't make any changes at all.  Anyway, after a gazillion tries, I decided it was good enough for what I need and I set it aside.

I've been having problems with my machine so I reinstalled the OS from scratch, and, after reinstalling the Second Life Viewer 3, it said that I didn't have an up-to-date driver or my equipment wasn't compatible with SL.  What on earth?!?  Phoenix gave me the same error.  Then I realized that Windows 7 thinks that all I have is a standard VGA graphics adapter.

Reinstalling new drivers from the amd.com website didn't fix it.  Nor did drivers from the Dell website.  I had to call Dell again yesterday to get their help for US$89.  (My warranty had expired.)  But the tech fixed it and it sees both my graphics cards again!  I can even do shadows now!  The shadows are pixelated, but they're there!  Geez, have I been missing out all this time just because Windows didn't recognize my graphics cards?!?

Anyway, I decided to film the shadows and I remembered I had to do my holiday greetings yet.  And I realized that if I don't finish it now, I won't have time until the new year.  So I spent last night doing the machinima portion of it.

I started filming my avatars, but it didn't quite fit the theme of the music.  I originally wanted to do a creche made up of my alts, but I don't have the time to do the animations and the costumes.  So I bought a creche in the Second Life Marketplace instead.  I set up a floating island in the sky above the Mer Betta store, added some rocks and palm trees (yes, I'm well aware these are the wrong type of palm trees but it's all I have), and chose the Midnight windlight and darkened it even more.  A little adjustment of the East direction to get the moon in the right spot, and I was taping.

I don't think I had enough footage to work with, so there's a lot of stops and starts if you look closely enough.  Next year, I'll start planning earlier.  And I'll have more experience with machinimas by then.

And for the first time in five years, it's the same greeting "card" for friends in both real life and Second Life.  And I'm not going back to static paper cards again.  See, I'm saving trees!

Happy holidays!