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A Second Life for Release Parties

E Frontier announces Poser 7's release in Second Life By Ko Maruyama
When I received an invitation to attend a release party in Second Life, I really didn't know what to expect.  I had heard about Second Life - with nearly 2 million residents in the virtual world, and an economy that can be calculated to real-world dollars, companies are starting to have meetings "inworld".  But why?

After a pretty simple setup (creating an avatar and walking through a painless orientation - a la video game "click this to do this"), I was a day early for the meeting, so I walked around the virtual world.   It was immediately obvious that this is the perfect place for e?frontier to have their announcement of Poser 7.  

Second Life is filled with all kinds of avatars who all benefit from one tool or another found in Poser.  Not only are people using Poser to create templates for texture design, but they're also creating specific animations which can be sold for L$ (find out at, which equals fractions of real dollars, but true money nonetheless (there's already a SecondLife resident who has made $1M - AFTER the conversion back to real U.S. Dollars).

Giant banners greet visitors outside the main hall

Many release parties, or press parties, are held during major convention schedules, when there are sure to be a large collection of users, buyers, and press around to attend the event.   MacWorld, NAB, GDC, IBC, Siggraph, and other annual conventions are usual spots for these parties, but why not go directly to a public user forum?  There's no jet lag involved, outrageous hotel charges, nor schlepping the 120 pounds of software, printed literature and free toys through the airport.

The party space looked like any other hotel ballroom/convention hall.  It was really funny how much it looked like a real world space.  The one thing it lacked was the ability to hold all of the attendees in one room.  With a room capacity of about 45 SL'ers, including moderators, the 120 guests had to fill multiple sites, which thinned out the experience.

Free virtual drinks. Kinda funny.

The great part about meeting in Second Life was that people from around the globe (despite massive time zone differences) were able to attend.    Sato Hiroshi (aka Mahtaro Michinaga), CEO of e?frontier joined the conference from Japan.  On another side of the world, Spain, France and Germany were represented by an interested (albeit sleepy) user base.

In Second Life, Poser 7 was revealed to the gathering via streaming audio.  The beginning of the night (6:30PM PST, GMT-8) was a combination of Laslo Vespremi's introductions and streaming music, all presented live inworld.    Attendees drank, danced (yes - LOL), and even picked up company swag.  The giveaways included the standard TShirts, caps with funny hair, and leather jackets.  However, unlike the regular swag found in convention halls, one of the popular items in Second Life is custom animation.  I was surprised that people (even those not interested in Poser) weren't stopping by to "grab and go" as some of their real world counterparts are prone to do.

Pick up swag bags at the door

As in a real world party, I was able to discuss parameters of the application with other users (although typing is a much slower method of delivery).   Unlike the real world experience, during Uli's speech some of us IM'd about what the new features might lead to, without interrupting the broadcast, or those around us.  Some typed for all to hear, but it didn't conflict with Uli's presentation.  It really was twice as much information in the same amount of time.   I would certainly attend another Second Life conference - - especially to see what the virtual world has to offer as a change from the regular meetings.  From end users to programmers; from print to animation; hobbyists to hardcore programmers, the experience had a lot to offer in its attempt to mimic the real world experience.... without the rubber chicken.

You can take a tour of Poser 7 (available now) at the e?frontier website.  (don't forget the dash).  Also, don't forget that you can export Poser OBJ objects to Anime Studio Pro as well!   You can upgrade from Versions 4, 5 or 6 to Poser 7 for under $130.

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Ko Maruyama is a freelance animator in Los Angeles.  In addition to working on film and broadcast animations, Ko teaches at Pasadena's Art Center College of Design - focusing on motion design.  When working, writing or testing software allows, you can find him lending a hand in the After Effects board and lurking among the Cinema4D, Visual Effects and Photoshop posts within the DMNForums.
Related Keywords:Review, E Frontier Poser 7, Second Life, Virtual Press Conference

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