Rock Your Rack 2017 charity art show opens in Second Life

Rock Your Rack Art Show and Auction

The 2017 Rock Your Rack Art Show and Auction in support of Rock Your Rack opened on Saturday, September 30th, 2017, and will run through until Saturday, October 14th, alongside the main Rock Your Rack 2017 events.

Rock Your Rack is the annual fund-raiser started in October of 2012 by Jamee Sandalwood and the team at Models Giving Back for the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF). Founded in 1991, NBCF’s mission is to help women in the United States by providing help and inspiring hope to those affected by breast cancer through early detection, education and support services. NBCF is also joining hands with organisations around the globe to provide breast cancer education.

Curated and coordinated by Kultivate Magazine on behalf of Rock Your Rack, the art show features 32 2D and 3D artists, all of whom are offering one or more items in their art displays with 100% of proceeds going to Rock Your Rack.

Rock Your Rack Art Show and Auction

The participating artists are: angyel Resident, artandsoul constantine, Astrid Zhangsun, Beth Pentewyn, Booyakashaka Resident, CalystiaMoonShadow, captainofmysoul, chanasitsayo, Daruma Boa, DrusillaGwind Resident, Eleseren Brianna, Elle Thorkveld, emberdearheart Resident, Eucalyptus Carroll, FreeDom Voix, ilyra chardin, Inquisitor Titanium, Jamee Sandalwood, John Brianna, Karma Weymann, Kerry Streeter, M8ty Resident, Meishagirl Resident, Myra Wildmist, NaTaS Janus, retroye resident, Sandi Benelli, Sheba Blitz, tisephone resident, Veruca Tammas, Vivienne Darcy, and Wintergeist.

Events accompanying the Art Show include the return of the Pink Art Ball with live performer SaraMarie Philly on Saturday, September 20th at 16:00 SLT, a special gift card raffle, and a special art auction bundle, featuring work by Cica Ghost and Bryn Oh. The art show will participate in the Rock Your Rack hunt, where hunt goers can search for hangers throughout the art area and the rest of the region.

Rock Your Rack

As well as the Art Show, Rock Your Rack features shopping, a silent auction, live entertainment, DJs, the aforementioned hunt … all in a beach themed location so those of us facing the approach of winter can enjoy a last moment of sunshine for 2017, and those in the southern hemisphere can greet the forthcoming arrival of summer!

The complete schedule of events can be found at the Rock Your Rack calendar, and on the entertainment page of the website, together with details of the hunt and auction, and a list of participating sponsors.

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Bloggies 2017: last chance to vote

via BVN

September 30th marks the last day of voting in the Blogger and Vlogger Network (BVN) 2017 Blogger and Vlogger Awards, also to be known has “The Bloggies”, intended to recognise bloggers and vloggers covering Second Life. Nominations took place in July / August, and voting  / judging opened on September 1st.

Nominations for public voting have been split into a number of categories, which cover topics such as fashion, accessories, home and garden, news, SL travel, humour, tutorials, and newcomer blogs. A number of special awards will additionally be given for a selected set of categories: BVN Member of the Year, Founders Award, Blogger or Vlogger of the year, Best Female Fashion Blogger, and Best Male Fashion Blogger.

I’ve so far steered clear of writing about the awards, as I’m actually a nominee in one category, and writing when nominated feels somewhat self-serving. However, there is a lot of variety within the various categories (including a number of blogs I’d not come across before (to my loss) and am now enjoying taking a look at as and when time permits.Also, given this is the last day for voting, it seems a good time to offer a reminder that voting is about to close for anyone still intending to vote, but hasn’t so far done so.

So if you haven’t already voted, hop over to The Bloggies  before the end of the day on September 3th, 2017, look through the nominated blogs in the categories, and vote on those you like – note that voting requires a Google account to prevent multiple repeat votes.

Winning nominees will be announced on Saturday, October 14th.

SL project updates 39/2: Content Creation User Group

Content Creation User Group Meeting, Hippotropolis Camp Fire Circle

The following notes are taken from the Content Creation User Group meeting, held on  Thursday, September 28th, 2017 at 13:00 SLT at the the Hippotropolis Camp Fire Circle. The meeting is chaired by Vir Linden, and agenda notes, etc, are usually available on the Content Creation User Group wiki page.

Medhue Simoni live steamed the meeting to You Tube, and his video is embedded at the end of this article, with key points of discussion noted below. Time stamps to the recording are included below, and clicking on any of them will launch the video in a separate browser tab at the assigned point. However as these notes present the meeting in terms of topics discussed, rather than a chronological breakdown of the meeting, so some time stamps may appear to be out of sequence.

