The Christmas Eve party: story of a picture.

Last year, I created for Christmas a moving greetings card video that showed off some of SL’s finest wintry places. This year, I thought I’d try something a little different. I was very drawn, in my childhood, to cutaway pictures showing simultaneously the goings on in every room of a building.  I decided I wanted to create a picture just like this, that could only be fully experienced by zooming in on it and exploring all the stories to be found.

First, I had to find a suitable building.  I wanted something vaguely Victorian – because, as we all know, nothing speaks ‘Christmas’ quite like Victorian architecture – and knew exactly where to start looking: the glorious city of New Babbage. After a couple of hours of searching there I found the house below, a wonderful detached house owned by Captain Killian – who very kindly gave me permission to shoot there (and even gave me rezzing rights).

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Of course, it wasn’t just the exterior that made the house perfect (in fact, it wasn’t the exterior at all, since that wouldn’t be showing in the picture) – it was the room furnishings that really made it. To see inside and reveal all these gorgeous features, I had to derender the whole of the front of the building. This is a process that wouldn’t work for many modern mesh builds because you have to be able to select individual walls and mesh buildings are often one huge piece of prim: try to derender just one part of it and the whole damn building disappears. Luckily, the Captain’s house is made from good old prims, and I could select them one by one. It was a painstaking process, but the result was very satisfying.

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But to get this view, I had to be zoomed in on the house from some distance away, and across the street was another house that got in the way of this view: yet more derendering to be done, then, though thankfully this job required significantly less precision.

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I wanted to fill the house with avatars, which meant I was going to need to do multiple shoots, (a) because more than ten avatars usually crashes me (especially when I have my LOD cranked up to 8 – you can see in the second picture I was losing detail on the rear arches at LOD 4) and (b) because coordinating more than a handful of avatars can be a nightmare.  Oh yes, and (c) I don’t have that many friends. People would need to play multiple roles.

That meant that for each shoot I had to derender everything all over. More importantly, it also meant that for each shoot I had to establish the exact same camera angle and lighting. For the lighting issue, I decided to shoot all pictures with time set to midnight, and I installed my own lighting in the house so that this would always look the same. For the angle issue, Caitlin Tobias recommended the Black Tulip camera HUD, which saves camera positions so that you can resume them. It worked perfectly, and once I had this I was able to start shooting.

So then it was just a question of gathering people together.  Here are a few of the individual shoots.

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Shooting took place over a week and, in the end, close about 20 different shots were created and pieced together to form the final picture. Some shoots gathered together a number of different avatars in one go, others were made with just one or two avatars at a time. The lounge was made from six different shoots, for example, whereas the dining room was done in one go. In total, 21 people took part in the project, including Boudicca Amat, Skippy Beresford, Dizi Bergbahn, Elemiah Choche, Jefferson Emmons, Abi Enoch, Sofie Janic, K, Daze Lander, Kidman Latte, Isa Messioptra, Mich Michabo, Minerva Moon, Marina Münter, Caitlin Tobias, Lake Tower, Anthony Wesburn and Ylva. An ensemble cast!

The final pic can be seen below, but like I said it needs to be zoomed in on and explored, so it’s best viewed at Flickr, where you can select the full 8000 x 5400 pixel version.

X MASTERa

A huge thank-you to everyone who took part in this project. It was a lot of fun.

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