A Long-Overdue Update on the Status of the Metaverse Newscast

The original idea for a pre-taped interview show with the people behind social VR, virtual worlds, and the metaverse dates back to August 2017, only a month after I started writing this blog (here’s the original blogpost).

I would like to thank two key people, without whom the Metaverse Newscast never would have launched:

  • Tyler Scarborough (Dynamic Evolution in Sansar), who first approached me in August 2017 to discuss the idea of a news show, which I decided to call the Metaverse Newscast.  Tyler also built our first studio, which we did use for several interviews in the early days, before we decided to head out and film our episodes on location!
  • Andrew William of Imagine That Productions, who really did all the heavy lifting: acting as main cameraman for our episodes, then doing all the digital video editing to make the finished product you can watch on the Metaverse Newscast page on YouTube. All I had to do was look presentable, host the show, and ask the interview questions! I think I had by far the easier job, or at least the role of host came easily and naturally to me. It hardly seemed like work at all!

Well, as you probably know, work on the Metaverse Newscast stopped after episode 8. What happened is that Andrew got some paying video editing work in real life, which has unfortunately taken him away from this project.

He is still at work on episode 9, an in-depth interview with Chris Madsen about the educational social VR platform ENGAGE, which has unfortunately been significantly delayed due to Andrew’s current real-life workload. Hopefully, it will come out sometime early this year. I do believe it is our best work to date, and I really do want people to see it! Here’s a sneak preview.

Andrew William and I have had a long talk about where we take the Metaverse Newscast from here. We have four or five shows which we had filmed, but the raw footage needs to be edited into releasable episodes. Andrew had originally found a volunteer willing to help him edit the remaining video (because we have no money to pay anyone to do the work for us, we rely on volunteers), but unfortunately, that arrangement fell through in 2019.

So finally, over the Christmas holidays, Andrew and I agreed that I would sit down and learn Adobe Premiere Pro myself, work my way up the learning curve to become a digital video editor, and finish all the episodes after the ENGAGE one. I had originally hoped to use some of my Christmas holidays to start learning, but of course other things got in the way (including my self-imposed extended break from Sansar, which I talk about here: Part I and Part II).

As time passes, the finished episodes of the Metaverse Newscast are becoming a sort of time capsule, a record of a specific time and place that future VR historians might find of interest.

I do find it rather ironic that, of the two social VR platforms Andrew and I have covered in the first eight episodes of the Metaverse Newscast, half were about High Fidelity (a platform that is effectively shutting down in 2020), and the other half were about Sansar (where I am completely burned out, and I need to take a break).

So, what am I saying? I am saying that I will need to set aside the first half of 2020 to learn Adobe Premiere Pro, using the raw footage Andrew shot of the unfinished Metaverse Newscast episodes to teach myself the basics of digital video editing. So (except for the ENGAGE episode Andrew is still working on), please don’t expect any new Metaverse Newscast episodes for at least another six months, and perhaps longer.

Also, I have approached someone who worked as an additional cameraman on a couple of the very earliest episodes of the Metaverse Newscast, to ask him if he would be willing to become my main cameraman, taking over from Andrew. Somebody needs to be behind the camera as I play the genial host and interview people!

And I am very happy to announce that Carlos Austin has recently agreed to come on board! Carlos is as active, engaged, and interested in the various social VR platforms as I am, and I am grateful to have him as a partner as we move forward on the Metaverse Newscast in 2020, and start filming new episodes. Thank you so much, Carlos! I am looking forward to working with you again.

So, while there will be a bit of a unplanned hiatus, I do expect that the Metaverse Newscast will continue. Please stay tuned for further announcements!

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A Sneak Peek at an Upcoming Episode of the Metaverse Newscast: the Engage Educational VR Platform

The Metaverse Newscast is branching out! All eight of the episodes that my producer, Andrew William of Imagine That Productions, and I have released so far have been set in either High Fidelity or Linden Lab’s Sansar. But we have decided to start covering other platforms as well.

Last Saturday Andrew and I, plus our new lead editor Joey Jonaitis, spent well over two hours recording footage in Engage, an innovative educational VR platform. I interviewed Chris Madsen, who is in charge of Business Development at Immersive VR Education (the parent company of Engage) in various experiences on the platform, including a hospital in Kenya and even the surface of Mars!

One of the many amazing features of Engage is the ability to record three-dimensional video, which can then be played back and viewed from any angle! Chris, Andrew, and Joey shot a lot of 3D footage (as well as regular, “flat” footage) which will be used in the creation of this episode. Andrew and I are grateful that we have Joey’s experience with video editing as part of our team!

Here’s a shot of Chris and I that Andrew took in a recreation of a reading room at the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford within Engage (the face on Chris’ avatar was generated using a single front profile photograph, another cool feature of Engage):

Chris Madsen and Ryan Schultz in ENGAGE (from Andrew’s blog)

Here’s a sneak peek at a segment that will form part of the final episode:

We don’t have a release date yet, and there are several other Metaverse Newscast episodes that are still in production, which will probably be released before this one. After spending 2 to 3 hours in VR headsets, we were all exhausted, and when I was done, I was covered in sweat! But it will be a great episode!

Here’s a link to all the past episodes of the Metaverse Newscast on YouTube.

You Can Help Us: The Metaverse Newscast Is Looking for Sponsors

My producer Andrew William and I are wrapping up our first season of the Metaverse Newscast show. It’s been great fun to do, but it’s also been a lot of hard work for us, particularly for Andrew, who records the shows and edits the footage to make the final episodes you watch on YouTube.

As we move forward to Season 2, we are actively looking for one or more financial sponsors who would be willing to assist us with this endeavour, in exchange for promotion of their products and/or services on the show. A good fit would be a company working in virtual reality or virtual worlds, but we’re pretty much wide open to any good suggestions. If you’re interested, let’s talk. You can contact me on my contact page on this blog.

If we do not find a sponsor, the Metaverse Newscast will continue, but we will need to scale back from our original goal of one show per month, and just do a show every now and then, as we are able. Both Andrew and I have full-time jobs right now, which sometimes makes it difficult for us to carve out time for this work (which is done in the evenings or on weekends).

If you are a reader of this blog and you know of somebody who might be interested in sponsoring the Metaverse Newscast, please contact me and I will follow up with that person or company, thanks! Any leads would be appreciated.

And—as always—thank you for your continued support of this blog! It means the world to me.

Episode 8 of the Metaverse Newscast: An Interview with Sansar Content Creator Beverly Zauberflote in Her Experiences

In this expisode, Episode 8 of Season 1, I interview the talented Sansar Content Creator Beverly Zauberflote in several of her well-known experiences, including Bedouin Nights, Witchy’s Sandbox, and Winter Wonderland. We also pay a visit to one of her newest experiences which is she is currently working on!

Don’t forget to watch through to the very end, where the editor left in some funny bloopers, as proof that things did not always go smoothly in the making of this video!

If you are looking for the previous seven episodes of the Metaverse Newscast, you can find them on the Metaverse Newscast channel on YouTube. We are still aiming to release one episode a month.

This is very much a team effort: Andrew William as producer/editor, and me as host. And if you want to support the show, may I direct you to my Patreon page, where as little as US$1 a month unlocks exclusive perks and benefits? Whether or not you are a Patreon patron, thank you for your continued support of my blog and this show! Your support means the world to me.