SL project updates 21/2: NEW project: applying baked textures on mesh avatars

During the Content Creation User Group meeting held on Thursday, May 25th, Vir Linden announced that Linden Lab is now formally investigating applying baked textures to mesh avatars in Second Life, a project that has been on the request list since at least the Bento project.

In short, if it can be implemented, it would mean that textures such as skins and make-up layers could be applied to a mesh avatar in much the same way as system layer clothing can currently be applied to system avatars, thus in theory reducing the complexity of mesh avatars by reducing the number of “onion layers” they currently require in order to simulate the capabilities of the baking system.  This in turn should ease the rendering load mesh avatars place on CPUs and GPUs, thus hopefully improving people’s broader Second Life experience.

HOWEVER, the project is only at its earliest stages, and it will be a while before there is anything visible to see with regards to it. The following is a summary of the project’s current status:

  • The first aspect of the work will be to update the existing baking service.
    • This currently operates at a maximum texture resolution of 512×512.
    • For mesh purposes, this needs to be increased to 1024×1024 (which can already be used directly on avatar meshes via textures and / or applier systems).
    • As the baking service hasn’t been touched in some time, updating it may take a while, and any progress on the rest of the project is dependent upon it being completed.
    • Once the baking service has been updated, then the actual work of extending it to support mesh avatars should be fairly straightforward.
  • The exact specifications for how the bakes will work have yet to be defined, so there are no feature / capability details at present.
  • The capability will not support the use of materials, as the baking service as a whole has no notion of materials at present; it only produces a composite of diffuse textures, and there would be a considerable amount of additional work required to make it “materials aware”, marking it as (perhaps) a separate project.

It is important to note that this capability is not necessarily intended to replace applier systems; rather it is to add flexibility to using texture bakes with mesh, and potentially reduce the complexity of mesh avatars.

Further updates on this work will come via the Content Creation User Group (CCUG) meetings, and I’ll report on them through my usual CCUG meeting updates.

The following is an audio extract from the May 25th CCUG, at which Vir announced the project.

Note: there was a broader discussion on the avatar baking service, and this will be covered in my upcoming report on the CCUG itself.