Project Bento User Group update 22 with audio

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

Updated: animation of collision volumes is being added – section updated section below.

The following notes and audio were taken from the weekly Bento User Group meeting, held on Thursday, August 11th at 13:00 SLT at the the Hippotropolis Campfire Circle. For details on the meeting agenda, 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, grouped together by subject matter were relevant / possible, whilst maintaining the overall context of the meeting.

Time Frame for Promotion to Release Candidate Status

Some at the Lab are keen to see Bento move forward and reach a larger audience of content creators (although there is currently no reason why creators cannot get involved now and attend meetings, help with feedback, etc). Inevitably, this means promoting the Bento viewer to release candidate status, and doing so some time in the next two weeks has been mooted.

Given the number of issues currently being investigated, not all of which are viewer-specific (see below), but for which fixes may yet have an impact on the viewer, this would seem to be a somewhat ambitious time frame.

Viewer Issues

Work at the Lab is focusing on a batch of issues for which bug reports have been raised, including:

  • Several relating to joint positions:
    • BUG-37546 [BENTO] facial bone joint offset issues – which has been the subject of recent Bento updates in this blog
    • BUG-37591 [BENTO] New import of a non-human rigged mesh is deformed
    • BUG-37633 Bento – Custom joint positions and Reset Skeleton not matching
  • Avatar height calculation issues:
    • BUG-20013 [Bento] When wearing a Bento avatar, observers see your hover height lower than you see it yourself
    • BUG-20169 [ BENTO ] Z-Offset not applying correctly & camera tied to Z-offset
  • Eye scaling problems (referenced via SL-433, an LL internal bug report)

The eye scaling issue, the result of the scaling within the viewer for mesh eyes being different to the expected system eye size, has been corrected, and will be one of the fixes released with the next viewer update, although existing models may need tweaking as a result a test carried out during the meeting using an early build of the next project viewer iteration suggested that there are still issues, and Matrice believes part of the problem might be within AvaStar.

Facial Bones Issues / Distortions

At least some of the facial bones issues appear to lie with AvaStar exports, which Matrice and Gaia are trying to rectify. Gaia offers an explanation for the problem in the Bento forum thread. Matrice further notes that there is a discrepancy between the restpose and the SL default pose; in Blender there is no easy way to define the absolute SL restpose in order to add bind pose information on top of it, leading to the wrong information (or even a lack of information) being exported to the Collada files.

Matrice is working on improving things in AvaStar, but the work is taking time and effort. Gaia has offered a detailed explanation of joint preparation on the Machinimatrix website as a workaround as they continue to redefine and improve their workflow, and offers a brief summary of the approach through the forum thread. The workaround isn’t seen as optimal at the moment, but the hope is that once the work on AvatStar has been completed, the workflow should be more straightforward and transparent.

Machinimatrix have produced a workflow process to handle the correct placement of facial bones. This is not intended to be the finished means of doing so, but is offered to counter issues currently being encountered
Machinimatrix have produced a workflow process to handle the correct placement of facial bones. This is not intended to be the finished means of doing so, but is offered to counter issues currently being encountered

Some questions were asked on whether it was an AvaStar issue rather than something inherent in the viewer, prompting Vir to comment that given the viewer handles joint positions in a model and joint positions in an animation pretty similarly, it’s hard to see how the viewer could be at fault, but acknowledged the only way to be sure of this is test once AvaStar have reasonable confidence they have corrected the issues they have identified.

Later in the meeting, Matrice offered a further explanation of the Belender / AvaStar issue,  also pointing to the explanatory document on joint preparation, again noting that things are very much a work-in-progress on trying to fix things.

During the meeting, Medhue Simoni tried the recommended approach given in the documentation and found it did resolve all of his facial deformation issues, other than with his eyes, which as noted above, may require further viewer-side tweaks and additional work within AvaStar, as Matrice commented.

Avatar Height Position Issues

The camera issue which can be encountered as a part of the avatar height calculation issue
The camera issue which can be encountered as a part of the avatar height calculation issue

I’ve covered this at length in past updates (see update #21 and update #19 for more). The Lab hasn’t progressed any further with a fix, but may look to alter the frequency of updates to see if this helps.

