I’ll start with a shout-out to Barry for providing me blog access!
My name is Mark and to describe what I do in inscrutably technical terms, I take photographs. Most of the time, I’ll go out into the real world to photograph skies or trees or ruined buildings. Some of the time I’ll sit on a couch and (ostensibly) visually archive the activities of other 091 Labs members.
And during a wee small part of that time I’ll hop into virtual worlds to photograph skies or trees or ruined buildings.
The virtual world in question is that of Azeroth, from the hugely-successful 2004 video game World of Warcraft. World of Warcraft is a Massively Multiplayer Online Game, a continuous online world where you are interacting with thousands of people simultaneously. You may form parties to raid dungeons, slay dragons and battle the opposing faction, or you can set out alone by yourself to simply quest and experience the world. I get out of bed an hour before the virtual dawn to set up my virtual tripod so I can capture that perfect ray of (it’s okay to groan) virtual light.
I began this small project, which I call Vistas of Azeroth, back in 2006 on a whim. Can I? Let’s see!
After chipping away, on and off, at different scenes from the video game at a low-quality for a few years, I’ve very recently gained the ability to “photograph” scenes at an incredibly high quality. I can now go to more new places than I’ve been able to in the last four years and on every single graphic bell and whistle with the help of other Labs’ members.
We built a graphical workstation.
Late last week, I spent an hour bemoaning my desire for a more powerful workstation while I struggled with a laptop that wanted to do nothing more than roll over and die. Matthew suggested that we could build a graphics, video and gaming workstation for the Labs. He donated a motherboard, RAM and a CPU. I donated software and a graphics card gifted by one Jennifer Tidmore of Dallas, Texas, USA – yes, we’re international!
In a hard-work montage straight out of an 80’s film, complete with upbeat soundtrack, we constructed, installed and tested. It is a fantastic piece of equipment for the Labs to have on hand because now have capabilities for:
- Still image editing. I’ve transferred my imaging workflow from my laptop, although the screen real estate and underlying performance have jumped hugely. I’m down from (up to) six hours of building a scene, down to frequently under an hour.
- Video and audio editing. I believe I saw somebody stream editing a video under Windows? I can build a time-lapse screencast in h.264 format and append an MP3 soundtrack in less than five minutes. Down from 20 or 30.
- 3D video game creation. Matthew and others have been very happily cracking away at the Unreal developers SDK.
- Video games. Don’t share this with anyody, but not all of my World of Warcraft playtime have been to capture scenes. And Matthew runs Portal when nobody is looking.Don’t ask, don’t tell.