Project Bento: avatar skeleton enhancements for Second Life

secondlifeOn Wednesday, December 16th Linden Lab officially announced Project Bento which brings a range of avatar skeleton enhancements to Second Life.

The project has been in progress for the last several months, with the Lab working in collaboration with a number of noted Second Life content creators who specialise in avatar shapes, bodies, and animations. I’ve been fortunate enough to be very peripherally involved in the project myself, with the aim of documenting some of the process involved – and I’ll be providing more on that in an upcoming article.

The blog post announcing Project Bento explains the reason and focus of the work thus:

We know how much work, value, personalization and emotional investment goes into a Second Life avatar, so we have always been careful when considering avatar changes. While we want to make improvements, we also want to maximize backward compatibility. Get ready for the biggest thing that’s happened to avatars in years …

Ever wish you could incorporate a tail, wings, or second set of arms into your avatar? How about having animations for facial expressions and finger movements? Yes, we know that there are some incredibly creative workarounds that give you some of these, but they can’t leverage skeletal animation, so they have been very complex, often fragile, and very expensive in performance and resources both in your Viewer and the Simulator.

We are introducing extensions to the standard Second Life Avatar Skeleton that give you dozens of new bones to support both rigging and animation, and accompanying new attachment points! This extended skeleton, which is fully backward compatible with existing avatars, rigging and animation, gives creators the power to build more sophisticated avatars than ever before.

Project Bento has involved staff from Linden Lab, notably Troy Linden, Oz Linden and Vir Linden, together with assistance from Alexa Linden, Simon Linden, Rider Linden, Aura Linden and others. It has also involved SL content creators including the folk from Avastar, Cathy Foil, Toady Nakamura, Siddean Munro and Flea Bussy
Project Bento has involved staff from Linden Lab, notably Troy Linden, Oz Linden and Vir Linden, together with assistance from Alexa Linden, Simon Linden, Rider Linden, Aura Linden and others. It has also involved SL content creators including (but not limited to)  the folk from Avastar, Cathy Foil, Toady Nakamura, Siddean Munro, Tyr Rozenblum, and Flea Bussy

In particular, Bento sees the introduction of the following Skeleton extensions:

  • 11 extra limb bones for wings, additional arms, or extra legs.
  • 6 tail bones
  • 30 bones in the hands (all 10 fingers!)
  • 30 bones for facial expressions
  • 2 other new bones in the head for animating ears or antennae
  • 13 new attachment points associated with the new bones

The changes involve both simulator updates and changes to the viewer. The former have already been deployed to the grid, being the “secret” update made in week #48, alongside the need validation enforcements for attachment point IDs and to prevent the upload of animations and meshes weighted to invalid attachment points; however, they are not yet active.

To mark Project Bento, Alexa Linden has updated her Linden Bear, now available on the Marketplace
To mark Project Bento, Alexa Linden has updated her Linden Bear, now available on the Marketplace

This is because the Bento work is still in project status – the announcement is intended to inform people about the work and seek feedback from more creators / animators. This can be given via the Project Bento forum thread, with specific bugs bugs or issues reported by the Project Bento JIRA class.

To try out the new skeleton updates, you will need the  Bento project viewer (which sees the viewer iterate to version 5.0), and because the project is still a work in progress, you’ll need to upload any content using the new skeleton extensions to the Aditi (beta) grid – most regions on Aditi should allow this, although some may be in use for other testing and not yet have these updates. Additional documentation is also available, together with notes on testing.

Commenting on the launch of the project, Oz Linden had this to say (from 37,000 ft whilst flying across America!), in recognition of the extensive input made to the project by content creators, which has included modelling and testing the skeletal changes, advising on viewer updates, putting forwards ideas for possible future extensions to the project, and a whole lot more.

Thank you Thank you Thank you .. we could not have done it without you

Draxtor Despres and I will be covering more of the background story on Project Bento in the near future, including a Drax Files World Makers special on the project in January.  Keep your eyes peeled!

With thanks to Matrice Laville and Gaia Clary for the video.

 

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12 thoughts on “Project Bento: avatar skeleton enhancements for Second Life

  1. 13 new attachment points… does this mean the limit to how many attachments you can have at once is going to be increased?

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  2. Calling all creators = deadline for my documentary after having been fly-on-the-wall with Inara for months now is 1/30/16.

    Here is the deal: the strong and compelling behind-the-scenes story is pretty much locked but AWESOME content needs to hit the SL streets [on Adit for now of course].

    In order to illustrate the potential of this huge change to SL please let me know what you see out there on the grid or amongst your circle of creator friends, especially if you happen to run across a cool centaur [reason = secret for now but just this much: a certain prominent Linden is a big fan of these creatures!]…

    Send me LMs, IMs or snaps via email if you see cool stuff or if you make cool stuff.

    Deadline for my storyboard for this is 1/15!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I wonder why not? Do they still want people to believe that pixel sex doesn’t happen in SL? A large proportion of the avatars in SL are male and would presumably like to have an attachment point for a rigged penis. Hopefully they’ll add this point later, when users begin to ask for one.

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        1. Given the SL focus on humans the lack of a bacula is not that surprising. While it is found in many male placental mammals – including some primates – it is absent in the human male. Besides if you’re not using the tail on the model, just turn it around, no worries!

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