The problem is viewed as being rooted in animating one of the bones used in the calculations for determining the avatar’s height relative to the ground (left leg, up through the pelvis and head), so the solution may ultimately be down to alternative means of animating movement without touching something like the pelvis bone – something which may not be possible when trying to replica certain types of natural movement.

Rigs Modifying Collision Volumes

There have been recent reports of people encountering problems with Bento rigs which modify collision volumes. As Vir explains in the meeting, it’s not something that the Lab planned on supporting, nor did it come up during the original Bento development meetings when rigging to attachment points was discussed, so no effort has been put into making sure it works at all. Vir is now looking at the issue, but whether the Lab will support it is questionable at this point in time; however, the focus at the moment is to more fully understand the impact.

Update, August 12th: Whirly Fizzle pointed me to a viewer repository containing an update to support the animation of collision volumes, to avoid breaking existing content.

Other Items

Slider / Bone Spreadsheet

Aki Shichiroji has been putting together a spreadsheet of all the slider settings and how they affect the Bento avatar bones and geometry. It is very much a work in progress, given things are still in a state of flux, and Aki notes she is aware that there is missing information (she has yet to run through the avatar.LAD file and the avatar skeleton file). However. she has made the spreadsheet available through Google Docs, and welcomes constructive feedback from content creators (which should be addressed to her, I’m not sure if Aki reads this blog!).

Maya / MyaStar And Custom Joint Positions

Following the discussion of Blender / AvaStar and custom joints, Cathy Foil provided some additional information to help Maya users with MayaStar.

Kultivate Summer Art Show in Second Life

Kultivate / Windlight Gallery Summar Art Show
Kultivate / Windlight Gallery Summer Art Show

The Kultivate Magazine / Windlight Gallery Summer Art Show has opened in Second Life. Running through until Saturday, August 20th, the event features, art, music and shopping, with plenty to see and do throughout.

Over 50 2D and 3D artists are participating in the event, including Boudicca Amat, Ceakay Ballyhoo, Glitterprincess Destiny, Cica Ghost, Hana Hoobinoo, Silas Merlin, Bryn Oh, Sina Souza, Betty Tureaud, Myra Wildmist – and yours truly! You can find the full list of participating artists and merchants on the Summer Arts show page at Kultivate Magazine.

Kultivate / Windlight Gallery Summar Art Show: 2D art space
Kultivate / Windlight Gallery Summer Art Show: 2D art space

Given it is a summer show, the theme of the event area is very beach oriented: sand ripples across the land, with merchant kiosks to one side presenting a summer stroll, and the two gallery spaces for 2D artists presenting a shady retreat where paintings and photographs can be viewed and – if you’re so minded – purchased. Between the galleries and the kiosks and out on the sand, are the 3D art pieces, together with the event stage.

Entertainment Schedule

At the time of writing, the entertainments for the event were as follows, but please refer to the Summer Art Show web page for updates. All times are SLT:

Date Time Event
Friday, August 12th 13:00 Phemie Alcott – LIVE
16:00 Bad Amp Tribute Band: Metallica
18:00 Steampunk Party with Gabriel Riel
Saturday, August 13th Noon Summer Rave Party with DJ Paradox Messmer
14:00 Tallyesin – LIVE
 Monday, August 15th 18:00  Whymsee with DJ Cordie
 Tuesday, August 16th Noon Tribute and Crown Pub event with DJ Mia
 Wednesday, August 17th Noon (?) Tribute and Crown Pub event with DJ Mia
Thursday, August 18th
Noon (?) Tribute and Crown Pub event with DJ Mia
 Friday, August 19th 16:00 Summer Ball event with DJ John
Saturday, August 20th 14:00 Bad Amp Tribute Band: Queen
ultivate / Windlight Gallery Summar Art Show: your truly has a modest display
Kultivate / Windlight Gallery Summer Art Show: your truly has a modest display

In addition to the entertainment, there’s a sandcastle hunt running throughout the event, featuring 25 prizes comprising men’s and women’s apparel and home and garden items donated by the participating merchants. As the name suggests – find the little sandcastles and claim your prize!

