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Archive for the ‘Modelling’ Category

Sniff.

Monday, July 6th, 2009

Fourth of July Weekend Festivities over and I wanted to come back and do a contest. Tonight?

Monday July 6
Event: Styling Night Gown Theme
Time: 6pm/slt

Sigh.

There’s always the hunt, I guess.

Ms Beautiful Pageant 2009

Sunday, April 26th, 2009

For three months the women who have been participating in the Ms Beautiful Pageant at Classic w/Style have been maneuvering for position for one event. The ten women in the top ten of the overall standings competed today for a share of 200,000L in prizes.

And it only cost them 650,000L for the privilege.

The Top Ten
Here’s the breakdown as of just before voting closed on Friday night:

Model Lindens Votes
AngelSmiles 106650 10590
Arialee 184745 7146
Arica 81250 8410
AngelbabyJen (no show) 64369 5260
Aspasia (no show) 85130 4000
Ghost 63550 5020
Lovena 38150 3196
Rhapsody (no show) 27600 1987
Chellebby 18350 1101
Steffany (no show) 14050 618
Total 658,844 47,328

To be fair, not all that money was paid by the individual models. There was at least one day where the organizers matched 500L contributions in what they called a “Double Trouble” event. Some of this cash was undoubtedly contributed by them – back to themselves. The net result was to make the continuum of contributions wider for those who were playing along without really reflecting much in terms of actual contributions.

This kind of picture contest really is about money. We’re treating it as if it were about fashion, but it’s about who pays — or can arrange to have paid on their behalf — the most money. That money is translated into a corresponding number of votes, and the relative rankings provide a score. (I’ve written about how the scoring works before.) Anybody with deep enough pockets can buy into the top ten at the 11th hour and there is no other qualification required.

Once the preliminaries are over — and one might argue that the willingness to lose vast sums of Linden Dollars helps identify serious participants — the pageant is argued to be about style, fashion, and grace under pressure. The participants are judged by impartial experts in the field of fashion and modeling, and the results tabulated so that the prize money and bragging rights can be distributed.

The Event

In today’s pageant, the six women out of the top ten who showed up were judged by a panel consisting of a photographer, and two fashion designers. On the surface, that looks like it might be a decent panel except, where’s the runway modeling experience? Runway modeling and photography modeling are very different. Designing clothes may give one some insight into how they might be displayed, but almost none as to the technicalities involved in actually wearing the clothes and modeling in them while moving through the heavy lag of the typical show. Or pageant.

On another front, the panel failed the “impartial” test as well. One of the key members of the panel employs of one of the contestants as a model trainer. Moreover, all three judges are tenants in the Classic w/Style Mall, and derive at least some portion of their incomes from business funneled their way by the Classic w/Style relationship. Being in a fiduciary relationship with one of the contestants or the organizers would disqualify a judge in real life for conflict of interest. The same rule should hold true for this contest. Failing this aspect of impartiality raises questions of how much influence the organizers might have over the judges’ responses. This fact becomes more problematic when the event is actually scored.

The pageant itself was a pretty typical quartet of events. The contestants led with a “creative outfit” wherein they were tasked with putting together some kind of outfit that meant something to them or said something about their sense of style, and then to write an explanation about it for the judges to consider. This was followed by a swimsuit, an evening gown, and a question-and-answer segment.

By and large, the first three events were largely predictable. The creative outfits ranged from “haute couture” to “holy mackeral.” The swimsuits were a step up from the band-aid and dental floss designs. Four of the six evening gowns were created by a single designer, who — just co-incidentally — happens to be a Classic w/Style sponsor as well.

The pageant itself came off the rails with the question and answer session. The organizers asked each model a question and the judges scored the responses. In normal pageants these questions are geared toward allowing the contestant to demonstrate some level of higher order thinking. They’re often general questions with the opportunity for the contestant to show some personality and wit and to give the judges a chance to see how well the contestant can think on her feet by giving her a complex question in front of the audience.

Here are the questions offered to tonight’s contestants:

  • Have you fallen in love in rl and sl as well? If you did tell us your different feelings you had in rl and now in sl.
  • As a slave wife in sl , Do you obey whatever your Master will tell you on what to do and to honor him all the time? what would you do if your Master will ask you to quit being a model because he just wants you to spend time with him. Would you obey him?
  • You mentor someone in secondlife and taught her all the good stuff that she need to learn in modeling. Now she is famous and have been winning lots of award and never even credit you as mentor. What would do and what would you say about that?
  • You have a lot of sense of humor Erica. Could you tell us jokes. What kind of joke you will tell us?
  • You are so in love in sl very in love with your partner and you and your partner decided to be married but on the day of the wedding your partner told you , I am sorry I can’t marry you because I am really a woman. Would you still love her? What would you do?
  • Is secondlife is just a game for you? What is your opinion about secondlife?

