*Machinima Film Productions / Filmstrip

sophia-yates-logo-1We asked each of our sponsors to answer the same questions so that we could shine the Avi Choice Spotlight on them and share with our website and magazine readers.  Read on to see how each one answered and visit them inworld!  When you’re there, tell them AviChoice said HELLO!


Q:  Hello! Thank you for sponsoring the Avi Choice Awards!

A: You’re Welcome

Q:  When did you arrive in SL the first time and what brought you to Second Life?

A: I officially arrived on January 16th 2007. After I selected my female avatar and dressed myself I Teleported right out using the map to Paradise Island and landed next to a couple lounging on the beach. They became my first virtual friends and they helped guide me on my Second Life Journey.

I set up a hut on the beach and decorated it and then set off on an adventure exploring what was out there. My second landing and encounter with other avatars was on a Ballroom Dancing sim. I was a real newbie and It wasn’t long till someone came along and swept me off my feet. hm.

I met a man who I found out later was a Linden greeter ans he was the one who helped me put myself together. We had a brief friendship and then I set sail. I had to explore more and meet more people. At that time we had no voice. All we did was type. It was impersonal and silly. You really didn’t feel the connection you have now with people in Second Life so you let your guard down a bit more back then.

You didn’t realize you could cam around or peak through doors when you were new. I left Paradise Island when I found store that became my signature hair, shape and skin. I became Sophia Yates. The name Sophia came from my best friends mother who was  my mentor growing up and Yates was just a last name I was able to choose.

Why did I come to Second life is another story. I was bored. I had left work to raise my daughter. We had a son and he played video games with my husband. I worked in the Engineering field and was a CAD operator. Computer Graphics and I missed it and I was not one for games. I had heard of Virtual environments. I knew there had to be something out there for me. So I did a search and wallah! I found Second Life and went in and I think I may have created a few accounts before I officially joined. But I joined because I missed working in a 3D environment.

It was everything I had dreamed of. I always wanted to walk around in the models I created at work but the technology wasn’t available then. I had to wait 19 years. Wow I just realized that one.

Once settled in I wanted to meet more people and I thought hm where would I meet a lot of people? I thought what sort of places were there? Companies or businesses? Schools? I didn’t know the scope of the virtual world so I thought well lets see if there is a stock exchange in here and to my amazement there was. So I teleported my virtual self over to the WSE and I met so many people and had wonderful conversations and I thought this is crazy there’s a stock exchange here? What else is there and then it just opened up full throttle for me.
I realized early on in 2007 there were real people behind those avatars and I was one of them and some were good people and others were not. It became quit real right away for me. I learned how to take snapshots and thought to myself I can do anything I want here and be anything I wanted to be and being the relist I was back then I said I’m going to make the most of this.
I began to brain storm. I thought hm well what would I love to do in real life I couldn’t at the time? I was a photographer really and I always wanted to own a gallery but at the time I just couldn’t really do that. So that was my first dream come true I opened up a gallery imported my real photos and took snapshots and before you knew it I had heard about Machinima in 2007 and met a few people making films and it was not easy to get help in the beginning. People did not want to give away the crafts secrets. No competition at all.

I had made a friend who was from the UK and to this day I am grateful to have met him because he taught me everything and we are still friends to this day. I would never have gotten this far without him. I love Second Life. A lot of my films have a lot of me in them and it’s a wonderful relief to express yourself using this medium.
It’s so rewarding at times and it gave me new purpose. I could continue to work from home but with an added bonus. Connecting with people from around the world and networking and it became a part of me. There’s no dust on the lenses anymore. I can see clearly now.

Q:  Can you tell us a bit about how you’ve spent your Second Life?  Hobbies, interests.. things you’ve learned along the way ?
A: I’ve spent my virtual life creating colorful films and prints. I was and I am a real life photographer so this medium was a major breakthrough for me.
I was always filming in Real life so being introduced to Machinima gave me so much to look forward to. The ideas flowed and some really silly and some serious.
Dressing up in crazy costumes. It or I was the ultimate Barbie Doll but I could move and fly and teleport. There were times early on where I would be driving in real life and I would gasp at times wishing I could teleport to get somewhere faster. Or I could just fly there. Wouldn’t that be wild!
Dressing was funny. It was the ultimate Barbie game at first. I loved to play dress up and still do.

I loved the galleries! That was the next group of people I had to get to know. Who were they and where did they come from and what inspired them. I guess what I really did was try to network as much as possible and that’s what I did. I needed to know everything there was to know about this virtual world so I traveled and documented everything I saw. Like I do in real life. If I could implant a camera in my head I would. I think we can now a days.

Q:  Please tell us about your business in SL.  What do you sell/promote/service?  When was it founded?  How many organizers/founders?  How many SLers do you staff, etc?