So whether it is art or shopping or a bit of both, be sure to drop in to the Kultivate / Windlight Gallery Summer Arts Show?

Kultivate / Windlight Gallery Summer Art Show: Caitlyn and I take Cica's washing machines for a tumble!
Kultivate / Windlight Gallery Summer Art Show: Caitlyn and I take Cica’s washing machines for a tumble!

SLurl Details



Holly Kai Park in Second Life: makeover completed

Holly Kai Park the updates art hill, with new events area (foreground) and the Storyteller's Garden beyond
Holly Kai Park: the updates art hill, with new events area (foreground) and the Storyteller’s Garden beyond

Over the last few months, and as time has allowed, I’ve been re-working the art display areas at Holly Kai Park, something I blogged about in July. However, as is the way with me, that blog post proved to be a little premature, as I was uncomfortable with some of the changes made. The last week or so has given me the opportunity to look anew at things and carry out further work – and if I say so myself, thinks are now looking a lot better.

The main thing that was niggling me was the use of old ruins; it’s a theme we’ve used on the home island, and repeating it at the park niggled me. So, the ruins are now gone. Instead we have what I hope feels like a more natural flow to the areas on the art hill – which is now even more of a plateau – with the events area now flowing naturally into the Storyteller’s Garden, rather than being separate to it in placement and look, with a slight reworking of the Storyteller’s Garden to help with this.

Holly Kai Park: another view of the updated hilltop
Holly Kai Park: another view of the updated hilltop

I had been debating replacing the wooden art decks with something else – and this might still happen at some point. So far, though, I’ve not found anything which really talks to me, as it were. There’s an additional stairway for accessing the plateau, which is now ringed completely by cliffs and  which has been retextured to more closely match the land below, and includes rock paths similar to those running through the park elsewhere to again (hopefully) give a sense of continuity. We even have room for a little cuddle snug!

As well as the art at the park hilltop, there have been a number of little nips tucks and tweaks around the park in general, which we hope will add to visitors’ pleasure. The most noticeable of these is the arrival of a new art piece at the Art Garden.

Holly Kai Garden: Reflections of Midnight: kindly presented by Frankx Lefavre
Holly Kai Garden: Reflections at Midnight: kindly presented by Frankx Lefavre

Reflections at Midnight is a piece which has been generously presented by its creator, Frankx Lefavre. It can be found alongside the garden’s landing point, between the two art studios, and it is a simply stunning piece.  Frankx is a master when it comes to the use of light and shadow, and his visualisations and models are stunning – take a look at my review of his former full region installation, Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor as an example.

To fully enjoy Reflections at Midnight, please make sure you follow some basic instructions, as noted in the sign alongside the piece: set your time of day to midnight, enable ALM (no need to turn shadows on), then climb the steps and sit in the chair. You might also want to swap to Mouselook for a full first person experience as well. I’ve also set an independent media stream for the parcel, so feel free to enjoy that as well when sitting down, if the mood takes you!

Many thanks to Frankx for the gifting of Reflections 🙂 .

Reflections of Midnight: from the inside
Holly Kai Garden: Reflections at Midnight: from the inside

Hopefully, these changes mean that we can finally start the ball rolling with the next series of Art at the Park exhibitions, and the first announcement should be coming up very soon. In the meantime, do please feel free to pay the park a visit; we have walks under the trees, places to sit, snuggle spots, two beaches (east and west side of the region), and those able to access Blake Sea can reach us by water or air, the east side slips offer two hours of mooring time, with re-rezzing from the piers.

We look forward to seeing you soon!

Grab a kayak and paddle around Jolly Kai River, if the mood takes you!
Grab a kayak and paddle around Jolly Kai River, if the mood takes you!

Holly Kai Park Revised SLurls

Holly Kai Park is rated Moderate.