Watching online video with your friends in Second Life

Watching Marco Polo on Netflix with friends in Second Life!
Watching Marco Polo on Netflix with friends in Second Life!

I’ve watched six seasons of Lost, four seasons of Battlestar Galactica, a whole season of House of Cards, and countless movies and documentaries inworld with friends – so as the Basilique Film Festival rolls into its second week (we’re watching Total Recall – the original), I thought I’d share a few practical tips with anyone who wants to watch stuff online with their friends in Second Life.

First off, let me explain that this explanation does not involve streaming video into Second Life. Whilst one can do that, it involves some set-up that might be a bit more involved that most residents want to get into. The far easier option, is to source streaming video, and watch it online.

The video-on-demand channels (e.g. Netflix, Amazon, YouTube etc.) are reliable sources to source high quality video, legally. If you’ve got other sources, then that’s your call. Just know that free sources on the internet can be dodgy for all sorts of reasons, which might make your experience more frustrating that it needs to be.

Once you’ve sourced your video online, the ideal set up is either two computers (one for the movie and one for Second Life), or a laptop (for your viewer) and a TV that can access internet streaming video. I’ve done both, and the second option beats the first for comfort and reliability. You can sit on the couch with your laptop running Second Life, while your TV processes the video – easier on the bandwidth, and on your machine.

If you don’t have this luxury, you can always split your screen, with your viewer open on one side and your movie playing on another (as shown above). I’ve found that playing my movie on the top part of my screen allows for the greatest viewable surface for the movie, while keeping my viewer open as a wide-screen below, works sufficiently for chat.

Turn down your graphics, get yourself seated comfortably in a low lag area, and aim your camera at something that’s easy on your FPS (i.e. staring out into the ocean works great). I have set up a viewing platform in the sky with little but my viewing chairs and a movie projector prop for the festival.

Once you’re ready to start watching; if possible, agree on the source video and/or share your URL. It’s ideal if you are watching from the same source, as streaming speed can be variable depending your bandwidth and the source, and different versions of movies can really play havoc with joint viewing.

Before pressing play, agree that if anyone crashes, the movie plays on. It’s much easier to let the movie run as your friends relog, so that when they return you’re all still watching the same thing.

Once you’re ready to get started, it’s as easy as typing 3, 2, 1 and PLAY in local chat. Then everyone presses play, and you’re off and running!

You might find that you get problems as the film plays, like buffering. Should that happen for longer than 5 seconds, simply say PAUSE in local, so that the group can do so, and anyone having problems has a chance to catch up. This might not be practical in a larger group, so be ready to have some differences in your viewing times.

It’s tonnes of fun to chat with each other while you watch the movie, just as you might in real life, so keep an eye on your local chat or IM, to keep up, and enjoy the show!

See my post on The Basilique Film Festival 2015 to see our schedule of joint viewings over the next few months!

2 thoughts on “Watching online video with your friends in Second Life

  1. I’ve struggled with watching videos with friends in SL for years and usually we end up on the web instead. Rabb.it (in beta now) has a nice interface for sharing video and music on the web with friends, with video/text chat — it uses a virtual machine so that everyone is looking at the same thing, and one person runs the controls. Would that be exciting in SL?

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    1. That’s a great tip Kay, thank you, I’ll look in that. I would much prefer to be able to easily stream into Second Life so that everyone could see the same thing as I control, as I do music. I’d like to see the new platforms in development allow for that possibility.

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