Summon the Heroes — Again

I originally published this in 2008, during the Beijing Olympic Games, and I’d still like to see someone who can shoot machinima try this idea out.  With the Opening Ceremonies of London 2012 about to kick off, I offer this up again, and hope someone will accept the challenge!  (Plead, beg, whine….)

So, does anyone out there want to become the Bud Greenspan of Second Life?


I’m an Olympic Games fan; have been since about 1984, and the Sarajevo Winter Games, as a matter of fact. I’ve always preferred the Winter Games, but the Summer Games are good as well….

I bit the bullet the other night [back in 2008, remember], and bought a CD from 2000 of music composed or suggested for the Olympics, including three of John Williams’ major works: Olympic Fanfare and Theme, The Olympic Spirit — and Summon the Heroes. I was going to embed a video here of someone playing it, but the versions I found just didn’t catch my interest — including the Opening Ceremonies in which it was debuted! Probably because I have the full version of the music on that CD. But you’ve almost certainly heard at least part of it at some point if you’ve seen a Games since Atlanta 1996. Williams has mastered the composition of triumphant fanfares, creating uplifting numbers that stir the blood and call the listener to heed and celebrate.

While playing this, I had an idea for a great machinima come to me, one that would be perfect for an Olympic Games. Sadly, I can’t seem to shoot movies worth crap in SL (I have to study Torley’s or someone’s tutorial, ’cause I can’t get the thing to save a file or something); it would take a cast of dozens, if not hundreds of avatars; and it wouldn’t be ready until the next Games. (It could be filmed and released between the main and Paralympic Games in Beijing, but there would still be the problem of logistics and cast to pull together. Now I know how they feel when they’re trying to pull together a movie in pre-production in Hollywood!) So I release the concept into the Void by Creative Commons; and, if someone can actually film the thing…, please give me a role and a credit (and 2% of the gross, if any [grin]).

As for sets, there are plenty of builds across the Grid that could fit the need of the concept; the only one I could think of needing to be built would be a classical-type arena. (I’ve looked at the Gladiatorial Arena in Roma; besides the bloodstains on the floor, the build is over ornate for what I picture. Something more classical Grecian is in my mind, or at least similar; I’d prefer a look that wasn’t necessarily identifiable to any particular culture. Perhaps if something like an oval-shaped Greco-Roman amphitheatre could be done! But I doubt you could really get away from the Grecian elements and make it “universal”; the results would be too bland.)

Read the “concept pitch” following the break….


Opening: sunrise over a seaside city scene, with a mountain visible in the background at some distance. Sound of wind for several seconds, until the sun is fully up past the horizon.

A man in toga or other classical-style garment signals to a second (dressed similarly or in armor and crested helmet, or similar), who raises a long herald’s trumpet to his lips. The Williams music begins here as he starts playing.

A crowd assembles in a marble plaza before a high seat, or a curile chair. The ruler makes a proclamation to the audience, who cheer. With a wave of the hand as the music crests, messengers are sent out to north, south, east and west, bearing scrolls and wreaths of laurel and olive leaves.

Quiet passage: follow messengers as they travel across country and ocean, desert and mountains. Each reaches a different city location. The local people are recognizably from various ethnic groups. The messengers deliver their missives and gifts to the leader, who reads and announces to their people. As the messengers hurry on, small groups depart along their backtrail.

Return to the original location as the music swells again; citizens are building an arena out of marble blocks. The design is not ornate, but is large enough for (seemingly) several hundreds or thousands to assemble. (Note: textures of classical scenes from movies could be used to simulate crowds in the last scenes.) As work goes on, athletes arrive from another side of the land, and begin practicing.

Minor-key passage, percussion, chimes and similar: a lone figure climbs a mountainside, carrying a cold torch. Reaching the summit, they stand (or perhaps kneel) upon a platform built there, with a golden or bronze urn erected on a pedestal, and gaze into the dark clouds. (Note: can this effect be achieved with particles?) Suddenly, lightning lances down and strikes fuel within the urn, which bursts into flame. The runner touches the torch to it, bows, and carries the holy flame back down the mountain.

Final passage: Entrance of the athletes from various lands into the stadium; sound of cheers and applause low behind the music. Circle the rim of the stadium as they walk in, closing on the parade at the end. The athletes then line the track as the music changes key, creating a corridor for the runner to advance into the stadium, carrying the torch. The runner ascends stairs to a brazen cauldron and touches the torch to the wood in the bowl, which ignites. The runner turns and salutes the athletes and crowd with upraised arms carrying the torch, as the camera spirals back to the rim of the stadium for a Spielberg shot of all there; and….


It should be noted right now that most, if not all, roles here could be played by either male or female avatars. The torch runner could even be a pair of runners, man and woman. Also, there should be no use of the Olympic rings at any time; the International Olympic Committee tends to go more ape than Disney in protecting its symbols (see Articles 7 and 13 of the Olympic Charter (pages 20 and 22; Acrobat Reader required)), and even using the torch would probably raise a few eyebrows in Lausanne (sigh). Using the Rings definitely would!

Any road, Second Life would be perfect to film something like this, don’t you think?

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