Have you heard of Second Life or SL?
If you haven’t yet, this interview is one that you’re going to love.
Voicedude Reinoir shows you the ropes of voice acting in Second Life in this Voices.com exclusive!
Voicedude Reinoir (known in the voice acting biz as Ari Ross) and I had a chat about his “Second Life” web presence and how SL is treating him so far.
Stephanie: How did you discover Second Life and what inspired you to open up a voice over shop there?
Ari Ross: I had auditioned for and then booked a job voicing a three-part piece for American Express called “Open for Business” (which highlights successes with small business). One of the 3 videos I did can be seen here: http://www.openforum.com/thread.jspa?threadID=300000870
I then was hired to do multiple voices for the Second Life CSI:NY game. I voice one of the main characters — detective Jared Washington – as well as several ancillary characters. I am happy to say that I have been used in four “episodes” (games) so far.
After doing the first CSI: NY gig I was given a link by the client with which I could download the program and go inworld to see/hear the work¦. Since then I have been an SL resident!
Stephanie: Wow! What has the community reaction at Second Life been like to Vox Humana? How long has Vox Humana been open? Do you have a stage name there?
Ari Ross: Well, I’ll start with the last question and let you know that I am known in SL as “Voicedude Reinoir.” Yup.. there is that extra “i” in Renoir there — we get to choose our first name but must select from a list of mostly odd and/or fun last names¦ I guess Reinoir caught my eye — to tell you the truth, I really thought I would only be inworld for like 15 minutes (to just see the voice work and leave) ¦ little did I know that I’d be becoming a resident, buying land and a house and setting up shop!
I have only had “Vox Humana” open for a couple weeks now and actually had only completed putting up all the voice demos like 48 hours ago (as of this interview)! (One can set up an object to be clicked on and play a sound.) Suffice it to say, there have only been a handful of residents who have been by the shop but reactions have been basically positive. In fact my shop was brought to the attention of one of the main people at Linden Lab (the company which runs Second Life) and he praised it highly and put it in his daily blog. I also have had a couple people who found it in a search and liked it as well. It’s really just the beginning at this point — ask me again in 2 or 3 months and I’ll have a better report to give you.
Stephanie: I gather that Second Life has it’s own brand of currency. Can you tell me a little bit about working with Linden dollars? How easy is it for you to trade that hard-earned Second Life cash into US dollars?
Ari Ross: Linden dollars are actual currency and can be exchanged for USD (Approx. 260 Lindens to one USD as of this writing) but to be honest, I haven’t tried exchanging back to dollars yet. I do know that there is a “Lindex” which is the Linden currency exchange where people buy and sell Lindens in the way that folks buy and sell foreign (Real Life) currencies!
I am myself familiar with using USD to get my virtual hands on some L$ for use in SL:-)
One uses PayPal to buy L$ which can be used to by land, furniture, plants/landscaping, clothes (yes, clothes!), pay residents to build you something, etc.
Stephanie: Are you able to deliver your audio through SL as well, or do you basically use Vox Humana as the first point of contact and then do business as usual off the SL site?
Ari Ross: I intend to use it more as a point of first contact than anything else. Indeed, I have done some good work already for Second Life (via the AMEX and CSI: NY jobs) but those jobs were obtained in the real world for SL.
Aside from having fun meeting new people from all over the world and enjoying the amazing artwork in ¦ and that IS Second Life (almost everything you see in SL is created by the residents — except for the sky, sun, stars, water and ground). I will attempt to potentially add to my RL (Real Life) client base possibly making first points of contact inworld and then doing the usual drill for the actual voice job — emails, phone calls, FTP or ISDN, recording, auditioning etc.
As for delivery of audio, you can only upload 10 second clips and only in WAV format; 44,100 16 bit (no MP3s for some reason). You can choose how you want them to convert it – A bit rate of either: 32, 64, 96 or 128 kbps. There are also sometimes long delays, glitches, etc. Alas, it is still a growing technology. You could if you had to upload an audition or job by doing so in 10 second bits, but that would of course be kinda silly when the usual options are at hand (email, FTP, ISDN etc).
Stephanie: At the time of this interview, I know of very few people who use Second Life and fewer still who market their voice talent on it. How effective is Second Life as a vehicle to promote your voice?
Ari Ross: As I say, it is all very, very new to me so only time will tell¦
Stephanie: Did you design your Second Life storefront? I’ve seen a picture of it, and I must say it looks pretty spiffy!
Ari Ross: That is one cool thing about SL – a frustrated (or not so frustrated) designer can do artistic stuff he or she may not get around to doing in RL; I got the basic building as a shell and designed the voice demo rooms and storefront myself.
Stephanie: How did you acquire the land your store is on? I heard that you have to buy virtual real estate.
Ari Ross: While checking out the CSI:NY “sim” (region/area) I met a resident who showed me around his house in “Krung Thep: Thai Island Paradise.” I fell in love with the surrounding area and purchased some land in the neighborhood!
Land is purchased in lot sizes starting at 512 mÂ² [square meters] and in increments of 512 mÂ² such as 1024, 2048, etc). Some people by whole regions and indeed, even a whole “sim” (I am one of dozens of residents with a plot of land on my home sim of “Krung Thep”)
Land is not expensive in real world terms if you just get a couple thousand mÂ², but there usually is a monthly “tier” which can add up depending on your lot size.
If you buy a whole region (“sim” — 16 acre — 65,536 mÂ²) however, it can get quite expensive indeed – I just saw a number of ads for full 16 acre sims going for between $300 and $6500 US dollars(!) Then there are the monthly tier fees on top of that. The more expensive ones are generally in I think higher traffic areas of “the Grid” (the world) with therefore better business opportunities.
Stephanie: How do you interact with prospective customers on Second Life? Is there a way for you to advertise or talk to customers while on the website?
Ari Ross: There are billboards you can rent to advertise a shop, etc.
As for communicating, there is both IM-ing and more recently, voice chat. I would not be in SL if it wasn’t for voice chat as hey, that’s what I do! Also because I rather have a free flow of communication rather than waiting for all that typing — especially if I want to do business.
I have “notecards” (one can read, keep or discard a notecard which is a dropdown text tablet with information on it) in every one of my signs around the shop which lead one to a special website I now have set up for SL promotion (no RL names, numbers, addresses, etc.) www.Slvoiceovers.com. People can also IM me via my profile; which are sent to me as emails when I am not inworld.
Stephanie: Would you say that you’re the first voice actor pioneer to stake a claim in Second Life?
Ari Ross: No, there are others so I am not alone. There is one girl who even created a full recording studio with a booth, microphone, etc (!)
Stephanie: If you had any advice to share with other voice actors about how to use the site, what would you say?
Ari Ross: I’d say that if you were so inclined to at least check it out and see what it is, download the program (from secondlife.com) and fly around (yes, we can fly inworld!) and see what’s there.
A strong word of advice¦ SL can be addictive (really) and so the watchword here is indeed discipline. There many, many lands to travel to (BTW you teleport from anywhere on the grid to anywhere else in seconds) and in, people to meet, things to buy and create and so forth so it goes without saying that it can be very easily VERY time consuming. With strong personal guidelines set? ¦. It can open up whole new worlds! I honestly don’t know if it will or would end up being a viable promotion tool for my V/O work¦ but it’s kinda cool trying it out and seein’ where it might lead¦
In SL: Voicedude Reinoir
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Photo Â© Voicedude Reinoir