Terrygold’s Black Box in Second Life

Back Box
Black Box

Black Box is the title of a new exhibition by Italian artist Terrygold, which opened on Sunday, March 13th, 2016. Located high above the Solo Donna club, home to the Art on Roofs series, Black Box is a compelling series, further enhancing Terrygold’s reputation as an artist with a considered eye for composition, nuance, framing and narrative in her work.

Following on from Ceramic Dolls (reviewed here) and Onirica (reviewed here), Black Box shares some aspects with the previous exhibitions, notably Onirica, whilst presenting new images and models, with the exhibition space itself very much as part of the overall installation in tone and form.

Back Box
Black Box

To appreciate Black Box in its fullest, it is essential you have Advanced Lighting Model (ALM) enabled through your graphics preferences. It is not required that you have Shadows enabled as well (which tends to be the heavy hitter when it comes to performance degradation); but as the exhibition space makes use of projected lights, ALM really is essential in order to gain the deepest exposure to the exhibit. Ambient Dark is also the recommended windlight setting.

As with Onirica, the visitor is led through a series of rooms (initially by a blue line on the floor), each of which offers 2D or 3D art (or a mix of both) created by Terrygold, finely lit using projectors, and each piece evocative in its own right. As with Onirica, elements of the exhibition space also form backdrops or elements within some of the images displayed, making for something of an almost recursive experience when appreciating those images. Also like Onirica, passage from one room to the next is, on a couple of occasions, through an element of the displayed art, again adding depth to the exhibition.

Black Box
Black Box

With her work, Terrygold always presents a fine eye towards the use of black and white and the inclusion of colour. This was much in evidence in both Ceramic Dolls and Onirica, and is so again with Black Box; and if anything the subtle ebb and flow of colour through the images brings an additional vibrancy to the pieces displayed here, whilst presenting Black Box almost as the third part or a continuing chapter in a series which perhaps commenced with Ceramic Dolls.

As well as ensuring you have ALM and a suitable windlight when viewing Black Box, be sure to came around carefully –   there are places where you’ll need to cam up to catch everything.

Back Box
Black Box

All told, Black Box is another exquisite blending of 2D and 3D and environment,  one which comes highly recommended, and which will remain open through until Sunday, April 3rd.

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Project Bento User Group update 8 with audio

Project Bento – extending the SL avatar skeleton
Project Bento – extending the SL avatar skeleton

The following notes and audio were taken from the weekly Bento User Group meeting, held on Thursday, March 3rd at 13:00 SLT on Aditi. For details on each meeting and the location, please refer to the Bento User Group wiki page.

Note that this update is not intended to offer a full transcript of the meeting, nor does it present the discussion points in chronological order. rather, it represents the core points of discussion to Project Bento, grouped together by subject matter were relevant / possible, together with any additional discussion on potential future projects the Lab might be willing to examine for possible adoption in the future.

Skeleton and Viewer Status

Bento viewer work is now focused on finalising the new skeleton, working on bug fixes and investigating hooking the new skeleton into the appearance sliders where is can be done.

It’s anticipated that there will not be any further significant changes to the bones within the skeleton, although there has been some discussion on adding a couple of extra bones into the “hind” limbs. Content creators are therefore being encouraged to develop new test models utilising the skeleton, as available in the current project viewer (version 5.0.0.311861 at the time of writing).

A couple of issues have come to light with the additional bones. In the first, the alternate eye bones weren’t quite lined up with the original eyes, and this is being fixed. There  also appears to be some issues arising from the inclusion of additional spine bones, which is discussed below.

Appearance Sliders

The Lab has been investigating the potential of modifying the appearance sliders (controlled through the avatar.LAD file). This means taking some of the sliders that are based on morphs which deform the default avatar, and allowing them to also be utilised by the Bento skeleton when an avatar mesh employing the skeleton is worn. This work looks “promising”, although the number of sliders means that it is unlikely all of them will be dual-purposed in this way. However, as a part of this work, the Lab will be addressing the slider bugs which have been reported against the latest Bento skeleton as well.

Vir discusses the current status with the Bento skeleton and project viewer

Attachment Points

Some additional attachment points were added specifically for use with the new skeleton, and consideration is being given to adding some more (such as to the new “hind” limbs – which can be used for a variety of purposes other than “just” hind legs, as noted in my last update).  Currently, no clear preference for extra attachment points has been expressed by content creators working on Bento. One group of suggested attach points put forward in the meeting was for rear left leg and rear right leg (upper and lower). rear hip, rear groin, rear left foot, rear right foot, and rear back (for rideable centaurs/saddles).

Responding to this Vir indicated some of these may already be possible, and that others such as those for the hind legs / back are hard to determine as the joints are repositionable,. The suggestion for catering to some of these bones might be to reposition existing attachment point to suit, or the possible inclusion of a new hip root attachment point for the “hind” bones root.

