A table

October 30, 2008

   Tables in SL® are fairly simple. A top and four legs. Details can be added for as realistic a look as you can get. I really like sculpted prims. They’re fun to make and I like seeing them come to life in-world. So I often incorporate them into my builds.
   I remember an article Torley wrote (I can’t seem to find it now) in which he wrote that sculpts are best used in combination with regular prims. I have found this to be true. So, I try to use a fair balance of the two whenever I am making something which could benefit from an organic look.

   My most recent effort is a table:

Dining table

   Tables are flat. Well…. good ones are. I gave mine a more unique shape and regular prims work just fine for that. And the skirt is a hollowed box. The legs though, I wanted to have them be more than simple square columns or cylinders. So I made a sculpt for them with a square top to fit with the table and then have a round, slightly undulating taper down to the floor.
   Texturing is fun work for me. The textures I roughed in Wood Workshop and detailed in Photoshop. Wood Workshop is something Torley did a video tutorial on. If you have ever wanted to find some good wood textures, you can make them yourself. It’s free.

   Perhaps we’ll include a free can of furniture polish with each table.

Official Statement

October 26, 2008

Yesterday GREENE concept in general and me in person got accused by a former contractor of “ripping off” her designs. The person set a 24 hour ultimatum and threatened to take the issue to the public if we do not take down the allegedly ripped off work. For reasons unknown she decided to take the issue to the public only 6 hours later (give or take due to timezone conversions and Daylight Saving time switch this night). As much as I would prefer to not comment this issue at all, the public defaming of the GREENE concept brand and the work of a contractor and friend requires an official answer.

Important: the allegations were for the advertising images only, and not – as some people already thought – for the furniture itself!

Timeline of events:

  • In June I asked said person if she wants to become product photographer for GREENE concept
  • On June 21 I received a commercial proposal from her, outlining the work she intends to do and a price for her services. This price was beyond the budget we had for GREENE concept, and I made a counter offer. This counter-offer resulted in her offering her services for free: “I would like to be the official photographer for Greene concept, at no charge to you guys. In exchange you have to tell everyone I made your pictures; how good my service is; how satisfied with my work and customer service you are (that is if you are really satisfied); and that you would highly recommend my services (if you really would).
  • Our official reply to this was: “I’m very pleased with you becoming the official photographer, however
    I would at least want to cover the upload charges AND want to grant you free picks from our items whenever you want some for your personal use. However please keep in mind that – even though it does not look like it right now – GC might generate substantial revenues in the future. Therefore I would suggest we revisit this agreement in – say – 6 months?
  • Her answer to this was: “Again, I can totally do this at no charge, and I agree formalities are not needed.
  • The advertising photographs were developed in close communication with me, with samples going back and forth. I received a lot of prototypes, and new prototypes were usually based on direct feedback and suggestions by me. A very good example is the product display for the Berlin sofa, where the designer initially only had one image in the center, but the second closeup and the person sitting on the sofa was a direct request by me, which I illustrated with my own doodle. In fact, the designer initially refused the idea of having a person sitting on the furniture at all.
  • As per agreement we received full-mod textures in-world as well as PNG images via email. On several occasions the images needed to be altered by myself – all cases were acknowledged as being in my room for decision by the designer. In one case she even specifically asked me to do some changes as she had no time to do them.
  • In August, the commercial agreement got rediscussed, and a price for the photographs was agreed upon. The first payment of 1130 L$ was made on August 18.
  • On September 10 the designer resigned without explanation. Her resignation consists only of 7 words: “Please find another photographer for Greene Concept.“. My counter question if any payments or issues were still open never got answered.
  • On October 2 we announced Trinity Dechou as new product photographer. During the preceeding weeks we were without a photographer and could not bring the Halloween products to market due to lack of decent product photos. As the Halloween preparations were in full swing since mid September we missed out on two weeks of potential sales due to that fact.
  • Already on October 1 the first images using Trinity’s design work got published on the blog and on Flickr – also to a group said person is founder/administrator of.
  • The task given to Trinity was to “bring the product images to the next level”. As the existing designs were made as requested, guided contractual work and were developed in close cooperation with me, no problems were expected to base the new design on the existing one. However a few new requests were made, the two major ones being to show more details of the intricate fabric textures and to show the products in a home/office environment.
  • On October 25 I received an email from the former designer, accusing GREENE concept and myself to have “ripped off” her designs. The email contained a threat and an ultimatum: “You have 24 hours counting from right now 11:30 am SLT to remove those pictures from your store, if you don’t I will publish a copy on Flickr and Plurk and let people judge whether they are rip off or not.
  • Upon reciept I contacted Trinity and tried to contact Ivanova. The former designer is well aware of timezone difficulties, and also knows that Ivanova is almost never available during the weekend. We came to the conclusion that her allegations had no basis, and since Trinity got inherently accused, we decided that it was best that she asks ‘from designer to designer’ which parts she felt had been “ripped”. Trinity sent an email saying “As the newly appointed GREENE concept designer I would like to know where you feel the images have been ‘ripped off’. ALL images were reshot by myself, evident in the different angles in Berlin shots and the times on the clocks. The only continuity I see in your designs and my designs are the logo (designed by Ike) and the products (owned by GC). I now ask for your professional explanation as to how my designs are stolen from yours.” This email was sent about 2 hours after the initial email.
  • About 4 hours later and in fact closely after I went to bed (as said person is aware of) she decided to disregard her own 24 hour ultimatum and went public with her allegation on Plurk and Flickr, quickly getting a lot of sympathetic comments. She also claimed “I sent an email to Peter asking to have the pictures removed and the only response I received was an e-mail from Trinity. The message I received was that I was wrong, and that Peter was not going to answer to me.” which does not reflect the facts. Neither did Trinity or myself say I would not reply, nor did Trinity’s reply say she was wrong by default.

