SL project updates 2017-4/2: Content Creation User Group w/audio

The Content Creation User Group has re-formed out of the Bento User Group, and is held at the Hippotropolis Camp Fire Circle. Imp costumes entirely optional :D .
The Content Creation User Group has re-formed out of the Bento User Group, and is held at the Hippotropolis Campfire Circle. Imp costumes entirely optional 😀 .

The following notes are taken from the Content Creation User Group meeting, held on  Thursday January 26th, 2017 at 1:00pm SLT at the the Hippotropolis Campfire Circle. The meeting is chaired by Vir Linden, and agenda notes, etc, are available on the Content Creation User Group wiki page.

Core Topics

  • Potential follow-on projects
  • Modelling for efficient rendering
  • Animations
  • Outfits

Follow-up projects

There has been no further progression on the potential follow-on projects from Bento (see my week #2 Content Creation Group meeting report for details of follow-ups).

  • In terms of the baked texture on mesh idea, the Lab has asked for specific content there “onion” meshes are used – and it has been reiterated this is most of the common mesh bodies and heads
  • There is still some confusion as to what may be causing the animation conflict issue. While it may be that changes will be made to the animation system in the future, as per the suggestions Vir forward previously (see the link above), the solution for now is to try to address the issue at a scripting level to prevent conflicts.

Modelling for Efficient Rendering

Medhue Simoni has been producing a series on the use of Level of Detail (LOD) to help with generating rendering efficient models in Second Life. Part 1 is embedded below, and Part 2 can be found here. A third part will be available soon, and hopefully, he and I will be producing a companion article in this blog once that part is available on-line.

Efficient modelling for Second Life has long been a problem within the platform, and something exacerbated by the arrival of full mesh support. Given this:

  • The Lab is considering revising the rendering cost calculations “at some point” to encourage people to consider more efficient models (e.g. making more use of normal maps to add detail to models where appropriate, rather than rely on always producing an extremely high poly count model).
  • It has been suggested that providing some basic indicators of what might be considered “reasonable” number – poly counts, proportionate scaling of LODs, etc. – for models could be produced, together with videos (by content creators with a solid understanding of the subject and Second Life)  on efficient use of normal and specular maps
Using a normal map to enhance the detail on a low-polygon model
Using a normal map to enhance the detail on a low-polygon model. The image on the left shows a model of some 4 million triangles. The centre image shows a model with just 500 triangles. The image on the right shows the 500-triangle model with a normal map taken from the model on the left applied to it. Credit: Wikipedia

The discussion broadened to cover awareness among content creators as to what actually works and where falsehoods / misunderstanding lie. A cited example in the meeting was that of mesh clothing makers avoiding the use of normal maps because they want their clothing to look the “same” to everyone, even though doing so can severely impact the user experience for those on lower-end system, and thus discourage users from buying their goods.

.BVH Animations and Animation Playback

Animations can be uploaded to Second Life in one of two formats, .ANIM and .BVH. The latter are optimised as a part of the upload process, and this is proving to be a particular problem for Maya users when animating facial expressions. These require finer bone movements in the animation, which the optimisation process is filtering out, requiring Maya users to use exaggerated movements. Blender users can avoid the issue by using .ANIM, which does not pass through any form of optimisation / filtering.

While it is recognised that the thresholds used by the .BVH optimisation / filtering process may not be the best for very small bone movements, there are currently no plans to alter / refine the .BVH uploader. Nor is it really feasible to adjust the thresholds for hand and face bones, as this could have an adverse effect where these bones are re-purposed for other uses (as Bento is intended to allow).

There are two possible workarounds which may help with these issues for anyone using the .BVH format:

  • Swap to using .ANIM files, which do not go through any similar optimisation process. Unfortunately, this isn’t an option for Maya users, as there is current no .ANIM exporter for Maya, although Aura Linden is working on one in her own time, and is hoping to get time in about three weeks to sit down and finish it
  • Alter the frame rate of the animation itself – so rather than creating it at 30 fps, try 15 or 10 fps, depending on the animation.

There was also some confusion over the maximum file size for animations, as per my 2016 week #25 report, this was increased from 120 Kb to 250 Kb in June 2016. The wiki page on SL limits has now been correctly updated to reflect this. It’s also worth noting, as an aside, that animations will be moving to delivery via the CDN network in the future.

