NPC 4/12/13 Featured Presentation: Masterminding Your Machinima Story

Below is an edited transcript of the 4/12/13 NonProfit Commons in Second Life meeting, featuring Opal Lei talking on how machinima can enhance storytelling.


Opal Lei’s first machinima was a 30-second ad for her Mer Betta brand in 2010. Turning down an offer from a friend to produce it for her for a mere US$50, she chose to learn the basics of machinima filming in Second Life to create her own ad and immersed herself in a new form of creative expression. She helped film and edit MODA Primetime fashion shows and eventually taught machinima to new models at the MODA Modeling School. In 2012, she started two machinima series: “Talk, Like Dim Sum,” a talk show that is a follow-up to her book, and “Splo On The Go,” short clips which document the exhibits at the Splo Museum in SL.



          Zinnia Zauber: Rah Opal!

          Dancers Yao: claps

          Lynne (yt.upsilon): Yes.

          Andy Evans: yes!

          Rhiannon Chatnoir: thanks Opal

          Adrianne Lexico: yes!

          Carol Rainbow (carolrb.roux): yes

          Dancers Yao: yes

          Panny (panny.bakerly): yes

          Carol Rainbow (carolrb.roux): morning

          Zinnia Zauber: yes

          Esparanza Freese: yes

          Lynne (yt.upsilon): Coffee.

          Red (talkwithmarie): lol

          Rhiannon Chatnoir: Opal will be doing a brief overview of process of Machinima. If you are having issues, go into Me –> Preferences –> Sound & Media. If you can’t hear voice let me know.. you can IM me for direct help

          Andy Evans: I listen fast

          Red (talkwithmarie): its fine..speed wise

          Adrianne Lexico: you are speaking fast but I think it is the “morning coffee” effect.


Opal Lei

Next thing to think about: who your target audience is.

You can incorporate prior content, like case studies, flyers, logos, existing videos into your machinima. You can also include real life footage or clips from games or other presentations or screen captures.

Next is to decide who will be the person talking. Think about text, voice overs, movement and flow of images or other elements.

You can also include a roleplay for storytelling in your machinima video.

How do you want the viewer to feel, is also important – worried? excited? moved? You need to connect with your viewers through emotion/feeling.

After you have collected everything you have, organize everything you have. Gather up your assets, sounds, clips, etc. and this will also help determine what your machinima


          Rhiannon Chatnoir: as a btw – the TechSoup Digital Storytelling challenge is looking for a 90 second video.


Opal Lei 

Editing is time intensive – allot enough time for this part of the process.

Next step is storyboarding, breaking down roughly the scenes and sections of the video. Think about your camera angles, who will be in a scene, how music or other media flows.

Think on the beginning and end and how to capture a user in the beginning of the machinima and the call to action and credits at the end.

If you only have still photographs, you can create video slideshow presentations. For this try using NCH Photostage Slideshow Software –

And for music you can go to – pay attention to licenses, on how you can use that particular type of music.

If you need actors or someone do voiceovers for your machinima, join the Mamachinima group in Second Life and you can send out an IM call for avatars.

You can reach out to SL machinima groups like this to look for actors, voice actors, people to hire or help you film.

If on a PC – you can use the machinima capture software: Fraps


          Beth Ghostraven: there’s a machinima group? 

          Andy Evans: Excuse me, it is

          Hazel (hazel.zapedzki): its not free


Opal Lei 

Fraps puts a watermark on the free version, and only allows you to record 30 second clips. You can edit out this watermark. Set your Fraps settings to at least 1280 x 720 capture which is HD resolution, YouTube accepts this.


          Al Supercharge: 1080p ?

          Rhiannon Chatnoir: that would be 720p, and, if on a Mac you can use Snapz

          Hazel (hazel.zapedzki): okay


Opal Lei 

Experiment with Windlight settings to change how your footage is lit. You can get dramatic lighting beyond the normal Second Life world light settings

Some favorite Windlight settings to search for:

  • Bree Appleblossom
  • Nam’s Optimal Skin and Prim.


          Al Supercharge: Space Navigator is a must and is great for Google Earth too


Opal Lei 

For editing, if your on a Mac you can use imovie or on a PC you can use Lightworks, which is free or something like Sony Vega


          Andy Evans: iMovie okay on the Mac?

          Rhiannon Chatnoir: any other video editing software that people use here?

          Rhiannon Chatnoir: I use Final Cut Pro X

          Tank Thibedeau (liltank.thibedeau): Microsoft movie maker can do very basic editing and its free

          Rhiannon Chatnoir: thanks Tank!