The question was also raised on whether attachment points are lag producing in the same way joints can be. Vir indicated that lag isn’t really an issue with attachment points on their own (although animating them can obviously add an overhead). However, there are other issues with regards to UI / menu management which can make additional attachment points a problem.

For example, there is only a single menu structure available for selecting an attachment point for an item directly from inventory. So the more attachment points added, the more unwieldy the menu gets. The same issue isn’t so apparent when attachment an object from in-world, where the code allows for sub-menus to be added.

The Bento attachment points have added to an already large inventory attachment menu, although the in-world attachment menu has been broken down for easier locating on attach points (click for full size)
The inventory attachment point menu (left) is currently monolithic in nature, making it unwieldy when adding further attachment points, such as for Bento. Things are easier on the in-world attachment menu allows for easier addition of attachment points through sub-menus (right) – click for full size, if required

Another limiting aspect with attachment points is that there is a hard limit on the total number of joints which can be used (thought to be 255). so if an attachment point was added to every bone, this would likely be exceeded, so things like an attachment point for every finger would probably be out of the question.

Issue Updates

Work is continuing on issues of avatar deformation, but as yet there have been no major breakthroughs.

However, problems appea rto have arisen as a result of the new spine bones. In particular, quadruped avatars appear to “dip” their forelegs and shoulders forward when shifting between certain animations. The precise cause is unclear (this may not even be a new issue, just one that is exacerbated by the new bones), but it could be the result of an interpolation issues, an i-k (inverse kinematics issue) or even some issue relating to bipedal animations (a human avatar tends to lean into something like a walk, and this default movement might be affecting thing). However, the larger the quadruped avatar, the more pronounced the up-and-down motion of the forelegs seems to be.

wolf-2_001
The “scrunching” issue, possibly the result of a missing transform, but apparently related to the inclusion of the new spine bones

This problem is further compounded by a problem whereby if the avatar mesh is animated while ignoring the spine bones, then the avatar can end up being distorted following something like a relog; the spine bones must be keyframed in order for the avatar mesh to remain correctly formed.

One possible explanation for this latter issue is that there might be a missing transform in the hierarchy data, such that the weights associated with a joint are skipped, together with any child joints, causing the model to collapse.

As it is, the model in question, animations, etc., are being passed to the Lab so that they can investigate and test things.

Other issues have also been seen with the additional spine bones, which might be down to order of use or correct alignment, as the method by which they have been implemented, in order to preserve backwards compatibility with the avatar skeleton, is complicated.

Continue reading “Project Bento User Group update 8 with audio”

The Edge: fashion and art in Second Life

The Edge Gallery - Miele Tarantal
The Edge Gallery – Miele Tarantal

Opening Sunday, March 13th, 2016 at 14:00 SLT is the inaugural exhibition at a new Second Life gallery. The Edge Gallery,is the latest addition to the Windlight Magazine family, forming a part of the magazine’s The Edge brand managed by  Eleseren Brianna.

The Edge is the fashion division of Windlight Magazine, with a focus on the artistic and cultural side of fashion in both Second Life and the physical world. Eleseren, an accomplished Second Life model and designer and the 2015 Miss Virtual World, serves as both editor for The Edge and curator of The Edge Gallery.

The Edge Gallery - Wicca Merlin
The Edge Gallery – Wicca Merlin

The inaugural display brings together artwork by Honey Bender, Wicca Merlin, Danity Mynx, Tempest Rosca, Miele Tarantal and Joanne Vuitton. Many of the images are original pieces by the artists, and are presented in a variety of mediums.

The Edge Gallery is a clean, modern design, reflective of its purpose to showcase fashion-focused art, and the opening will be marked with a performance by live singer  Saintess Laria at 14:00 SLT on March 13th. The exhibition runs through until April 23rd, 2016.

The Edge Gallery - Honey Bender
The Edge Gallery – Honey Bender

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Of whalers, priests, faeries and St Patrick

It’s time to kick-off a week of story-telling in voice, brought to our virtual lives by the staff and volunteers at the Seanchai Library. As always, all times SLT, and events are held at the Library’s Second Life home at Bradley University, unless otherwise indicated.

Sunday, March 13th 13:30 Crazy Eights: Tea Time at Baker Street

Crazy Eights sees Caledonia, Corwyn and Kayden reading from The Return of Sherlock Holmes every Sunday from the living room of 221B Baker Street.

