Project Bento User Group update 25 with audio

Bento: extending the avatar skeleton

Bento: extending the avatar skeleton

The following notes and audio were taken from the weekly Bento User Group meeting, held on Thursday, September 8th 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.

RC Viewer Release

It is still hoped the Bento viewer will move to RC status soon. The main reluctance with pushing it further is to give people enough time for final testing with the majority of Avastar issues now hopefully resolved (see below). There are currently no major changes to the viewer being planned by the Lab, with the possible exception of the proof-of-concept idea for locking a mesh against slider changes.

Proof of Concept: Locking a Mesh Against Slider Changes

There have been discussions about possibly adding the ability to override the scale as well as position for joints in uploaded mesh models. A joint with both position and scale overrides would be effectively “slider-proof” – no sliders that affect the joint would have any effect on the model. This may be useful for content creators who want to control their avatar mesh shape exactly, without being affected by the standard customization options.

The Lab has now issued a proof-of-concept version of the Bento viewer for testing.  Depending on feedback it may or may not make it into the final version of the viewer. In releasing the proof-of-concept. there are also some notes on the forum from Vir on using this version of the viewer.

Note that this option doesn’t include the ability to enable / disable things on a per joint basis, which is unlikely to happen within the remaining Bento time frame. The idea is to try to provide something that s useful, but doesn’t involve a lot of changes to the UI. The Lab is interested in any feedback on this approach (via the Bento forum thread).

Collision Volumes

Vir presented a forum post on collision volumes and the operations supported for them (contrary to the name, collision volumes are not related to the physics of avatars – all such calculations are carried out on the back-end using a simplified representation of the avatar and do not include the avatar skeleton). Vir indicates that support for animating collision volumes is available on all versions of the viewer, including Bento, but whether or not it is a good idea to do so depends on what is trying to be achieved, noting the following use-cases:

  • Raycasting: collision volumes are used to detect an avatar under the mouse pointer. You can see this in drag-and-drop – try dragging a folder of clothing onto yourself. The drag will succeed if the spot you drag to is occupied by a collision volume
  • Animations with constraints: animations can include constraint information that causes the animation to respond to the location of body parts (hands on hips, resting hand on legs when sitting, etc). The collision volumes are used to determine these constraint locations.
  • Fitted mesh: suitably rigged meshes can use the collision volumes to scale with the avatar shape.

He also offered some guidelines for using collision volumes both in the post and during the meeting, including using them in the creating animations with constraints. Matrice requested anyone doing the latter if they could pass information to him on how they are doing this, as documentation is lacking.

Avastar 2 Updates

Avastar 2 Alpha 7 is available, which should resolve major issues with joint positions. The core updates in this version are:

  • All the related Appearance sliders, for human characters as well as for non human characters. Avastar now behaves just like any Second Life viewer, giving true “what you see is what you get character editing in Blender
  • Mesh eyes now behave exactly in the same way as the system eyes, including scaling with the eye size slider.

Medhue Simoni has produced an instructional video on updating from the “old” Bento rig version to the new rig version in Avastar.

Matrice Laville offered some feedback on the video, concerning some upcoming changes to Avastar.

Matrice also noted that there are a couple of issues which either have a fix awaiting release, or being investigated, which are related to jaw issues and scaling (below).

Jaw Issues And Scaling

Teager reports continued problems with her horse avatar, specifically with the teeth showing as a result of the lower lip not aligning correctly with the upper lip. Testing had led her to believe the problem might be related to scale on one of the bones. Matrice confirmed that there is a scaling issue, together with a peculiarity  in the way Blender works and applying scale within Avastar and issues of parenting / unparenting meshes which can lead to problems. He therefore recommends the best option at present is to ensuring the scaling on a bone in a mesh is always 1 while the problem is investigated.

In addition, Matrice indicated that he has added an option to Avastar to allow the export of all parent bones of each weighted bone, rather than just relying on the Avastar optimising which exported only weighted bones and ignoring any intervening bones. This option will be appearing in the next release of Avastar 2.

Other Items

Akeruka Creations have a “sneak peek” Bento-enabled mesh head available in their store, for their [AK] Heads group members at L$99, and have produced the following demonstration video (with thanks to Torley for the pointer).

Avatar Testing and Visualisation Kit

Tapple Gao has produced a free avatar testing and visualisation kit of meshes and animations which show where each of the bones in the avatar skeleton is located, and how it rotates, together with collision volumes, etc, making it far easier to see what is going on when testing new avatars.

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