HBO Buys Rights to Movie Shot in 'Second Life'

HBO said on Tuesday it has acquired the rights to a short-form documentary shot entirely within "Second Life," as entertainment companies increasingly turn to virtual worlds as a source for new content.

"My Second Life: The video diaries of Molotov Alta" purports to tell the story of a man who "disappeared from his California home" and began issuing video dispatches from "Second Life."

The popular virtual world, which has its own currency and a growing economy, has drawn millions of users who create alter egos called avatars and interact with people from around the world.

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HBO, the premium channel owned by Time Warner Inc (TWX), paid a six-figure sum for the rights, Douglas Gayeton, who made the film, said in an interview.

Gayeton, who uses the avatar Molotov Alta in "Second Life," said the documentary is scheduled for release in 2008.

"Second Life" has hosted dozens of real world companies in the past year, usually as a means of promoting products like cars or movies. However, Hollywood has been increasingly interested in using worlds like "Second Life" as virtual movie sets, a process known as machinima.

For example, CBS created a machinima Super Bowl ad for its TV show "Two and a Half Men," and will feature footage shot within "Second Life" in an upcoming episode of its popular show to CSI.

"You build visually rich, dense environments in an incredibly short amount of time, and you can work collaboratively using the tools of 'Second Life,'" said Gayeton, who currently works for the virtual world development agency Millions of Us. "It gives you an idea of how animation will look five years from now."

Each of the 7 mini-episodes of "My Second Life" explore a different subculture within the virtual world, according to HBO, ranging "from Furries to Cyberpunks to Neo-Luddites to Sex Slaves to the King of the Hobos."

The HBO acquisition was first reported by New World Notes, a blog covering "Second Life" news.

The pilot episode of "My Second Life" is available on YouTube.