Through a Blogger’s Eyes in Second Life

Through a Blogger's Eyes - Art on Roofs
Through a Blogger’s Eyes – Art on Roofs

Opening today, Saturday January 9th, 2016, and running through until January 24th at the Art on Roofs gallery, Solodonna Land, is a small exhibition of my images I’ve called Through a Blogger’s Eyes. In it, I present a series of images I’ve taken of the places I’ve visited over the years; some of the images have been seen before in-world, while others are new to in-world presentation, although they have been seen on this blog.

The images selected lean towards my more recent SL region travels, all of which are documented under my Exploring Second Life tag, and by year through the blog menu (Events-Reviews-Travel > Exploring Second Life > select year), although some stretch back as far as 2013.

Through a Blogger's Eyes - Art on Roofs
Through a Blogger’s Eyes – Art on Roofs

It’s the nature of places to come and go in Second Life, so some of the images are of places no longer with us, or as they appeared before more recent make-overs. However, most are still active today, and within the exhibition notes I’ve included a list of landmarks should anyone wish to visit the location depicted in a particular image.

Also, as a part of the exhibit I hope to be running a playlist of videos of the places, art installations and events I’ve filmed over the last few years. The playlist is set-up, but YouTube and SL were having a little bit of a fight during testing, so I’m seeing how that goes :).

Through a Blogger's Eyes - Art on Roofs
Through a Blogger’s Eyes – Art on Roofs

As I say in the introductory notes, I don’t consider myself in any way a Second Life photographer or artist; my images are purely produced for illustrating the blog (I use Flickr to simply save on using the limited disk space WordPress provides). I’m therefore genuinely flattered when asked to display like this – and my thanks go to Terrygold, Sniper and Elettra for inviting me to exhibit at Art In Roofs; I hope you will visit and enjoy it.

The opening is at 13:00 SLT on Saturday, January 9th, with music by the folk at Solodonna club, and I hope you’ll join us.

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Project Bento User Group update 1 with audio

Project Bento extends the avatar skeleton, adding a significant set of bones (e.g. 30 for the face, 30 for the hands (both of which can be seen inaction in the image above of an avatar by Matrice Laville), plus bones for wings, tails, additional limbs and ears / antennae
Project Bento extends the avatar skeleton, adding a significant set of bones, notably providing facial expressions, finger movement, and better support for wings, tails, additional limbs, etc. (model by Matrice Laville)

Useful Links

The first public user group meeting for Project Bento took place on Thursday, January 7th 2016, marking the start of what will be a regular event, although the exact frequency, particularly in terms of day and time, may vary, at least initially.

The purpose of the meeting is to provide an open forum for more direct and real-time conversations between the Lab and content creators about Project Bento than can perhaps be achieved through forum posts, etc. This, and the reports which follow from it are intended to provide a synthesis of these meetings, together with relevant audio of discussions and feedback, where appropriate. My apologies for the quality of the audio in places; these was partially the result of recording over voice and also due to the audio strength dropping out on me quite frequently.

People arrive for the first public Bento user group meeting on Aditi
People arrive for the first public Bento user group meeting on Aditi

Translation vs. Rotation

As I’ve previously reported, there has been an ongoing discussion about providing bone translation rather than just rotation in order to better handle facial expressions (see BUG-1090, “[Bento] A formal method of bone-translating animations is vital for the creation of proper facial expressions”), with the initial disallowing of translations within Bento (where they had previously been possible by means of a workaround) being a particular point of contention.  Medhue Simoni was one of those particularly concerned at the lack of available translation capabilities, and as I noted in my coverage of the 100th Drax Files podcast, he has produced a fairly comprehensive video explaining the issue.

Given the amount of conversation that has been generated, it should not  be that surprising to learn that this was the first item up for discussion in the meeting. In particular, Vir announced that the Lab has revised its thinking on the matter pointing to a Bento forum posted providing more of the Lab’s original concerns. So with this change, animations using translations can now be uploaded to most regions on Aditi.

Vir on the rethink concerning allowing bone translations

So does this mean translations will be allowed going forward? Vir was cautious in his reply, noting that nothing about Bento will be finalised until such time as it goes to the main grid, so there is no definitive decision on the matter at present. However, based on the way things are going, it would seem likely that translations will be enabled and there is nothing the Lab currently has planned which might cause them to be disallowed. However, Vir did warn that were this to be the case, there may be bugs / limitations in how they work.

Vir on whether or not translations will be allowed going forward

Stretching and Scaling Bones

The current mechanism for stretching / scaling bones is via the shape slider, and Vir indicated that it is not likely that the Lab will be moving to support scaling in animations as a part of this phase of Bento, although they might revisit doing so at some point in the future (without any guarantee they would).

As a part of the explanation for why this is the case, Oz indicated that the Lab’s belief in approaching Bento was that for most non-human avatars and shapes, their expectation was that creators would do the basic repositioning of joints as a part of the mesh prior to upload, and then adjust them as needed, and so the need for translation  would be marginalised.

However, as several of those present at the meeting pointed out, effectively “baking” positions into a mesh in this manner prior to upload is itself limiting, and translations can help handle odd glithes in the avatar shape which can occur. Given this, and  the shift in stance on translation mentioned above, Oz indicated he’s very interested to hear back from people on what might be considered “best practice” for handling bone repositioning, scaling, stretching, etc.

Vir and Oz on scaling and stretching bones and the Lab’s initial approach to Bento

Avatar Deformation and Resetting

One of the things the Lab is trying to achieve through Bento is a means of more reliably providing a mechanism by which avatars suffering from deformations as a result of rigged meshes, complex shapes, etc., can be reliably restored.

One of the things the Lab would like to do is offer a consistent means of resetting avatars deformed by things like multiple joint repositions to a "default" state which includes adjustment to bones made via mesh and attachments
One of the things the Lab would like to do is offer a consistent means of resetting avatars deformed by things like multiple joint repositions to a “default” state which includes adjustment to bones made via mesh and attachments

As Vir noted in the meeting, the Lab has been working on trying to make mesh positions behave better, but there is still a lot going on under the hood, such as changes made by sliders or attachments or animations, or a combination thereof,, the initial values defined by the skeleton, etc.,  which can influence the overall shape / appearance in an unpredictable order which can leave someone in a difficult to resolve state.

In particular, and as stated by Oz, the Lab would like to be able to offer the capability that if a user experiences deformations as a result of running animations, they can be reliably reset to a default position that includes and joint position movements implied by any mesh attachments worn at the time the issue occurred (with the exception of those implied by animations).

To this end, he and Vir urged people to file bug reports on any issues of deformation they encounter when using the Bento project viewer (as well as any other issues they encounter), even if the issue has been previously encountered prior to Bento but has remained unresolved, and to provide specific examples of the problem with related models, etc., so that the Lab can use the project to attempt to investigate and resolve as many issues of this kind as they can. The Lab cannot promise that everything will be fixed, but by the same standard, it shouldn’t be assumed that just because something hasn’t been addressed thus far, effort won’t be put into trying to see if it can be resolved.

Vir and Oz on bug resolutions and seeking a means to consistently reset deformed avatars

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