The following notes and audio were taken from the weekly Bento User Group meeting, held on Thursday, February 4th at 13:00 SLT on Aditi. For details on each meeting and the location, please refer to the Bento User Group wiki page.
Bent Bones Survey
The Bento bones survey is now closed. Vir presented an overview of the results during the meeting and subsequently published the results on the Bento forum thread. Some 54 responses were received, which he has been analysing.
Additional Bone Groups
In terms of the questions on the 7 proposed joints or sets of joints, no clear winner emerged, with the average ranking for the seven coming between 3.18 and 4.32 (lower being better). Additional wing bones fairing the poorest of all, with additional facial bones and / or additional ear bones fairing the best.
Since the survey results were published, Gaia Clary has pointed out that it did not include the proposal for a group of three additional bones for the centre lip and forehead, which have been viewed as being important for natural facial expressions such as decent smiles. The exclusion might explain why one of the proposals was effectively listed twice in the survey (options 1 and 3). There’s currently no indication as to how group indicated by Gaia might now be considered.
The open questions asking for written feedback did produce a clear winner: more tails / limbs or more tail joints, with most of the respondents to the questions (18 and 14 respectively) citing a desire to support hexapods, centaurs, or other multi-limbed creatures.
The requests for additional tail / limb bones saw Vir ask for further feedback on matters to make sure he was grasping the reasons for the requests correctly – notably that people would be using bone translations for the additional limbs, allowing the spine to act as an initial anchor point for the bones, which then could be translated into their preferred positions.
Wing Roots, Pelvis Bones and Options
A contributing factor for wing root bones not proving popular is because they were originally included to compensate for the fact that Bento initially didn’t support bone translation, only rotation; thus additional bones were required to assist with achieve more natural wing, etc., movement. Now that bone translation is considered part of Bento, the need for multiple extra wing root bones is removed, with the result that some could be replaced by more meaningful bones used elsewhere.
A set of bones which came in for particular discussion were extra pelvic bones, with Vir asking for clarification on the benefits would be in having them. My apologies for the extract from this part of the meeting, a mis-click on my part meant that part of the conversation in which Teager explained how it would allow for easier compatibility with existing animations so that, for example a centaur might be able to make use of existing upper body animations for arm / head movements wasn’t cleanly recorded and so is not a part of the extract.
When discussing working with initial versions of the Bento skeleton and developing the Avastar face rig to help in producing facial animations in early January, Gaia Clary raised the subject of utilising bone constraints as a means of adding a further level of control for bone movement within the avatar.
This would allow root bones to effectively be paired such that the movement of one is controlled / constrained by the movement of another (see this comment from Television as well). This is a common approach to animation, and greatly eases the animation process, and if completely followed through, could add enormous flexibility in what could be done with the avatar skeleton, as Gaia notes:
If constraints can be implemented in general, then this concept could be generalized to work for all limbs, then users can for example constrain the root bones of the legs, arms, wings and tail to mSpine and create a 7 legged creature that can be animated without adding odd rules to the animation.
Thinking even further, if location constraints were allowed, then this idea allows to constrain any limb to any bone. Wings could then be constrained to eye brows for antennas, tail(s) could be constrained to chest for 4 winged creatures, etc.
The problem here is how to implement such a system of constraints within Second Life. While there are animation programmes and system which do allow for constraining bone movement, it’s not clear if they all utilised a standardise approach, or whether then could be easily replicated within Second Life, or what the overhead involved would be in trying to develop the means for the platform to support bone constraints.
Given this, and while the ideally has not been ruled out for future evaluation, adding such a capability at this put in time for Bento has been seen as being out-of-scope for this phase of the project.