There are three very disturbing aspects of this set of questions. First, one might reasonably expect that all models would be on the same footing in terms of being asked to respond on the fly. The reality is that the top three contributors to the event purchased their questions in advance. The information – that the top three were given the questions in advance — was not given to the audience, and there is some question as to whether or not the judges were aware of the practice. During the event itself, the organizer announced, “Also PLEASE! refrain from chatting in open chat, during the question and answer our finalists needs to concentrate on answering the question.” While it was true that three of the contestants needed to answer the questions on the fly, the other three had their responses ready to cut and paste.

Second, in a normal pageant the questions revolve around issues significant to life in the metaverse, topics relating to higher order thinking, or even issues of style. In this contest, half the questions were pandering stereotypes asking the contestant to reflect on their perceptions of love and marriage in the grid as if women have only this single dimension beyond appearance with which to be concerned. A couple of the questions seem fair, although remember that the last three on that list were provided to the contestants in advance and the responses were canned.

Last, one might reasonably expect the questions might have been assigned randomly and could have been asked with equal fairness of any of the contestants. For the most part, that expectation held up except for the question about being a “slave wife.” This question was the most troubling of all. It was clearly selected to embarrass the contestant and to expose her private relationship and lifestyle choices to the public. While the contestant in question gave an excellent answer, this question could not have been asked of any other contestant. It had to have been formulated specifically for her and one has to question the motivation of the organizers in posing such a personal question.

Following the question and answer session, the judges’ tally sheets were assembled in a process which took twenty minutes and, when completed, demonstrated more disturbing details on the organization and execution of the pageant.

The process of scoring was accomplished by giving each judge a notecard which, presumably, contained the contestant’s name and the attributes on which the particular event should be scored. We have no idea how those cards were organized or what they might have contained other than an announcement before the beginning of the pageant: “no need on writing their names everything is set, just keep scroll down.” Between each of the four events the judges were given upwards of five minutes to add notes to their scoring. In spite of that, after the final event it took twenty full minutes for the results to be calculated while the contestants stood on stage. Moreover, this process was not done by a third party but rather the judges’ notes were turned over to the organizers for calculation.

Before I go on, let me be very clear that I am not accusing anybody of anything. There is no evidence of wrong-doing, no way to determine the actual outcomes. The lack of transparency and accountability raise questions of validity and should be brought to the fore in the interest of fairness.

First, why did it take a full twenty minutes to tabulate the scores? A spreadsheet set up in advance and loaded as the show progressed would give the results almost instantly. One might argue that the judges discussed the results among themselves to determine the winner, but in that case, why bother with tabulating numeric scoring? It should also be noted that at least one of the judges left almost as soon as the question and answer period ended and could not have participated — unless remotely — in such discussion. This twenty minute gap introduces troubling questions about what was going on during that time.

Second, the people with the most to gain from the results, were the ones actually tabulating the scores. The gain, in this case, has nothing to do with the actual Linden dollars. Regardless of the order, the amount taken in and the amount paid out in total is the same regardless of who wins. The troubling issue here is that this process allows the organizers to reward some and penalize others purely on factors over which neither the judges nor the contestants have any control. I am not suggesting that this actually happened, only that the potential exists for that to occur and the organizers, by doing the tabulation themselves and not having it done by a disinterested third party, leave themselves open to charges of an engineered outcome. Financially, the revenue stream from the event is the same regardless of who wins and who loses. Politically, that is hardly the case.

The Outcome

In reverse order, the winners:

  • 5th Runner Up: ChelleBby – 2,000L
  • 4th Runner Up: Arica – 5,000L
  • 3th Runner Up: Arialee – 10,000L + 3,000L
  • 2nd Runner Up: Ghost – 25,000L
  • 1st Runner Up: AngelSmiles – 50,000L
  • Winner: Lovena – 100,000L

My heartfelt congratulations (and condolences, as appropriate) go out to the six participants in the pageant. The cost to them in time and money was substianial and my congratulations are no way colored or reduced by my criticism of the process by which the outcomes were determined. If there are problems with it, every one of these women are victims.