Animesh (Animated Mesh)

“I like the name ‘animated objects’ because I think it’s unambiguous, but it takes a long time to type!” – Vir Linden joking about the name “Animesh”.

Project Summary

The goal of this project is to provide a means of animating rigged mesh objects using the avatar skeleton, in whole or in part, to provide things like independently moveable pets / creatures, and animated scenery features via scripted animation. It involves both viewer and server-side changes.

In short, an Animesh object:

  • Can be any object (generally rigged / skinned mesh) which and contains the necessary animations and controlling scripts in its own inventory  (Contents tab of the Build floater) required for it to animate itself.
  • Can be a single mesh object or a linkset of objects (link them first, then set them to Animated Mesh via the Build floater > Features).
  • Has been flagged as and Animesh object in the project viewer, and so has an avatar skeleton associated with it.
  • Can use many existing animations.

Note that the focus of this project is not currently about providing fully-functional NPCs at this point in time, which is seen as a follow-on project.

Current Progress

[3:32-4:00] We are getting close to seeing a project viewer for Animesh.  Vir is about to submit a build to the Lab’s QA team for testing, which should be done by the time of the next meeting (Thursday, October 12th, 2017). The outcome of the testing will help determine when we might see the project viewer made publicly available.

[4:00-4:37] Most recently, Vir has been working on issues with the transform matrices when handling Animesh attachments. He’s now got these to a point where things can be edited and positioned where they are needed. There may be some further iterations on this work, but it appears to be working well enough for testing now, once the project viewer is available.

Constraints

This discussion on constraints, and triangle limits in particular ran throughout most of the meeting in chat, with a large portion of the meeting from around the 50 minutes to the end of the hour being almost exclusively personal viewpoints chat. I’ve attempted to highlight the key points of the discussion below.

[6:05-7:25] As noted in previous CCUG meeting notes, some constraints on Animesh are required to prevent undue impact at either the simulator or (particularly) viewer end of the system. These constraints will be in addition to any already in place in SL, and include:

  • Limiting the overall complexity of an Animesh object
  • A land impact surcharge for in-world Animesh objects (currently set to 200LI per region for testing purposes).
  • Limiting how many Animesh items an avatar can have attached at any one time (currently set to one for testing purposes).
  • Limiting the number of triangles an Animesh object (attached or in-world) can contain, the figure for this the topic of debate.

[8:21-9:08] The initial limits will be documented when the project viewer is released. Vir will be working on this and other related Animesh documentation when the viewer goes to QA for testing.

[12:30-13:30]  The limit will come into play when converting an object (or linkset) to Animesh in-world (note there is no check at upload, as a) the uploader has no way of knowing if a rigged mesh item is specifically Animesh or not without changes; and b) an in-world check allows existing in-world mesh to be used as / with Animesh without the need to re-upload). It will be triggered through the viewer, enforced by the server.

[15:04-15:58, [16:02-18:35] There is doubt is the 20K tri limit is high enough – even Vir is not sure, and may raise it before the project viewer is made available.

[18:39-19:22] Concern was raised about the impact of the servers decompressing mesh objects in order to calculate the number of tris the number of objects in an item in order to check if the Animesh limit is exceeded. Vir explains this isn’t how it’s done. Rather the server has a estimation for the likely tri count based on the size of the data objects which store the triangles – which is essentially the same figure used in the rendering / streaming cost calculations, and gives a close enough estimate to be reliable.

[20:40-28:58] Some would like to see it raised “just for testing”. however, Vir’s concern is that once the project viewer is available, the Aditi test regions are liable to be inundated with Animesh objects, resulting in them being overloaded with no meaningful data collected. The flips side to this is that an initial limit of 35K or 50K would mean that more existing content could be “flipped” to Animesh status, without the need necessarily for creators to have to create models specifically for Animesh testing.

[31:47-32:47] As the tri limit is managed server-side, it may be possible to have different regions set with different limits to offer a variety of testing environments.

[20:01-20:30] Animesh will increase the server load in other ways. Whereas the tri count was only affected by in-world objects, it will now have to account for worn Animesh as well.

