NPC 4/26/13 Featured Presentation: The Drax Files: World Makers

Below is an edited transcript of the 4/26/13 NonProfit Commons in Second Life meeting, featuring Bernhard Drax (Draxter Despres in SL) who discussed the storytelling, process and making of latest machinima series The Drax Files: World Makers, that focuses on people who are creative in virtual worlds.

About Berhard Drax 

Bernhard Drax aka Draxtor Despres creates interactive audio/video content and devises new media concepts for corporate and academic clientele. In addition to producing music for film, television and the web Bernhard has a solid background in radio news production and print journalism.

The Drax Files World Makers will be a semi bi-weekly show who examines the creative people behind the avatars who make the virtual world of Second Life what it is & move it forward with their passion and persistence. Mixed reality interviews form the basis of a reportage that profiles designers, game-makers, role-players and fashion aficionados, musicians, artists and social-issue activists for whom the Second Life avatar is not a separate entity but a true extension of themselves with which they navigate the digital space. 

The show utilizes real-life footage as well as machinima from within Second Life and feature self-taught hobbyists to dedicated pros from all walks of life, from all over the world and cuts across gender, ethnic and generational divides. A world solely made by its residents – truly only their imagination can be the limit! 


          Rhiannon Chatnoir: ready when you are Drax – thanks for being here today!

Draxtor™ (draxtor.despres): hey guys, thanx for having me and now Rhi posted ALL what i had to say already hahahah…sooooo

          Glitteractica Cookie: hi drax!

          Zinnia Zauber: Rah Draxtor!

          Beth Ghostraven: YAY!!

          Zinnia Zauber: Thank you for joining us today!

          Buffy Beale: Cheering for Draxie!!

          Shaun Altman: well hello

          Adrianne Lexico: THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          Adrianne Lexico: Draxtor! Draxtor! Draxtor!

Draxtor™ (draxtor.despres): a few folks here might know me from the Flufee show, the narrative comedy and i LOVED doing that. But as 2012 came to an end I realized that NOBODY, nobody is doing documentary about SL creatives

like I had started doing crudely 6 years ago. If i watch my first machinima from that era I crinch!

          Jen (jenelle.levenque): Yay Flufee

          Rhiannon Chatnoir: are you saying Flufee was narrated :O

Draxtor™ (draxtor.despres): No no no FLufee of course WAS documentary!

          Harlequin Rhode: Flufleas!

Draxtor™ (draxtor.despres): what am I saying, it is ALL TRUE! He is a living being full of flesh. I mean MESH.

Anyhow…I talked to Kriss Lehmann from Botanical about how the mainstream media is ignoring SL and if they write something they pepper badly researched articles…with images from 2006.

          Shaun Altman: why should the mainstream media care about SL?

Draxtor™ (draxtor.despres): Shaun I address this later!

and I realized that I do have some skills that could benefit

          Shaun Altman: well i hope so if you’re going to bring it up now

Draxtor™ (draxtor.despres): burt briefly: they should because open ended virtual environments that enable users to monetize their creativity is a revolutionary thought IMO…anyways

          Shaun Altman: well but open ended virtual worlds are kinda 2008.

Draxtor™ (draxtor.despres): soooo, I did the first show about Kriss who is a marvelous example. He derives his entire income

from selling BEAUTIFUL digital trees and that first episode was really well received. Now to understand my GOAL with this series…. these are NOT ads for linden lab, these are ads for creativity! and passion. I focus SOLELY on individuals and groups….that day in day out [without whining]…color this 3D piece of blank paper that we are given! They push the world forward. They DO something. 

To me as an immigrant to the US, it is a very apt comparison – the can-do spirit of America and the can-do attitude of these creatives a few people have accused me of not focusing on the ISSUES of LL etc. That is not the goal of this series. I am not taking any sides other than that I am highlighting the best of SL. Many have pointed out LL should be doing these and i am very grateful that they promote it, however i am GLAD they are not playing me because I have total freedom!

          Shaun Altman: or maybe they only allow u to belive that

Draxtor™ (draxtor.despres): So anyhow, a little behind the scenes, these episodes are geared towards the OUTSIDE towards people who have never HEARD about SL/VW’s or dismiss it for whatever reason. These episodes are TOOLS, for us enthusiasts, to show our mom our dad..our friends who think we lost it!