A: I started taking snapshots and realized I could take really good ones after I upgraded my graphics card.
I figured out that I could size my images and also save them to my drive and before you knew it I was in Real Life printing them out poster size and matting them.
Every film I made I made has a series of Images from that film. My first Magazine was Profile Magazine and I think I made 4 issues and moved on but made a few books for myself. But my Profile Magazine basically was my first attempt at publishing there and it was all about the avatars in Second Life I came to know.
I was asking the questions your asking here. Why did you join and what do you do here and does it reflect anything of your real life  or business. Did they cross over I asked. I thought right off this could be a revolving door for business. RL VS VR.
In 2007 I had already figured out how to film. Then voice came in that was a game changer and I had a lot of fun with that. I was every caricature in the book. I’d  play with my voice. I just had fun with it. So I started a talk show called Inside Second Life. That was short lived due to SL’s terms of service and using the name so I changed it to Avatar Avenue.
Then along came PM Studios Film Productions, then I thought I could open up a theater and show my films and so I built myself a theater and that was called Profile Magazine Premiere Theater.I could sit inside second life and watch my films with others.
Later I combined everything into Sophia Yates Machinima Film Productions. Then later I met another man LaPiscean Liberty who had a Machinima Network Station called AViewTV on the internet and we joined forces and I learned so much from him and to this day he’s the man. I’m constantly learning from him. He’s a dear friend & proudly part of the AviewTV Family.
My latest addition to my company is FilmStrip. I wanted to brand that name, im working on that now.
I will say being in SL for almost 10 years now I have learned to manage my time there and shuffle real life and the virtual one. You have to tend to both and also move.

Q:  Was there a special reason you chose to sponsor this final Avi Choice Awards?
A: Yes there was a special reason why I wanted to sponsor the final Avi Choice Awards. I absolutely loved last years awards and how it supported & recognized so many people and charities.
I had to be a part of it and hoped that if I did sponsor it wouldn’t be the last Avi Awards. But really wish I had been a part of it sooner.
I talways tried to support other artist and performers. I do what I can.

Q: Do you have any specific charities you support in SL?  if so, who and why?
 A:  I’ve supported a few quietly I guess. I participate  in Relay for Life,  The Michael J. Fox Parkinson’s group I love to support. Anywhere I could help I have tried to help promote and gain them exposure using my skills with Machinima and donating what I can.