Inspector Hopkins, Holmes and Watson at the murder scene (1904, Stanley Paget, Strand Magazine)

Peter Carey, once the master of the whaler Sea Unicorn, prone to drunkenness and violence, having assaulted not only his wife and daughter but also the vicar in Forest Weald, where the family have settled in his retirement from the sea. Even so, when he is found run-through with a whaling harpoon and pinned to the wall of the outhouse where he spend most of his time, it appears to be a most gruesome and violent death, driven by a hatred beyond anything caused by the man’s behaviour.

The murder has left police inspector Stanley Hopkins mystified. No footprints or any other evidence of force entry and violence have been found at the scene. What’s more, it appears Carey was killed around two o’clock in the morning, yet he was fully dressed as if expecting a visitor. The only clues found are a pouch of seaman’s tobacco – yet Carey was thought to be a non-smoker – and a small notebook.

Reading the notebook, Holmes deduces that writing in it relates to the Canadian Pacific Railway and what appears to be stock exchange information. This, together with the unusual method of murder lead him to agree to return to Forest Weald with Inspector Hopkins, and so he and Dr. Watson embark on The Adventure of Black Peter.

Monday March 14th 19:00: A Few Miles and Prometheus

carmodyGyro Muggins continues a 3-part reading of tales concerning one of Philip José Farmer’s many memorable characters: Father John Carmody, and ex-con who painfully grew a conscience, but is still not entirely beyond benefiting himself.

In A Few Miles, first published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Carmody is ordered to the planet Wildenwoolly (think about it 🙂 ), but is given no funds for his journey and must therefore find his own way there. This proves taxing, with even reaching the space station where he might gain passage to his intended destination proving problematic. So problematic, in fact that he ends up “expregnated” by a large earthbound bird called a horowitz.

With the egg now attached to his chest until such time as it hatches, Carmody finds himself the centre of scientific curiosity and study, something that might well allow him to achieve passage to Wildenwoolly under a lot more comfortable circumstances than he’d envisaged when first dispatched by the priesthood. However, as told in the sequel Prometheus, things take a bit of a right turn when he finds himself on Feral, the planet of the horowitzes, and cast in the role of educator for these strange birds, and as a sort of latter-day Prometheus, bringing them moral enlightenment.

Tuesday March 15th, 19:00: Bard: The Odyssey of the Irish

Caledonia Skytower reads selections from Morgan Llywelyn’s 1984 historical fantasy novel depicting a hypothetical 4th century migration of Galicians to Ireland, led by Amergin the bard.

Wednesday March 16th 19:00 Crazy Eights: The Hunter’s Moon

HuntersAoife Lorefield continues reading the second in the Crazy Eights series of monthly Featured books

When she arrives in Ireland to visit her cousin Findabhair (Finn), American Gwen expects a fun backpacking trip to sites of the fairy lore they’re both fascinated with. What neither cousin knows is that it’s the summer of the Hunter’s Moon, a dangerous time for mortals to meddle in the kingdom of Faerie.

Whilst camping out, Finn is kidnapped by the handsome Faerie king, and Gwen must rescue her. In attempting to do so, she travels between modern-day and mystical Ireland. And when she does finally reach Finn, she finds her biggest challenge might be actually persuading her cousin she is in need of rescue!

Thursday, March 17th Saint Patricks Day Special

19:00 Darby O’Gill and the Good People

Initially released in 1903, this is a novel where each chapter is effectively a short story, following the adventures of Darby O’Gill in Ireland.

So, join Shandon Loring for a Saint Patrick’s Day walk through Darby O’Gill adventures. perhaps it will be the tale of his sojourn in the mountain home of the fairies, when he wins his freedom (and fairy gold) from King Brian Connors. Or perhaps it will be how Darby O’Gill encountered a Leprechaun or the tale of how How the Fairies Came to Ireland, or perhaps it will be the story of how Darby must match wits with the banshee and her ghosts, or meet his doom!

21:00 The Quiet Man

quiet-manReleased in 1952, John Ford’s The Quiet Man is regarded as a classic Irish-American romantic comedy / drama. Starring John Wayne, Maureen O’Hara (and assorted members of their RL families!) and Barry Fitzgerald, it is a popular choice among critics and film-lovers.

The screenplay for the film was drawn in a large part from a short story of the same name originally published in 1933 in the Saturday Evening Post, and penned by Irish author, Maurice Welsh. Together with a number of other short stories by Walsh, The Quiet Man was gathered into a single volume of his short stories, The Quiet Man and Other Stories, which dealt with many recurring characters living in rural Ireland of the 1920s, and set against the backdrop of the civil unrest which affected the country at that time, while examining the complexities and occasional intrigues of life, love and Irish traditions.

Join Caledonia Skytower as she reads Walsh’s original tale of The Quiet Man, Paddy Bawn Enright.

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Please check with the Seanchai Library SL’s blog for updates and for additions or changes to the week’s schedule.

The featured charity for March / April is Project Children, building peace in Ireland one child at a time.

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