[34:54-35:42] The important thing to note with these constraints is that they are preliminary and for the purposes of testing. Depending on the results obtained, some of them might well be relaxed both as testing progresses and prior to Animesh being formally released. As Vir notes, it is potentially much easier – and less upsetting – to start with very tight constraints and then loosen them as data is gathered, rather than start with very broad constraints and then try to restrict them over time. so, the intent is with the testing is to lay the grounds for a more informed discussion on limits – tri counts, LI, and everything else. Nothing, at this point in time or with the arrival of the project viewer in due course, is set in stone.

[47:21-50:23] Could the number of tris in an Animesh be tied to land impact, rather than a basic surcharge regardless? Possibly; again, the 200 LI surcharge is purely for initially region-based testing. This is already how land impact works elsewhere. However, there is always a basic cost associated with an avatar skeleton, so this needed to be factored-in as well, however minimal it might be for a single skeleton.

Test Content

[4:50-5:42] The idea for the Lab to provide more in the way of test content to help those wanting to get started with Animesh has been passed to the Linden Department of Public Works (LPDW) team. They’ve in turn assigned someone to produce some test content which will be made available through the Library (and so will appear in people’s inventory under Library when available).

How Will Animesh Attachments Work?

[9:10-12:10] Essentially the same as any other attachment, using an avatar attachment point. The Animesh item is attached via its root joint, and then can be edited to fit (translation / rotation).  Animesh can also currently be attached to HUD point, but this is liable to be disabled, particularly as it is will require more work to get it to function reliably, and there aren’t any obvious use cases.

Bakes on Mesh

Project Summary

Extending the current avatar baking service to allow wearable textures (skins, tattoos, clothing) to be applied directly to mesh bodies as well as system avatars. This involves server-side changes, including updating the baking service to support 1024×1024 textures, and may in time lead to a reduction in the complexity of mesh avatar bodies and heads. The project is in two phases:

  • The current work to update the baking service to support 1024×1024 textures.
  • An intended follow-on project to actually support baking textures onto avatar mesh surfaces (and potentially other mesh objects as well). This has yet to fully defined in terms of implementation and when it might be slotted into SL development time frames.

This work does not include normal or specular map support, as these are not part of the existing baking service.

Current Status

[7:40-8:04] The updates to the service to manage 1024×1024 textures and compositing has been in testing with LL’s QA team, and it has been reported that the higher resolution texture capability (the baking service only supports 512×512) has the potential to impact the performance of the bake service, so a load test is being planned.

[14:17-14:37] The first part of the bakes on mesh project will not include any kind of API for injecting layers into the bake stack (e.g. to ensure that layers from the likes of appliers are stacked correctly (e.g. underwear, shirt, top), by the baking service. The might be added in the future.

[29:00-29:40] Essentially, the project currently breaks down into two core activities:

  • First stage: just to increase the maximum resolution the baking service can support (1024×1024, as noted above)
  • First (and larger) stage: to get the bakes on mesh to help with baking to mesh bodies. This work is “further down the line”.

[38:00-41:10] Once Animesh is released, the plan would be to also extend bakes on mesh to support Animesh objects as a part of the Animesh follow-on project, which would see Animesh objects have a notion of a shape, plus wearables in their object inventory.

Other Items

[14:39-15:03] As a ploy count will be used for Animesh constraints, can llGetObjectDetails() have a parameter to return the count is a scripted enquiry? Possibly, but not as part of the Animesh project.

There is no Content Creation meeting in week #40 (commencing, Monday, October 2nd). As noted above, the next meeting will be Thursday, October 12th, 2017.

Linden Lab announces Voyages Live: Egypt with Insight Digital

The Tomb of Nahktamon (“TT341”) in Sansar – part of the collaboration with INSIGHT

Linden Lab has announced the first Sansar virtual tourism / history event, which will take place on Wednesday, October 4th., between 10:00 – 11:00 PDT on Wednesday, October 4th.

Presented in partnership with the Institute for Study and Implementation of Graphical Heritage Techniques (INSIGHT, also referred to as Insight Digital),  Voyages Live: Egypt offers those registering for the event the opportunity to join with Egyptologist, author, and INSIGHT co-founder, Dr. Philippe Martinez for an interactive guided tours of select Egyptian heritage sites which have been recreated in Sansar with a high degree of fidelity.

The cenotaph at Gebel el-Silsila as modelled in Sanar

These sites, which are inaccessible to the public, have been recreated as a part of a joint project between INSIGHT, the Sorbonne University, and the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities. The project has used LiDAR (or LIDAR – Light Detection and Ranging – a surveying method that measures distance to a target by illuminating it  with a pulsed laser light and measuring the reflected pulses) and photogrammetry (the science of making measurements from photographs) to produce models of sites of antiquity in Egypt. Some of these models have been  optimised by Linden Lab and presented in Sansar in exacting “you are there” detail.

