Thursday, June 28, 2012

From Dreams to Virtual Reality

There are no words to describe the feelings connected to a dream coming to fruition. All the endless months of prepping, stressing, and trying not to lose hope culminate in that one moment. June 23, 2012 marked the second round of auditions for Miss Virtual World 2013. Thankfully I had been called back in the last audition so I did not have to resubmit a photo. Still there was a greater challenge this round.

We had to style two different outfits this round. The first one was casual chic; the second one was formal. Frolic Mills, CEO of the Miss Virtual World Organization, was going to personally look over our outfits and decide who would get to walk for the judges. If you managed to pass the casual chic inspection, you moved onto formal. If he cleared you through formal, you got to walk for the judges. I found this out only 36 hours before the auditions. My heart stopped at the idea that I may not get to compete this year.

I spent the next two sleepless nights pouring over my inventory and dashing around the grid for something inspirational. Casual chic has never been my strong suit when under pressure. I have a very simple style and didn't think it would translate well. After creating two different outfits, I chose the latter. Fortunately I had the advantage of prepping my formal look a month in advance of this rule change because I was planning to wear it for the next audition anyway.

I was convinced I wouldn't get a chance to walk so I told my friends I wouldn't send them an invite. No point in coming if I wouldn't be seen on stage at all. Just so happened that we ended up on stage after all--for the first round of eliminations. Mortified, I took it all in jovial stride, sending a LM so my friends could watch my public "execution." As we were gathering around the stage I crashed. I returned backstage to see some of the girls wearing their formal gowns. I lost, I thought, but to be sure, I asked what had happened. We were all safe. We would all get to walk in our formal wear for the judges.

This was great news as I had more confidence in my formal look. I went with a mash-up of a Limited Edition recolor of an Azul dress and a group gift from Purple Moon. I knew it was risky and unexpected, but hoped it would pay off. I spent more time on it, perfecting every prim and pouring over thousands of poses to show it off well. I thought I had a good shot this time with no holes in my dress to hide. Despite a couple of hiccups, I managed to walk without crashing on stage. Then came the waiting for the results. It would be a full day before they came out.

I was so nervous that I barely got any sleep. At some point I managed a 4-hour nap. When I woke up, I noticed the time and just had a gut feeling the results were out. I checked my email...

I saw the words "CONGRATULATIONS" splashed over the subject lines. Being half asleep, I had a hard time thinking this had really happened. I logged in quickly to see if this was in fact a hallucination. Sure enough, my IMs were flooded and my messages capped. I retrieved a copy of the results list from BOSL's notices. There, at the top, was my name. I couldn't catch my breath.

Once reality set in, I started asking questions about what to do next. SL gave me a lot of headaches but eventually I got my invite into the official MVW group and sent in my country selection. Although I'm American, USA was already taken so I chose our neighbors to the north, Canada. My Canadian friends joyously approved.

I look forward to October when the MVW competition officially begins. Best of luck to anyone still auditioning; I wish you well. Give it your all!

Special thanks to Angiliak Crystal of Pilgrim Creative and Pipins for taking this photo of me in my MVW audition dress.

Base dress: Azul
Skirt and roses: Purple Moon
Jewelry and nails: Finesmith Jewelry
Hair: Loovus Dzevavor
Makeup: m.o.c.k. cosmetics
Lashes: Miamai

Thursday, June 21, 2012

What's the Hold Up?

You may be wondering about the title of this post, and I'll gladly explain it. A few weeks ago, I was talking to some folks who are still defiantly clinging to their V1 style viewers. The topic of mesh came up because I was dressed in my mesh bunny avatar, and a couple of people were confused how a "cluster of boxes" could be considered fluffy. (For the record, I'm quite cuddly and cute as a bunny.) I mentioned it was a mesh avatar, to which I got the same tired reply I heard many times before: "We just don't think enough people are using it enough to convert to mesh." Really?? It's been over a year. There is something about just being plain stubborn to change, especially when it limits you creatively as a designer, builder, or model. If your system meets the spec requirements, just try it, and I mean really try it, not the old 30-minute trial period where you give up because you refuse to look at the instructional 3-min videos on learning the basics. Back in the day, some of you older ones spent 10 hours camping for a single linden; you cannot convince me that three minutes is torture.

Maybe you're one of those "non-conformist" types that thinks you're sticking it to LL by not using their viewer. That's all milk and cookies, but there are third party viewers with mesh viewing capabilities now and if you haven't figured it out, LL does not care. Think I'm kidding? They already removed the download link for SL 1.23. That's your sign.

Besides, look at what you are missing out on: petites, giant mesh avatars like dragons and bunnies, more detailed buildings, complex clothing and hair shapes that were never possible with sculpties...the list is endless. Check out this outfit from Loovus Dzevavor: the shoes and romper--all mesh. I move like butter in sims, and my av looks fine as hell without wonky sculpts moving around in a cartoonish fashion.

And this Maitreya hair called Siobhan? Oh yes it is mesh, my friends and it is fabulous! The hat is attached to the hair, but it also moves with hair. And get this: the hair moves with YOU! Every time you turn your head, it moves along with it; no more sculpted prims cutting through your body. Plus it has a handy hud to change the texture of the hat.