What I Think They Should Do Differently

Perhaps the nature of these contests is so subjective that it’s impossible to come up with a definitive answer on who should win and who should lose. Even in real life, there are frequently controversies over the outcomes. However, the organizers leave themselves open to accusations of unfair competition — and taint the results for all the participants — by failing to follow good procedure in providing adequate checks and balances in their pageant.

First and foremost, the judging pool needs to be taken seriously. It should include a judge who has runway modeling experience. The technical aspects of pose selection and stage craft are crucial to this effort. It should not include anybody who has a fiduciary relationship with any of the contestants, the organizers, or each other. All three judges are tenants in the Classic w/Style Mall and should, in my opinion, have been disqualified on the basis of conflict of interest. Their fiduciary relationship to the organizers created an opportunity for undue influence on their judgement.

Second, the tabulation of scoring should be done by a disinterested third party. The problem is that the actual detail results cannot – in fairness – be made public, so the next best possibility in service fairness and accountability is to have the tabulation done at arms’ length. In RL pageants, the organizers retain the services of an accounting firm to serve as agents and to verify the outcomes are based solely on the judges scores, as free of outside influences as can be possible.

Third, the organizers should minimize the effect of “deep pockets.” Participants should not be allowed to buy into the top 10 at the last minute. Perhaps, there should be some moratorium set on joining the contest. I am not suggesting registrations be closed when the contest opens, but the practice of allowing people to violate the rules regarding weekly voting levels should be curtailed. Further, permitting individuals who are relatively inactive in a pageant to then buy their way to the top as the final approaches needs to be controlled. Given the large sums of money involved, I’m not sure how that might be accomplished fairly, but as long as it’s possible, the finals themselves become less about fashion and style and more about the money. Alternatively, this pageant could be renamed “Ms Moneybags.”

Finally, on a personal note, Lovena Allen has been an inspiration to me ever since I joined the contests. We compete quite ruthlessly with each other regularly in the styling events and I appreciate the fierceness and dedication she brings to the work. She inspires me to try my best each time I go out. There is no doubt in my mind that Lovena deserved to win today.The question I have, however, is did she earn it by what happened on the runway this afternoon or was it a result of other factors which had nothing to do with her performance on the runway? I don’t know, and I’m certainly not qualified to say. I have my own vested interest in this process by virtue of being a participant in another of the Classic w/Style pageants.

The fact that the question can be raised at all is the tragedy here. By failing to follow good procedure the organizers have created a situation where the hard work, dedication, and true style and grace of these women is minimized by clouding the outcomes in poor process, worse execution, and unconscionable practice. I sincerely hope they clean up their act before it’s my turn to take a turn on the catwalk in June.

Making a Model II

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

If you’re not a model, you may not know this. Posing is tough. Most people know about sitting on a pose ball or loading up a dance chim or even rebuilding AO’s to control various movements and animations. When it comes to doing runway work, the model needs to find poses, and manage them. There are a lot of great animators out there making model poses, but Dove Swanson just announced a new set of poses (and a blogger appreciation program) over on her blog.

[LAP] Introduces the Blogger Appreciation Program + New Poses!
This week I’m unleashing my I Heart Bloggers pose sets on the grid. Yep, I even included the boys this time! 😉 It’s two sets of poses geared towards bloggers and fashion shots primarily. I focused hard on torso bending/twisting/breaking and also on placement of hands and feet. Not just that, but each set comes with multiple variations on poses, plenty of hand morph options and as usual both priority 3 and 4.

I’ve used Long Awkward Poses for awhile now and I can’t say enough good things. This new release in particular is just spectacular.

One of the issues a model needs to be aware of when selecting poses to show off an outfit or create a look is the line of the outfit and the placement of limbs when the pose is active. LAP has had some great ones, but also some issues with line breaks on some of the poses.
line_break This shows a pose with a line break. It’s a great pose with a solid color shirt but the zig-zag break on the torso creates a problem with outfits like this one.

But this new release from Long Awkward Pose has only a couple of poses with very minor line breaks and some excellent modeling style stances that I’ve been looking for, like a nice “turn-the-back” pose and both left and right half turns. My only complaint are the “crossed arm” poses which might be good for photo close up work — they position the head and neck nicely — but aren’t going to be a lot of help on the runway where “hiding the outfit” isn’t appreciated.

I love this new release and, one way or another, I’ll be getting a set of my own.

