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Sookie25 and Orpheus, two avatars living in an online game, are living out an idyllic  home life; married and with a newborn baby and a beautiful house. One night, in the middle of a moment of passion, Orpheus’ real life counterpart, Luis, is interrupted by his real life wife, Anna. She perceives his virtual coupling as a betrayal and insists that he choose between his real life or his fantasy one. Luis chooses Anna and he is forced to guide his avatar Orpheus through the imposed break-up and abandonment of Sookie25 and their virtual baby Lily.

Luis must find a way back into his real life, its unpredictability,  it’s disappointments, and his inability to control it. He tries to inch his way back in by recreating bits of his virtual life in the real world, but Luis’s continual longing for his virtual baby reveals his disappointments in his actual marriage, and their inability to have children.

Finally, Luis seems to resign himself to the limits of his real life, but then we cut back to a suicidal Sookie25, newly single mom to adorable virtual baby Lily… and we discover the human behind Sookie25. It is Lydia, 20 year old gaming junkie.  A face off ensues between Lydia and her avatar, her real and her virtual lives’ seem to be merging into a dark desperate place of despair.

 This project deals in a dramatic yet playful way with the themes of family, fidelity, fantasy and identity. Luis creates the family of his dreams inworld, because outworld his family life has proved wanting. His desire for children to complete his idea of “home” has driven him to an elaborate fantasy creation. As is so often the case, his desires and his reality do not meet up.

Outworld revolves around this idea of “home” and the disparity between what one wants and what one has. It  also poses the question, is fantasy just fantasy? Or does it at some point become real through the act of fantasizing? For Luis, his fantasy seems to feel more real to him than his reality. For Lydia, her fantasy self has become so real that Sookie25 seems to be falling out of the fantasy and down into the grit of reality.

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 The project combines live action and Machinima animation sequences.

 The Machinima sequences are filmed in the game, in real time. The virtual shoot therefore resembles the dynamics of a real life shoot;  setting up shots, avatar actors, props, costumes, lighting, locations and sets. Part of the interest of doing this project was to remain faithful to this idea of using the game to live out and capture the virtual sequences, as opposed to recreating the gaming sequences through 3D animation. This formal choice is a challenge because Second Life remains extremely limited in the detail of emotion, gesture and action that can be achieved.We try to use those limits to our advantage. We are mixing up what seems like very real emotions and reactions with simple and naive imagery, and it is this duality which adds a lot of the pathos and humor  to these sequences. The game is a game, but those who play it take it very seriously, and who is to say whether virtual love is any less real than real life love. This dichotomy is what especially interests me in the resulting back and forth between real life and Second Life.

Contrasting the naivité of the “inworld” images, is the dark, somber quality of the “outworld” images. We used production design, lighting and cinematography to create an emotionally desolate atmosphere which supports the mindframe of our characters. A recurring use of steadycam in the real life shoot feels strangely reminiscent of a virtual reality as well, thereby subtly confusing the two worlds.The actors also brought to it a silent, underlying sense of longing that I feel contrasts wonderfully with the more fun loving, flippant nature of their respective avatars.