I deeply regret that this issue became so emotional. I am sorry the designer feels she got “ripped off”, however I am convinced her claims do not stand up to inspection. It is only natural that even a virtual company gives the branding aspect a big significance. As we have ordered and very closely influenced the design of the former photographer, as we have also paid for it, partly modified it ourselves, we see ourselves as the owner of the work. It is only natural that a design evolution gets based on existing foundations. We also think that Trinity’s new design exceeds the initial design in all aspects. This is not to say the initial design was bad – it is just natural to develop the concept further. On the other hand a photographer who stops to work for a company can not assume that this company will relaunch itself with a completely new visual concept after that.

I am deeply convinced that we did not “rip her off”, and the unprofessional manner in which she has handled this issue makes me sad. I would have preferred a personal discussion about this instead of public accusations. Unfortunately I was not given that chance.

Below please find a side by side comparison of her designs (left) and our new designs (right). I think this neutral comparison should bury all allegations.

Washu Zebrastripe, widely accepted as the inventress of prim hair, had the opening party for her “Hairspray 2” sim tonight, and asked some designers for gifts to hand out during the party. Being not exactly the target audience for a sim dedicated to hair, we decided to donate the Halloween Berlin and the Halloween clock as a gift for the opening. Washu said it can either be set for sale as a freebie at 0 L$ or to be set to sale for 1 L$ and become a “Dollarbie” – a term coined by another hair designer – Teagan Blackthorne. As both items are from our regular portfolio with retail prices of 222 L$ resp. 111 L$, I opted for the Dollarbie option, and set the boxes up. My expectations got exceeded when I saw that our boxes got bought 198 times during the event! While this only constitutes a revenue of 198 L$ (which is not to be dismissed of course), the real value is the additional exposure we got. Since most people got both boxes, we now have 100 people who know about GREENE concept who did not know about us before. And if they rez our items in their homes, friends might see them and inquire further.

From Dollarbies I have seen at other places, there are a few observations for content creators – which also apply to real freebies:

