Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Climbing walls, sky dancing (in HD!), and weightless sex/showers - Part IV in our Gravity in Virtual Worlds series

By Bettina Tizzy

In previous blogposts for this series, I promised to share new and interesting products and concepts with you in the ZeroG space, so to the point...

There ain't no place I can't go...

In Real Life, Niklas Galler has developed the biometric based C-Bot (still not commercially available), that can make its way up vertical walls or spherical surfaces and is operated via GPS or a 3D-map.

Now your avatar can do the same in Second Life®. I was contacted last week by scripter and builder Nexii Malthus, who not so long ago was a Resident of SL's Teen grid, about a product he's developing at Rostok, a private region designed for inter-alliance combat. "Something really impossible in Real Life... walking on walls, but having gravity shaped dynamically as you move: any angle, any surface. I always wanted to do that in Real Life."

Nexii, who hails from the UK, sees this as a useful tool for battlemechs and combat "stuff." "It is, in the simplest sense, a vehicle. You rez (it), sit on it, go into mouselook and move around. It's not for sale and commercial applications still seem far off, unless enough people bug me."

"It's still a behind-the-scenes thing as its in development and highly experimental, but I would love it if I could get a publically accessible place and put a version of the system down for the public to try it."

Meanwhile and over at the gorgeously remodeled Grendel's Children (teleport directly from here) , Flea Bussy's technicolor Avaios Shadowcrawler comes in a power package costing a pidly $250L that includes 9 colors, two genders and an impressive AO that offers dozens of animations and sounds, but the breakthrough here is that it crawls up and down and sideways on walls... effortlessly.

The tricky part for me is getting on the walls. You must leap onto them while holding down your shift key, but once there, the rest is easy-peasy

You're such a light-weight

Then... here is something I haven't seen in any film yet (remember the fab hair-drying sequence in Blade Runner?) but I think its time has come. In Real Life, astronauts take sponge baths, but Oni Horan over at his highly imaginative RPG sim Space Colony Necronom has figured out how to keep the water contained and recycled for a practical and sensual bathing experience.

I know, I know, my avatar has all her clothes (by Eshi Otawara, btw) on! Take your own shower in whatever state of dress you prefer by teleporting to Necronom here

Oni has also created a weightless sex module, for couples who prefer to keep it lite (also available at Space Colony Necronom).

Dance me to the moon

Finally, no story about gravity in Virtual Worlds would be complete without including choreographed sky dancing. The visionary and sovereign in this category is, of course, DanCoyote Antonelli (aka DC Spensley), together with his ZeroG SkyDancers.

For the uninitiated, ZeroG SkyDancers is a form of ensemble performance that uses the airspace of Second Life to effect something between a water ballet and aerial acrobatics. Wearing colossal flowing costumes called 'cascades' - that are many times larger than their avatars - the SkyDancers move through space, and become part of the stage themselves. Altering and evolving, their flight triggers audio samples, which provide a unique layer to the original musical score.

The fourth production, Let Love Live, conceived and directed as always by DC Antonelli and hosted by Larry Pixel (aka Larry Johnson) and the New Media Consortium (NMC), has introduced an unprecedented 3000 meter (3km) reactive-interactive stage set that is repeatedly and dramatically transformed over the hour long performance as seating flies through gravity-defying monoliths of breathtaking beauty, created in collaboration with DC Antonelli by artists Glyph Graves, Strawberry Holiday, Selavy Oh and Sabine Stonebender.

This full redesign of the SkyDancer show since the troupe's founding in May of 2006, also features an all-new musical score by ZeroOne Paz, all-new choreography performed by the SkyDancers: Anhinga Chaika, Tatiana Kurri, Angelique Menoptra, Lina Lageos, Buffy Beale, Pielady Smalls, Talula Bancroft and Wytchwhisper Sadofsky, as well as all-new cascade costumes by DC Spensley and Josina Burgess.

The ZeroG SkyDancers are real people who log into Second Life from all over the world to perform for audiences in real time. Hot Tip: In deference to the economic strain some Second Lifers may be feeling, ZeroG SkyDancers has reduced the price of the tickets to their stupendous fourth season to a mere $1,000L. And yet another Hot Tip: Following the performance of Let Love Live, audience members are provided with their own spectacular cascade costumes and invited to play tag with the dancers. Seating is limited, but the show runs twice a week during the first 90 days of 2009. For ticket information, contact Lina Lageos in Second Life or DC Spensley at dc@spensley.com.

The best video to date of any ZeroG SkyDancer performance, in my view, was filmed and edited by Gary Hazlitt. A couple of days ago, I wondered out loud if he might remaster that footage into a HD version, and I am very pleased to share the results with you at this time. Herewith, the ZeroG SkyDancers Spring 2007 Production at Ars Simulacra, NMC Art Showcase in honor of the Second Life Fourth Birthday Celebration and the ZeroG SkyDancers 1st year anniversary... in High Definition.

See Gary Hazlitt's remastered HD - Widescreen version for YouTube here.

For this performance, the SkyDancers were:
Assistant Director Anhinga Chaika
Assistant Producer Callypian Christianson Deborah Stranglove
Prima - Tatiana Kurri, Angelique Menoptra, Lina Lageos, Kensai Uriza
House Manager Onyx Bijoux
Technical Director ZenMondo Wormser
Costume Designer Sabine Stonebender

See also:
+ Overcoming gravity (and reality) - Part I in our Gravity series
+ I can fly, but meh - Part II in our Graivty in Virtual Worlds series
+ Oh, those intrepid gravity challengers - Part III in our Gravity in Virtual Worlds series

+ Flea Bussy's Empire: Grendel's Children... one wacky avatar at a time