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Barely into Beta, Sansar is already making social VR look good

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What now feels like a very long time ago (it was in fact only April 2016, but VR has come a long way since then) I met Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg at their San Francisco HQ to chat about what was then called “Project Sansar”, their ambitious social VR platform.

Much like “The Facebook” in tech less is often more, so the “Project” bit has since been dropped, and Sansar has now opened to the public in Beta following a closed creator preview earlier this year.

Until now, complexity and cost has limited who could create and publish in this medium, and Sansar dramatically changes that.

explains Altberg, who says he’s now looking forward to an “explosion of creativity”

Indeed, Sansar’s Atlas directory of public experiences already features hundreds of virtual experiences, including multiplayer games, recreations of historic sites and landmarks, art installations, movie theaters, museums, narrative experiences, jungle temples, 360º video domes and sci-fi themed hangouts, says Linden’s Communications Director Peter Gray.

We wanted to make Sansar available to everyone as early as possible, and there are still a lot of features and capabilities that we’re excited to add to the platform soon, as well as many improvements to the current featureset.

Which is all very well and good, but, to be perfectly honest, it still looks damn sexy (not in a naughty way, although that might well come soon). Over the past year I’ve seen a lot of these platforms popping up – many of them with amazing potential – but their wow factor usually hinges on the immersion of VR itself rather than the visuals.

Sansar, however, definitely stands out in terms of slick visuals and functionality. It doesn’t feel half-baked, and this is due not only to the stunning environments, but to the avatar features, which – thanks to a partnership with IKINEMA – incorporate full-body Inverse Kinematics to enable avatars to mirror users’ full-body movements. Additionally, Speech Graphics sync facial animations automatically to match speech patterns, all of which goes a long way towards enabling much more natural social interactions in VR.

Avatars that move naturally are important to the quality of the social experiences users can create and enjoy on our platform, and integrating IKinema’s tech helps us to deliver that without requiring any peripherals beyond VR hand controllers.

explains IKinema CEO Alexandre Pechev

A lot of work has gone into getting Sansar to this stage – Linden Lab has a dedicated team of over 70 people working on the platform, and development has been on-going for several years – but in order to fulfil their ambition to become the dominant platform in the VR space, they are counting on two very unique advantages:

It is able to self-fund the platform’s development, and the source of that funding is also the longest enduring “metaverse” out there, Second Life (SL). And means they have a lot of data on what works – and doesn’t – in the virtual world.

After 14 years – a veritable lifetime in tech terms – SL is still going strong with about a million users, consistently generating real-world profits for Linden Lab and giving it access to a very engaged creative community, many of whom are very excited about Sansar as Gray confirms:

There’s been strong interest in Sansar among Second Life users since we first announced the project. “Many SL users are thrilled by what they can create today and are loving the many compelling Sansar experiences that are already available to explore.

It’s tempting to think of Sansar as a sort of “SL 2.0” but it wants to be much more than that. To capitalize on the new wave of enthusiasm for Virtual Reality, this new platform needs to become accessible and intuitive in a way that SL never really managed to be. One of the key obstacles which stalled the platform’s growth was its steep learning curve – which suited the hardcore community but put off casual users – and the difficulty of sharing content outside the platform itself.

With Sansar, however, people can go directly to whichever experience they want, says Gray. Each of these hosted multi-user experiences has a unique link that can be shared with whomever the creator wishes. Via Facebook, Twitter, email, blogs, etc. and viewed either with VR headsets like the HTC VIVE or Oculus as well as on desktop mode on PCs. Each instance of an experience is currently allows 35+ concurrent avatars, and automated instancing will enable creators to reach unlimited audiences, says Gray:

Let’s say you’re an educator interested in space exploration. You can click a link to visit the Apollo Museum experience that LOOT Interactive created with Sansar, and you’ll go straight there. You might then choose to browse the Atlas directory and find a social VR basketball game that looks fun, or an immersive art experience that intrigues you, and could invite friends to join you there. If instead, fantasy roleplaying and VR horror experiences are more appealing, you can go right to those.

