SL project updates week 21/3: Content Creation UG w/audio

The Content Creation User Group meeting, at the hippotropolis Camp Fire (stock)

The following notes are taken from the Content Creation User Group meeting, held on  Thursday, May 25th, 2017 at 1:00pm SLT at the the Hippotropolis Camp Fire Circle. The meeting is chaired by Vir Linden, and agenda notes, etc, are available on the Content Creation User Group wiki page.

Audio extracts are provided within the text, covering the core points of the meeting. Please note, however, that comments are not necessarily presented in the chronological order in which they were discussed in the meeting, but are ordered by subject matter.

A video recorded at the meeting by Medhue Simoni is embedded at the end of this update, my thanks to him making it available. However, do not that this cuts out mid-way through the meeting. Timestamps in the text below refer to this recording.

Applying Baked Textures to Mesh Avatars

[1:54] This was announced as a new project – see my separate update for details.

The meeting saw additional questions asked about the baking service, which are summarised below.

Will the Baking Service Support Animated Objects?

  • Not initially. Baked textures are only relevant to your Current Outfit Folder (COF), affecting your appearance only. Animated objects will not have any notion of a COF (as they do not have an associated inventory structure as avatars do), so whose textures would an animated object show?
  • Also, even if you could assign your own COF-defined appearance to an animated object, it would only be valid until you change your own appearance, which would discard the bake used by the object, probably leaving it blank.
  • One solution might be allowing arbitrary textures to be sent to the baking service (see below). Another would be to allow animated objects to have their own notion of a COF contained within the object itself which the baking service could somehow reference
    • WERE this kind of work to be adopted, this would be Vir’s preferred approach. However, it is not currently a part of either the animated objects project or baking textures on meshes.

Baking Arbitrary Textures

Would it be possible to have a LSL function to request baking arbitrary textures?

  • Not as a part of applying baked textures to mesh, although it might be considered in the future.
  • However, the baking service could offer considerable flexibility of use were it to be extended, simply because of the way it defines the body area (head, upper body, lower body).
  • A problem is that, as noted above, baked textures are held only so long as your current avatar appearance defined via your COF is relevant, after which they are discarded. For the system to be useful with arbitrary textures, the resultant composite textures would need more rigorous storage, perhaps as a new asset class or retained in some form of “temporary” texture store – either of which would have to be defined and allowed for.
  • Thus, the problem is the amount of work involved in extending the baking service and (potentially) the asset handling required to support it.

HTTP Asset Viewer

[4:22] The HTTP Asset viewer was updated to version 5.0.6.326593 on Friday, May 26th. This update primarily bring the viewer to parity with the recently promoted release viewer, and so primarily comprise the revised region / parcel access controls, and the updates to Trash emptying behaviour.

Supplemental Animations

[6:53] As well as working on animated meshes, Vir is now also working on the LSL side of supplemental animations alongside of LSL changes need for animated objects. The work is designed  to overcome issues of animations states keyed by the server-side  llSetAnimationOverride() conflicting with one another.

Animated Objects

Current Project Status

Vir has got basic prototyping working in a “hacked up” single version of the viewer. He’s now working on the shared experience – how is an animated object seen by multiple viewers.

There is still no details on what limits beyond land impact which may be applied to animated objects (e.g. number of animated objects – not avatars – permitted per region type, etc), as there is not at this point any solid data on potential performance impact to help indicate the kind of limits which might be required..

Number of Allowed Animation Motions

[8:52] Currently, SL supports a total of 64 animation motions playing at one time per agent (hence walks, arm swings, wing flaps, tail swishes, etc., all of which can happen at the same time). It’s not been tested to see how much of an actual load running multiple animations places on a system. The limit might have to be changed as a result of animated objects – or it might not; it’ll come down to testing.

Other Items of Discussion

Avatar Scaling

[12:24-video end] There is a lengthy discussion on avatar scaling.