  • Quality
    Your Dollarbie is like a business card. If you set an outdated item as Dollarbie, or stick two prims together and paint them, then the person getting the gift will either generalize the quality of your whole range with the quality of the gift, or they will get a bad impression from the dedication you have. Both is negative.
    But if you see your Dollarbie as a reference and use the same care creating it as you do with your other items, then you leave a good impression. Not only does your customer have the feeling of making a bargain, they will also have a good impression from the way you run your business.
  • Psychological value
    Funny enough, customers seem more reluctant to pay 1 L$ for an object with unclear content, than paying several hundreds L$ and knowing exactly what they get. So if you package your Dollarbie, dont pack it all into one prim and name it “Gift from xyz”. Instead, put the items separately into the vendor prim. This applies especially for clothing, where more layers are considered more valuable.
  • Dollarbies DO add up
    If you have the choice of setting one Dollarbie up or two – chose the higher number. If the event or venue is attractive enough, you will get a lot of sales from the Dollarbie boxes, and a second box effectively doubles the revenue.
  • Give additional information
    This sounds like a no-brainer, but I saw it neglected a lot in Dollarbies and Freebies I bought. Even if you think you are a well known brand, don’t forget to put a landmark to your mainshop into the box. A notecard outlining your product portfolio is certainly advisable. Adding attractive photos of your best-selling items to the box is the ultimate you can do. If the customer likes your Dollarbie, s/he is likely to look at the photos and notecards to, and will probably visit your mainstore as well.
  • Provide customer service
    People who bought a Dollarbie are your customers. They paid money to get one of your products. Even if it is “only” 1 L$, my advice would be to treat them like regular customers. If they come to you with an issue regarding the Dollarbie, they are not a nuisance, but they actually demonstrate that they USE your creation. And if they use it and like it, they are very likely to like other items from you as well. Denying customer service to them, simply based on the fact that they did not pay regular rates, can ruin the best impression they might have had so far. Again – they showed willingness to spend money for one of your creations. So see a customer service request as an opportunity to win a loyal repeat customer.

Worldtime Halloween Clock

October 4, 2008

Yeah, typical, while He-boss invited She-boss for some lingerie shopping for her aspiring photomodel career, again the legwork was left over to me. Sigh. so on October 1st they realized they only made the US version of the Halloween clock, so again it was me who had to save the day and put the international worldtime clock together. So here you are, worldwide timezones, spooky sounds, bats, fog – same as the US version. Also 111 L$. Buy plenty so maybe I get a wage this months. Your’s, GC…

Availbale in our shop, OnRez or SLX.

With the position of our photographer having become vacant, we looked who among the people whose works we know might be suitable to ask, and very quickly decided that Trinity would be the perfect candidate. She was both excited and reluctant at that offer, due to her time constrains. But after a long time of consideration she finally agreed.

“Having been a long time supporter of the GREENE Concept, concept, I was thrilled to be asked to take over the design of product imagery. With such a range of innovative products and the appointment of a new designer, I discussed the idea of updating the product designs and taking them to the next level. The impending Halloween Specials allowed me to test a few different design treatments.

I am no stranger to the original product designs and subsequently I found it a little difficult to steer the newer designs away from that look. I decided at this stage to take a step back, speak to Peter and reassess what the brand wanted to portray.

Many issues face product images; for instance the constraints that SecondLife/ XStreetSL/ OnRez place on them. OnRez for instance forces square image listings, therefore a landscape or portrait shot appears squashed. It’s a rather annoying, yet unfortunate fact of life. So at this stage I designed a square template. It will not be squashed online and is also straight 1:1 proportion in-world.

Obviously GREENE Concept prides itself on low prim sculpt furnishings, that speaks for itself in the images. I wanted to draw attention to other main key elements in the GREENE Concept range. Firstly the wonderful variation of sit poses and how these products look in situ and secondly, the amazingly detailed hand drawn textures on all of these products.

From here the new design template was confirmed and now the update of older image shots begins over the coming weeks.”

Haunted October is here

October 1, 2008

With my Rezday and my RL birthday being both in October, the beginning of autumn has always been special to me. The weather gets murky and foggy, the leaves fall, you start to see your breath. And then of course Samhaim, All Saint’s Hollow – Halloween. The age old celtic holiday, where the netherworld and our world are closest to each other, and spirits can come over to our world and act revenge on the living. Later adopted by the Catholic Church, transformed into All Saints Day, to make the pagan practice work for them. And in today’s world the day to play pranks on your friends. It’s my 3rd Halloween in SL, and I loved the creativity I saw the previous two times. To me, Halloween seems to be THE Second Life Holiday.

This year, I can finally give back to the SL community. I talked with Ivanova many weeks ago, and we created two stunning pieces, especially for Halloween. The first item is our Halloween Special Edition of the Quintos Clocks, with an oozy, thick fog and a swarm of bats commissioned from our friend ArminasX Saiman of Electric Pixels. It is available for 111 L$ (11-1 – got it?) in our shop, as well as on SLX and OnRez.

GREENE concept Halloween Special Chronometer

The second item is a special edition of our Berlin chairs. It is available for 222 L$ in our shop, as well as on SLX and OnRez.

GREENE concept Halloween Special Berlin