Linden Lab offer z-offset fix for Server-side Baking

Update March 4th: The main viewer download links on the Sunshine wiki page now all reference the updated viewer  version (

Update March 2nd: Just as a point of clarification, the update discussed here is not currently linked-to from the Sunshine wiki page. To obtain a version of the viewer with the updates, you will need to download version of the viewer (link repeated here for ease-of-refernce).

As I recently covered, a problem has emerged with Server-side Baking in that it “breaks” the Z-offset capability found in the majority of third-party viewers.

The Z-offset allows the vertical height of an avatar above the ground to be adjusted, such that sits and kneels don’t leave the avatar apparently floating in the air, and which allow those with very tall / giant avatars or very small / petite avatars and those wearing full body mesh to similarly adjust their vertical placement relative to the ground / floor.

The problem was reported to Nyx in week 8, and SUN-38 was subsequently raised by Henri Beauchamp on February 24th to officially log the matter.

On March 1st, Linden Lab issued an update to the Server-side Baking project viewer (release which is an attempt to address the issue.

The new capability is referred to as SH-3909 Support avatar height offset and is described as, “Adding a new visual param that allows users to manually adjust an offset for how far off the ground (+ or -) their avatar’s root bone is.Supports the +-2m range people are used to adjusting in their viewers, but new implementation should support server-generated appearances.”

It appears within the viewer as a new slider in the Body section of the Edit Shape floater, called “Hover”.

The new "Hover" floater
The new “Hover” option in the Edit Shape floater’s Body tab

Moving the slider to the right or increasing the displayed value will move your avatar upwards, much as increasing the Z-offset value in a TPV will. Moving the slider to the left or decreasing the displayed value will move your avatar down. As with all the shape sliders, any changes must be saved prior to exiting the editor, in order to be persistent beyond editing.

The slider offers a huge range of height adjustment compared to the z-offset slider in the likes of Firestorm, and is somewhat less accurate – with most TPV Z-offset options, height above ground can be precisely adjusted to 2 decimal points, whereas the Edit Shape floater only allows whole numbers in the range 0-99.

The "Hover" option presents a huge range of vertical motion when adjusting
The “Hover” option presents a huge range of vertical motion when adjusting, which should accommodate the both the tallest avatars …

The vertical range of movement can be considerable, and lead to some interesting results when saved – your avatar can currently disappear entirely underground, for example. Also, adjustment made using the slider are not apparent in viewers which do not have the SSB code – something which shouldn’t be a major problem, given the need for people to be using SSB-enabled viewers once the server-side code starting deploying to the main grid anyway.

What might be of greater concern, however, is the fact that the control has been incorporated into the Edit Shape options means that it cannot be used on No Modify shapes, which could leave those using such shapes still feeling aggrieved if they are impacted by the height offset problems resulting from SSB.

...and the shortest.
…and the shortest.

It’s an interesting approach to solving the problem – and it would appear that LL consider the matter now resolved, Nyx Linden having issued an e-mail to the opensource dev list which reads in part:

Added a new parameter to shapes to replace the viewer-side height offset. Since it is stored in a wearable, the new back-end can read and use the value. Will send an email to third-party devs later today to let them know to pick up the patch.

Marking SUN-38 as resolved.

Given that earlier in the week – at the Content Creation User Group meeting on Monday February 25th, where the subject of SUN-38 was raised, Nyx commented, “It hasn’t escaped our notice. We’re considering a couple different approaches … we’re considering a few different options. Suggestions appreciated, but we haven’t officially settled on an approach we’re going to commit to publicly just yet”, it will be interesting to see the response is to this particular fix.

With thanks to Latif Khalifa, who both provided me with news of the arrival of this update, and provided the necessary links for me to have a play.

UWA 6th Machinima Challenge: L$1.1 million in prizes

On Friday March 1st, the University of Western Australia (UWA) kicked-off their sixth MachinimUWA Challenge under the title Reflections.

This year is the biggest Challenge to date, offering are prizes totalling L$1.1 million (approx. $4,500 US) – almost a 50% increase over the last UWA Machinima Challenge. The figure includes a top prize of L$200,000 for the winning entry as decided by the judges, as well as 9 other prizes ranging from L$150,000 to L$40,000. In addition, the UWA Centenary Prize of L$50,000 will also be awarded to the Machinima that best captures the essence of 100 years of reflections on education, and the UWA Art of the Artists Prize of L$50,000 will be awarded to the Machinima that best incorporates one or a number of the artworks that have been submitted to the UWA Centenary 3D Art Challenge. Finally, all winners will also receive a special RL UWA package.

