- Posted June 11, 2012 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Stories from Second Life
Tiger Mosquitoes - Award Winning Film Making Studio PookyMedia's New Information Movie
If people have vital information to distribute to the public, they will usually consider the best method possible to get their story out there, especially when it’s something as important as a public health issue, and disease carrying mosquitoes are quite an issue! Sightings of Tiger Mosquitoes, which are Asian in origin, have been recorded in Southern California, so the San Gabriel Valley Mosquito & Vector Control District (SGVMosquito.org) needed to make a Public Service Announcement video warning about the mosquitoes and they turned to one of the best professional animation makers around, Pooky Amsterdam. Pooky uses the tools of Second Life Machinima to produce some stunning animated film-works, which have already proven to be an enormously successful outlet for real life promotions.
So Pooky, of PookyMedia, has worked with the Vector Control District to produce an information video about the invasive Tiger Mosquito, The Tiger Mosquito is distinctively marked with bright black and white stripes on its legs and it has a black and white patterned abdomen, so it’s easily identified once you know what to look for, and Pooky‘s film tells you everything you need to know.
Pooky’s film, ‘Vector Inspectors.mp4‘, breaks down age barriers to make the film interesting to both young and older people alike. The avatar characters in the movie are an appealing American family focusing on the importance of being aware that they should look out for any signs of the Tiger Mosquitoes’ presence in their backyard and surrounding neighbourhood.
Although Pooky hadn’t been totally aware of the problem in Southern California before making the film, she said it was very interesting to learn about it. She told me “I had some awareness that they were a problem from my cousins in Virginia. There is evidence it has begun to be seen, having the kids aware of this is amazing, because they are able to see and collect many samples and give the Vector Control District some idea of how widespread and concentrated the problem is. Also it will alert them to anyone who might have a LOT of standing water around, it is preventative in that it helps teach the kids and their families how to discourage the establishment of this aggressive mosquito.” Pooky continued “One of the best things about the film is how well it is reaching its target audience - the kids are really really liking it. The client told us, "We start the film for a bunch of fidgety Kindergarten kids and as soon as it rolls you could hear a pin drop" well that is something else -no fidgeting at all!” I asked her how she would feel about the film being shown all around the country, she said “well it would be great to show more folks the film, sure. Would even be better to originate a film for folks that showed them their own hometowns and people too.”
I asked Pookie what preparations went into making the film and what happened in the initial stages with the Vector Control District. She told me “They gave us an outline of what they wanted and we fed back three possible versions that would fit with their budget, after some back and forth we had the final script for the film.” She added “Pre-production takes the bulk of the time for the film - this is always the case. The actual shooting goes very quickly. In the planning stages are the avatars, assets, sets, animations, extras and we break it down pretty much on a second by second basis at times, depending on the shot. We also generate an animatic or storyboard that we work with” I asked her about how the avatar/actors are created, Pookie said “The actors are made not born - this is costuming and is an important part of the film - To create the right avatars for the shoot. We had some initial looks and that also gets a final approval from the client. So the look of the avatars evolve for the film as well.”
Pookie Amsterdam is a real celebrity in Second Life and is very well known, having an enormous internet presence too. I wanted to know more about her; How does she cope with being famous I asked, she answered “I am reminded of something Ray Charles said, "I don't do it to be famous, I do it to be great." Personally I am very excited about the quality of our work, and want to keep advancing that. The work is all really, I don't think very much about celebrity issues. We are all in this as one, and really all starring in our very own lives, to be honest.” And how did PookyMedia, her company, come about I wanted to know. “Well people asked me how I got involved with PookyMedia and I say "Well Garfield’s teddy bear was busy!" The company has its eponymous name as it became apparent we needed a company. It is successful as we do great and award winning films, which hits the clients target. We craft really effective, in terms of both time and money, animated films for companies. That is what every goal is about. That is what every film we do has to be. A great animation that delivers the message, information and entertainment the client needs.”