Sansar operates a freemium model, where users can join for free but extra support is available to creators via subscriptions starting at $9.99 per month. It has a drag-and-drop editing interface that makes it much easier to create scenes either by importing assets from common 3D modeling tools or purchased from the Sansar Store.

Monetisation is a key part of their strategy, which makes sense considering Second Life’s successful track record in making a virtual economy pay for both itself and its users. They created a marketplace called the Sansar Store Creators can sell virtual objects – thousands of items are already available to purchase in Sansar Dollars (S$) – but in future Linden will also enable users to sell, rent, or charge for access to actual experiences.

But which among those thousands of experiences published so far have most caught the eye of the team at Linden Lab? VP of product Bjorn Laurin is partial to the Apollo Museum experience and Grey couldn’t quite decide between Little Giant – where you can share in the colourful imagination of a 3-year old child as her toys literally come to life – or Secrets of the Worldwhale where you walk up to a wizened old rat to begin an adventure exploring “an eerie world on the back of an ancient whale and discover hidden treasure.”

Altberg, however, choose as his personal favourite a project spearheaded by Second Life veteran Draxtor and Ria (who also created the Little Giant experience). 114 Harvest is a collaborative storytelling project about a quaint little town that harbours a dark secret, and the potential for developing such collaborations is evidenced by the fact that the 114 Harvest Facebook group quickly attracted nearly 1600 members. If this early interest is any indication, it seems fair to expect that Altberg might get that explosion of creativity after all.

This post is part of our contributor series. The views expressed are the author’s own and not necessarily shared by TNW.

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Bigg Boss 11, Episode 50, 20 November 2017: Hina, Sapna, Priyank, Shilpa get nominated

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Bigg Boss 11 housemates wake up to the foot-tapping number, ‘Mangta Hai Toh Aaja Rasiya’. All the contestants dance except Priyank, who has  seen crying over Benafsha’s exit from the house. Hina comes and comforts him saying he will take some time to get back to normal.

Hina Khan on Bigg Boss 11

Hina Khan on Bigg Boss 11

Inside the house, an argument erupts between Arshi and Akash. Arshi says that she will make Akash use his safety shield. She says that the ‘takla’ has come so far and survived for last eight weeks on the show because of her and Shilpa. Contestants are given a new nomination task. There are four contestants in the safe zone. There will be an alarm and once it rings, one of those safe contestants have to switch their places with a contestant from the safe zone. Hina, Vikas, Arshi and Hiten are in the safe zone, and everyone else but Bandgi (because she is the captain this week) are in the unsafe zone. There is a huge disagreement between the contestants from safe zone.

After the first alarm, Arshi, Hiten, Vikas gang up against Hina and throw her out. Hina picks Priyank to switch places with. After that, Hina, Sapna and Luv discuss their strategy. Luv says that Vikas can do anything to turn the tables. Hina convinces Luv to enter the safe zone last. Hina tells Sapna that she is surprised with Hiten’s game plan and clever move. Sapna says that Hiten is doing the wrong thing and that she is losing respect for him. In the safe zone, Hiten tells his strategy. He says that now saving himself is up to himself and he would do anything to achieve that. Priyank and Vikas have an argument inside the house.

On the next alarm, Priyank is thrown out of the safe zone. He sends Sapna in the safe zone. After the next alarm, Hina volunteers to go in the safe zone. Sapna is thrown out of the safe zone. Hina makes a new strategy to stay in the safe zone. Vikas consults Shilpa about who should be the next one to exit the safe zone.

