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Monday, 31 August 2009

Spotlight On.......TD Reinard

Sometimes I am in awe of people in Second Life, and their achievements, this one gentleman has a talent that far outweighs anything else that I have come across anywhere in the grid, and you just know he is a gifted creator in real life as well. So I have the real pleasure this week of putting the spotlight on master builder TD Reinard! TD has been responsible for many of the great builds in SL London, and his eye for detail is astonishing.

I asked TD how long had he been in SL and where did he first hear about it, he told me “Back in January of 2007 I was stuck at home with one hell of a cold. It was one of those colds that wasn't bad enough to keep you in bed, but at the same time you couldn't move too much because your brain felt like it had separated from your skull. Anyways, I was at home looking for something to keep me busy but not too busy when I came across an email sent by one of my co-workers that had a link to SL. The email read something like "Check this out! It's some crazy game that you get to meet people from all over the world!" So I went and downloaded the software and created my avatar as I was sniffing and drinking my lukewarm tea. And that's how Gustavus Hapmouche was born. For some reason the last name made me laugh and at the time, I needed a pick me up, so I went with it.”

I wanted to know if TD was interested in building right from the beginning, he said “The first thing I did, which I think everyone does, is walk around and try to figure this place out. What is this Second Life? and then of course I saw the need to earn some money. Back then gambling was legal in SL so there were tons of slot machines and camping sites etc. Well after hours of sitting on some bench earning one Linden every 15 mins, I said the hell with this, I need a job. I searched the classifieds and started asking around but came up empty handed.”

I was curious to know how TD started building and how he found himself in SL London. He told me “I was out exploring, learning all I could about SL, and what it had to offer. I got caught exploring someone's house. I know (that’s) bad, but I was still a newbie, give me a break! Well I found myself in the middle of Xarianna Talon's living room (she was one of the first sim managers for London). She was very kind and we got talking about SL and I asked her a million questions, as newbies do of course. And of course one of the standard questions a newbie will ask is" HOW DO I MAKE MONEY?" haha. She asked if I had any texturing skill? And then the light bulb went off in my head. My 15 years of design and special effects experience in RL could actually translate into SL. So I said yes! And she gave me my first texturing job for the London sim, Knightsbridge. This was for a building called C5 which was code for Commercial Parcel 5 (Today it's the Underground Club).”

TD continued “I learned a lot about how to use the building tool in SL at The Ivory Tower Sim. A great place to get your building basics. That was 2 and half years ago. Been in SL London ever since.”

As TD builds such wonderful things in SL, I wanted to know if there was any that he was most proud of, and if it was sad to see them being taken down or altered. He told me “Every time I create something in SL I always learn for that experience. Each build makes me a stronger builder. So in a sense every build has a special meaning to me. I can remember what each build taught me and how I use that knowledge today in my current builds. I guess I don't have a favourite. I just love seeing the build evolve and change the environment. Each time you place a new build into the sim it changes the way the entire sim feels, and how people interact with the sim. Sometimes we have successes and other times, not so much.

As far as the life span of my builds, as long as the reason for the altering or removing the build betters the over-all experience I'm all for it. If when I see poor judgement and a disregard for layout, balance, scale and an over all misunderstanding of the overall picture is where I get a little sad. There is an art to this. We've all seen a lot of crappy half assed sims in SL. I do my best not contribute to them.”

Are you creative in real life? I asked TD, he said “I've always been involved in the arts. Music, painting, photography, drawing, theatre, etc. I have a successful RL career in motion graphic design and special effect. I have a degree (BA) in Design. I've lived and worked in NYC for a few years and I'm currently in Minneapolis, Minnesota doing advertising and design work for a post-production house.”

TD used to have a store in SL Kensington called ‘Gus’, I had bought many pieces of furniture and rugs there for my apartment, I really loved his furniture and I was sorry to see it had gone. I asked TD to tell me about it, he said “AH! the GUS* Store. That was my break-a-way project in SL. I wanted to do something that was all mine. I wanted to see if I could make money and support my own business. All I have to say is, that was a lot of work! Huge amounts of time went into creating and perfecting the store’s look and feel. The way the items were package and displayed. OH, and of course the product had to look good too. I enjoyed it but it was a full time job on top of an already crazy RL job. Unfortunately I had to let the store go. Maybe someday I can bring it back.”

I asked TD if he socialises in SL and if he had any favourite places that he liked to go to, he answered “At first I used SL for more social affairs. Clubs and such. Just to hang out, I met a lot of great people mostly builders and designers. There are some really amazing builds out there. I really don't have a fav.”

I pointed out that SL London seems to be changing all the time and asked TD what he thought about that, also how did he see the future of the virtual capital? He said “The goal has always been to make an accurate, or as close to replica, of the different regions of London. We still want to represent the essence of RL London in SL and to bring in RL business. Whether it's directly plugged into the sims, like the DMGT and the Greyhound Pub or if it's something the team gets involved in on a different sim. We've been exploring all options and opportunities. The bottom line is this...There is a challenge here that we have yet to conquer. How do we get the sims to pay for themselves? It's harder than it may seem. These sims have been up and running for 3 years, give and take a few months, and we have yet to get them to pay for themselves. We've come close on a few sims but they are still being funded by the owners. So we are constantly exploring new ideas. Trying to re-invent and better the sims. Soho is perfect example of the team exploring an idea that may bring us closer to the goal of self sustaining sims. We will make mistakes and we will have successes. That's just the way it goes.”

I asked TD what he thought of his work in SL becoming part of the history of 3D worlds, after all, we are at a time when the internet is changing rapidly from 2D to 3D and builders like TD have been pioneers with their builds, creating the environment in which avatars live. I wanted to know if he will leave any of his work to future generations like one of the first builders in SL, Arcadia Asylum. He told me “Wow. I'm not sure my work has that level of artist merit. It would be cool if one of my builds had sustaining power as such, but that's not why I'm here. I enjoy what I do in SL . It's like therapy for me at times. I don't get paid for anything I do. I'm not an owner. My participation is driven by my creativity and the joy that others get from my work.”

I think I can safely say that many people get joy from TD’s creations and I hope he is around for a long time in the future to build more. (Please re-think about opening your Gus store again TD!!)

Many thanks to TD for giving such a great in-depth interview!!

Janey Bracken


Hibiscus said...

So nice to learn a bit more about TD. His work has certainly added much to the London sims. Great to see this spotlight.

Anonymous said...

Td is one of the few people on sl who is a true gentleman. He is kind and a truly genuie person. I consider him a friend and i enjoy working with him.He is an amazing builder. Thanks TD for all your hard work its greatly apreciated
Brie Janick -London manager

seany1235 blinker said...

yey TD a great person with a heart of gold and a good friend :)and wow what a builder the best builder around.

Elizabetta Westland said...

How fabulous to see an article on such a wonderful person! TD really knows his stuff when it comes to building, and the London sims are definitely lucky to have him. Kensington is looking amazing since he's been working there with sim manager Seany, and I can't wait to see what else they add! TD is one of my best friends, we always have a good laugh, and I'm so glad to see such a wonderful piece written about him. :)

Anonymous said...

Wow i had a look at the kensington sim today this TD guy has done a fantastic job puts the other sims to shame.Maybe they need some lessons on how to build.