Project Bento live in Second Life

Bento: extending the avatar skeleton - now officially live on the grid!
Bento: extending the avatar skeleton – now officially live on the grid!

On Monday, December 5th, Linden Lab announced that Project Bento is now “live” on the main grid following the promotion of the Bento Release Candidate viewer to de facto release status.

Project Bento is – as I’m sure everyone is only too aware – the project to enhance the avatar skeleton for use in mesh models, human and non-human (please note the new bones cannot be used with the system avatar).

It’s a project I’ve covered extensively in this blog, having been a part of both the closed and open beta phases of the work. However, just in case you have missed it. Bento adds a range of new bones the Second Life avatar skeleton, all of which can be rigged and weighted in mesh avatar models, and many can be used for a wide variety of purposes: limbs, wings, ears, tails and more. In particular, Bento adds over 30 bones to the avatar’s hands and avatar’s face, allowing mesh creators to design hands with movable fingers and faces which can be far more expressive. The Lab’s promotional video released as Bento entered a main grid beta phase is embedded below.

As many of the bones are tied to the Second Life appearance sliders, it also means that – subject to caveats from individual creators – avatar meshes can be customised easier by users. So, for example, avatar heads can be tweaked to give a more personal look when compared to the “off-the-shelf” version of the same head.

For non-human avatars, Bento brings a host of new possibilities and easier ways of doing things. Animal and humanoid avatars can be made which are more life-like, make better use of resources and offer fascinating new opportunities for wearable avatars, pets and more.

A GIF of Medhue Simoni's elephant avatar enjoying a little bit of the Bee Gees. Medue is one of the creators / animators who has been at the forefront of Bento development - check his video for more on the elephant and his You Tube channel for Bento information in general
A GIF of Medhue Simoni’s elephant avatar enjoying a little bit of the Bee Gees via Staying’ Alive. Medue is one of the creators / animators who has been at the forefront of Bento development – check his video for more on the elephant and his You Tube channel for Bento information in general. Credit: Medhue Simoni, via Linden Lab.

To aid in Bento content creation, the project has heavily engaged the talents of Cathy Foil and the Machninimatix team to ensure that MayaStar, Cathy’s SL plug-in for Maya, and Avastar, the Blender add-on from Gaia and Matrice are fully Bento compliant – and all three have been instrumental in moving Bento forward.

There are a couple of additional options which are included in the viewer called Reset Skeleton and Reset Skeleton And Animations, and can be found on the right-click avatar context menu. They have been included because sometimes, when changing between one mesh avatar and another, the basic SL avatar can become deformed, resulting in it looking squished, stretched, caught between two looks, or something else.

The problem is generally the result of race conditions when the avatar’s appearance is being updated, and both of these buttons are intended to correct the problem  – the option to reset animations as well is intended to fix deformations which may be due to animations also kicking-in incorrectly / at the wrong time.

The reset skeleton options (right-click context menu in the official viewer) should "fix other avatars which appear distorted in your view after changing their form (left menu) or your own avatar if the same happens to you (right menu) - note both options only affect your view of the avatar in question
The reset skeleton options (right-click context menu in the official viewer) should “fix other avatars which appear distorted in your view after changing their form (left menu) or your own avatar if the same happens to you (right menu) – note both options only affect your view of the avatar in question. Obviously, the location of these options may vary as TPV release Bento ready viewers

An important thing to not with both these option is they only fix the avatar in question (your own or someone else in your view. They do not affect how other people are seeing the same avatar.

As stated above, content creators have been engaged in the project, and so some Bento content is already available in-world and via the SL Marketplace – and doubtless more will be appearing in time. However, you do need a Bento capable viewer to render Bento content correctly. Hopefully, it will not be long before TPVs also release Bento capable updates as well (some already have Bento updates available as experimental versions, or undergoing closed user group testing).

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a list of additional Bento and related resources and information.

Additional Bento Links

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