I would imagine that people must wonder why a virtual musician would need a PA*, and what “life” must be like in a virtual world. I thought I’d try to explain, primarily for those visitors to this blog that have no experience with Second Life. I also thought I’d make it fun – hopefully you’ll think so as you see the pictures.
Firstly, people do have whole “lives” in Second Life. So yes, I have a home. I also have a bed and I have jammies – and I can simulate sleep if Spiral is overdoing it on the drones in the studio, too.
There is never any real need to worry about either cleanliness or grooming in SL, you can look perfect all the time. However, SL is really a whole role-playing environment, and it can be fun to simulate these things. What you will not get, though, is a decent reflection on a mirror. You may do on water, but never in the glass. One skill I find absolutely indispensable is being able to manipulate images in my graphics programme (GIMP). As Spiral’s PA, I produce posters and other promotional material for him to use in SL while he concentrates on the music – and exactly the same in real life, too.
A reasonable understanding of SL photography is another skill required. How can one produce promo material if one can’t take decent pictures of the venue? In the picture on the left (“Found my way… “), you can see a totally different lighting scheme and shadows as well as morning sunlight. This was not some process in GIMP, but lighting chosen within Second Life itself. Knowing how to change lighting, shadows, depth of field and so on is a very necessary skill (some of these are lumped into a catchall term “windlight”). When you see photos of Spiral in the future, there is a good chance that a lot of them will have been taken by me.
Knowing how to find things in a virtual grid (that is so vast it’s hard to comprehend) is another skill. If it can be imagined, it’s probably in SL – but how do you find it? This is something I’ve learned to be pretty good at – and if you look at the picture within the picture on the right you’ll see how good. I wanted to find the Dali image in Second Life and worked on the theory that if I can think of it, it’s there and I just have to find it. I’ll go back if I have The Persistence of Memory (snerk).
Hmmm, what to wear? The choice of clothes in SL is vast – and for so many different types of creature as well as human it’s hard to know what to wear. Knowing what looks right in a picture, on a stage, to other avatars… if you’re trying to help promote someone you have to have a fair idea. I have to admit, Spiral isn’t exactly slow when it comes to figuring out decent ways to dress – but he’s not quite a quick as I am at finding a bargain. Between us we do OK – because not only do you need to know how to find clothes and what to wear; you also need someone to tell you if you look ridiculous!
Another absolute requisite for the PA of a busy musician is the ability to build in Second Life. Everything that one can see in this world has been made by its inhabitants. It is sometimes my job to liaise with people who want Spiral to appear at their venue – and not all of them have a venue that has any kind of set – so it’s boring and would make his concert visually dull. I build, so I can make a set that will suit the venue and suit him, too. You can see the wheel in the picture and the edit dialog box that comes up when you build. If I had really needed to (I didn’t), I could have made the bus in seconds flat!
Another ability that is sometimes required is scripting. I’ll be honest, now. I can’t script. I can’t do HTML in websites and I can’t write code in any world. What I can do, is find other ways and means of getting things done and it is pretty necessary for a musician’s PA to be able to find handy scripts to make things work – like the smoke you see issuing from me in this picture. I may buy a gadget, I may find a free script, I may buy one.. but however I do it, making things glow and pulse and poof and explode – what stage show is complete without the SFX?
The most important ability, though, is learning to dream – and this works in both worlds. Yes, in the picture you can see my dream – but it is more for humour than a truthful representation. A musician must be able to dream, to imagine, to explore. What good is a PA if they can’t follow or create a vision? In any world – Spiral and his music are meant to express dreams and soundscapes – and in SL I like to think I provide some for him to work with, and help him to reach his own.
*Dogsbody, General Factotum, Gofer, Jill of All Trades.