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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Video: I Take Vbunny on a Guided Tour of Sansar

I had mentioned earlier on this blog that I had taken a YouTuber and VR game vlogger/livestreamer named Vbunny on a guided tour of Sansar.

Well, Vbunny has posted a 15-minute video of her experience in Sansar:

It was posted just 18 hours ago and it already has 828 views, which is pretty impressive! Enjoy.

Giving a Tour of Sansar to a YouTuber: Some Thoughts

Vbunny (in an earlier YouTube video)

Yesterday, I had a different soft of experience in Sansar: I gave a guided tour of the social VR platform to an up-and-coming YouTuber from Las Vegas named Vbunny, who is a VR game vlogger and Twitch livestreamer!

I first discovered her when she posted a video review of the iOS mobile app for Rec Room. Here’s Vbunny’s YouTube channel, which is still rather small in terms of subscribers, but has what I consider to be high-quality content. I think she’s well on her way to YouTube success!

Today, she tweeted her thanks:

For my tour, I decided to show her seven worlds:

Because I wanted to keep the tour open-ended, based on what she was interested in, I made the mistake of not visiting these worlds beforehand (in order to have them added to my Codex). I had just casually assumed that they would be in my Codex somewhere because I had visited them in the past. Wrong! Obviously, the Codex only took into account my most recent world visiting history.

Because of my mistake, I landed up having to drag Vbunny back to the Nexus three times, in order to go to the Prime Portal, find the world I wanted to show her in the listing there, then open up a portal for us both to use. It was totally awkward and inconvenient, and it has made me wonder if replacing the Atlas with the Codex is such a good idea after all. (I couldn’t use the Sansar Atlas as my backup plan, as I had intended, because you can’t spawn a portal from the listings on the website. Perhaps this is something that Linden Lab could consider adding?)

Anyway, aside from that minor quibble, Vbunny had a great visit. She kept remarking on the quality of the lighting in the worlds we visited, a strong suit of Sansar. She likes the avatars. And she just loved killing zombies!

While waiting for her to show up at our agreed-upon meeting place (of course, The Nexus!), I spent a very agreeable hour or so chatting with the various people who showed up there, in a wide variety of avatars. One charming young woman’s avatar was a Chinese bowl of food, and we landed up sitting around her in a huddle, in an impromptu communal conversation! Other avatars popped in and out, both old acquaintances and new. It was a wonderfully convivial way to pass the time waiting! Despite my misgivings about the Codex, I do think that Linden Lab creating The Nexus as a meeting place was a stroke of genius, and clearly a good move overall for the platform.

The Nexus (a picture I took way back on September when it first was launched)

Another thing I discovered: I might make a great host of a pre-taped show, but when it comes to being a part of someone else’s show, I found myself surprising tongue-tied! I felt I was noticeably short on banter. Perhaps, again, it was because I did not prepare enough beforehand for this visit as much as my producer, Andrew William, and I prepare for taping an episode of the Metaverse Newscast. (And yes, we have not posted a new episode in quite a long while. Both Andrew and I have been phenomenally busy with our respective real-life jobs these past couple of months.)

Anyway, I very much look forward to seeing what Vbunny and her husband/producer come up with! She sent me the following message on Discord (which I have her permission to share with you):

Thank you so much for showing me around Sansar yesterday. I stayed on for another almost 2 hours just talking to some people and visiting the Hello Kitty world. I also customized my avatar and was blown away by how much customization you can do!

Cas and Chary Cover Five Social VR Platforms (Including Sansar)

Most of the people making YouTube videos about virtual reality hardware and software are men, so it is refreshing to find a new (well, new to me, anyways) channel about VR run by two women, called Cas and Chary VR.

Last week, Cas published a 10-minute YouTube video tour of five less popular social VR platforms, explaining:

So we all know VRChat, Rec Room, [and] AltspaceVR. This video isn’t about these games. It’s about 5 others that you might have missed.

The five platforms covered in this video include:

Videos like this are useful because they give viewers a look at platforms that they might not have had an opportunity to visit themselves. I was surprised to find that Sansar was a sponsor for this video. Cas says:

DISCLAIMER: This video was sponsored by Sansar. Per our guidelines, no review direction was received from them. Our opinions are our own.

I think it’s smart that Linden Lab is reaching out to YouTube influencers like Cas and Chary with sponsorship opportunities. As I have written before, social VR companies will likely have to turn to influencers more often in future to promote their products more effectively.