One such model in particular, that of the entrance to the tomb of Nakhtamon (“TT341”), was optimised from a model of some 50 million polygons to produce a 40,000 polygon Sansar experience used extensively in promoting the platform in the run-up to the Creator Preview and Creator Beta programmes.  This experience is linked to the Voyages Live: Egypt experience, which also allows visitors to travel to what appears to be a work-in-process of the Ramesseum “Coronation Wall”, and to the cenotaph at Gebel el-Silsila.

Dr. Phillipe Martinez, Lead Archaeologist for INSIGHT, and who will be leading the Sansar tour on October 4th, 2017, pictured at Gebel el-Silsila

As the co-founder and Lead Archaeologist for the INSIGHT programme, Dr. Martinez is well-placed to talk about the INSIGHT work in the digital preservation of sites of historical import in Egypt and on Egyptology in general. Thus, Voyages Live: Egypt offers a potentially fascinating field trip. However, it is only open to a limited number of participants, so those interested are advised to register sooner rather than later in order to secure a place on the tour. Detailed information on the event will be sent via e-mail to all successful applicants in due course.

With thanks to Jenn at Linden Lab.

A Dark Moon rises for Halloween in Second Life

MDark Moon, Calas Halloween 201; Inara Pey, September 2017, on FlickrDark Moon, Calas Halloween 2017 – click any image for full size

Every year, Ty Tenk and Truck Meredith produce a stunning immersive environment in Second Life to celebrate Halloween and to help support their Calas Galadhon regions. In 2017, they opted for a sci-fi design with the title Dark Moon; it carries a degree of emphasis on a certain film franchise ideal for  Halloween, richly re-imagined and with little twists of humour along the way.

“It’s something that’s been fun putting together, and a little bit different for us,” Ty informed me when inviting Caitlyn and I over for a sneak peek shortly before the region opened to members of the Calas Galadhon group.  To be honest, “different” is not the word I would use – not unless it is spelt “astonishing”, at least; because Dark Moon is a stunning build. It will open to the public on Sunday, October 1st, 2017 and will remain so through to the end of the month. However, until then, anyone joining the Calas Galadhon in-world group can enjoy advanced access.

MDark Moon, Calas Halloween 201; Inara Pey, September 2017, on FlickrDark Moon, Calas Halloween 2017

Spanning several levels, Dark Moon carries visitors on an adventure from space ship to moon’s core, with much to discover along the way. The voyage begins on the EVA / cargo handling deck of the Cargo Ship Utopia, where visitors can find instructions for best viewing the installation. In short order, make sure you have Graphics > Preferences > Advanced Lighting Model enabled (you do not need to enable shadows, so hopefully the performance hint won’t be too great), set your viewer to the region Windlight settings (Midnight) and make sure both local sounds and the audio stream are active. I’d also recommend dropping draw distance down as well; this is largely an enclosed build, and except for one or two points along the way, a draw distance of 128 metres is more than sufficient.

It’s pretty clear that the Utopia has encountered serious troubles. The cargo deck is in disarray, and many of the crew appear to have taken to space suits to escape the ship – some of them perishing in their attempts, smashed visors and broken suits testament to the violence which overcame them. Corridors are splashed with blood, and the causes of the panic await visitors within the ship’s biodomes, which might be encountered whilst seeking the teleport portal off the ship.

MDark Moon, Calas Halloween 201; Inara Pey, September 2017, on FlickrDark Moon, Calas Halloween 2017

This will lead visitors down to the surface of a moon. Here the tour shuttle awaits visitors, waiting to whisk them through the remaining levels of the build and to the Dark Moon itself. I recommend the ride; it gives a feel for the explorations to come – although it far from reveals all. However, Caitlyn and I did at times find the default camera positioning in the shuttles a little troublesome.

At the end of the tour is a teleport to get back to the moon’s surface – and from there a further portal, once reached, carries visitors into the bowels of the satellite, on the first step of a progressive downward journey. This take you through stunning aliens scenes from the gigantic setting of a high-tech civilisation, through a field of very familiar mist-enshrouded eggs and down into catacomb-like halls. to where a final portal awaits those who find it.

MDark Moon, Calas Halloween 201; Inara Pey, September 2017, on FlickrDark Moon, Calas Halloween 2017

The sheer scale of these builds is such that it can be hard to find the way – so look for the silver figures as they point towards routes which can be taken. There are also secret ways, tunnels and chambers awaiting discovery, one of which holds the famous Space Jockey. These may not have obvious points of entry – or have entry points which take you by surprise; such as dropping through a coruscating pattern on the “ground”.