So I usually do a 1-2 hour conversation with the interview partner to REALLY get behind what they do, why they do it, where they come from. From that 1.5 hours raw audio footage i distill the narrative. Then I think about how to sustain that narrative and enhance it with visuals, only THEN do i shoot in SL. i shoot about 1-2 hours of footage per episode. Now you get a sense of the workload hahahah 🙂

But it is NECESSARY – why?

Because i need to understand the story myself! I need to really get in there and although I am familiar with SL, i am NOT familiar with each and every individual. So these are just simple journalistic principles.

What is VERY IMPORTANT is the format. We start with a quick Skype video shot – ABSOLUTELY CRUCIAL! This ties in RL with SL We end with Skype video – this is the FRAME and it seems to work!

i got tons of feedback from RL friends that NOW they FINALLY understand SL a bit better 🙂

So this week is Fantasy Faire as some know and I did a piece about Relay for Life and how they use FF to fundraise the content sold there and the sims design are MIND BOGGLUING! This is the best of SL, but of course there is lag hahaha..anyways I did a piece on this

          Rhiannon Chatnoir: in the case of remote people you are interviewing, who is filming the footage sometimes seen of them in their RL places, homes, area where they live 

Draxtor™ (draxtor.despres): good question Rhi

So the interview subject films at their home. Sometimes if they do not know how to do it; i do screen sharing via Skype and polish the footage a bit. But in general they film it.

Upcoming is a piece about music in SL and these guys over in Spain sent me AWESOME footage! Sometimes it is a bit difficult managing this hahahaha, because u need to nag people all the time so they deliver on deadline~! But no different than any other job. And i used to work in public radio, so i am USED TO THE WORST )_))))

So questions?

Oh one more thing, i would LOVE to do one of these every three days…which i could…BUT i cant coz I have a LIFE hahahah :O)D

What is important to understand is that I have laid out 20 episodes, specifically showing the ENTIRE range of activities in SL

activism, animation, role play, games, politics etc. It is ALL COMING

          Alfonso Perfferle (alfonso.perfferle) raises his hand

          Adrianne Lexico: your final product is pure art

          Harlequin Rhode: How do you deal with folks who what to keep their RL private?

          Adrianne Lexico: big fan of yours since I heard of you

          Rhiannon Chatnoir: yes, production takes time

[09:11] Draxtor™ (draxtor.despres): Adrianne: THANK YOU!!!!

Harlequin, good question. Now i am very mindful, mindful and respectful of privacy and I have had MANY people decline to be interviewed. BUT what i do say and that seems to work is to nominate a spokesperson, so they got Zander who was great.

          Glitteractica Cookie: i love the machinima Drax did for the NPC a few years ago

          Buffy Beale: me too Glitter

          Adrianne Lexico: THANKS YOU!

          Rhiannon Chatnoir: do you have already lined up those you will be interviewing for those episodes, or are you still actively looking for stories, and if so, what is that process like

          Adrianne Lexico: that’s a good question: how do you choose who you will interview?

Draxtor™ (draxtor.despres): Adrianne – i choose based on the long view, i want in the first 20 episodes to have an overview of SL

          Harlequin Rhode: Will you also feature adult related content?

Draxtor™ (draxtor.despres): i will NOT feature adult content. Why? Not because I have issues with it personally [i am from Germany mind you! BUT a side goal of the show is…to destroy STIGMA. There is a stigma attached to SL and i am circumventing it, i am avoiding it,  i am ignoring it. There is plenty of coverage of adult material – please watch Login2Life hihihihi

          Andy Evans: LOL

          Harlequin Rhode: There are many creative adult related folk in SL.

          Zinnia Zauber: This series has been wonderful to share with the general public and has made more people curious about what we do inworld. More people have asked me to bring them in world. I think showing the actual people made them feel like like they could be those people behind the screen then.

          Harlequin Rhode giggles. 

[09:14] Draxtor™ (draxtor.despres): sooo, to what Glitter said about my old NPC video, what is so important to me as well is that SL has GROWN so much in terms of sophistication of content, with the right machine, SL can be displayed in a WONDERFUL way and so visually I am trying to be SUPER PERFECTIONIST, not so much with the Skype stuff – that is totally DIY and raw, and good that way. But when it comes to SL i tweak the windlight. i do TONS. 

          Alfonso Perfferle (alfonso.perfferle): what kind of software do you use to record in SL?

          Adrianne Lexico: will you have an episode about yourself?

