SurfWatch at Ash Falls

SurfWatch recently caught up with the creators and owners of the uniquely beautiful Ash Falls, Julz (Juliette Rainfall) and Leaf (Peyton Darmoset), to explore more about the genesis of the sim and the ways it is unique.  Readily apparent is the mountain and forest setting.  Underlying that are design features unlike any others in SL.  You can find out more about Dirty Pretty and Ash Falls at their website

SurfWatch: Your sim Ash Falls is breathtaking and original.  I understand your lighting is unique in that you have "a dynamic sky system which changes through a six hour day and all of your sim lighting and sound scape is custom developed around the day".  I'd love to hear more about that and how you developed it.

Julz (J): Linden Lab has been talking about their Windlight Extension Project a lot this year and have begun to roll out the earliest features of that, so Leaf spent a few hours creating a series of windlights to roll into a seamless day cycle, unique to Ash Falls. Having a rolling day cycle also gave us the opportunity to create a dynamic soundscape that changes gently through the day. We like to think that our dynamic clouds, custom waves and basalt beaches give us one of the most immersive and photogenic surfing environments on the grid.

Leaf (L): Having a day cycle also means night surfing! So just to make that more fun, I created an advanced lighting based, disco-light system over the waves, which has an awesome effect on the wave materials.

SW: The surfing wave is unique to that environment for SL.  What made you decide to include a surfing wave and beach as part of your design? How long have you SL surfed and what got you involved?

J: I'd never surfed before, and at the beginning of March this year Leaf suggested we go in some of our rare and pretty precious downtime together.  It took us another couple of weeks of her mentioning it in passing before she actually got me on a board... and I've been hooked ever since!

L: Ash Falls has had waves before over the years, but not since its opening last year. I've been surfing in SL since 2012 on and off, but largely kept to myself. I figured it was time for a new set of waves to return. Julz' fresh enthusiasm just lead to a huge, enjoyable run. The BC coastline has a pretty active surf scene so it was a pretty organic step to include a break into the Ash Falls environment.

J: One of the things we love most about Ash Falls is that it's a peaceful, reflective place. It's our home, and we share it in the hopes that other people feel like it's home to them, too. We both SL surf because we love to - the you vs the wave, the 'quiet' because you can't IM and stay on a wave, the sound of the water. We are are soul surfers and one of our main motivations in the build was to create as space for other soul surfers like us.

SW: You've been in-world since 2010 - what brought you both into SL?  We'd love to hear how you met.  What made you decide to create your own sim together and how did you nail it down to the beautiful northwest theme?

J: I'd seen a news story somewhere and one rainy, summer afternoon I thought I'd just 'take a look.' I quickly got sucked into becoming a manager for a synthpop/electro club. One of the club staff took me to an RP (role play) sim on a night off just before Christmas 2010 - that's where we found each other.

Leaf has family in north-west Canada and our build inspiration for both Ash Falls and Erebos Harbor has been drawn heavily from her experiences on trips to see them. From the rocky terrain and surrounding mountains, the tall pines reaching in to the sky, the volcanic sand and lush greenery - we considered all aspects of the real environment when creating our virtual one.

SW: Your photos are gorgeous as well.  I especially had a chance to examine them in detail on the Dirty Pretty website, which includes rental information, the blog, and contact information. SurfWatch has linked to Dirty Pretty blog in our sidebar Links we Like.  Tell us about the genesis of  [dirty.pretty] .  And we'd particularly like to hear about the Orca conservation program.

J: Thank you for linking to our blog - we linked to the Surfwatch blog from our landing zone information board from the moment we opened!

L: The first homestead at Ash Falls, Picture Perfect, has been my home for over five years. In early summer 2017 we decided to open the homestead to the public as a photogenic, hangout location shortly after that we added a group of three residential rentals to the sim. We began work together at Erebos Harbor in November 2017, which opened in January 2018. The Ash Falls Surf extension officially opened on 24th April 2018.

When we first decided to open rentals we added a group access fee to attempt to keep the sims quiet for our renters, people are generally more respectful when they've paid for access to somewhere, that just seems to be the nature of people in SL. But after a while, the sims unexpectedly gained in popularity, so we decided that it was only right to put the group fee to good use and to donate those funds to a Pacific Northwest Marine Conservation charity. So [dirty.pretty] sponsors an Orca called Holly. She's a Northern Resident Orca that spends half of the year, with her family, along the British Columbia coastline. We get a couple of updates every month, with pictures, audio clips and anecdotal stories of the observations by the amazing Orcalab team in the Johnstone Strait.

J: Sure the group fee is currently 200L$, literally 99¢, which covers you for lifetime access to all [dirty.pretty] locations in Second Life, with rez rights. In reality, that's 1/3 of a cup of coffee, but the money raised goes to protecting the marine environment and the whales and dolphins in it for all of our futures.

SW:  Can you tell us about what current projects you are working on?

J: Plenty of your readers will be aware that Leaf and I have some major surf-related products currently under development which we hope to time for release along with a new full region surf break within the next couple of weeks!


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