There was an extended conversation around Outfits and the Outfits folder. While much of this revolved around the Visual Outfits Browser option for Outfits, a couple of significant items were discussed.

The first was on the subject of saving gestures with outfits. As noted in my Bento update #26 and Bento update #27, gestures cannot be automatically saved with an outfit, but can be manually added as links / copies. However, Medhue Simoni has found a catch: should the outfit ever be re-saved, the gestures are removed. Expect a JIRA soon

A common request for the Outfit system to allow nested folders once more the ability was removed with viewer 2.1 (see VWR-19774), and while it was at the time noted as a possible “priority” item for consideration by the Lab, the topic has only recently again come up in internal conversations as a result of feature request BUG-41826. However, the amount of work involved to make it happen makes it unclear if the request will be accepted.

One request for Outfits which is unlikely to be acted upon, is to have links to other folders in addition to objects. This is seen as even more complex than allowing nested folders within the Outfits hierarchy.

Next Meeting

The Next Content Creation User Group meeting will be on Thursday, February 16th, 2017.

BURN2: a Fire Moon in Second Life

 Fire Moon
Fire Moon

Saturday, January 28th marks the start of celebrations for the Chinese New Year – so gong hei fat choy a little ahead of time, while before it, Friday, January 27th marks the first new moon of 2017. Given both of these dates, the BURN2 team have opted to host a special Fire Moon weekend from Friday January 27th through Sunday, January 29th.

Announcing the event in December, the team stated:

The pairing of the moon on fire and the fire rooster, the new year, a new beginning…such an exciting time of year! No one shall be a mere bystander; everyone participates in some way, by exploring, driving an art car, joining the Lamplighters as they walk the playa, witnessing the burning of the Fire Rooster, grooving to the tunes emanating from the stage, marvelling and experiencing the creative builds scattered throughout the playa. You become the event, with us!

Since then, builders have been at work putting together installations and ideas reflective of the Chinese New Year theme – 2017 being the Year of the Rooster – all built around the Fire Rooster, which in the tradition of BURN2 will be burned twice over the weekend. To help keep the weekend swinging, there will be live entertainment and DJs performing through the three days, at the Fire Moon main stage.

 Fire Moon
Fire Moon

At the time of writing, the schedule of entertainment was as follows; please check the BURN2 website for any updates. All times SLT.

Friday, January 27th

  • 11:00: Lamplighter’s Walk-on
  • 12:00-14:00: Ktahdn Vesuvino
  • 14:00-15:00:  DJ Patricio
  • 15:00-17:00: Open
  • 17:00-18:00: PsyTwins
  • 18:00-19:00: Lamplighters Dragon March
  • 19:00-20:00: Rod Eiland
  • 22:00-23:00: Storytime with Mia

Saturday, January 28th

  • 04:00-06:00: Daphne
  • 08:00-09:00: Miss ChillyMilly
  • 09:00-10:00: FirstBreath Firestar
  • 10:00-11:00 Markus Davidov
  • 11:00-13:00: Maia Antarra
  • 13:00-14:00: Mania Littlething
  • 15:00-17:00: Lunna Darwinian
  • 17:00-18:00: Mario Zecca
  • 18:00-20:00: DJ Vivienne
  • 20:00-22:00: DJ Rocky
  • 22:00-00:00: DJ Keli

Sunday, January 29th

  • 09:00-10:00:  SuperSuz
  • 10:00-11:00: ChangHigh Fire Rooster
  • 11:00:-12:00 noon: Fire Moon Rooster Burn
  • 12:00 noon-13:00: Cuga Rajal
  • 13:00-14:00 Pilou Joubert
  • 14:00-16:00: DJ Patricio
  • 16:00-17:00: DRUM live show
  • 17:00-18:00: PsyTwins live show
  • 18:00-19:00: Fire Moon Rooster Burn
  • 19:00-20:00: Cuga Rajal
  • 20:00-22:00:  DJ Rocky
  • 22:00-00:00: DJ Keli
 Fire Moon
Fire Moon

About BURN2

BURN2 is an extension of the Burning Man festival and community into the world of Second Life. It is an officially sanctioned Burning Man regional event, and the only virtual world event out of more than 100 real world Regional groups and the only regional event allowed to burn the man.

The BURN2 Team operates events year around, culminating in an annual major festival of community, art and fire in the fall – a virtual echo of Burning Man itself.

Related Links