          Harlequin Rhode: It’s pretty awesome when I can share your vids to my sons in RL. Makes me proud! Thanks, Drax

Draxtor™ (draxtor.despres): Alfonso, i use Fraps, then convert to edit on a Mac in Final Cut.

Adrianne – NO – there is enough out there about me! 

          Alfonso Perfferle (alfonso.perfferle): thanks 🙂

          Adrianne Lexico: come on! that would be fun! 

Draxtor™ (draxtor.despres): so it is so good to hear from folks, who tell me things like…i showed this to my dad, my kids, my co workers and all of a sudden they understand! THAT IS THE GOAL! This is GREAT when SL folks like them, BUT much more important to me is that stakeholders OUTSIDE, folks who could benefit.

          Beth Ghostraven: Yes, that’s what’s missing in trying to use SL for education; educating outside stakeholders about SL

          Alfonso Perfferle (alfonso.perfferle): could you share us what kind of hardware do you use to get that kind of quality, plase?

Draxtor™ (draxtor.despres): alfonso i can send the specs of the computer. it is a PC with Windows 7 OS on a solid state drive, 2 RAID drives for capture and the NVIDIA card i have to look that up – but it is PRICEY!!! This one came a 2.5k two years ago. 

          Alfonso Perfferle (alfonso.perfferle): Great! 🙂

          Rhiannon Chatnoir: I can even post that to the blog after this, any specs, settings tht you use

          Alfonso Perfferle (alfonso.perfferle): 😉

          Zinnia Zauber: You are worth it.

Draxtor™ (draxtor.despres): the big frustration for all of us of course is…that SL does NOT run on an average machine. BUT, good news is that it changes every other month. The new MacBook Air runs PERFECTLY!

More questions?

Again, the visuals = window dressing! i work hard on them, BUT the STORY, the authenticity of the story, that is what resonates!!!!!

          Frans Charming: really on a air, that’s awesome.

          Shaun Altman: im on the macbook pro and it won’t run things maxed

          Shaun Altman: which is sad for a 2004 game

          Shaun Altman: macbook PRO. quad core sandy bridge! 8 cores total

          Harlequin Rhode: *loves her Mac*

Draxtor™ (draxtor.despres): last year Macbook AWESOME, i actually shot some great footage. So sorry Shaun – you are missing out 🙂

So anwyay, i am in AWE of the creatives in here and like i said earlier, there is soooo much whining and complaining and the weird thing is??? The folks i profile…they DO NOT WHINE! Yes they are frustrated at times! But they soldier on!

          Shaun Altman: i do not whine! i just tell 😀

Draxtor™ (draxtor.despres): THAT IS THE SPIRIT!

          nɐıʌɐp ʎuʍɐp (dawny.daviau): Is there a type of story you would like to do but never had the change to?

          Rhiannon Chatnoir: do you do any pre-interview beforehand or send out questions you will be asking during the itnerviews, or is most of that the first time they are being asked those things by you

          Andy Evans: Anyway to make the machinima interactive, e.g. the user can personalize their experience by choosing which creative they want to see events from a menu withinin the machinima ?

Draxtor™ (draxtor.despres): Rhiannon GOOD question, so post that question again in case folks did not see?

I do NOT do pre interview, I do a conversation that i tape, sometimes 2 hours

          Rhiannon Chatnoir: I said – do you do any pre-interview beforehand or send out questions you will be asking during the itnerviews, or is most of that the first time they are being asked those things by you

Draxtor™ (draxtor.despres): sometimes the first hour is unusable because people need to warm up. That is TOTALLY NORMAL!

Once we get into the flow, i keep going until i KNOW that i have everything i need for the story!

Andy i do not understand the question?

          Andy Evans: the machinima might highlight at first some SL events or people and the user chooses which they want to see

          Rhiannon Chatnoir: your overall goal is to show their creativity in these spaces, do you have any standard questions you ask everyone, in your interview

Draxtor™ (draxtor.despres): Andy are u suggesting to open up who to profile?

Rhi – absolutely yes, but they change all the time, and it is like i said a conversation. A lot of it is dictated by where it goes and what personality the person has. But standard to warm up is how did u discover SL – what is your RL background, etc and also I always want to hear how people would explain what they do to their MOM 🙂

          Andy Evans: Not who only… the user could be seeing a SL mall or art gallery and choose which rooms are more intersting to them

          Rhiannon Chatnoir: Andy, are you meaning some kind of interactive ability to ‘choose your own story’ … not sure you have seen the web application Zeega, comes out of a MIT media project, but people are experimenting with it to tell interactive stories with photos/video

Draxtor™ (draxtor.despres): Zeega = dio from Linden Lab in a way.

