SL project updates 32/2: CCUG summary with audio

A razzle of raptors? Animesh

The following notes are taken from the Content Creation User Group (CCUG) meeting, held on  Thursday, August 9th, 2018 at 13:00 SLT.  These meetings are chaired by Vir Linden, and agenda notes, meeting SLurl, etc, are usually available on the Content Creation User Group wiki page.

The choppiness in some of the audio segments where Vir’s voice drops out is due to issues with SL Voice.

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.

Resources

Server-Side

As of the SLS (Main channel) grid deployment on Tuesday, August 5th, the server-side support for Animesh is now grid-wide.

Animesh Viewer

Vir has completed work on the next update to the viewer, which includes a number of fixes and tweaks. This is currently with the Lab’s QA team. If all goes according to plan, this could see the light of day as a Release Candidate viewer. In particular, this update should include a fix for the bounding box / LOD issues previously reported in these summaries.

General Discussion Points

  • The LI accounting aspect of Animesh is considered “complete” for the initial release, and no further changes beyond the accounting values Vir has published via the Animesh forum thread are expected.
    • However, there may still be future revisions to the overall Animesh costs (complexity) as a result of the Project ARCTan work to overhaul all of the complexity calculations in order to make them more reflective of the actual costs involved in rendering, etc., different objects. This work has apparently been on hold recently.
  • Land Impact: streaming costs / LODs: there was further discussion on the 50% bounding on LODs.
    • Concerns have been raised at the disparity between the 50% cut-off between the high and medium models compared to the GLOD (Global LOD) cut-off of around 30% (so 70% discarded). Other concerns relate to the 50% between the medium and low models disincentivising creators from trying with a low model. An overall concern is that people will continue to look purely at land impact, rather than considering complexity and optimisation as matters of improved performance.
    • Vir admits the approach taken with Animesh is something of a trade-off between trying to encourage considered use of LODs and implementing a system that “scares people off” because of its demands. As such, it is something that may be revisited as a part of ARCTan, after more data has been gathered as a result of Animesh being released in the meantime.
    • A major difference with the “new” system is that it no longer considers scale. This means that creators who animate their creatures using a combination of multiple models and using alpha masks to hide the “unseen” versions and who reduce the “unseen” models to avoid them raising a creature’s LI, will no longer be able to do so.

  • Per-bone scale animations: having the ability to use per-bone scale animation, which could be particularly useful for non-human bodies (and now Animesh) has been  a request since Bento.
    • Currently, the SL animation format doesn’t allow scales to be specified, so an overhaul of the animation system would be required to make this possible.
    • A further problem is scale animation can conflict with any use of the shape sliders, when used to modify an avatar shape (one of the items under consideration for a future update to Animesh is support for a body shape and the use of sliders).
    • The benefits with scale support include:
      • The ability to create a single creature body and use it in different species of that creature without the need to develop new animations and new rigged attachments (so a “dog” body could be used for a Labrador or a Chihuahua or Dashhound).
      • The ability to have “young” creations (babies, puppies kittens, hatchlings….) “grow” over time.
      • The ability for creators to develop a broader range of different NPCs and different creature types without having to rely on the avatar shape / slider system, which is inherently biased towards human forms.
    • An alternative to animation scaling (and subject of a feature request) that was initially made during Bento, was to have an overall body size slider that could proportionally adjust the entire size of the shape associated with an avatar (and Animesh, if shape and slider support is added to Animesh in the future).
      • One issue with implementing this at present is that the message format use to communicate slider parameters may not support the level of messaging required to communicate an overall rescaling that affects every joint and bone position at once (which would require updates to the Appearance  and Bake services as well, so this would require an overhaul.
      • A further issue is that of locomotion:  the same overall locomotion graph is used regardless of size, so in a single stride, a very tiny avatar made using a “size slider” could  appear to move the same distance as a “normal” sized avatar, which can result in it appearing to move really quickly;similarly a really tall avatar created using a “size slider” could appear to hardly move at all each time it takes a step. So, the locomotion graph would need to be overhauled.
    • Use of per-bone animation scaling hasn’t been ruled-out, with Vir pointing out that even adding body shape and slider support to Animesh is complex, requiring further updates to the Appearance and Bake services in order to work. So it might be something to consider alongside of considering shape / slider support once the initial Animesh project is released.

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.

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

Resources

Current Status

There do not appear to be any blockers within the project preventing it from moving forward. However, as indicated at the July 27th TPV developer meeting, there are some changes being made to the AIS system, and the updates to inventory required in support of Bakes on Mesh (which also requires updates to the Appearance and Bake services as), are currently awaiting that work to be completed.

Environment Enhancement Project

Project Summary

A set of environmental enhancements, including:

  • The ability to define the environment (sky, sun, moon, clouds, water settings) at the parcel level.
  • New environment asset types (Sky, Water, Days that can be stored in inventory and traded through the Marketplace / exchanged with others.
    • Day assets can include four Sky “tracks” defined by height: ground level (which includes altitudes up to 1,000m) and (optionally) 1,000m and above; 2,000m and above and 3,000m and above, plus a Water “track”.
  • Experience-based environment functions
  • An extended day cycle (e.g a 24/7 cycle) and extended environmental parameters.
  • There are no EEP parameters for manipulating the SL wind.
  • EPP will also include some rendering enhancements  and new shaders as well (being developed by Graham Linden), which will allow for effects such as crepuscular rays (“God rays”)
    • These will be an atmospheric effect, not any kind of object or asset or XML handler.
  • The new LSL functions for finding the time of day according to the position of the windlight Sun or Moon have been completed,and are more accurate than the current options.
  • EEP will not include things like rain or snow.

Resources

Current Status

EEP remains on internal testing at the Lab, although as I noted in my previous CCUG summary, Rider has been teasing us with images in the forums. According to Dan Linden. the viewer UI is “pretty much” complete, and work is focused on some of the back-end messaging, which appears to be holding things up. There may be a further update on status at the next TPV Developer meeting on Friday, August 10th.

Other Items

  • Transparency shadow casting from rigged items: there is an issue with rigged / static meshes using transparencies (blended or masked), which causes shadows cast by them to render incorrectly (shadow rendering conforms only to the geometry silhouette).  This is still within Graham Linden’s pile of work.
  • Next Meeting: the next CCUG meeting for August 2018 will take place on Thursday, August 23rd.
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