MachinimUWA VI

The theme for this year’s challenge is Reflections, which the UWA press release on the challenge describes as:

Reflections in a pool of water… Reflections of light… Reflecting on the grandeur of the universe… Reflections of art…. An Inner Reflection…..Reflecting on opportunities lost, or seized… How ‘Reflections’ is interpreted is exactly like how beauty is interpreted…. in the eyes of the beholder… or in this case, the eyes and lens of the machinimatographer.

The Major Rule and Requirements

As always, there is the familiar UWA Major Rule and entry requirements.

Your machinima can be about any type of ‘Reflections’ you may wish to portray. There is only one  requirement to make this a valid entry. At least one of the 3 major spaces of Reflection at UWA needs to be included in your storyline (the Reflection Pond, the Sunken Gardens, the Somerville Auditorium). You may choose to film in any other area of the campus if you so wish or you could include all 3 locations, but the rule is you need to select at least ONE. You may use props at the location, or maybe want to change the footage later during the post process, this is up to you… as long as one of the 3 spaces you choose to be part of your machinima can be recognised and form part of your storyline.

The other key requirements are:

  • The recommended running time for entries is around 4 minutes 30 seconds in length. This isn’t a hard rule, but entries aiming for the UWA special prize must fit within the recommended length
  • Entrants are asked that they acknowledge the works featured in their submission and the lands in which the submission was filmed
  • All work must be free of copyright issues. If requested, entrants must provide detailed information regarding the source, creator and background information of their work. If any 3rd party materials, such as music, is used, permission must be obtained from the creator
  • Completed entries should be uploaded to a suitable broadcast medium (e.g. Vimeo, YouTube, etc.), and links to the film sent to the UWA’s Jayjay Zifanwe and LaPiscean Liberty.

Please refer to the UWA presse release for full details on all requirements.

Key Dates

  • Entries Close at Midnight SLT 30th June 2013
  • Winners will be announced in August 2013.

And The Audience Can Get a Prize

There are also audience participation awards totalling L$45,000, with a top individual prize of L$15,000. All audience members have to do is watch all of the entrants and compile a top ten list of their favourites. Those which most closely match the judges’ top ten winners list will be awards prizes.

The Sponsors

This year’s UWA Machinima Challenge is generously sponsored by: The Parramatta City Council, Aview TV (LaPiscean Liberty), MetaHarpers (Arhenn Oberlander),  Freemnason Magic and a very generous anonymous donor.

Seek Wisdom: Second Place winner of the 2012 MachinimUWA Challenge, by Karima Hoisan and Natascha Randt

Related Links

The Drax Files: getting inside Second Life

Friday March 1st marks the launch of a new monthly series on YouTube, created, edited and produced by musician and machinima-maker Draxtor Despres.

Perhaps currently best known for his collaboration with Pooky Amsterdam and others in the high-successful (if now sadly defunct) Flufee shows, Draxtor has turned his not inconsiderable skills to looking behind Second Life and talking to the people who make it the vibrant, immersive world it is – its users. To quote from the press release accompanying the launch:

The Drax Files: World Makers, will be a monthly show on YouTube examining the creative people behind the avatars who continue to move the virtual world of Second Life forward with their passion and persistence.

The show utilises a mix of real-life footage, Skype interviews and machinima shot from within Second Life, to present a series of short, insightful visual vignettes of what SL means to content creators across the grid, from self-taught hobbyists to dedicated professionals from all walks of life, from all over the world, cutting across gender, ethnic and generational divides.

In the first episode, Drax interviews Kriss Lehmann, owner / operator of Botanical, a leading supplier of trees, plants, textures and landscaping items for Second Life users. In the 5-minute piece, Kris describes his work, his avatar and what Second Life has both brought him and means to him.

