UPDATED! Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: Advent Calendar Gifts for December 12th, 2020

Here’s my blogpost with links to four lists of Advent Calendars and 12 Days of Christmas Calendars, plus my “Top Ten” Calendars you should not miss in 2020!

Both of the Advent calendars at Wow Skins and Essenz Shoes are completely overloaded, and so far (despite several attempts), I have been unable to collect today’s gifts from them, which is irritating but not unexpected. After all, I am adding to the traffic at these locations with my regular morning roundup of Advent calendar gifts!

Here’s the gift from Entice, a lilac skirt and matching top with some nice lace detailing (the Entice group is free to join):

Today’s gift from Virtue is this lovely yellow dress, which comes with a matching bolero jacket! The Virtue group is free to join.

From Firelight Hair comes the following long, wavy Taya hairstyle, which comes with a HUD with six colour options (the Firelight group is free to join):

And today’s Hope skin gift from 7 Deadly S[k]ins is in the cashew skin tone which, along with yesterday’s caramel skin tone, I quite like! Remember that the 7 Deadly S[k]ins group costs L$1,000 to join during the month of December. By the way, you can purchase previous days’ Advent calendar gifts from the tree-shaped Advent calendar at 7 Deadly S[k]ins for only L$25 each, so if you saw a previous gift of theirs here and are kicking yourself that you happened to miss a day or two, you can still go back and purchase them. I wish more Advent calendars offered this as an option!

The present from Celestina’s Weddings is the Melanie summer dress in a blue tropical print (the Celestina’s group is free to join):

The 12 Days of Christmas calendars at some stores start today (in other stores, they start tomorrow). At the Altamura main store, there is a Christmas tree where each day’s gift will be placed. Today’s gift is the following system/Bakes on Mesh outfit, with two different shades of red for the top and eight festive textures for the pants:

The December 12th gift includes the Christmas stilettos shown in these pictures, which come with a HUD with red sequins and five other red, seasonal patterns. These shoes come in sizes to fit Maitreya, Slink, and Altamura mesh feet (although the feet on Altamura bodies are supposed to be Slink compatible, so I’m not really sure why they were included the latter as a separate version).

You will need to join the Altamura Design/Mesh Avatars group to pick up these gifts, but it is currently free to join the group; the normal Altamura group join fee is L$100, so you might want to subscribe now, and stay subscribed if you can afford the group space, since the group will give you access to future Altamura group gifts throughout the year!

Another store with a 12 Days of Christmas calendar that started today (instead of tomorrow, as I had previously reported on the blog), Baby Monkey offers twelve gifts that combine to form a complete colour-coordinated capsule wardrobe! Each piece comes with a mini-HUD with three colours as shown below for the December 12th gift, these Benina pants:

Happy freebie shopping!

UPDATE 12:29 p.m.: The Advent calendar at Wow Skins is finally working, and I was able to pick up today’s gift, the beautiful Jolie Bakes on Mesh skin in the sandy skin tone (the Wow group costs L$199 to join):

And today’s gift from the Abranimations Advent calendar is this truly wonderful animesh flying carpet! Instead of attaching it, you rezz it to the ground and then sit on it. Here’s a 20-second video of it in action:

I will be loading up a few alts today to pick this beauty up!

UPDATE 1:36 p.m.: O.K., one more fabulous freebie, this time from Loki—this red Santa Claus sweater, which comes in a size to fit Maitreya Lara mesh bodies only. You don’t need to join any group, just teleport in and buy it for L$0!

By the way, these Christmas ball earrings and skirt are free gifts from the 2020 Winter Shop and Hop event, which opened yesterday and runs until January 3rd, 2020 (more details here).

Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: Advent Calendar Gifts for December 10th, 2020

Here’s my blogpost with links to four lists of Advent Calendars and 12 Days of Christmas Calendars, plus my “Top Ten” Calendars you should not miss in 2020!

Once again, I don’t have a lot for you today. The capricious whims of the Advent calendar gods can be like that; some days the pickings are poorer than on others! (And yes, I am very, very picky.)

First up is today’s Advent calendar gift from 7 Deadly S[k]ins , the Hope skin in the caramel skin tone (the 7 Deadly S[k]ins group costs L$1,000 to join during December):

The present from Essenz are these lovely cream Cincinnati boots (L$50 for non-members, or pay the L$350 group join fee to pick up all of the Advent Calendar gifts from Essenz, plus a fatpack of the versatile Wales pumps):

Today, Firelight Hair gives you the Alara hairstyle, which comes with a mini-HUD of three black tones as shown here (the Firelight group is free to join):

Today’s Advent calendar gift from Abranimations is this rather topical toiler paper gun, which shoots rolls of toilet paper in both desktop and mouselook mode in your SL client! The Abranimations group is free to join.