Pooky first joined Second Life in November, 2006; I asked her about those early days, she told me “ I was researching SL for something I wanted to build myself, I had been producing shows in Habbo Hotel since Sept of 2003 when I produced and directed Romeo & Juliet there (I had had a weekly poetry slam that began in March of that year and expanded out into productions)
“In 2006 I just literally came for the day - it wasn’t until March of 2008 that I really returned - and then I knew immediately what I wanted to do. Paradox Olbers, who is one of the founders of the SciLands offered me the Dome at Spindrift, and I began doing the Sci tech quiz show, which is a great show for breaking news as well. Yes I always wanted to be creative in SL, and the first few months I was mentored by the best folks: Bevan Whitfield, Rolf Trefoil, Paradox Olbers & robwag Soothsayer.”
I asked Pooky if it was easy to find like minded people in SL, those who wanted to produce and create their own work. Was there anyone in particular who influenced her? She said “I got a chance to meet Wiz and Starr Sonic from treet (then known as SLCN) very early - I started the show April 7th 2008 and by May 10th we were on network. I had a very clear idea, so yes, it was easy to meet people who knew what this would be. Second Life is full of those kismet moments when you really do meet the person you are supposed to - One person who has meant so much to me every day of my Second Life, whom I never could do what I do without is robwag Soothsayer. "there for the grace of rob go I" He has a phenomenal depth of knowledge and ideas about how, what and more the platform can do and is an amazing person to work and be with. I was incredibly fortunate to meet rob. Also meeting Russell Boyd was, I am sure, meant to be. With Russell the world of machinima opened up because he is such a skilled film maker on game engines, having great flight sim experience and content. There is a certain feeling that this is a destiny I was supposed to meet. I value that greatly and wish only to do the best work I can. One of my favourite quotes is "To know and not to do, is not to know." and "I will, I must, I can.”
“Draxtor Despres, whom I work with as well, is an amazing person, incredibly gifted and talented and I am always always inspired to great creativity with him. As far as influence on the game shows I do - would have to say Merv Griffen.”
And who does Pooky admire in real life I asked. “Having studied painting since I was 16 at New York City's Art Students League, I certainly love visual arts and love painting- Bonnard is a favorite of mine. Being able to upload great artwork for textures for my home, including Japanese Ukiyo-e woodblock prints makes me insanely happy.
“In films I love Truffaut "Day for Night" was a seminal film in my life for many reasons - Brando as an actor certainly. "All about Eve" another great film. I Love "Galaxy Quest" too. And really enjoy watching animation, no surprises.
“I also have begun to watch TV again and watch some shows for ideas on pacing, camera angles, editing etc. I watch everything now with a light in my head that also records things we can use at some point. I saw Ingmar Bergmann's "The Seventh Seal" a few months ago and thought - woah could we do some of this in SL. I constantly have in mind how to utilize what I see into a shot - a scene - a close up , mid-shot etc. or Set design....
“I really love what people do and create and am always thrilled and excited to see the vastness and richness of what we create. It is really an incredible and wonderful thing to be able to say - I think of this and see it in my minds eye and now it is here before me and the world. People are incredibly inspiring!
“Also I love trees and plants, so I have been able to indulge my love for nature here in some great landscaping ways.”
I asked Pooky what films she enjoyed making the most, she said “The Spy Who Lives Here" is a favorite and "Beer Break" as well - both were like the first two films we did - I love the Time Travelers Series as well and we are almost almost done with Episode 5. I think that the message overall is to have a high standard in quality and really deliver something to the audience, really respect the people you know will see the film. It is never about me, it is ALWAYS about the film, and the audience. In film making you have to have some ego to want to put yourself out there to be honest, of course. BUT to make great films you must be ego-less, because there is no ego in front of the ultimate judge which is, "Is it art or is it crap?" I think the more honest you are, the better your film. I asked Pooky if any other of her films have messages for the public, say on a political, educational or public health level, such as the Tiger Mosquito film, she said "Flufee on a Meshion" the series Draxtor & I created and do will have more politics in this election year.”
Being on the go all the time as she is, I asked Pookie how she juggled her real life with Second Life business, she told me “SL fits easily into what I do as it IS what I do. My business card says Pooky Amsterdam, and as a producer of commercial films this is my business, so it is very real. There should be more hours in the day - If anyone makes a mega time prim with 8 days in the week and 25 hours please let me know!”
I have great admiration and respect for Pooky, she is passionate about her work and how lovely it is to meet someone who makes sure that her amazingly creative films are perfect through her sheer hard work and talent. Thank you for this interview Pooky.
See Vector Inspectors.mp4
The Spy Who Lives Here
Flufee on a Meshion