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.

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3 thoughts on “SL project updates 2017-4/2: Content Creation User Group w/audio

  1. I am at a loss to understand how the Lab ever thought not having nested outfit folders was a good idea. OK, people used to call them directories, but they were an old idea when MS-DOS introduced them. I have several hundred different outfit-like folders, but there is no way I would be able to handle them as Outfits, with or without the visual options. Scrolling through a couple of hundred folder titles is bad enough: I can’t imagine substituting that many useful pictures.

    Or does Linden Lab see Philip Linden as the epitome of sartorial variety?

    It all makes the Gesture saving problem a bit pointless. For me, at least, the limits of the Outfits system are irrelevant: the whole system is unusable

    Like

    1. It’s hard to determine why the entire Outfits system took a very large step backwards with the release of Viewer 2.1, other than it would appear something pretty fundamental changed in the code structure and it was felt reverting would result in more problems than it would solve. But, that’s just guesswork on my part. I only know, like you that the lack of nesting capabilities more-or-less killed the use of the Outfits capability for me.

      Many have felt that the entire system needs to be burned at the nearest bonfire and then rebuilt (comments to that effect were raised at the meeting), but sadly, any rebuilding of the system isn’t on the cards.

      Like

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