Q: Do you want to share a look at your life outside of  SL with us?  What do you or did you do for a living?  Does your family support your SL aspirations?
A: I started taking photographs at the age of 10. My mother drove me around to take photos using my fathers friend medium roll film camera.
My father was an Attorney and when he realized I had a pretty good eye I would be his evidence girl. Photographing accident scenes or whatever he needed me to do. My best friends mother was an artist who use to sit me down and mentored me in sketching and took me to all my classes for screen printing and sketching and my photography classes. I loved art and they all new it. I was also known for taking things apart and putting them back together again so Engineering was a field I was destined to.
I wanted to be an Engineer or an Architect but in my day in high school the girls were not allowed in the Drafting classes so I went at night to another school to take up mechanical drafting. Moving forward I ended up working for a company called Computervision. They designed and manufactured their own products and had  software program packages for Mechanical & Electrical and Architectural Design. It was all 3D modeling to scale like today but back then we had to really put in all the mathematical values. I was also their facility photographer.
We were a showroom at the time for state of the art plant for Manufacturing and Production and then the automation of it all. We designed all our own products using our own software and we manufactured and assembled the workstations there. We also had a training center for our clients and trained them how to use the equipment and applications.
I photographed every process and procedure in every department of that company and the people who worked in the plant. I still have all those photographs which I’m working on slowly. It’s the history that industry before all our companies went over seas along with our jobs.
I had a slide projector out in the hallway and would give tours, others would as well who i worked with but they were my photos there to view the operations of the plant then go back to my other job behind a workstation creating 3D drawings of every part of the workstation there was down to the file servers that backed up all our data onto mag tapes. Big ones. Everything was big back then. And we had to type in all our coordinates X,Y & Z we worked our asses off back then.
And then they sold the farm. Yup! All the tours paid off. Off went our jobs to Mexico , china and beyond. But we really didn’t or i didn’t feel that hit till later on in the early 90’s.
The tours were made up of Military teams like the Navy the Army and so on all in uniform you name it they all wanted it so we showed them. Then the Chinese came in huge tours. Women and men. All in blue outfits with white shirts. The women in blue skirts. They all had cameras and they took photographs of every process and procedure and every inch of every department department.Oh and I witnessed the birth of the bar code lol
During this time it was also not typical to be a female engineer such a young girl of my age working in such an environment with so many me. That was so hard. Sometimes it was great but a lot of times not so great.
I met with a lot of sexual harassment but I was a tough one. I had one man a manager who came by my office window and take his tongue and lick it all the way up the window. When I saw that I signaled him to come in which  he did but he was sorry he did. I gave him the second degree and he knew I meant business. I grew up with a father who was extremely strict ma and feared by many. If anything my father taught me it was if I could get over the fear of him or his intimidation of his personality no one could intimidate me. That shocked many in management.
Don’t mess with her. She’s a cute little doll but is all business and her father would kill you lol If you hurt with her.
People who got into the field of CAD/CAM had it great back then and I had it even more because I learned so much. We called Factoryvision. I knew every operation, process & procedures and what department did what and how it was all designed and manufactured. What an education I got. I started off on an assembly line so I can say I even built the dam things.
I moved onto New Products which was just a door away from my building. It was like Dorothy when she left Kansas and ended up in OZ. New Products was the beginning of The desktop systems. Desktop Publishing. I was swept away to that part of the company which eventually became Microsoft. Yup!
I was then hired into another group and that was the Product group where all the documentation for our products were written and published and distributed to our clients. They hired me into that group because I actually knew how to operate the product and operate the software applications so they picked my brain and I also provided them with technical illustrations. I was also asked back then to create icons of what a file cabinet would consist of. Yup folders and documents. I’m dead serious about this. I designed what you saw on on your desktop for icons that eventually became your computers directory icons. I have the prints. Nobody had desktops. These were the first.
That company’s product was so important and significant at the time because it changed the way other companies designed & manufactured their own products. If you knew how to operate the systems and use the software you could work anywhere. And that I did. That company also paid for my education and training. They saw the potential and they invested in me and others.
We had a training center like no other. Major companies would send their best engineers to learn how to operate these machines and learn the software applications. There I was a young woman in my early 20’s sitting alongside these older men, not many women who were educated in the best universities around the country and they couldn’t figure out how the heck to run these products. I ended up training a lot of those people. Students would also come from the universities to learn at our training center because the curriculum was none existent. It just was not there.
So you were like gold to some companies and they would seek you out. So what most of us did when we left the company we started contracting. I worked at a lot of companies and we all knew each other and when a contract would come up we would or some would bring others on board. It was great!
At times I didn’t know the products of course but I knew how to operate that equipment. So I winged it. I went from designing Computer workstations from the nuts & bolts to designing parts of military oil tankers, fire engines, Communication shelters to the Pentagon phone. When Flexible circuitry came out I got into the Printed circuit design area because I knew how to run the software. I was lucky and loved it.
One of my best contracts was with the company Polaroid. There we designed camera backs and other components but the best gig of all was while there they knew I was a photographer and the Tall ships were coming that summer and someone told me they were looking for a photographer in marketing to represent Polaroid in the Parade. I didn’t think I had a chance. Polaroid needed a photographer? I was hired for the job and it was the best thing I ever did. I got to work along side a wonderful man who gave me carte blanche for the event.
I was to follow the CEO of Polaroid and his wife and take their photographs enjoying themselves and the the event. On the first day I was stationed up on the Park Rangers building in the Charleston Navy Yard over looking the harbor and all the tall ships present with an FBI agent who was also a photographer and had better lenses than I did did and he let me use his and that was also a streak of luck. I got the best photographs from that day due to his kindness and then a bomb squad officer who carried my bags up to the roof watched us from below.
I was allowed to hire one person to carry my bags during this event and that was a real hard choice to make. Everyone wanted to carry my bags. I chose my neighbor who worked for Kodak but had once worked for Polaroid as a model years before it was awkward but she knew how to conduct herself.


So one day we were on a hot roof over looking the harbor and the next day we got on board the USS Constitution “Old Ironside” I met the Commander and the Lieutenant at the time and then the  dignitaries who boarded before the public guests and and photographed it all.
It was an honor to me and I’ll never forget it. I got to out into the harbor on the ship and had full freedom to roam the ship and take what ever I could and after all of that I printed out all our photographs I made albums of the event and presented them to the executives of the company who were present at the Tall Ships.
Later I was asked to meet with the Commander alone again to present him with his album and with that I brought a few enlargements matted for him and one for me which he signed to me and it hangs proudly on my wall to this day. Those were fun days.
I later went onto a new startup company that had a product that automated the GAP analysis and ISO Standards compliance process. That was fun. I wore many hats there too but was basically the director of training there once again learning a new application and winged it pretty good.
Soon after that I met my husband and we moved out to the country and we had a family and I decided to stay home with my children. I continued with my photography, weddings , family portraits but that became hard to shuffle. Weddings are grueling so I settled down a bit and got into small town politics. Real small.
I got into the Historical Commission and continued with my photography documenting anything like the old burial grounds or landmarks. Ive have come full circle.Ive done a  lot and archived it all.

I’m lucky really I’m able to work at home and be creative and on my own terms. I love it! I am truly blessed.

Q: Anything else you’d like us to know about you, a special mentor, friends or your business?

A: I think Ive said enough. What a reflection!


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