Just press and hold the right mouse button to start firing!

Happy freebie shopping! Remember to limber up and do a few stretches to prepare for the Shop & Hop Winter Shopping Event, which opens tomorrow! Each of the stores participating in this nine-sim shopping mall will have a free gift for shoppers.

Abramelin Wolfe Brings His Abranimations Brand of Avatar Dances to Sinespace

Abranimations is a well-known brand of avatar animations in several virtual worlds, including Second Life, IMVU, and Sansar. Jim Clark of Edinburgh, Scotland (better known by his avatar name, Abramelin Wolfe) is the creator behind the Abranimations brand.

Abramelin Wolfe has been profiled by the documentary filmmaker Draxtor Despres twice: once in Second Life (in 2013) and a second time in Sansar (in 2019):

Well, Abramelin Wolfe has finally brought his dance animations into Sinespace! Here’s a link to his brand-new store on the Sinespace Shop, where he has dozens and dozens of dance animations available for sale for only 50 Gold each (and some dances can also be bought for 5,000 Silver):

And here’s a quick sample, a 7-second video courtesy of Sinespace user Alicia, dancing her heart out at the Welcome Centre (thanks, Alicia!):

Earlier this week, I interviewed Abramelin Wolfe via text chat about the launch of his Abranimations brand in Sinespace:

How did you get started in creating animations and other content for virtual worlds? Please tell us a bit of your background.

I first found my way into Virtual Worlds in 2004 when I Joined Second Life. At the time I was working as a freelance website developer. I played Second Life for fun and enjoyed using my prior programming experience to create fun toys and gadgets. I had no expectations of it making any money, I just loved the creative outlet it provided. I can’t remember exactly when, but at some stage I found it was making a substantial part of my monthly income so I dedicated more time to it. When I first joined SL I played a lot with particles and tried making various vehicles, furniture and I made a magic staff for my avatar (who was a wizard at the time). I found myself wanting to learn all the tools SL had so before long figured I’d try animating too. I started with Poser which was recommended by LL at the time. For a while I created animations using that. A bit later I decided to invest in a relatively cheap inertial mocap system which was how I got into mocap. Today I primarily use an optical motion capture system that is much more precise.

What platforms have you made animations for?

As well as the Second Life store, we also have stores in IMVU, Sansar, and more recently we opened a Hypergrid-enabled OpenSim region. This week, I opened up shop in Sinespace, too.

What hardware and software tools do you use to create animations today? Have there been significant changes in the tools you used since you started doing this?

I create most animations now using an OptiTrack mocap (motion capture) system to record trained actors & dancers. I use the system software to clean up the raw optical data and then perform further cleanup and final processing in Autodesk MotionBuilder. My first animations  back in 2004 were made using Poser. I used it a lot for quite a few years. I liked Poser, but it was not very good for motion capture data cleanup. I moved to use MotionBuilder which is built for this purpose. There is a dramatic difference in quality and realism in mocap over keyframed animation. However it is very expensive (equipment, studio space, dance hire, software etc.) and it can be very time consuming recording and cleaning up the data to a high standard. If I want a quick animation and am not worried so much about  realism I will still keyframe animate by hand. We  also make lots of other content today, my wife works with me now too. As well as helping with the mocap studio she is an artist and makes all our avatars and other characters. 

Could you briefly outline the steps involved in creating an animation from scratch (not too technical, just a general overview that my blog readers could understand easily).

I first decide what animation I want to make. This could be a specific dance or something else. I’ll research and refine a shot list and then hire a dancer or actor that is able to perform the motions. In the studio we suit them up in a black lycra suit  with reflective markers stuck to it and record them with special mocap cameras. The mocap system records the markers as dots moving in 3D space and the software processes this to generate a moving skeleton from it. The resulting data tends to need a lot of post-shoot work to fix various problems. Once the optical data is clean I export it from the system and import it into MotionBuilder for further cleanup and processing of the skeletal data. There are various issues at this stage too that also need fixing. Once the animation is free of errors and is processed to look as intended I transfer the data onto the final skeleton used by the end platform. If it all looks good I’ll then  upload the animation onto the end platform and hopfully it works!

What advice would you give to people who want to create content in Sinespace and are just starting out?

Well Sinespace is based on Unity, so the first thing I’d say is download a copy of Unity!  There’s  loads of tutorials online that can be helpful in learning just about every game engine and software application. Don’t be put off by any initial daunting feelings, some  software can seem pretty formidable when you first open it up. But if you persevere eventually everything falls into place.  Finally, never think something is too hard or impossible even if other people tell you so, just give it a go, and have fun!

This blogpost is sponsored by Sinespace, and was written in my new role as an embedded reporter for this virtual world (more details here).