Botanical at Straylight: the focus of the first episode of The Drax Files
Botanical at Straylight: the focus of the first episode of The Drax Files

The mark of the piece is that it allows Kriss to present himself and Second Life with no overt editorial slant or prompting from Drax. This allows the potentials of SL to be explored as Kriss sees them, giving the entire video an entirely natural feel – a conversation, if you like, rather than a set-piece interview. Real-world video and machinima are interwoven beautifully, the latter almost completely devoid of the set-piece (and artificial) animations and gestures which are all too often the hallmark of LL’s own promotional efforts, allowing scenes to blend together seamlessly. Even where the machinima is staged, in the recounting of Kriss’ meeting and wooing of his SL partner (and now rl wife), Shai Delacroix, it is done so without unnecessary schmaltz, and simply adds a picture to Kriss’ own words.

Botanical at Straylight
Botanical at Straylight

That Kriss is given the freedom to express both his own work and what Second Life represents to him as someone who uses it to interact with others, offers an insight into Second Life which is so rarely seen in more traditional promotional videos. As such, and assuming the style and presentation of this first segment of the series is how the remaining five episodes will be handled, The Drax Files stand to offer a richer, more engaging promotion of Second Life than can currently be found in any of Linden Lab’s own attempts as seen either on their YouTube channel or on the SL WhatIs webpage.

So Rod, if you’re reading this, here’s a prime example of what I mean when talking about LL collaborating with users in the promotion of SL. The Drax Files – even one our two segments – could be a very positive addition to the WhatIs page.

But don’t just take my word for it – take five minutes and watch the show yourself.

Kudos to Draxtor for developing this series.

Loki’s Commemorative Hoodie

To mark the launch of The Drax Files. Loki Eliot has produced a special limited-edition hoodie in his glowing clothes range. The mesh hoodie is limited to a run of just 100, and is offered at L$250.

Related Links

LEA Full Sim artists 2013-14 announced

LEA_square_logo_60The Linden Endowment for the Arts has announced their choices for the 2013 Full Sim Art series, which will now run through until the end of April 2014.

The Full Sim Art series offers artists across the grid a full month’s access to an LEA region in which they can host a show of their choosing. As such, applicants receive:

  • A full, 15,000-prim region (inclusive of the media) – not all the prims have to be used!
  • The freedom to choose when to open the show to the public
  • Coverage within the LEA and UWA blog & potentially in any other blogs confirming their continuing support of the series

Access to regions will be granted to successful applicants on the first day of each month, and must end and be cleared from the region on the last day of the month.

The 2013-14 line-up, as announced by the LEA on Wednesday 27th February, comprises:


  • March: Fuschia Nightfire, Fuschia’s Fantasy Fairyland
  • April: Krystali Rabeni, Virtually Real
  • May: paleillusion, Frozen in Time
  • June: Kalanglarik Tomorrow
  • July: Nino Vichan, Musical Tonalities & Colour
  • August: SerenVide, Hope Springs
  • September: Secret Rage, Connected by Commonalities
  • October: Rebeca Bashly, Key
  • November: Lilia Artis & Moeuhane Sandalwood The Machine
  • December: Giovanna Cerise Fisicofollia


  • January: Gem Priez Fractal Cathedral
  • February: Sea Mizin California Giant Redwood Forest
  • March: Mary Wickentower, CINEMA! Take II
  • April: michaelromani & beawildered Americana Retread

Lab updates on recent improvements – no date for materials processing

Linden Lab issued one of their (increasingly rare) blog updates on ongoing work with Second Life. The updates comes on the heels of the release of CHUI, the Communications Hub User Interface, which reached LL’s development and beta viewers on the 26th and 27th February respectively, and which I’ve briefly overviewed. Until now, the only official notice of CHUI’s arrival had been via a forum post which hasn’t been entirely visible, so the blog update include Torley Linden’s informative YouTube video on the release.

The update also references the e-mail preference changes made to the Marketplace at the start of February, as well as passing comment on region crossings, noting:

We have made several improvements to region crossing that allow a smoother transition between regions, instead of the jerky transition some users experienced in the past. This change also reduces the rate of teleport failure rate. This went out the full grid on January 25, 2013. Since that date, the number of reported teleport failures has dropped by 91%.

While teleport failures may have been reduced, many are still seeing continued issues with vehicle crossings …

The Cocoa project for the Mac builds of the viewer, which I made mention of in week 8, and offers a link to the Cocoa Project viewer for Mac users.

Finally, the post looks ahead to upcoming features and updates – but sadly, only makes passing mention of the materials processing project. One can hope that as CHUI is now in the beta viewer and there was, s of week 8, apparently only one remaining issue with materials to be dealt with, a project viewer will finally be appearing sooner rather than later …

Related Links