Producers’ Retrospective: Flufee On A Meshion

The goal of the Producers’ Retrospective series is to allow the VWTV and machinima producers the opportunity to speak about their experiences working to create the latest in video entertainment.  This week’s retrospective comes from Flufee, answering the questions we have set forth for all producers to reflect upon, and is presented with only minimal editing.

Hello Everyone and a special hello to the boss Drax (I have to do that, it’s in my contract) and Hi Mom! “waves” at Pooky.

On the outside, I might look like a cuddly toy, but I have been part of Meshinima Legend as Star of the series Flufee On A Meshion. I have been authorized to write this blog on behalf of the shows producers and writers, Pooky Amsterdam and Bernhard Drax, also known as Mom and Dad.  Usually around bath time…when I hide screaming behind me, “Produce this!!” Ah but I digress….

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Looking over your time producing, what do you think have been your successes?

Second Life provides a tremendous virtual workspace that has so much available to support these animated tales.  This inspired environment feeds a kind of freedom to keep exploring the storyline and push out the many possibilities. The ability to turn ideas into an Episode through the use of the 3D platform has been a huge success for us.

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The most awesome places in Second Life have been available to film on, locations, which have been such a plus to incorporate.  Working with MadPea is one great example of course.  There are too many to list!  Watch the videos everyone is there in the credits.  What also makes Second Life such a rich and trippy visual experience is that the creators put out this incredible wealth of stunning content.  The Drax Files portrays some of them and in an amazing and true to virtual life fashion.  They really make so much possible.  Need a crowd of sheep?  Done!  Need the Oval Office?  Got it!

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Something that is really exciting has been using green screen and inserting mixed reality elements.  This technique crossed over into something marvelous and gives a look into some really forward-looking possibilities for animation. The blended reality was a huge success.  For “The Italian Job”, this technique coupled with some graphic novel illustrations was amazing to see how fluid Machinima is for incorporating other kinds of mediums.  In terms of number of views, this had the second largest to Monster Mesh. Could it be this really hit a note?  I think so.

Being able to use topical events was something that seemed like the right move for the character.  Alas all of my campaigning has led me to agree to choose a secluded life in an undisclosed location…for now.

The people who also contributed to the videos (Heloooo Strawberry Singh!) were absolutely part of the success that the series became.  Hydra the Wolfman had to exist for example, and the many friends whose glamour and presence added to the videos really made it special and made it happen.

What also made the series, and what makes any series really are the fans and the people who enjoy watching the Episodes.  The use of Facebook — I have my own account, (please friend me) — Twitter, Instagram etc., also helped keep in touch with the fans and build the base around my fluffy adorableness.

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 What have you learned from these successes?

The team learned:

  • Building a character series is something that needs a core inspiration and high standards.
  • Things kind of evolved every episode with the series, going into some topical stuff and taking some chances.
  • It was definitely valuable to use to use the platform to feed bigger perspectives.
  • That people will get behind a mesh avatar whose time has come.
  • That the freedom to have fluid ideas and contributions must be met with – “Yes you’re right! That’s a better idea!”

Looking over your time producing, what do you think you have struggled the most with?

Having the monthly series wasn’t as demanding as weekly, but it was still a short window to get everything done.  If I wasn’t in back with Katee flogging everyone to get his or her work done it might not have happened.  No, I joke; the team was incredibly dedicated and really contributed so much and on time.

The marketing of the series in terms of virtual goods was something that should have been worked on earlier.  Time seems to be one of those constraints that don’t bend as easily as one might like.  Everything else is renewable but time.  Drax is a master of the schedule and that was life saving.

What have you learned from these struggles?

Drax is always right.

How do you think you have changed?  How do you think you have stayed the same?

I have grown tremendously and not just because I have been eating Chips on a Dip.  The experience of bringing a great animated series which has broad appeal didn’t change, so much as validate, what the thinking was of Drax and Pooky.  The Flufee On A Meshion series has made a great leap for Second Life.  Machinima too, as a showcase as well.  The use of game engine platforms we are using (as opposed to HALO which we are not using) for a webseries changes us because this spurs us on.  Drax has been tearing it up with the World Makers Series  and Pooky is in the midst of the next Time Travelers, and doing commercial work  for real life brands getting ready to launch.  There has possibly been more change in the world for the good with the unleashing of the Flufeemeister.

What would you have done differently?  What would you have done the same?

There wasn’t much to do differently as each episode seems like a little gem.  Great to generate this kind of excitement for the end product and working to get it done.  Less stress would be nice but dealing with it happens, sometimes we needed to let off steam.  There can be so much energy going into something like this that the intensity of it takes over and it becomes a thing unto itself.  Drax really pulled the lion’s share of work on them and it is his tremendous power that took it over the top.  He couldn’t have done it without Pooky, but he was the driving force.

The thing is, that they are intense pieces of film and in doing them there was so much joy with the finished product – we weren’t faced with what would we do differently, but what we would do more. Or next. So more of the same, but different, if you know what I mean. Probably more political stuff like on education, environment, jobs and the general spectacle. Bread & Christmases…. A Circus Special.

How does the work you are doing / shows you are producing fit or not fit  in with more traditional media programming?

The episodes are designed for a short video format, around 3 minutes.  Bite sized and delicious, very different from longer format programming.  If we were approached by HBO to do a 40-minute show, I think everyone would pile in for that though. As it is, the length isn’t what traditional is looking for.  As an insert or a cartoon within a longer form children’s show like “Penny”  from PeeWee’s PlayHouse or even “TV Funhouse ” in Saturday Night Live.  Shorter form video has great crossover value as it breaks up the action, and these could go in traditional media. What we have done with the Flufee On A Meshion series is show that the same tenants of all good series apply; storyline, dialogue, character and plot.

Once you fall in love with Flufee after two seconds, the rest takes flight.  Well honestly, possibly less mesh centric Episodes have a broader appeal. Although appreciating my seamlessness is part of my charm.

Where do you see what you are doing leading to in the future of the entertainment genre?

This kind of serial programming and original character development lends itself to more freedom and variety.  The costs of production are low which gives any cost conscious station or sponsor reason to find this kind of game engine animation attractive.  It is like when Francis Coppola started using video to edit his films – this is an inexpensive pre-vizualization tool as well.  This is the medium of the future for character and set development.  Given that anyone can enter a virtual world and interact with the residents (that would include the gang and me) this is a level of immersive entertainment that you can’t get elsewhere easily.  Hmmm, perhaps I should have office hours, you could visit me then!

For entertainment: the Transmedia possibilities of having a giant AR (augmented reality) triggered Flufee appearing in front of a store to sell small toys of myself and the gang works.  Or as we appear on your latest tablet device giving you clues while you hunt throughout the city for scavenger items to compete for a chance to have lunch with me. I see those kinds of things.  Let’s face it, I am a digital character in an increasingly digitized entertainment environment.  There is nothing I can’t do.

There will probably be a longer format curated content kind of TV show that takes video from YouTube and Blip and Vimeo at some point., and I will be there!

Thank you and please go immediately to the Flufee On A Meshion Series – grab your kids they will love watching it, too!

Yours forever —
Flufeemeister

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