          Frans Charming: yes – I have used movie maker in my first machinima. does the job.

          Carol Rainbow (carolrb.roux): Camtasia

          Tank Thibedeau (liltank.thibedeau): i use cam studio recorder its also free

          Al Supercharge: plus it outputs MS format .wmv condenses video to about 10% and then becomes uploadable to Youtube

          Dancers Yao: Adobe for editing

          Zinnia Zauber: Premiere

          Rhiannon Chatnoir: great – thanks!


Opal Lei

if you have voice overs – you can upload accompanying text transcripts and captions to your video 

focus on your video goal. Even in if you are putting in still images to a video, you can use things like fade in/out or other movement based transitions.


          Andy Evans: Might be good to “story board” your machinima, shooting it first with simple drawings and voice over to test the actual time each will take and adjust for the final version.

          Al Supercharge: and what is that stationary talkiing head lipsink software called again ?

          Al Supercharge: CRAZYTALK


Opal Lei

… moving on to the masterminding session

Please keep your mic muted, til you are in the ‘hotseat’ and called on to express your goals and ideas (either in voice or text) and then everyone can type up their suggestions on what the person brings up while in the hotseat.

Try to write as much as you can in one text block and please try to not critique in your response,but rather build on, offer suggestions and help work on the ‘hotseat’ ideas.


          Adrianne Lexico: is it really hot? ha ha ha, sorry! just kidding

          Frans Charming: btw, if you trouble hearing some one, hover over their name, click the i icon that popups and you will get a info box with a volume slider.

          Rhiannon Chatnoir: thanks Frans


Opal Lei

if you want to be in the hotseat – touch the object and that will put you in a line to be in the hot seat and talk on your project ideas/goals. Feel free to grab a chair up here while on the hotseat.


          Letty Pienaar: I am creating teaching videos – stories or everyday situations inserting questions and tasks. My aim is to get as many people interested in Second Life. So the videos should trigger interest


Opal Lei

Letty’s idea is to create stories for teaching purposes, for language teaching and main goal is to get people involved in learning SL and teaching languages. thanks Letty


          Ozma Malibu: Where do you teach, Letty? What is your audience like? (thanks Frans!)

          Adrianne Lexico: age groups? what do you teach? proficiency levels? kids, teens, adults?

          Adrianne Lexico: teach English? as a foreign language?

          Adrianne Lexico: So Machinima could take place in Berlin SL for instance as an immersive environment

          Frans Charming: Or since you are teaching English do it in a English enviroment, Like Londen.

          Adrianne Lexico: totally

          Ozma Malibu: I have found that with new technology, it helps if I figure out the interests of the students and use those interests to grab their attention by showing them what they could do that relates to their examples.

          Rhiannon Chatnoir: yes, there are several virtual environments already existing in Second Life, such as the Berlin project sims, or some of the city based sims within Second Life that you can use as your machinima backdrops while filming

          Adrianne Lexico: I think she could then create a story with an itinerary, a tourist traveling from London to Berlin or viceversa?

          Rhiannon Chatnoir: yes Adrianne, if anyone has SLurls to those sims, please share


Opal Lei: Do you have some of these stories already available, Letty?

Opal Lei: Maybe you can use one of them for your video.


          Letty Pienaar: Christel Schneider

          Letty Pienaar:

          Letty Pienaar:

          Letty Pienaar:

          Adrianne Lexico: thanks, Letty!


Opal Lei: Yes!

Opal Lei: What is your goal for the specific machinima that you’re making for the contest, Letty?


          Letty Pienaar: spreading SL to a wider audience

          Adrianne Lexico: You have a beautiful voice, Letty! Lovely music choice as well!

          Lynne (yt.upsilon): Remember you always need the sim owners permission to film.

          Rhiannon Chatnoir: that is another thing you can ask in the machinima groups, on places that might be good to film in and always good to credit their locations in your video once you get permission

          Adrianne Lexico: always credit!


Opal Lei: Less than 5 minutes left.


          Rhiannon Chatnoir:  the contest Opal is referring to is the TechSoup Digital Storytelling challenge, a great opportunity to share your work/mission in a focused way. DId anyone submit a machinima video last year or for prior TechSoup Digital storytelling challenges? I know Ozma and I submitted a joint one last year – on the Helios Education project she led –

          Lynne (yt.upsilon): I didn’t even know about the contest, sorry.

