Meshed drama

Professional content creators

Now this word, “professional”, is a problem. Most of my detractors, when I employ it, are always questioning that “professionals” are not always the “best” content creators, and so they create elaborate arguments on how “professionals” are not so welcome in SL at all. I actually agree! But that’s because I use the word “professional” to label someone who makes a living out of their work. It doesn’t imply “quality”, although to run a successful business, it usually means that the quality of your products — or of your marketing — has to be above the average that can be produced by an unskilled labourer. Thus, while it’s true that most professionals will have some qualifications, skills, and even talent, it doesn’t automatically imply that they’re the “best” in their field of expertise. It just means that they are good enough to make a living out of their work, and that they are reasonably good at finding customers to regularly provide them with an income. That’s all that the word “professional” implies. It doesn’t mean that you can’t give your work away for free. It also doesn’t mean that professionals are more “serious” or somehow more “important” than others.

While certainly a lot of content creators became “professionals” thanks to Second Life, and left their day jobs because selling content in SL was more profitable — and way more fun! — than whatever they did, it doesn’t mean that these are the rule. They might be a significant exception to the rule, but you can just take a look at the hundreds of fashion websites (a very simple search, limited to fashion websites using WordPress, came up with not less than 250… so I’m sure there have to be thousands out there!) to take a look at the incredibly detailed quality of the content produced in 2011. These are not created by people who have just found Photoshop a cool application to run, searched for a few clothes templates, and started to make a living out of designing clothes in SL. That was true of 2005 or 2006, but not any longer. Instead, the top SL content creators in the fashion industry have a skill set that includes 3D content creations with a specialised tool, or, at the very least, have a strong artistic background in the Fine Arts and are able to pick whatever tool is more appropriate to their creations. Most have a good business sense or partner with someone who has that skill; most also follow a set of guidelines that allow them a chance to compete in the highly-demanding fashion world of SL. Of course there are no “secrets to immediate success”, but these people are at least aware of some key factors, and have some luck thrown in for good measure.

Being used to mesh-based 3D modelling tools, I’m sure they’ll all welcome the introduction of meshes in SL. It saves them an extra step: the one to export their content from their favourite tool(s) into sculpties for use inside SL — which then requires further tweaking to make them “look good”. Now they can jump straight into SL with their meshed content and limit the amount of necessary tweaking. Of course I’m not expecting billions of items by the time meshes are introduced on the main grid; not all content creators are actively testing the mesh-enabled Preview grid (but a lot certainly are!), and a few will be reluctant to abandon their exquisite work with sculpties, which they have honed to perfection, to quickly adopt a technology that is not available on the 1.X series of SL viewers. They will have to evaluate how their clients are finally adopting the 2.X series (or will that be 3.X when meshes come out…?) to make it worth their time. You can notice that only when the 1.X TPVs started to allow the extra tattoo layer that renders parts of the avatars invisible, thus dropping the requirement for using invisiprims, that content creators actively started dropping those from their shoes. Meshes, to become a successful market for professional content creators to be explored, will need to be quasi-universal; and that means that all TPVs have to upgrade to the 2.X rendering engine. Will that be ready by Fall 2011? It’s a good question; many TPV projects are actively engaged in providing compatibility with the 2.X rendering engine, but not all might be finished by then. So the question will be — how many SL residents can actually view meshes? If the answer, by Fall 2011, is, “over 90%”, we’ll all have a “Meshy Christmas” with lots of meshed content for sale from the major SL brands 🙂

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