A topic I have discussed in the past is in the use of virtual worlds for creating multimedia assets for eLearning and I have some old tutorials for doing this with Second Life. Creating video from Second Life or OpenSim is fairly easy to do and fairly inexpensive.
However, virtual worlds are also an easy way to create simpler graphics. In the past, I have used Second Life as my stock image library by taking snapshots of whatever I needed – be it a person or two, an office, or campus. Using such images means you have embraced the low detail look of Second Life (or OpenSim) and that can be hard for some to do. The lack of detail is from a low polygon count which is necessary so that virtual worlds can render in real-time. This is only something that you can decide is acceptable or not for use in your eLearning and is a balance is speed, details, and cost. Getty images are expensive and may not be exactly what you need – virtual world images are inexpensive and can be created to exactly what you need (to an extent). With http://simonastick, you have a free studio with which to create any scene you want. Creating content can be time consuming but there is a lot of free content available, including an entire pre-built and free campus.
I have shifted my personal focus from using virtual worlds for eLearning video (although I continue to do this in my day job) to creating a middle school workbook that uses virtual worlds for science field trips. That endeavor can be glimpsed at http://enclaveharbour.com. My “part” of this work is developing activities that go with the builds created by Ener Hax and defining what the final project will be. The Enclave Harbour link is for the virtual world component of this and the workbook has its own website (yes, I am guilty of over complicating things at times). In developing a temporary single page for that site I wanted to tie in the virtual world aspect since that is what, hopefully, makes this an interesting way to learn science.
In creating an image that reflected what Enclave Harbour is, I wanted it to be more iconic than simply an image. By iconic I mean showing features that define what this place is. Think of the Eiffel Tower or the Golden Gate Bridge, both can be represented with simple line drawings that many people will connect with immediately. Some city skylines can be silhouetted and be easily recognized (Toronto and Seattle, for example).
That is the perspective I wanted to create for this graphic and it was very easy to do.
I created large “full bright” backgrounds that I placed behind a dozen selected builds, took anti-aliased images of each, then treated each so that I would end up with a black silhouette. Some needed a little cleaning up and I did add two more images, plus the shape of the land, in which I did not use a white background. You can see that the process was very simple and I ended up with a stylized skyline that represents Enclave Harbour.
If you use virtual worlds, use them as 3D multimedia applications as well. It is easy to only think of them as collaborative and immersive virtual worlds, but in reality they are 3 D software applications and can often be used in the way one would used Autodesk 3ds Max or Blender.
this post also appears on iliveisl