          Letty Pienaar: neither did I

          Rhiannon Chatnoir: you can find out more on it at, 90 second video on your org/project that TechSoup does yearly

          Adrianne Lexico: Watching your YouTube vids now 🙂

          Letty Pienaar: 🙂

          Adrianne Lexico: well explained and prepared, clear, friendly…

          Letty Pienaar: I only posted the ones submitted in English not the German ones 😉

          Rhiannon Chatnoir: thanks Letty


Opal Lei: Hi, Lynne!


          Lynne (yt.upsilon): What I “want” to do with Machinima is similar to Letty, but with a twist. I wish to support the people I help to learn English (adult ESL learners) but I want to get them involved too.

          Lynne (yt.upsilon): Using my forums and sessions as inspiration I want to use machinima to illustrate points of English that are difficult to grasp without visual impact, but in a fun way. 

          Lynne (yt.upsilon): I have filmed some drama sessions in SL, but it takes sooo long. 

          Lynne (yt.upsilon): (Eventually I want them to create their own machinima too as I believe being creative beats simply consuming.)  That’s my blurb. 🙂 

          Rhiannon Chatnoir: what do you think are your biggest needs – you mention on getting the process cleaner/neater

          Rhiannon Chatnoir: do you have a link up online of your videos?

          Lynne (yt.upsilon):


Opal Lei: Have you tried to record using Skype?


          Letty Pienaar: That is a brilliant idea Lynne to separate voice from film.

          Letty Pienaar: I have tried it and it worked well. to use Skype

          Rhiannon Chatnoir: I have used skype for audio, or have captured in SL voice too.. that can be trickier depending on your camera angles, speakers volume, etc

          Rhiannon Chatnoir: think most are coming from that angle here – using machinima for a project or promote their org or cause


Opal Lei: This suggestion is also for anyone who already has videos: You can rework/reedit what you already have and just do a collage of exiting video clips.


          Rhiannon Chatnoir: if anyone here has captured audio for machinima or otherwise,how are you doing that? Through SL voice, skype or?

          Tank Thibedeau (liltank.thibedeau): if its just voice overlays you can use moviemaker you can actually record the audio while the video is playing in the program so you can get the timing correct

          Letty Pienaar: Quality is better in Vimeo some people say


Opal Lei: I think there are more people in YouTube if you want to reach more people 


          Adrianne Lexico: I agree with Opal re. YouTube vs. Vimeo

          Beth Ghostraven: Can you use Google Hangouts to record, too?


Opal Lei: Yes, Beth, I think so too.


          Letty Pienaar: good idea, Lynne!

          Lynne (yt.upsilon): 🙂 

          Rhiannon Chatnoir: there are other online video sites like Vimeo or, they were set apart earlier on by allowing larger file sizes, in HD, etc. .. but over time YouTube has caught up to allowing this too. Though if you have a regular account and have that time limit.

          Rhiannon Chatnoir: I love the idea of using the words rhubarb and banana repeated for SL lip movements

          Tank Thibedeau (liltank.thibedeau): google owns youtube so you are actually using youtube when using google hangouts

          Rhiannon Chatnoir: that is another way to get video of an interview if you used Google hangouts

          Letty Pienaar: 😉


Opal Lei: Thank you, Lynne!


          Letty Pienaar: Thanks Lynne

          Rhiannon Chatnoir: we should wrap up here… thank you Opal!


Opal Lei: I’ll stick around for a while if you have questions.


          Adrianne Lexico: Thank YOU, Opal!!!

          Zinnia Zauber: Thank you Opal!

          Lynne (yt.upsilon): Thank you. I will explore the links.

          Beth Ghostraven: Thank you!

          Adrianne Lexico: Terrific presentation!!! A mini LECTURE on machinima for me!

          Adrianne Lexico: Fantastic!

          Ozma Malibu: That was wonderful. My mind is racing with ideas.

          Adrianne Lexico: THANK YOU ALL!!!

          Peggy Marconi (ruby.flanagan): Thank you for this fantastic presentation.

          Adrianne Lexico: Thank you Rhiannon!!!

          Letty Pienaar: thank you

          Andy Evans: Really good session

          Rhiannon Chatnoir: your welcome and thank you all for changing things up today and having us do voice during this 🙂



Resources mentioned:

Photo slideshows:


Actors and voiceovers: Mamachinima group in SL

Recording tools: 




If you took during the event, please share them on our Facebook group: or G+ Community:, that would be great. Otherwise, tag them #NPSL

And tag your avatars in any photos posted!

Written by: Rhiannon Chatnoir