2018 SL project updates 10/2: CCUG summary

Queen of Dragons? Surrounded by Animesh dragons by Wanders Nowhere and used by Lucia Nightfire as Animesh test models

The following notes are primarily taken from the Content Creation User Group (CCUG) meeting, held on  Thursday, March 8th, 2018 at 13:00 SLT. For the purposes of Animesh testing, the meetings have relocated to the Animesh4 region on Aditi, the beta grid – look for the seating area towards the middle of the region. The meeting is chaired by Vir Linden, and agenda notes, etc, are usually available on the Content Creation User Group wiki page.

There is no video to accompany this update, notes are taken from my own audio recording of the meeting.

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.
  • Will not support its own attachments in the initial release.
  • Will not initially include the notion of a body shape (see below).

Resources

Viewer Update

An updated to the Animesh project viewer occurred on Wednesday, March 7th with the release of version 5.1.3.513013. The focus of this update has been bug and crash fixes (e.g. correcting some of the issues of LODs getting stuck).

Current Progress

  • The major piece of work to be completed (other than further bug fixing) is performance profiling: looking at possible limits on tri count, LI, to ensure Animesh can scale across regions without becoming a major performance impact. This work takes object scaling into consideration.
  • Remaining bugs to be resolved include the animation timing issue, whereby an avatar entering a region were an Animesh object is already running may not receive the animations updates for the object. This is liable to require both viewer and server updates to fix.

Body Shapes

Providing a notion for Animesh objects to have a body shape is being considered as an initial follow-on for the project. If implemented, this would mean that Animesh creations could:

  • Make use of the shape sliders.
  • Utilise the Appearance / Baking Service.
  • Have a fully avatar-like inventory.
  • Make use of the server-side locomotion graph for walking, etc.

The assumption is that if the Lab look to add this functionality, it will be handled in much the same was as is the case for avatars. However, this aspect of the work will be opened up for discussion and ideas once it has been officially adopted as a follow-on project, rather than having speculative (and premature) discussions about how body shapes might be applied / managed.

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 on avatar meshes.
  • 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.

It is important to note that this project is still in its preliminary stages. Any release of a project viewer (see below) doesn’t mark the end of the project, but rather the start of initial testing and an opportunity for creators to have input into the project.

Project Viewer

  • Currently with the Lab’s QA team.
  • Will support a basic means of applying system bakes to mesh faces, although their will be caveats as to how well this initially works (e.g. matching to mesh UV maps).
  • The majority of this work is viewer-side, allowing mesh faces to be flagged with a special texture ID which allows a specific part of an avatar bake to be applied to them.

Feature Request JIRA

It is recognised that there are numerous questions / concerns relating to Bakes on Mesh (see my week #8 update). Because of this, and the lack of a specifications document, user Elizabeth Jarvinen (polysail) has started putting together a Feature Request JIRA outlining some of the specifics which need to be considered with regards to the project. Some of the ideas offered might be considered as a part of the initial Bakes on Mesh project, so might be left for a follow-up project. For more information on this follow the links below:

Project Arctan

This is the code-name for the project to re-evaluate avatar and object rendering costs (avatar complexity and Land Impact). Again, just to be clear on this project:

  • It is only just starting.
  • The aim is to make avatar complexity and Land Impact values more reflective of the actual “cost” to render avatars and objects. This might lead to ARC / LI values changing.
    • However, there are currently no details of how LI / avatar complexity values may change or when, as the Lab is still gathering data at this point in time.
    • The Lab is aware of the potential for increases in LI values to cause disruption, and if this is the case, they will seek to minimise the impact as far as possible.
  • The work is not related to Animesh – which will see a “basic” cost (in terms of geometric complexity) applied to Animesh objects (see performance profiling, above). Animesh objects may be subject to further revision as a result of Project Arctan’s findings.
  • It is hoped that Graham Linden, who is leading the project, will attend future CCUG meetings to discuss Arctan as the project progresses.

Other Items

  • PBR Shaders: there have been requests for the Lab to implement physically based rendering (PBR) – using realistic shading/lighting models along with measured surface values to accurately represent real-world materials. Such requests have been noted by the Lab. While adding support for PBR shaders has not been ruled out, it is seen as a significant undertaking, and is thus seen more as a “someday, maybe” piece of work, rather than being a part of the current SL enhancement roadmap.
  • Terrain texture improvements: terrain textures in SL suffer from a low texture density, causing blurring, etc. Again, the Lab is aware of this, and considering making improvements to terrain texture as a possible future project.

Next Meeting

The next CCUG will be on Thursday, March 22nd, 2018, and 13:00 SLT.

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