Andy – I am sticking to the format. What you are suggesting sounds interesting. If someone pays me I might work on it..hihihihi. Like i said the luxury I have is FREEDOM and do it the way I feel works best

          Andy Evans: If I find someone to pay you do I get a commission?

Draxtor™ (draxtor.despres): If Linden Lab were to hire me for this, I would consider it, but keep it separate. I would not want them to “buy” my show!

          Andy Evans: LOL

          Andy – NO 🙂

          Rhiannon Chatnoir: so that brings up the question, how are you financing this project?

Draxtor™ (draxtor.despres): I finance this project by my day job, just like any other hobby. 

          Frans Charming: Andy Youtube itself allows you to make pages, and reels with videos that people can select from.

          Rhiannon Chatnoir: labor of love?

          Zinnia Zauber: You have more freedom of expression without the pay. 

Draxtor™ (draxtor.despres): the cool thing is = i HAVE NO HOBBIES – hahahahaha – no i do.

          Rhiannon Chatnoir: lol

          Buffy Beale: lol 

Draxtor™ (draxtor.despres): i play piano, i volunteer at school, i have a family, but i do not go to baseball games and I do not play golf [Zinnia knows what i am talking about!].

          Rhiannon Chatnoir: time is always the enemy for those with passion interests

          Tizzers (sassypantsu): Drax, would you rather fight a horse-sized duck or 100 duck-sized horses?

          Beth Ghostraven is cracking up laughing at Tizzer’s question

          Rhiannon Chatnoir: I am intrigues by tiny horses myself 😉

          Zinnia Zauber: lol Totally! 

Draxtor™ (draxtor.despres): yes time is the enemy. 🙂  Sassy I am a pacifist!. Ok more questions?

          Adrianne Lexico: I know there is a lot about you out there Drax, but I would like to see Draxtor interviewing Bernhard for the final episode of the Drax Files series. Would you give this a second thought?

          Rhiannon Chatnoir: does your ‘day job’ align with your media / documentor interests… curious

          lolli Sapphire: ok for a moment I read that question completely different

          Beth Ghostraven agrees with Adrienne

Draxtor™ (draxtor.despres): yes it does, sometimes

          Frans Charming: Adrianne, maybe you could interview him!

          Adrianne Lexico: I WOULD LOVE TO!!!! 

Draxtor™ (draxtor.despres): my day job is broadly speaking audio/video editing. I just finished another music video where i did the recording arrangement and sound design. Now, these things are FUN – BUT, there are MANY MANY COOKS and ENDLESS discussions and so my show is soooo different in terms of again FREEDOM to do what i feel is best [in a semi dictatorial way], also finished a 2 hour radio show for NPR about California History. Been doing that for years and same thing, yes – creative BUT too many cooks! 

          Shaun Altman: who’s music video is it?

          Rhiannon Chatnoir: I like that idea of almost this meta conversation between your avatar and self … who here remembers Drax’s days of going out in the real world with his Draxtor Despres mask on 😉

          Shaun Altman: i don’t remember that

          Tizzers (sassypantsu): Drax didn’t have the mask at the last SLCC :[

          Adrianne Lexico: yes, please help me convince him! meta conversation of avatar and self! That is my point!!!

          Shaun Altman: no such thing as too many cooks

Draxtor™ (draxtor.despres): The Drax mask was fun in 2007/2008 and i love the idea of the meta conversation. i could change perhaps and have an interviewer, interview me. in terms of the mask real quick, because u may have noticed that i upgraded with new skin and accessories. i was reluctant to do that but when i realized how SL had grown content wise with mesh and textures and now materials are here. 

          Rhiannon Chatnoir: so this and your other machinima work allows you to have that creative freedom

          Frans Charming laughs out loud

          Rhiannon Chatnoir: I think right now, we are all doing that to you 😉

          Adrianne Lexico: why not have one interviewing yourself for the final episode?

          Rhiannon Chatnoir: yes, love the animated shirt

          Rhiannon Chatnoir: you trademarked your avatar name, correct?

          Shaun Altman: Oo we can TM our av’s?

Draxtor™ (draxtor.despres): it would BE SAD and RIDICULOUS to look like 2007 🙂  …so there ya go!

