The first time I ventured into Second Life was a couple of years ago, and after an extremely disorienting first 30 minutes or so, I began to get the hang of things. It's a bit like Tron meets Virtuosity meets What Dreams May Come. Once you create your avatar, the virtual representation of yourself in the game which can be male or female, and look like you or not, then you are released head-first into the sprawling vastness of the Second Life universe. Your character can literally fly, like Superman, to any location in the game, and interact with the environment and other denizens of the virtual. You can do things like find a job, go sightseeing, and even purchase genitalia for your avatar. Yes, it's that detailed.
Sundance is going to be trying to duplicate the festival experience online, by way of the Sundance Channel. Vincent Tibbett, one of the Sundance avatars for Second Life told Netscape's Karina Longworth, "Imagine hanging out with people from your local art house theater. That's the environment we plan to replicate in SL." Having spent two trial weeks inside this world, and also being a veteran of the Sundance experience, I'm not sure how well it will translate, virtually speaking. Still, if it serves as another outlet to introduce films to the world, real or not, I'm all for it. Sundance is a great film festival, but it is often limited by the fact that you have to journey to Park City, UT in order to see many of the films, especially in the different Shorts and Animation categories, that you might never see anywhere else. If Second Life can give users a chance to experience Sundance films from the comfort of their own home, then how can it not be a step in the right direction?
The film launching the Sundance Second Life experience is Four Eyed Monsters, which was written and directed by two people popular in the vlogging world, Arin Crumley and Susan Buice, which should help it make an easy transition to the digital world. We'll be tracking more with the Second Life Sundance presence as it develops. In the meantime, be sure to visit our sister site dedicated to all things Second Life.