A few years ago I spoke at a number of eLearning conferences about using Second Life for creating fast video footage. Now I use OpenSim, mainly on a USB stick, and the ideology is the same: easy-to-build 3D models combined with fast, real-time rendering makes OpenSim a “rapid development” tool for eLearning. The alternative is to use Blender or Autodesk 3ds Max which mean much longer development time for building sets and characters as well as long render times. With OpenSim you create video footage in real-time but trade that for quality and lighting only possible in a tool like Blender. There is also an added benefit to using OpenSim, if it is done on a server, and that is the chance to have fun with fellow workers when you need to film several people interacting.
When I was talking about Second Life I was using Adobe’s CS3 suite and bringing my Fraps generated AVI files into Flash. Once in Flash, I could add ActionScripting, buttons, and even quiz objects to the Second Life video footage. Last year I upgraded to CS5 and along with it came a new way of importing AVI files. Adobe’s Media Encoder comes bundled with several CS5 packages and is worth its weight in gold. You have far greater control over the quality of your AVI clips and the compression yields nice results. I filmed some footage last week in Enclave Harbour and have been pleased with how well it can be compressed and still hold up quite well.
If you are an eLearning multimedia developer and think that 3D animation is out of reach, either from budget or skills, try OpenSim out – the Ener’s sim-on-a-stick version is a great way to try it. I was able to teach two hour workshop participants how to build in about an hour, so I maintain that the learning curve is very short (contrary to many eLearning Guild members), and how to film in a second hour.
Build something, film it with the free trial of Fraps, and import it into a Flash file using the Media Encoder and you may be surprised at how reasonable the resulting file size is and how the possibilities become far greater for your eLearning (and it looks good on your LinkedIn profile!).
also posted at subQuark