Bento project reaches RC status in Second Life

Bento: extending the avatar skeleton
Bento: extending the avatar skeleton

OK, I admit I wasn’t expect this until next week, but on Wednesday, September 14th, the Lab  announced that Project Bento is now officially available as a release candidate viewer – version 5.0.0.319688 – which can be obtained through the Alternate Viewers wiki page.

And just in case anyone has missed all the Project Bento news, the best way is to catch-up through the official video. In short, Bento adds a wealth of new bones to the basic avatar skeleton (30+ to heads / faces and to hands alone!), making a wealth of new avatars (humans and non-human) and mesh wearables possible.

The reason I wasn’t expecting the viewer to get promoted just year is that the Lab also has a proof-of-concept viewer being tested, so I assumed any push to RC would come after a decision had been made on incorporating those changes (if they are to be adopted). So, not for the first time, I’m been wrong 🙂 .

The move to release candidate status doesn’t mean the project is at an end. There is still further work to be done as remaining bugs are fixed, etc  (so updates such as the slider locking in the proof-of-concept might yet arrive in the viewer). What it does do is three things:

  • Makes the viewer available to a wider audience through the Lab’s RC distribution mechanism, thus allowing any unforeseen issues in merging the Bento code into the current release viewer code (and which may be outside of direct Bento testing) to be identified and fixed
  • Potentially makes the viewer more widely available to content creators who may not have so far tried the viewer
  • Means that TPVs can now officially start incorporating the Bento code into their viewers (in fact, Cool VL Viewer has had Bento in its Experimental branch from some time, and Firestorm have also been working to merge the Bento code as well – but this shouldn’t be taken to mean there will be a new release of the latter in  the near future).

In keeping with the status of the Bento code, the Lab do ask people – particularly avatar content creators – to give the viewer a go,  and to file a JIRA against any issues found.

As noted above, Bento offers a range of opportunities for mesh wearable and avatar creators – you can see a couple of video exploring the AK and Catwa preview Bento mesh heads in my SL project update. Also, back in August, Vista Animations produced a video illustrating the potential of finger animations:

Then, of course, there is a huge range of non-human avatars: centaurs, “rideables”, winged creatures – all of which can be achieved a lot more efficiently through Bento than has previously been the case.

Teager's Bento Raptor using Bento bones
Teager’s Bento Raptor using Bento bones

So – get ready for the Bento Revolution!

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Going nautical at Caitinara Bar in support of SU2C

all-at-seaReblogged from the Holly Kai Park blog.

Wednesday, September 14th will see us celebrating nautical and watery themes in pop music and more between 4:00pm and 6:00pm at Caitinara Bar, as we present another Music with Anthony themed night.

What’s more we’re hoping to add to the almost L$14,000 raised at the bar in support Stand Up To Cancer, as we again join in with the grid-wide SL Concerts to Benefit Stand Up To Cancer, organised by Still Braveheart, which sees musical events being held throughout September in support of SU2C, and which I blogged about here.

So, it doesn’t matter whether of not you’re In The Navy, enjoy spending time Under The Sea or Sailing, or whether you prefer to be Sittin’ On The Dock Of The Bay and looking Beyond the Sea, you don’t need to have any worries whether you might Rock The Boat or are missing those Harbour Lights; come along to Caitinara Bar at 4;00pm and say Aloha Oe to daily worries, let us be your Bridge Over Troubled Waters, and simply go with the Orinoco Flow with two hours of great music and great company – and all for a really great cause!

(Did you see what I did there? 🙂 ).

Our theme night gives everyone a chance to dress-up for the evening – but it’s not an absolute requirement. However, if you want to get out those dress whites, or if you fancy some shore leave from Starfleet (yes, Star Trek can be considered nautical in its anniversary month!), or simply have a grass skirt / hula outfit waiting to be used, feel like being Popeye, get in an early character ready for International Talk Like a Pirate Day (Sept. 19th) – or just want to enjoy some great music, the choice is yours. All we ask is that you come along for as long as you like, enjoy the music and the company – and help use raise a little more for SU2C!

As always, Anthony Westburn will be spinning the tunes and taking requests for the evening, and Caitlyn, Bou and Inara will be there to pipe you aboard, so we look forward to seeing you!

About Stand Up 2 Cancer

SU2C takes an innovative approach to ending cancer by focusing on forming “dream teams” of doctors and researchers who are directly involved in leading-edge cancer research and treatment, and then undertaking aggressive research programmes. 100% of all donations made through SU2C goes directly into funding cancer research and treatment and paying for these teams; none is lost to “administrative costs” or put aside for CEO or executive salaries, etc.

Such is the success of this approach that as of 2014, and in the USA alone, SU2C has raised over $261 million in seven years. This money has all be used in directly supporting 141 clinical trials of possible cancer treatments, involving 750 scientists and 5,000 cancer patients, and which have spanned 112 US institutions.

