Monthly Archives: March 2012


I learnt LOADS at the Machinevo workshop.  I am maintaining a google doc with my ongoing ‘tips’.  Here is a link to a downloadable word doc of ‘work so far’

The process of making a film in SL

The process of making a film in SL


• Prepare very short clip • Know exactly what you are going to say (e.g. script it) as it will be repeated several times from different angles • Number the utterances (makes it easier to direct)

Preparation of ‘actors’ (avatars)


o Wear ‘low’ animation to allow hand gestures when speaking (ideal for close-ups. . can be a bit unrealistic / irritating for full body shots.. use the low or medium AO  called ‘   ‘ to make sure there is some hand movement (I think the strong one is Over The Top!) Remove their usual AO usually

• SOUND: o Do a sound test to ensure all speakers are at same level… o adjust avatar volume by  hovering on the ‘I’ . if they are very faint, advise them to go into settings and check.  o If there is an echo tell them to use an integrated headset; if not possible, tell them to switch off their mic when not in use. o Tell them not to breath too loudly!

• SPEECH: o Model the delivery you want (speed, pitch, accent, emotion) o Deliver sentences clearly with a gap between each one (necessary for transitions) o Make a slight ‘hesitation’ or ‘fill’ noise before pronouncing the first word .. this ensures you hear the whole thing.

• TIMING : Tell then what to expect as you will have to turn mic off during filming .. (e..g count down 5 – 4- (silent 3 2 1)

• MOVEMENT – o show them exactly where to stand.  If there is a couple animation, NB ideally they are opposite people  (18o degrees) to start o Direct people on Animation Overrides o Direct people on how to ‘look at’ the people they are speaking to)shift + mouse’ o Tell people not to click on other things (to avoid arms going into the air) o Tell people not to move if possible

• APPEARANCE: o Direct people on their costumes (as realistic as possible – o check limbs to not show through when they walk)

Set Up Video Capture Software

1. Open up Fraps

2. Check settings: movies; folder to save; video capture; capture settings; recording inside and outside; hide the mouse; lock framerate

Preparation of SL / viewer interface

• Close any pop-up windows from other programs (e.g. oovoo) • Open SL • Adjust preferences (see list): sound from avatar; graphic high and include shadow etc` • For a ‘different’ look, choose a different sky preset (world / sky editor) • For a more realistic look, add lights and shadows, and ambient occlusion [graphics / general / advanced)



o Turn off your own mic before filming(but remember to turn back on again later!) o Clear screen of menus: Ctrl + Shift + F1 key o Clear screen of HUDs: Shift + alt + H o Mic on: count down ‘5 – 4 – 3- ‘ then • press key to capture –  actors imagine ‘2 – 1- – 0 and start top speak on zero. • Keep still – avoid using zoom / movement unless really necessary • Press key to stop • Do retakes from different angles E.G. o Film once with both speakers o Film once focusing on one speaker o Film again focusing on second speaker o Take close-ups of objects being referred to (while speech going on) • As soon as there is a mistake, stop the filming and say ‘stop’ – explain what was wrong. • Open folder • Watch and delete or name appropriately • Put copies onto another prepared folder

Making files smaller for sharing / editing

• Copy films into relevant folders (e.g. Machinevo / films • Make films smaller format by importing into Windows Movie Maker and exporting as wmv or avi for computer output (seee process below) • Open up Windows Live Movie maker • New project – name and save! • Import all films (add, videos and photos ….browse …) • Save as a project • Export movie (for computer … makes it into a wmv file)


EDITING • Open the project • Click Edit • Play films and ‘split’ after each sentence • Select variety of angles • Add caption (yellow bold shows up) • Add credits • Add title • Select transition for each frame (nb there is a drop down menu; ‘pan’ is a good one to give a smooth ‘movement ‘ to otherwise static filming) • Add music  (fade in and out; adjust volume to be below the voice volume) • Save movie (for computer … makes it into a wmv file)


Upload to Blip TV (username / password) [I tried Flickr . didn’t work?)

Machinevo 2012




In 2012, a small group of language teachers, (all of whom I already knew through the lively SLexperiments group*) organised a project with the aim of learning how to make videos in Second Life which could be used for language learning.  Heike Philp / Gwen Gwasi was our enthusiastic and lively overall coordinator! Over 5 weeks, various sessions were arranged when we could meet up to build up knowledge, skills and experience.