  • Essentially, the size slider works within a certain range; go beyond this, and distortions of body parts (e.g. facial features) can start to occur, as some sliders stop working properly.
    • Obviously, it is possible to scale avatars using animations, but again, doing so also doesn’t play nicely with the sliders.
  • This problem is particularly impactful with Tiny and Petite  avatars (although it also affects really large avatars). One workaround is to upload a mesh without joint positions of the affected bones, but this causes breakages in the mesh.Thus, having a slider which could handle the avatar’s scale over a broader range might be beneficial. However:
    • Changing the definition of the current scale slider to work over a broader range isn’t an option, due to the risk of existing content breakage.
    • Adding a new “global scale” slider to the system might be possible. However, while its is relatively simple at the viewer end of things, SL is already close to its limit of 255 sliders, and any additional global slider will require significant changes to the back-end.
  • A further problem is motion is not affected by scale, but is keyed to the current avatar size range. So, additional work would be required to the locomotion system to ensure the distance covered by an avatar’s stride is consistent with its size, adding further complexity to any changes.
  • Also, the ability to scale avatars would also require using rotations only, as any use of translations could result in locomotion issues noted above (e.g. so a really small avatar would appear to zip along at 100s of miles an hour), and rotation-only animations are somewhat limiting.

BUG-20027: Allow joint-offset-relative translations in animations

Created during the Bento project, this feature request was originally closed as something the Lab could not implement. It has now been re-opened as people wanted to add further feedback to it. So, if you have an interest – please go and comment on the JIRA.

Cost of Animating via Bones vs. Using Flexis

The Lab views animating via flexis as being very inefficient, but have no numbers for a direct comparison to the cost of animating bones.

Improving IK Support

General requests have been made for SL to better support Inverse Kinematics (IK) to add greater flexibility of joint / extremity positioning. Vir has requested that if someone could start a feature request JIRA, open for comments, on what might be sought, it would be helpful.

Next Meeting

The next CCUG meeting will be Thursday, June 8th, 2017.

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Mental health awareness in Second Life

Virtual Ability Island

The Virtual Ability community in Second Life is hosting its sixth annual Mental Health Symposium on Saturday, May 27th, 2017, commencing at 06:00 SLT.

Virtual Ability Inc  (VAI) and the Virtual Ability community hosts this annual Symposium to share information about mental health and mental disabilities with the general population. Within this cross-disability community are people who deal with a variety of mental health issues. So, not only is this an opportunity for community members to learn more about topics related to mental health from experts they probably would not have an opportunity to otherwise meet, it also  allows the general public to attend a professional conference for free.

The theme of this year’s event is I can relate to that. It features an international presenters offering a wide interpretation of the theme, based on their interests and academic backgrounds. Attendees will learn ways to promote mental health for themselves and their families, how diet affects mental health, and how first responders and medical clinicians can improve their own mental health.

Sojourner Auditorium

The schedule is as follows (all times SLT):

  • 06:00: Tracy Burrows –  Diet, Nutrition and Food Addiction.
  • 07:30: Sarah Henderson and Kristin Klimley – First Responder Mental Health: The Importance of Training and Intervention.
  • 09:00: Joel Edman – Nutritional and Holistic Approaches to Stomach and Intestinal Disorders: Practical guidelines that can also be helpful for chronic and/or complex health issues.
  • 10:30: A selection of tours of sites related to mental health in Second Life – see below for more.
  • 12:00 noon: Ian Colman – Mental health promotion: What can you do for you and your loved ones?.
  • 13:30: Karen Davison  – Bridging the Divide: Exploring research in nutrition, mental health and food security.
  • 15:00: Diana Anderson – Virtual Windows: Design solutions to improve the mental health of clinical staff.
  • 16:30: Namaara MacMoragh  – Mental Health Following Brain Injury.

The Symposium takes place in Virtual Ability’s Sojourner Auditorium, on Virtual Ability island.

Mental Health Awareness exhibits, HealthInfo Island

May has traditionally been designated as Mental Health Awareness Month; so in addition to the symposium, and as noted above, the Virtual Ability community has a series of exhibits and displays related to mental health on its Healthinfo Island. Open to the public, these comprise:

When visiting an exhibit, click the title poster or display to get a full text note card; click each poster for live links and text chat. Other exhibits and displays on Healthinfo Island during May include:

About Virtual Ability

Virtual Ability, Inc. is a non-profit corporation, chartered in the state of Colorado, USA.  We are a non-profit tax exempt organization under section 501(c)(3) of the United States Internal Revenue Code. This means that for US citizens, contributions made are deductible as a charitable donation for federal income tax purposes.

For further information on the board of directors, please visit the Virtual Ability About Us page.

For those wishing to keep up with Virtual Ability news and updates when on the move, you can follow them on Twitter.

Related links