[Disclaimer: Part of her blogger appreciation program is that she’s giving away a set of these poses to bloggers who write about Long Awkward Pose. I’ve written about the poses I use from there before and I expect to again. I probably would have written these up even if she weren’t giving a set away.]

SLURL: Long Awkward Pose

Making a Model

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

My goal this week is to investigate what “model” means in the metaverse in terms of look. There seems to be about a 100 female models for every male, but looking thru past issues of Second Style magazine there are enough examples of model to at least start analyzing “the look.”

One of the first things that struck me was neck size. It’s not universally true, but it seems like a large number (at least three out of five) have very long and wide necks. In many cases the model’s neck is almost as wide as his head and rather on the long-ish side.

The next thing was that my preconceived notion about what a model looks like just doesn’t hold up. While there are a few who are what I’d call beefcake pinup boys — a la Oscar Page — there are a a goodly number who are built more like Matt Damon (solidly built but wide in the shoulder and hip) than Arnold Schwartzenegger and more still in the Christian Bale mold (relatively narrow shoulders with body tapering to the hip). I suppose it makes certain amount of sense. A model is, at heart, a clothes rack and the outfit should be the focus, not the hanger it’s on.

Armed with this information, I set out to build my model bod. My budget is 3000L and needs to include shape, skin, and hair.

Here’s where I started out:
My original "normal" body and Connor skin.

This is what I consider my “walking around” look – altho I normally wear a low ARC prim hair. I know models are bigger than normal people so I made a version that was about 7 1/2 feet tall.

Original Model Sized Me

These two pictures don’t really portray the relative scale so here are a couple that show the two bodies on the same grid (larger) grid background:

Normal HeightModel Sized

This really underscores the need for a more realistic skin for photo and runway work. The question is which.

I talked to Lovena Allen, one of the models at Classic w/Style — the venue where I’m in the picture contest — and asked her advice. Her very first tip to me was:

Lovena Allen: but i do have one major tip if u want to model…
Lovena Allen: they love tall models

Having anticipated that much at least I put on my “model size” shape which was a more appropriate one. She gave me several sources for skins and shapes.

Starting with shapes, I made a decisions to purchase a “David Beckham” shape from Body Doubles basically on the recommendation of one of their image consultants. I went that route, rather than “Christian Bale” because I wanted to start with a more beefcake build and plan to add shapes as I need them.

Beckham Shape

The really striking portion of this anatomy is the relative size of head and neck. To my rather unsophisticated SL eye, this head looked too small for the body at first. As I worked with it more, I came to see it as more normal

Ms. Allen also recommended several places for men’s “model grade” skins including Redgrave, Soul One, and Indulgence. I tried several and eventually decided on the Pale Tan Emil 3 from Redgraves.

Beckham Shape and Emil 3 skin

The decision on Redgrave was based primarily on look but also on the repeated observation that Redgrave is a de facto standard in the modeling industry. Price was less a consideration but also factored into my choice. The Soul One skin worked pretty well on the shape altho I think the Scorpio Eclipse (I had the demo left over from my Free Skin Shootout post) created a more striking look. All of them were within my budget, even after purchasing the mod-shape.

So, looking at my new shape in a little more realistic mode, here’s the new shape and skin with my normal walking around hair (Matthew in black from ETD)

Beckham shape with Redgrave skin

And here’s my “model sized” Roland shape after some modifications to make the head/body proportion just a little more pleasing to my eye — a byproduct of working with the Beckham shape.

Roland modified and Redgrave skin

And here are two pictures of my normal “walking around shape” – one each in the Emil3 and Connor.

Roland Shape and Redgrave Skin

Roland shape and Connor skin

If nothing else, this exercise has made me look more closely at my assumptions about skin and shape, and I’m looking forward to participating in this world a little more in March.

My First Contest

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

I entered the contest today. My first time on the runway!

This group apparently runs contests through the week for runway practice and they give out 2 free votes to the participants along with picking 1st thru 3rd places.

Roland's First Event

I didn’t expect to win — or even place. The contest was set up so men couldn’t compete even though the notice invited men and women to participate. The problem was the theme of the contest. Here’s the first line of the notice that was sent to members of the group.

“Styling Updos Hair outfit Theme. This contest is for male and female, Be fabulous with your outfit and Style how ever you wanted and be creative.”

Call me old-fashioned but “Updos Hair” for men? I wonder if that’s in the back room at Armidi, or perhaps Calico Ingmann has a special rack for them that I’ve never seen.

It was a learning experience, though, and I can’t complain. I got two votes for my picture, and that puts me in first place for now.