Catharsis once more

Tyrehl Byk
Tyrehl Byk

Update: If you missed the April 6th show, there will be a further performance on Saturday April 13th and 14:30 SLT, same SLurl as below.

Ziki Questi keeps her finger on the pulse of SL art and performances far more closely than I; so I was delighted to drop by her blog and read that Tyrehl Byk will be presenting a special performance of his outstanding Catharsis at 13:00 SLT at Eden Celebration on Saturday April 6th.

Tyrehl’s immersive work has featured is this blog over the years, his work never fails to engaging and enthrall, whether it is an installation piece or performance art – at which he is one of the great exponents.

I first witnessed Catharsis back in October 2011, when Tyrehl was sharing facilities at LEA 6 with Quadrapop Lane, and found myself dawn to watch it several times over. As I described it at the time, Catharsis  is, “Emotional, cleansing and utterly superb” – and it is not to be missed.

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This is a fully immersive show performed in a special theatre in which Tyrehl takes control of your camera and takes you on a journey of music, light, particles and images designed to instill the very definition of the word itself, and which lasts for around 20-25 minutes.

As an immersive, interactive piece, there are a few points worth noting in advance – notably that you attend as lightly scripted as possible; there is a lot going on between the server and people’s viewers, so the less personal load either has to deal with the better it is for everyone.

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Also, and assuming Tyrehl’s two “assistants” may not be on-hand to guide you prior to the performance starting, make sure you sit in one of the chairs provided (they all provide the best view in the house), close any open floaters in your viewer, crank particles to maximum and ramp draw distance to around 250 metres.  Then tap the ESC key a couple of times to free-up your camera ready for Tyrehl to take control when the show starts.

After that, it’s a question of sitting back and just taking in the show (although I also tend to turn the light off in my little home office as well!).

If you’ve never seen this show before, I honestly cannot recommend it enough. See you there!

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Server-side Baking / Appearance update

The Server-side Baking / Appearance  (SSB) project took a significant step forward when, as reported in my week 14 projects update, the viewer-side code reached the SL development viewer. Barring any significant issues, it should also be appearing in the SL beta viewer very shortly.

While it will still be a while before the new service makes its debut on the main grid, viewers supporting the new service are liable to start appearing over the coming weeks and communications from the Lab and TPVs on the subject are liable to increase. As such, it seemed appropriate to blog on the most recent discussions on viewer updates in general (LL and TPV) and on the upcoming server-side code deployment, using the TPV Developer meeting on Friday April 5th as a reference.

A Quick Recap

For those who are still perhaps unaware of what Server-side Baking / Appearance is, I have an overview of the project, with detailed information on what it is, how it will work and what will change. However in short.

  • What is it all about? Primarily solving the issue of “avatar bake fail” (when your skin or clothing layers appear blurry to you or those around you, or when you change outfits and you see yourself wearing the “new” outfit and those around you still see you in the “previous” outfit). This happens because the current process of “baking” your avatar’s appearance (the skin and clothes it is wearing)  is driven by the viewer, and hiccups c in the viewer / server communications can result in the server failing to receive all the necessary information following a change of outfit & is unable to process it, leading to the problems mentioned above.
  • What does it do?
    • The new service moves much of the emphasis for the baking process from the viewer to a series of dedicated servers (sometimes referred to as the “ovens” required to do the baking), which should reduce the amount of viewer / server communication and ensure the “bake” process is more robust.
    • As some of the work is still carried out by the viewer, it also is being updated with new code
  • Why Should I Care? The new service is incompatible with the avatar baking mechanism currently in use. This means that once the server-side of the new baking service starts to be deployed on the main grid, viewers which have not been updated to use the new service will no longer function correctly; people using them will see those who are using updated viewers as permanently grey figures (other than attachments).
The SSB problem in part: I'm stabding on an SSB-enabled region. On the left  - as I appear to others who are using an SSB-enabled viewer; On the right, as I appear to others who are using a viewer which does not support SSB.
The SSB problem in part: I’m standing on an SSB-enabled region. On the left – as I appear to others who are using an SSB-enabled viewer; On the right, as I appear to others who are using a viewer which does not support SSB. The latter group would appear as unrezzed ghosts to me

Where Things stand and the Road Ahead

In order to try to make the switch-over between the “old” and “new” baking services as smooth as possible, and minimise the issue of “grey” avatars, the actual deployment of the new service will effectively be in two parts:

  • Because the viewer side of the SSB code will work with the existing baking service, this will be deployed first, in the hope that people will upgrade their viewers as new versions (both the official viewer and TPVs) become available
  • The server-side code will start to be deployed on the grid as the viewer code reaches the SL release viewer; however, this will be a gradual process, driven in part by the number of people either updating to or transitioning to SSB-capable viewers.

The Viewer – LL and TPVs

As noted above, the viewer code for SSB is now available in LL’s development viewer (as of release 3.5.0.273529), and will shortly be arriving in the SL beta viewer before moving to the release viewer (possibly in around two weeks, although this does depend on whether or not unforeseen issues arise when the code is in either the development or beta viewer).

Third-party viewer developers have also been working on integrating the SSB code into their viewers (and several already have pre-release / alpha / experimental versions of their viewers with the code already implemented, which they have been making available to their users for testing purposes). As such, TPVs are liable to be releasing updates to their viewers in the next few weeks which users will be strongly advised to take for the reasons noted above.

Quite when TPVs will start releasing SSB-capable versions of their viewers is going to be something of a balancing act. Given that there is a chance that unforeseen bugs / issues are found within the viewer code while it is in the SL beta viewer channel, some may opt to not make any release until after the code reaches the SL release viewer channel in order to avoid the risk have having to make two (or more) updates in quick succession as a result of bugs being found. Others may opt to make a release alongside the upcoming SL beta viewer release, and track how things progress, updating their viewer as required.

Communications

A vital part of the deployment process is that of communications. Therefore, in the coming weeks users can expect to see both LL and their preferred TPV developers communicating directly on SSB as viewers become available / server-side deployment commences in order to encourage as many as possible to update to a viewer supporting SSB ahead of the the server-side deployment.

Continue reading “Server-side Baking / Appearance update”