And there is a touch of familiar humour as well – when aboard the Utopia,  for example, take a look at one or two of the spacesuited figures nearer the ship’s hull; you might note a familiar someone. There are also nods in place to other sci-fi franchises  – such as the guardians of the final portal lading to the Dark Moon, where a month of entertainment is planned throughout October. Keep your eyes out, as well, for the zero gee dispenser in the catacombs and an opportunity to float around parts of the installation.

MDark Moon, Calas Halloween 201; Inara Pey, September 2017, on FlickrDark Moon, Calas Halloween 2017

The Calas Galadhon Halloween and Christmas builds are ways a joy to visit. They are a reminder of the rich vein of creativity evident in Second Life and offer superb opportunities for exploration, photography, and fun and socialising through the events held within them. However, they also serve another purpose: to help raise the funds needed to keep the Calas Galadhon regions open for the enjoyment of everyone in Second Life. Ty and Tuck meet 40% of the cost of the eleven regions (including Erebor, the home of the Halloween / Christmas builds) out of their own pockets – so, when you come across the donation kiosks scattered throughout the Dark Moon builds, please do drop some Lindens into one of them.

To (hopefully) entice you into visiting, here’s a little video I shot ahead of the opening – and I hope 20th Century Fox don’t mind the choice of music! 🙂 .

SLurl Details

Changes to Sansar Store policies and news on upcoming releases

(courtesy of Linden Lab)

Linden Lab has announced forthcoming changes to their Sansar Store policies.  Specifically, the changes comprise updates to the listing guidelines, together with new eligibility requirements for those listing goods on the Store.

To quote the blog post specifically on the eligibility requirements:

As of October 2, 2017, you’ll need to have a credit card on file for your account in order to sell in the Sansar Store. Adding one is easy – just follow the steps here.

Free account holders will be able to sell up to 50 items at a time. Subscribers at the Creator level or above will have no limits on the number of active listings they can have in the Store. Note: if you have more than 50 listings in the Store when this change goes into effect on October 2, 2017, your items may be de-listed, so please take a moment to review your items to avoid the inconvenience of having to re-list them.

New polices and requirements are being introduced for the Sansar Store

There has been a degree of negative feedback on these points in particular, and a part of the meet-up on Wednesday, September 27th – which was to discuss ideas and feedback for the Sansar Market – initially focused on the announcement. During that part of the meeting, the Lab sought to clarify a few things:

  • The overall number of creators using the store affected by the 50 item limit is regarded as “super low”.
  • Those who were invited into the Creator Preview with a free account will be able to continue with their current levels of listing (if over 50) through until the end of October 2017. The October 2nd change only applies to those joining from the Creator Beta launch onwards.
  • The 50 listing limit includes free items.
  • The move for having payment information on file is intended to help deter fraudulent activity within the Store from the outset (e.g. the legal selling of goods through an unverified account – something which has been / is an issue with the SL Marketplace).
  • This is only the first iteration of Store policies. The Lab is listening to feedback, so ideas and alternatives might be fed into things as time goes on.
  • One area of confusion lies with the term “credit card”  – which actually covers the likes of debit cards which have Mastercard / Visa verification – although there is concern not everyone has access to these as well.

Some  creators expressed a preference for a PayPal option to be implemented (PayPal is currently only available when cashing-up Sansar Dollars). This is coming, but no confirmed time line could be given. In addition, a suggestion was made for people to be able to offer alternative forms of identification for verification. This is something the Lab has done for SL merchants cashing-out from that platform, and hasn’t been entirely without its own problems.

Further feedback and discussion on this and other topics can be found on the official Sansar Discord channel.

The Discovery Release. Credit: Linden Lab. Location; Colossus Rising

Wednesday, September 27th also saw the Lab issue some information on the next couple of major releases for Sansar. These are:

  • The Discovery release: due at the end of September / beginning of October, this release will include an improved Atlas for the Sansar client, and object interaction for Desktop mode users. You can read more about this release in advance in my Product Update.
  • The Friends release: (presumably following the Discovery release at the end of October / beginning of November), this update will see the improvements to the Atlas continue, make it easier to connect with other Sansar users, and will also include changes to make it even easier for people to publish their experiences.

I’ll hopefully be following both releases as they happen, and have updates on them in these pages.