Priyank says that he will send Sapna to the safe zone. Vikas says, in that case, they will not send him out of the safe zone. This is because Vikas and Arshi think that Sapna will send Luv inside at the next buzzer. Hina brings out Sapna from the kitchen and whispers in her ear to not say Luv’s name in front of them. Sapna promises that she will send Hina to the safe zone when her turn comes. At the next buzzer, Priyank steps out and sends Sapna inside the house. Vikas changes the game then and says that now he will step outside and will send Hina inside.

Hiten says that he believes Sapna that she will not save Luv but Hina. So he convinces others to let Sapna step out. Vikas gives up and agrees to send Sapna out. Sapna steps out and pretends about rethinking her decision. She tells everyone that she might have promised Vikas that she will send Hina in but she has already promised Luv that she will take his side. Arshi, Vikas and Hiten lash out at Sapna for breaking her promise. Sapna sends Luv to the safe zone. Arshi and Shilpa blast Sapna saying that her true self has been exposed.

Bandgi, too, questions Sapna why she promised two people.  A fight starts between Bandgi and Sapna. Sapna says that she is not like her getting cozy with her boyfriend while Bandgi looks into the camera and addressing the North Indians, she says that Sapna has broken her promise. Akash goes and instigates Sapna against Shilpa that the latter was saying that she will show Sapna her ‘aukaat’. Sapna lashes out at Shilpa for this and both have a heated argument.

Hina, Sapna, Shilpa, Akash, Priyank and Puneesh are nominated. Akash uses his safety shield. Bandgi gets a special power to save one contestant. She saves Puneesh. Hina, Sapna, Priyank, Shilpa are the final ones nominated.

Puneesh tells Hiten that he should start listening to Vikas. Other contestants are also worried because Hiten is seen spending more time with Vikas who is known to be the mastermind. Hina and Sapna say that they are happy that they saved Luv. Sapna says that it is either of them who will go out of the house this weekend. Hina says that it could even be Priyank as he is not doing anything inside the house.

During another conversation with Puneesh and Bandgi, Hina agrees that Sapna might go out this week. Meanwhile, Shilpa and Arshi discuss Sapna’s betrayal and her outburst. Arshi wonders who was supporting Sapna as even the show host Salman Khan keeps saying that her supporters were unhappy with her. Arshi further says that Hina was firing from Sapna’s shoulder and Shilpa adds that Hina was using Sapna because she feared her (Shilpa).


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Padmavati release deferred: Shahid Kapoor says, ‘I choose to remain optimistic; it is not the time to be angry’

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PTI

Nov,21 2017 10:16 43 IST

Panaji: Actor Shahid Kapoor today said rather than being angry, he chooses to be optimistic about the future of Padmavati, whose release has been postponed amid protests by various Rajput groups and political leaders.

Shahid is one of the guests from Bollywood to attend the inaugural ceremony of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in Panaji, Goa.

“Sometimes films of this nature…. it gets a bit complicated. I will choose to be optimistic till the due course is done. This is not the time to be angry, not the time to lose your cool. There are enough people doing that. So I would choose to say that I believe in the process,” Shahid told reporters at the IFFI red carpet.

Shahid Kapoor arrives at IFFI 2017's red carpet in Panaji, Goa. Image via Facebook

Shahid Kapoor arrives at IFFI 2017’s red carpet in Panaji, Goa. Image via Facebook

“I am sure Padmavati will come out. It is a film we are very very proud of. I am sure once people see the film, all this will be forgotten.”

He also condemned the violent threats against co-star Deepika Padukone, calling it “shameful”.

“Of course, any kind of conversation which is violent is not in good taste. I think it was absolutely uncalled for. I hope we will live up to the expectation of the people. I don’t want to make any comments specific to a group,” he said when asked to respond to Shri Rajput Karni Sena’s comments.

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Sai Dharam Tej’s Jawan: Highlights Of Pre-release Event!

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The young horse from the Mega camp, who is in quest of a big hit, is seen piling his efforts for a deserving success. Supreme hero Sai Dharam Tej’s Jawan pre-release event was held on 19th November and the function was conducted on a grand scale. With thousands of Mega fans and followers gracing the event, we bring you the highlights of the event.