So stop reading this blog--wait, read the style credits first, but then download a mesh-enabled viewer, no excuses! Check your graphic settings before you login because people often complain they crash upon login. That could be because the graphics were set higher than your computer can handle, so lower them but not below medium. If all you can manage is low graphics well...I am truly sorry and hope you get an upgrade soon. (FYI, you can't see mesh on low graphics, sorry.) And hell, give the LL viewer a shot even, after all, isn't SL about the user connections and content inside? Like getting into a sold-out Prince concert, who cares what system you have to use, as long as you get in, that's all that matters. Be wary in what you download though because unless it's the official LL one, they will not help you with any defective issues you experience, nor can they help you if it's a sketchy third party one containing pirating software. Anti-virus software is only a condom that's 96% effective; use your head before putting just anything onto your hard drive.

/me hops off my soapbox and returns to enjoying mesh in SL.

Romper and shoes: Loovus Dzevavor
Hair and bag: Maitreya
Makeup: m.o.c.k. cosmetics
Bracelet: Finesmith Jewelry

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Ellora of the Light

I simply ADORE the newest release from Evie's Closet called Ellora. Fragrant petals cluster around the hem of the halter top, which is adorned with a beautiful flower sparkling with dew. Pearlescent twigs wrap themselves around the neck and arm for a touch of whimsy. It includes the wings and tattoo makeup pictured here as well. There are two outfit options, the fairy one with a short skirt, or a long dress version for more formal affairs. It also comes in petite sizes for you wee ones who wish to look as adorable as your taller companions.

Outfit: Evie's Closet
Hair: Calico Ingmann Creations (old RFL Exclusive)
Feet: SLink

Monday, June 4, 2012

In Hindsight...

I was very fortunate to get a callback for the Miss Virtual World 2013 auditions. Last year I failed to even qualify for them so this was a HUGE deal for me. A year of hard work was finally paying off. I was elated and nauseous at the same time. This is the big leagues! It's like the SL Styling Olympics with women from around the global grid competing for a shot at this recognizable title. I knew I needed a dress that would personify my style and dazzle the judges. I wracked my brain for days, hopping from store to store as I searched desperately for that WOW dress.

A friend sent a notice about the Couturier Docks, a new fashion place with limited edition items. I went over to take a look, and there it was in all its golden and onyx glory: the Cassiope dress from sYs Designs. Their latest creation using mesh looked so wonderful in the gorgeous pic, that I was instantly sold. Even though there wasn't a demo, I had seen it blogged before so I figured it was worth the plunge.

I immediately put it on at home, excited to try on this daring number. As I always do with new purchases, I cammed myself from head to toe, admiring every nook and--what the hell is that on my bum? I could not believe my eyes. There, in the crook of a fold near my right buttocks, was a glaring black hole.

I realized this was the dress underneath and thought perhaps my shape needed adjustment so I went into Appearance Mode. Removed my saddlebags. Nothing. Flattened my ass. Still there. Turned my already slender legs into a pair of toothpicks. Once I found myself looking like Skeletor with no change in the error, it hit me: the mesh was flawed.

I checked my graphics settings. Tried on other meshes in case it was an SL glitch. Nothing. My perfect dress was a perfect mess. The alpha barely covered the necessary areas; I actually had to add another alpha from a skirt in another outfit just to hide my avatar's rump. When I walked, the mesh was so paper thin that my legs peeked out from any movement larger than a kimono walk. This was a disaster.

Remaining calm, I knew I had a couple weeks before the callbacks were announced. I sent their customer service representative a note, making sure to include a pic of the problem and offering to show it to them in person. A few days later she replied that she had sent my note to the designer to have a look at the issue. I felt hopeful that this would be resolved in a matter of days. Unfortunately it wasn't resolved soon enough.

Having hedged my bets on my look, I tried my best to find solutions. Perhaps mixing and matching pieces from other dresses would help. Zero inspiration. What could I do? The callbacks had been made by then and I only had a few days left to prepare. With little time to spare, I did the only thing I could: balled like a big ass baby. Just kidding, I only drank a couple shots of vodka to calm my brain into functioning again. Once it did, I was able to find a decorative piece from Finesmith to hide the flaw. Still try as I might, I thought it looked a hot mess in the back no matter what I did.

In the end, things kept falling apart all through the audition process: constant crashing and being upstaged by someone building a large prim next to me as I was posing for the judges onstage. I didn't make it in.

Despite the setbacks, I have learned some valuable lessons that I'm sure to forget soon as I'm at that age where things vanish quickly from memory if not written down. For starters, ALWAYS try demos first! No demo means a risky buy. If the designer is too busy to put something that simple in a box to try out on your shape, then they're likely too busy to fix any errors with your purchase later. Also try not to get so swept up in a competition that you buy things on impulse. We all do it irl too so remind yourself that if it's meant to work out, it will be available to buy later.

That being said, I will audition again using a more stable viewer and steering clear of mesh unless I've demoed it. I normally don't mean to have long posts, but I got fed up with being ignored. Ah yes, about the result of this error... Sent a follow up notecard to the designer a few days after the audition. It's been a week with no reply. It's fine though. My lindens can visit other stores.

UPDATE: I sent a third note and got a refund for the trouble. I appreciate this gesture and will continue to support the designer.

Dress: sYs Designs
Jewelry, lashes and nails: Finesmith Jewelry
Hair: Amacci
Eyeshadow: Nemezi
Lipstick: m.o.c.k. cosmetics
Shoes: Loovus Dzevavor
Pose: Manifeste

Special thanks to Isodel Resident for being prompt and gracious in her customer service when the walk I purchased for MVW was not working. Check out her animations at Iso-Motion!