*wiki here: *ning page within Avalon here:


I had already had some experience of Machinimas which had awakened my interest in making films and their application to language learning.

(1) 2 years ago, the ‘Italianiamo’ group led by the wonderful, imaginative, talented and creative Anna Begonia made the film ‘Il marito della Parucchiere’. ‘The hairdresser’s husband’ [see link below] Her guiding principle was to make the experience as collaborative and  immersive as possible

  • Anna set us the task of thinking up the characters, the storyline
  • As learners, we were guided to produce a storyline .. as we spoke possible lines,  Anna wrote the script in perfect Italian and passed us the script in the form of ‘notecards’
  •  Learners practised the scripts, sometimes in small groups, sometimes together
  • Anna filmed the scenes and later edited them
  • Anna organised a film ‘début’ .. the actors and their guests experienced the red carpet treatment of a beautiful outside cinema and received Oscars!

Part 1:

Part 2:

A second film which we tried to put together did not reach its conclusion.  Possible reasons: (a) unreliability of participants (difficulty of continuity if the actors do not attend session regularly) (b) difficulty in agreeing on a storyline .. the desire to include everyone’s ideas led to a very complicated plot!

(2) I had tried out Fraps . . I filmed a short interview with Marisolde and was delighted to discover that it was possible to capture all elements of SL: images, voice, music and text.  I then edited them through Windows Movie Maker and added overlay text.

(3) I went to a machinima workshop held by SEGfL (Spouth East Grid for Learning) with my pupils.  The tutor took time to show people how to use the camera controls and how to frame pictures.  (3 techniques: having points of interest on the intersection of ‘thirds’; stressing the ’diagonal’ or having an unusual angle).  We used Fraps and started to write a storyboard.  Our intention is to make a film to which we can then add subtitles and soundtracks in various languages.

(4) I watched the beautiful machinimas created by Natasha Randt for Arcachon (link below) and joined a Skype group call to read aloud a script recorded by Cyber which was later added to the video made by Natasha.

Natasha’s film: Arcachon virtual French institute:

Film introducing Arcachon – go to end [1:12] to see the role play in the bakery:

(5) I had used video editing software e.g., Windows Movie Maker for a film bringing in stills, video and audio as illustrated in this film where I enthuse about using SL for  language learning:


The process benefits I would outline of the project are:

(1) Training

Working within a time-limited project gave us the impetus to give SL training a priority in our schedules . I would not have got around to doing this had it not been for the project)

The collaborative experience developed knowledge and skills of working together online.  We used a range of technology for communication (email, wiki, SL, dropbox, google docs) and I volunteered myself as group leader!  It really helped that I already knew the people I was working with … in fact, I had met Dev, Claire, DeeSnow and Cheminot already in ‘real life’ and felt I knew Amandina Patch and Marius very well through SL.  The technical requirements developed knowledge and skills of software and processes (e..g Fraps, Roxio VideoWave, Windows movie maker)

I made contacts with ‘experts’ in the field to whom I feel I can go in future with questions.  I would particualrly commend Carol Rainbow (Carolrb Roux in SL) who gave us all many hours of her expert advice and patience.  You are a star Carol!

I have made a note of all my ‘learning points’ in another document entitled ‘the process of making a video in SL’.  It is  a  also a google doc.  I have uploaded it here.

(2)  Linguistic

The project gave an authentic context for working with people who speak different languages.   I got to know native speakers in Arcachon even better as a result of the work; they were able to correct the transcripts to make them even more accurate and authentic

(3) Social

The process was fun – we laughed a great deal in the training and filming sessions, and the whole experience sealed our friendships!


Here is a link to the play list which includes the four videos (and Rosavioletta’s Italian film at the end!)

I am aware that the resulting ‘product’ is not perfect.  The product is ‘OK’ and I have shown it in class …but could be greatly improved .. the sound is uneven .. some of the movements are ‘jerky’ .. the background music is perhaps a little too loud HOWEVER showing it to my students has given them a model and the incentive to do better!  I look forward to wrting a post about their work soon!