Sai Dharam Tej

Sharing the experience about the humble beginning of his life, Sai thanked the entire cast and crew of the movie for their contributions. He had some special words for SS Thaman as the duo are close friends outside the industry as well.

sai-dharam-tej-s-jawan-check-the-highlights-pre-release-event

The supreme hero as well thanked Prasanna for being a good senior turned friend by chipping in with inputs and claimed that Mehreen, the heroine of the movie to be the golden leg of the industry.

Sai shared that his uncle, Pawan Kalyan was a Jawan to his family and in turn, he would be a Jawan to all three maternal uncles. He also congratulated Power Star Pawan Kalyan for winning the prestigious IEBF award in the Global Business Summit held in London.

KS Ravindra (Bobby)

The Sardaar Gabbar Singh director wished the team of Jawan and thanked Sai Dharam Tej specifically. He spoke high on Sai Dharam Tej personally called the director and offered to work together right after the poor result of Sardaar Gabbar Singh.

Harish Shankar

An ardent fan of Pawan Kalyan, the DJ director felt that the euphoria at the event was much similar to a Pawan Kalyan’s movie event. Harish heaped praises on his friend turned music director, SS Thaman for some foot tapping numbers.

sai-dharam-tej-s-jawan-check-the-highlights-pre-release-event

If all had fallen in places, Harish had to don the role of a co-producer for Jawan, but due to his prior commitments, the same did not materialize. Harish also congratulated BVS Ravi, the director of the movie for his writing skills and the command who holds on the said avenue.

SS Thaman

The musical magician started his crisp speech by thanking the producer, Krishna, with whom the association dates back to the days of Pokkiri. He also highlighted his friendship with Sai Dharam Tej and claimed that BVS Ravi would be the most wanted director of Tollywood.

Dil Raju

The presenter of the movie opened up his speech by drawing references to Pawan Kalyan’s Janasena party and Jawan movie. He comically claimed that the team of Jawan attacked him instantly requesting him to be part of the movie and there was no other go for the passionate producer but to give a positive nod.

He heaped praises on SS Thaman for his rerecording and foot tapping numbers. He wished the heroine of the movie, Mehreen, to be blessed with her fourth consecutive hit in the form of Jawan.

Mehreen Pirzada

The cute and bubbly heroine opened up about her characterization, Bhargavi, and thanked BVS Ravi for such a cute role. She wished the movie to be hugely successful and continue her winning streak.

sai-dharam-tej-s-jawan-check-the-highlights-pre-release-event

Prasanna

The talented Tamil actor has set his foot into the Telugu cinema with Jawan. Director BVS Ravi, personally welcomed Prasanna into the Telugu filmdom. The antagonist of the movie spoke in flawless Telugu and thanked writers Kona Venkat and Gopi Mohan for suggesting his name to BVS Ravi.

sai-dharam-tej-s-jawan-check-the-highlights-pre-release-event

He also claimed that he was indebted to the movie’s director as he was sure that a lot of positive outcome would be followed after this movie though the role given to him was that of a negative one.

BVS Ravi

The director spoke about his journey with the movie and thanked Sai Dharam Tej for his constant support and helping hand throughout the process of the movie. He said that the producer of the movie, Krishna, was more of a brother to him and Dil Raju being the backbone and guide to the entire team.

Jawan, is all set to release on December 1 and the movie stars Sai Dharam Tej, Mehreen Pirzaada, Prasanna & Kota Srinivas Rao in the lead roles. The movie has been bankrolled by Krishna under the banner of Arunachal creations and has been directed by BVS Ravi, the writer of Munna, Parugu & Athithi movies. SS Thaman is said to have rendered some pumping songs and riveting background score to the movie.

Jawaan

Sai Dharam Tej

Story first published: Tuesday, November 21, 2017, 12:21 [IST]

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