Liquid Mesh: looking from all sides

I’m prefacing this article by saying I’m not a fashion blogger, nor am I particularly fashion-oriented SL purchaser. So this piece isn’t an examination of “Liquid Mesh” clothing from a fashion / fit standpoint. Nor is it intended to be an in-depth technical examination of the technique and how it deforms, its pros and cons, creation issues, etc. It is simply intended to offer up general information on what the technique is, what the concerns are, and how people might best determine whether it is an option for them.

A Little Bit o’ History

When the capability to support mesh within SL was first being developed, that it could be used to create clothing etc., didn’t appear to factor into the Lab’s thinking, and so how such items might be made to fit avatar shapes properly wasn’t of major concern to them. However, during the Mesh Closed Beta, a method was proposed whereby wearables could be weighed to the avatar’s collision volumes, a technique which, if used, would allow them to deform somewhat to the avatar’s shape.

Avatar Collision volumes (image courtesy of Gaia Clary)
Avatar Collision volumes (Gaia Clary)

AshaSekayi Ra notes that at the time, Prep Linden requested clothing samples weighted using the technique be passed on to him so that the Lab could take a look at the idea. However, she didn’t hear anything further on the subject, despite supplying samples herself. Asha also thinks that Prep may have heard of the technique as a result of a conversation with RedPoly Inventor.

Collision volumes are essentially a simplified version of the avatar form primarily used to between your avatar and other avatars / objects. As Gaia Clary recently explained, they give a rough approximation of an avatar’s shape and they can be adjusted via the Edit Shape sliders. So, clothing items weighted to them can be adjusted somewhat in line with the avatar’s shape.

That said, there are limitations. For one thing, there are only 19 collision volumes; and this limits how and where they can be weighted by default, and how well clothing using them can deform with changes to the avatar’s shape. For example, there is no collision volume for breasts, so clothing using the technique won’t deform to breasts or breast size changes.

In June 2012, RedPoly Inventor again drew attention to the idea during a Content Creator’s meeting, releasing a video of the technique, as well as a demonstrator dress.

By his own admission, the solution was not perfect due to the lack of suitable weighting points in the collision volumes, as noted above. To overcome this, he suggested the development of addition “bones” (weighting points), which he called “cbones”. However, given there is generally little appetite within the Lab to tinker around with the avatar to any great extent, it was unlikely this latter idea was going to be taken-up, and after a while the use of collision volumes for mesh weighting / deformation seemed to quietly slip away.

Moving Forward

Since then we’ve had yet more delays with the development and release of the mesh deformer for a wide variety of reasons. That no official deformer has appeared has seen a number of content creators producing mesh wearables which use collision volumes for weightings / deformation in a manner similar to that demonstrated by RedPoly Inventor.  Perhaps the first on the scene was Redgrave, back in late 2012, with their Liquid Mesh range (the name which is now synonymous with the technique), with others such as Egoisme and Bax also producing their own items as well. As such, the debate around the approach has been ebbing and flowing for a while, and has recently seen renewed discussion.

The system isn’t perfect, as noted above; the need for alpha layers isn’t necessarily eliminated for example, and because collision volumes are only a rough approximation to the avatar shape, problems can still be encountered when making shape changes even where the two do align. But even with the potential shortfalls, the fact remains that in many cases, this method can result in clothing items which do fit an avatar’s shape more reasonably than by purely relying on a set of “standard sizes”, as Strawberry Singh demonstrated in a recent video which accompanied a blog post on the subject.


Continue reading “Liquid Mesh: looking from all sides”

Viewer release summary 2013: week 34

This summary is published every Monday and is a list of SL viewer / client releases (official and TPV) made during the previous week. When reading it, please note:

  • It is based on my Viewer Round-up Page, a list of  all Second Life viewers and clients that are in popular use (and of which I am aware) and which are recognised as adhering to the TPV Policy
  • By its nature, this summary will always be in arrears
  • The Viewer Round-up Page is updated as soon as I’m aware of any releases / changes to viewers & clients, and should be referred to for more up-to-date information
  • The Viewer Round-up Page also includes comprehensive links to download pages, blog notes, release notes, etc., as well as links to any / all reviews of specific viewers / clients made within this blog.

Updates for the week ending: August 25th, 2013

Official LL Viewers

  • The current release viewer updated on August 20th to version – formerly the Maintenance Viewer RC (download, release notes)
  • Release channel cohorts:
  • Project viewers:
    • None at present

LL Viewer Resources

Third-party Viewers

  • Black Dragon updated on August 21st to version 2.3.0 and then August 23rd to version 2.3.1 – core updates: inclusion of materials viewer RC rendering updates (ALM underwater, etc ), UI tweaks and general fixes (release notes: 2.3.0 and 2.3.1)
  • Kokua updated on August 24th to version – core updates: parity with LL 3.6.3 code base; implementation of .DAE format object export (respecting the SL permissions system), plus assorted updates (release notes)
  • Restrained Love Viewer updated on August 24th to version (all versions) – core update: on-the-fly “z-offset” height adjustment ported from Cool VL Viewer; Linux and Mac version also updated to (release notes)
  • Cool VL updated on August 24th to:
  • Metabolt updated on August 24th to version  – core updates: SL crash reporting implemented; sim Stats indicate if the sim has SSA enabled or disabled; “Attachments” button added to Object manager window; “Detach”button added to Worn Attachments window; New Protection to protect against attacks via chat, script dialogues and URL offers (release notes). Additionally, the METAnomy plug-in was updated with an SSA-related fix.

Additional TPV Resources

Depreciated / Discontinued Viewers

  • Niran’s Viewer – discontinued as of version & superceded by Black Dragon
  • SLiteChat removed from listing; no updates since 2011, removed from TPV Directory & no response from developer
  • SL Second Life Beta viewer – depreciated as of version, July 15, 2103
  • SL Development viewer – depreciated as of version April 24, 2013
  • Zen Viewer – discontinued by developer and no longer available, January 27th, 2013
  • Phoenix viewer – development and support ended on December 31st, 2012

Related Links