UPDATED! Stupid Second Life Tricks: How to Make Your Avatar Come Alive from a Single Profile Picture!

Jo Yardley, the irrepressible Second Life 1920s Berlin landlady, really got my attention on Twitter when she posted the following video of her Second Life avatar, looking around and smiling at times, in a very realistic way that no facial animation override could yet match (check it out for yourself):

When I asked Jo how she accomplished this miracle, she referred me to the MyHeritage Deep Nostalgia website, which allows you to input a still photo, and generate a video from it, where the head, face, eyes, and mouth move!

Now, there is a catch: you do need to sign up for a 14-day free trial period on your credit card in order to use this tool. But once you have done that, you can submit as many pictures and photos as you like, play around with it a bit, and get comfortable with the video output (which can be saved to your hard drive as a MP4-format video file).

Here’ a sample starting picture, a profile of my main male avatar, Heath Homewood:

And here’s the resulting video:

Another starting picture:

And the resulting video:

Starting picture:

Resulting video:

Starting picture:

Resulting video:

So, as you can see, you can have a lot of fun with this! Please note that portraits which are facing straight-on into the camera tend to work the best; several I tested where the avatar was looking to one side or the other, or who had their head at a slight tilt, did not turn out as well, and a few turned out be Uncanny Valley material! So, your mileage may vary. But, if you’ve ever wondered how your avatar would look if she or he were alive, this is a cool way to find out.

It would appear that you can submit as many pictures of avatars as you wish (and download as many short videos as you wish) during your free trial period. Once you are done, simply cancel your free trial before your credit card is charged, and then to be doubly sure, delete your account completely (unless you actually want to use MyHeritage website to embark on the study of your family’s genealogy!).

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is your stupid Second Life trick of the day! You can red more about MyHeritage’s new tool in this report from TheNextWeb.

UPDATE March 2nd: The BBC has weighed in on the new MyHeritage AI tool:

Genealogy site MyHeritage has introduced a tool which uses deepfake technology to animate the faces in photographs of dead relatives. Called DeepNostalgia, the firm acknowledged that some people might find the feature “creepy” while others would consider it “magical”.

It said it did not include speech to avoid the creation of “deepfake people”. It comes as the UK government considers legislation on deepfake technology…

“This feature is intended for nostalgic use, that is, to bring beloved ancestors back to life,” it wrote in its FAQs about the new technology.

But it also acknowledged that “some people love the Deep Nostalgia feature and consider it magical, while others find it creepy and dislike it”.

“The results can be controversial, and it’s hard to stay indifferent to this technology.”

Here’s a promotional video for MyHeritage featuring a reanimated Abraham Lincoln, You can judge for yourself how successful this is (I personally don’t find it very convincing, something about the face looks off, somehow):

I think a service such as this would work better with social VR and virtual world avatars, where there is an expectation that what you see is not meant to be “real”.

The 1920s Berlin Project Celebrates Its 10th Anniversary in Second Life

One of the longest-running and most successful historical roleplay communities in Second Life is celebrating its tenth anniversary, starting today. Founder Jo Yardley (blog) and the many store owners and tenants in the 1920s Berlin sims gathered today at the Pariser Platz to drink champagne and dance!

Pariser Platz
Jo Yardley (on stage) addresses the crowd

There’s a whole week of special events taking place (all times listed are SL Time/Pacific Time):

  • Thursday 30th May
    2pm Anniversary dance on Pariser Platz
    Performance by Sonatta Morales and DJ Myron Byron.
  • Friday 31st May
    2pm Special event at the Hotel Adlon

    Hosts Tequila Krovac, Herr Clarrington & Berlin Ladies Social Club
    With Flapperettes dance troupe performance!
  • Saturday 1st June
    Noon opening exhibit

    “Neue Sachlichkeit” art exhibit at the Bibliothek
    Host; Florian Blaisdale
    2pm Eldorado Cabaret
    Performance by Sonatta Morales and DJ Myron Byron.
  • Sunday 2nd June
    Noon opening Exhibit
    Retrospective of Adele’s work and the formal reopening of the Fotostudio
    Hostess Teruumi Simoneaux
  • 2pm Opening Biergarten
    Der Keller’s daily happy hour moves outside for the season.
  • Monday 3rd June 
    2pm Miss Berlin Pageant
    Hosts; Henry Payne & Teruumi Simoneaux
  • Tuesday 4th June 
    2pm Military parade & ceremony
    Commander; Ernst Osterham
    3pm Supporters & Long Term tenants dinner
    Special dinner at Restaurant Kranzler ONLY for supporters & long term tenants.
    Hostess Jo Yardley
  • Wednesday 5th June
    Noon; public parade
    Parade for and by Berliners, anyone can take part, but it has to be 1920s Berlin themed.
    Represent your workplace, your club, your sport your hobby, walk, use a vehicle, make a float, etc.
    We walk to Parisen Platz and when we arrive there we have a little celebration and then we start…
    Relaxed Rules day!
    After the official start we suspend our 1920s dresscode for 24 hours and everyone in SL is welcome to come explore our sim and join us in crazy going-ons.
    On this day we will also have Open House, which people can open their houses to anyone to visit.