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Soul of Avatar in Second Life

Gallery Desy Magic
Gallery Desy Magic: Soul of Avatar

Desy Magic is an Italian artist and photographer who is marking the opening of her new gallery on Wednesday, September 14th with an exhibition of her own work entitled Soul of Avatar,
which Desy defines as, “a reflection of our dreams and fantasies, as realised through our avatar.”

Housed within a gallery space designed by Desy, the exhibition features nineteen avatar studies presented in a number of different styles, from relatively straightforward posed portraits through to very stylised and post-processed works – hopefully the pictures in. All intended to highlight the rich diversity of vision and fantasy we can embody within our avatar.

Gallery Desy Magic
Gallery Desy Magic: Soul of Avatar

While they may be of different styles and presentation, it is in their celebration of the avatar that they are united as a cohesive set. Whether an image shows a “normal” human avatar, naked or clothed, or whether it reveals a more fantasy or science fiction look; whether it is processed in colour or rendered as a monochrome image, all of them make Soul of Avatar a deceptively engaging exhibition; one ideally suited to the interior styling of the gallery space.

Each of the pieces in the exhibit is available for purchase, and the opening at 13:30 SLT on Wednesday, September 14th will feature the music of artist (and friend) Morlita Quan – my congratulations to Desy on the opening!

Recommended.

Gallery Desy Magic
Gallery Desy Magic: Soul of Avatar

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2016 SL project updates 37 (1): server, Bento preview head videos

Vintage Romance; Inara Pey, September 2016, on Flickr Vintage Romanceblog post

Server Deployment: Week 37

On Tuesday, September 13th, the Main (SLS) channel received the same server maintenance package previously deployed on the RC channel in week #36. This comprises “minor internal logging changes” which may help with some of the problems occasionally seen with estate bans; at a minimum the Lab will be able to gather more information on them.

There iss no planned deployment or restart set for the three RC channels during the week. RC deployments will resume in week #38. This may involve further serve-side updates to reduce certain griefing vectors.

SL Viewer

The VLC Media Plugin viewer updated in September 13th to version 4.1.1.319583. This viewer replaces the QuickTime media plugin for the Windows viewer with one based on LibVLC.

In addition, and as indicated in my TPVD meeting notes, this version should include changes for exception handling in the viewer intended to ensure exceptions are better handled and recorded. These may not prevent crashes occurring, but should provide the Lab with better data on the exception throws and catches. Overall, they are describes as “fairly small, widespread changes” to the viewer code.

The remaining viewers in the various pipelines remain as per the end of week #36:

  • Current Release version: 4.0.7.318301 (dated August 8), promoted August 11 – formerly the Maintenance RC viewer download page, release notes
  • Release channel cohorts (please see my notes on manually installing RC viewer versions if you wish to install any release candidate(s) yourself):
    • Visual Outfit Browser viewer,  version 4.0.8.319143, dated August 30 – ability to preview images of outfits in the Appearance floater
  • Project viewers:
    • Project Bento (avatar skeleton extensions), version 5.0.0.318969, dated August 25 – avatar vertical position update; SLM files are by default not created or used; show bones display uses colours differently; animation of collision volumes fixed
  • Obsolete platform viewer version 3.7.28.300847 dated May 8, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7.

Project Bento

Following my last Bento update, Matrice and Gaia have been working on Avastar 2, which has now reached Alpha 10, supporting the current version of the project viewer (5.0.0.318969).

Demo Heads

In that update, I also blogged about the AK Bento preview head. On September 13th, Catwa offered some bloggers a preview look at an upcoming Catwa head, as  well as a preview video. – Doubtless, more heads will be appearing in the near future.

An important point to note with Bento heads is that while they will offer considerably more options for customising your look that “conventional” mesh head, it won’t simply be a case of buying Bento head, wearing it, and having it conform to your existing facial features – you will obviously need to adjust many of the head / facial sliders to get a close / approximate look, and even then, just how close a look you can achieve will depend a lot upon the base mesh of the head itself. So careful testing of Bento heads to find one which bears some initial resemblance to your desired look is likely to be required, and it may be that multiple heads are still required to achieve all of your desired looks.

Strawberry Singh has produced a video based on the AK Bento preview head, demonstrating how it currently works with the sliders.

As Whirly Fizzle pointed out to me, on the day Catwa issued preview copies of her Bento head work, fashion blogger Daeberethwen Arbenlow also put a video together running through the capabilities on that head as well

A further point of note with Bento mesh heads is that the degree of customisation available will depend on which bones of the face and head a model is rigged to, and the weighting assigned to it. An example of this is the nose division, mentioned in both videos. This can potentially be  more prominent, providing the head is rigged to the mFaceNoseBase bone and has a suitable weighting applied.

As Cathy Foil, developer of MayaStar, and one of the core members of the Bento development team points out:

Each mesh head designer will have to decide what sliders they want and will have to experiment with different weighting. It will be very exciting to see how face weights will evolve over the next few months and years.

Which again underline the need for careful comparisons when selected Bento heads as they become more and more available once Bento moves past RC status, and more Bento products start to appear.

SL Wiki

The Wiki remains locked to the majority of users for editing, no news on when it may be unlocked, or what might be done to address the current issues.