          Frans Charming: Yea Drax, I updated myself recently as well for the same reason.

Draxtor™ (draxtor.despres): to each their own. Frans – it is hard to let go, but just like in RL, sometimes it is GOOD to get a hair cut and a new shirt!

          Frans Charming: Indeed!

Draxtor™ (draxtor.despres): yes I trademarked and updated the TM office as well with the new visuals. 

Adrianne, there IS NO FINAL EPISODES  🙂  if i keel over and am no more than the episode prior to me dying would be the final one 🙂 Other than that i shall continue hihihihi.

          Rhiannon Chatnoir: so your avatar is your brand and in that way.. even these comments about changing the look of that are big if you think of it that way

          Adrianne Lexico: ok but please consider having one with Drax and Bernhard!

          Adrianne Lexico: Please?

          Adrianne Lexico: LOL

          Rhiannon Chatnoir: by then, an AI bot can live on of you Drax

Draxtor™ (draxtor.despres): i will! good idea

         Adrianne Lexico: thanks and greetings from a fan in Argentina!

Draxtor™ (draxtor.despres): the band i profile for next week is from Argentina. They are REAL artists! Not only is the music awesome but they build a different stage every single show! They use SL to the fullest IMO

Ok i think i have to head out soon. i have to reshoot some stuff at 10am. i want to thank folks for showing up so often when i last minute ask for background actors really really appreciate it! i see quite a few here, hahahah – they have been in many movies and some on the cutting rooom floor sorry 🙁 

          Adrianne Lexico: cool!

          Adrianne Lexico: OMG! this has been awesome!

          Adrianne Lexico: Thanks Rhiannon! Thanks Drax!!!!

Draxtor™ (draxtor.despres): please share the Fantasy Faire video and visit the Faire!!! It goes on through this weekend, the sims are BEAUTIFUL! seriously magnificent –

          Lynne (yt.upsilon): Done – Done 🙂

          Beth Ghostraven: Thank you so much for speaking here, Drax

          Cadmus Tyrellium: Drax thanks for all that you are doing. its so great to see all that positive energy

          Rhiannon Chatnoir: thank you Drax!

Draxtor™ (draxtor.despres): Cadmus thanx! i did not take my downers this morn hahahahah  

          Buffy Beale: you’re a rocker Draxie I love what you’re doing for SL, bringing out the good news stories

          HazelDazel (hazeldazel.haystack): Thank you Drax

Draxtor™ (draxtor.despres): maybe u should!!!

HAZEL!!! thx for coming. Hazel -0 thank you for keeping the CRAZIES at bay on my FB page hahahah

          nɐıʌɐp ʎuʍɐp (dawny.daviau): It was very informative, thank you Drax!

          Andy Evans: any one have a link to the Fantasy Fair?

          Glitteractica Cookie: yes, thx

          Frans Charming applauds

          Rhiannon Chatnoir: any last thoughts before we move on to Open Mic

          Shaun Altman: let’s be SL friends drax

          Gentle Heron: Thank you Draxtor.

          Harlequin Rhode: Awesome interview!

Draxtor™ (draxtor.despres): Go to the Fantasy Faire guys!!! It is AWESOME. Link is in the YT description, very very uplifting story about battling cancer.

          Zinnia Zauber: Thank you so much, Drax! You are amazing!

          Andy Evans: Great, Drax

          Zotarah Shepherd applaudes frf

          Adrianne Lexico: THANK YOU

          Mercia Merlin: Thanks a lot Drax

          Alfonso Perfferle (alfonso.perfferle): it is indeed!

          Dancers Yao: Thank you…

          nɐıʌɐp ʎuʍɐp (dawny.daviau): 🙁 So many around me in SL have lost that battle… it is worrying!

          Stranger Nightfire: Fairelands Junction (128,128,23) 

Draxtor™ (draxtor.despres): u look good Frans!!!! 

          Frans Charming: Haha, Thanks,. so do you Drax! 🙂

          Rhiannon Chatnoir: this is all good food for thought too for anyone thinking of working on their org’s digital story for the TSdigs challenge

          Rhiannon Chatnoir: thanks for letting us peek into your process Drax and for sharing

          Adrianne Lexico: WOW! 

Draxtor™ (draxtor.despres): oh and if anyone has specific questions IM me directly, always glad to share the bug for making films in SL!

Written by: Rhiannon Chatnoir