Except for the final “relaxed rules” event, please note that a strict 1920s-era dress code is in effect for all attendees (there are free historical outfits for both male and female avatars at the entrance to the sim).

Here’s a wonderful video which really imparts the feeling of everyday life in the 1920s Berlin sims, created by Pepa Cometa:

The Historical Pfaffenthal 1867 Sims Move from Second Life to Sansar

Have you joined the RyanSchultz.com Discord yet? More details here

Pfaffenthal 1867
Image of Pfaffenthal 1867 taken from the Second Life Destination Guide

Blogger and irrepressible 1920s Berlin landlady Jo Yardley (whom I have written about on my blog before here and here) reports that the seven-sim virtual reconstruction of the historical quarter of central Luxembourg City, Pfaffenthal 1867, is moving from Second Life to Sansar:

Members in the group received this note:

Dear citizens,

The moment has finally arrived, for the 1867 project to move on to Sansar, where land is free, where we can have better graphics, VR headsets and real physical interactivity. Note that Sansar works very well on a normal PC, for desktop mode you do NOT need a gamer PC.

IMPORTANT! All the 1867 sims in Second Life will be shut down next Monday, on the 26th of November. Please pack all your stuff by then.

We will have a good-bye party, Saturday the 24th of November at 10 a.m. at Café Neuen.

Please join us in Sansar and be among the first to get a new house there! We have 4×4 km!

Now, this is notable because it is, as far as I am aware, the first (but probably not the last) such wholesale move of virtual land from Second Life directly to Sansar. I know that they’ve been working on the Sansar experience for quite a little while now. Obviously, they think they are ready to make the switch. However, there’s still very little Victorian-era period clothing in the Sansar Store.

But, as Hauptmann Weydert says in his group note to the members of the Pfaffenthal 1867 group in SL, they have a 4 kilometre-by-4 kilometre space in Sansar for free, which is certainly a lot cheaper than what they have been paying to maintain seven sims in Second Life! In fact, you can now have up to twenty 4 km-by-4 km experiences in Sansar for free.

Here is a lovely machinima created by the talented SL videographer Pepa Cometa which gives a real flavour of the Pfaffenthal sims:

Here is a SLURL to the Pfaffenthal 1867 sims in Second Life, and here is a Sansar Atlas link to the new Pfaffenthal 1867 experience in Sansar. I would strongly encourage you to visit and explore Pfaffenthal in Second Life before it shuts down next Monday (as the video shows, it’s a beautifully crafted and lovingly detailed virtual historical recreation). Be sure to dress in Victorian-era clothing or you’ll stand out like a sore thumb!  And, I would equally encourage you to check out their new digs in Sansar.

Draxtor Despres also profiled the Pfaffenthal 1867 sims in an episode of his Drax Files series of vignettes on Second Life creators:

Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: 1950s Retro Outfit

Take a look at this 1950s inspired outfit I was able to put together for next to nothing!

1950s Retro Look 3 30 June 20181950s Retro Look 30 June 20181950s Retro Look 2 30 June 2018

This avatar is wearing:

Mesh Head and Lipstick: Giselle Bento head by Altamura (no longer available for free; this was an Altamura gift from last Christmas at the eBENTO event, and you had to join the Altamura group for L$50 to get it)

Mesh Body: Jenny Bento body by Altamura (no longer available for free; this was a gift last Christmas from the Women Only Hunt)

Hair: Hair Ball by Vanity Hair (free from the SL 15th Anniversary Shopping Event)

Earrings: Dark Mouse Vintage 50’s pearl stud clip (old free gift; no longer available)

Dress and Flower: Rizzo Dress by Giulia Design (free from the freebie store at Ajuda SL Brasil)

Shoes: Dahlia Mary Janes by Poppy (free group gift; unfortunately, this store seems to have closed)

TOTAL COST OF THIS AVATAR: L$50 (Altamura group join fee)

Pictures were all taken at the 1950s and 1960s Time Portal zone by Jo Yardley.