Making movies and machinimas in Second Life is probably easier and cheaper than you might expect. It’s roughly the same process you use for video you record with your camcorder, except that you don’t need a camcorder. In its place, you need either software or hardware for capturing video. It doesn’t have to be expensive. One of the most widely used software capture choices, Fraps®, costs only $37 and another, WeGame, is free.
You can read about video capture software in the four previous articles in this series: Software video capture, Fraps, PlayClaw, and Fraps vs PlayClaw. Video capture hardware will be covered in a future article. Hardware video capture devices are generally more expensive than software and are unnecessary for most people.
After you decide on a capture method, you face two more choices: whether to use the standard Second Life camera controls or to use a joystick for moving your camera around, and how to edit the video that you shoot. You can read about using 3DConexion’s SpaceNavigator joystick in an earlier article. This writer uses a SpaceNavigator and would never consider going back to standard SL camera controls.
When you’re ready to start shooting, you’ll face two important choices: whether to show the Second Life user interface (the menu buttons, avatar names, etc) in your video and whether to show your windows desktop. It’s easy to turn both off.
Getting rid of the Windows desktop in your shot and restoring it are simple: just hit ALT-ENTER. This will make your desktop disappear from your shooting or reappear if you’ve previously eliminated it.
Eliminating the Second Life user interface is slightly more complicated because before you can do it, you need to enable Second Life’s Advanced menu. If you don’t see Advanced at the top of your Second Life screen, hit CONTROL-ALT-D. This toggles the Advanced menu on and off. After you see Advanced at the top of your screen, on a PC just hit CONTROL-ALT-F1 to toggle the Second Life interface on and off. You’ll see examples in the slide show that accompanies this article.
After you’ve recorded some sequences in Second Life, you then face the decision of how to edit it into a movie. You might want to post it to YouTube, or on your own website, or you may just want to show it to friends and family. Editing software is how you do it. You don’t have to spend a lot of money, or any money at all. Just enter “free video editing software” into your search engine and you’ll find them. There is also excellent inexpensive video editing software you can buy. Adobe’s Premiere Elements, Apple’s Final Cut Express for the Mac, Sony’s Vegas, and Cyberlink’s PowerDirector are all excellent and offer as much video editing power as most people will ever need. For anyone who needs more, Adobe’s Premiere Pro and Apple’s Final Cut Pro for the Mac are usually the best choices.
Two excellent sources of information about making movies in Second Life are in the Second Life Wiki: Torley’s Guide to Making Movies and Machinima.