2018 SL UG updates 46/2: content Creation Summary

Animesh is live!

The following notes are taken from the Content Creation User Group (CCUG) meeting, held on Thursday, November 15th, 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.

Animesh

Animesh is now officially released. Blog posts:

This means that the Animesh code will now be merged with all current RC and project viewers in the coming days /  weeks. Firestorm support for Animesh will be coming soon, as is the other case for TPVs that have not already started making releases with Animesh support.

Resources

To help people get started with Animesh, there is already a range of available resources, including:

Discussion

  • Concern has been raised about the 2 Animesh attachment option for Premium members impacting performance at major events given the lack of “public” testing of the ability (which had always stated as being one Animesh attachment per avatar across the board).
    • Interestingly, when the one Animesh attachment per avatar was first set, it was seen as too limiting, with some wanting as many as five per avatar.
  • The tri count cap remains unchanged at 100K per Animesh.

Environmental Enhancement Project (EEP)

Project Summary

A set of environmental enhancements allowing the environment (sky, sun, moon, clouds, water settings) to be set region or parcel level, with support for up to 7 days per cycle and sky environments set by altitude. It uses a new set of inventory assets (Sky, Water, Day),  and which include the ability to use custom Sun, Moon and cloud textures. These can be stored in inventory and traded through the Marketplace / exchanged with others, and can additionally be used in experiences.

The project also includes a new set of render shaders to support atmospheric effects such as rainbows, crepuscular rays (“God rays”), better horizon haze and fogging (but will not include rain / snow).

Resources

Current Status

  • There are a couple of blockers that have come up on the next viewer update, and which are currently being worked on, and should hopefully be cleared by the end of the week.
  • The first scripted functionality for EEP is now available: llGetEnvironment. This:
    • Returns a list containing the current environment values for the parcel and region as a list of attributes.
    • Takes a list of attributes to retrieve in parameters and returns them in the order requested.
  • llGetTimeOfDay has also been revised in line with EEP.
  • Graham Linden is continuing to work on the rendering side, including crepuscular rays. He is however, also engaged in other work related to viewer rendering (such as project ARCTan).
    • As a part of Graham’s work, there is a further update to the EEP sky settings that will allow the atmospheric settings to be altered

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 viewer and 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, nor are they recognised as system wearables. Adding materials support may be considered in the future.

Resources

Current Status

  • The required Bake Service update (which in part allows the support of 1024×1024 textures) was deployed in week #46.
  • Anchor Linden is now working on updates to the viewer, which is considered to be the only blocker to Bakes on Mesh going live.
  • Additional channels have been added to the Bake Service already which include the left arm and left leg. A request following this update was to allow upper and lower body skin textures to these channels – this will not be a part of the initial Bakes on Mesh release.
  • It has yet to be tested, but as Animesh objects do not have the necessary shape support for the Bake Service to use, it is thought BoM will not work (or at least not work as anticipated) with Animesh attachments on an avatar.

Normal and Specular Maps Support Experiment

As noted in the project summary above, Bakes on Mesh will not by default support normal and specular maps when released.

However, in week #45, Cathy Foil suggested it might be possible to allow Bakes on Mesh to indirectly support normal and specular maps using a combination of three additional bake channels within the Bake Service and a scripted “applier” option, similar to current skin and clothing applier mechanisms.

Since that time, she’s been carrying out tests using the existing three Aux Bake Service channels, added to the system as a part of Bakes on Mesh. While the approach appears to work with normal maps, there are a number of questions relating to alpha blending, deriving specularity (normal maps use the alpha channels for specular power in the SL materials setup), etc. These would require more in-depth testing through a suitable viewer, and as such, this isn’t seen as a viable approach at this point in time.

New Projects

No decisions have been made as to what user-visible projects will come next.

  • There is an infrastructure related project for inventory, but this shouldn’t have user-visible impact.
  • Project ARCTan (avatar and object complexity calculation improvements) has been on hold, awaiting resources, which are now becoming available.
  • There are a mix of options in the pot for Animesh and BoM follow-ups, but any follow-on work hasn’t been officially defined.
  • There are a number of other potential projects the Lab isn’t ready to announce as moving forward just yet.

Next Meeting

The next CCUG meeting will be on Thursday, November 29th, 2018.

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Enjoying some Snow Falls in Second Life

Snow Falls; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrSnow Falls – click any image for full size

Update February 27th: Hrodas Fen, the region held by Elyjia and once the home of A Way of Life (formerly Snow Falls) is now under new management.

Update: Snow Falls is now known as A Way of Life, see A Way of Life in Second Life for more.

It’s been a while since we’ve visited a region design by Elyjia (Elyjia Baxton) and Brayan Friller (Brayan26 Friller), so when Shakespeare passed me the LM to Snow Falls, we were delighted to hop over and explore.

As the name suggests, this is a winter region, a Homestead designed to look like a small island sitting within a bay of icy-looking water. Clouds scud across the sky, as if in a hurry to get somewhere, remaining overhead just long enough to drop snow as they scurry on their way. Or perhaps the falling flakes are actually snow blown free from the surrounding high mountain peaks, then left to find their way down to the ground as the wind set them free.

Snow Falls; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrSnow Falls

A cobbled waterfront sits on the shoulders of neatly lain bricks, the edge guarded by tall railings set between brick pillars to avoid the risk of anyone falling into the frigid waters below. This little lane – it is barely more than that – is  home to a nest of little businesses that have perhaps seen busier times as they look out across the water (these actually offer gacha resales for those interested).

To the north, just beyond one set of gates guarding the shops, the land climbs up to where a barn and chapel occupy the hilltop, a tall water tower rising between them. the blanket of snow is rutted by the tracks left by an old flat-bed truck they appears to have been puttering back and forth – perhaps delivering Santa and his gifts to the barn.

Snow Falls; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrSnow Falls

A second set of tracks at the foot the hill lead to what might be the farmhouse associated with the hilltop barn.  Cats are playing close by, outside another barn while a horse looks on.

Go south along the shop fronts to the second set of gates and the land again opens up, snow-laden fir trees pointing the way towards a small stone bridge connecting to one of three further islands making up the region. It is home to a pavilion offering a break from the weather, and which is watched over by the lighthouse sitting on the neighbouring small island.

Snow Falls; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrDagger Bay – click any image for full size

This is a flat-topped square of rock rising from frigid waters, the finger of the lighthouse giving fair warning that the waters around the rock can be dangerous – a fact underlined by the wreck of a trawler lying close by, deck canted over, ice forming around it.

The remaining island lies to the north, close to the farm. A single, empty cabin sits on it, a sail boat close by suggesting it might occasionally see use.

Snow Falls; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrSnow Falls

For those seeking places to relax and appreciate the views, there are a number to be found – in the Pavilion, in a couple of arbours, out on the water, courtesy of a rowing boat – and even up on a couple of balloons floating above the farm, as well as on benches to be found on the waterfront outside of the shops and scattered around the region in the snow.

There are one or two small rough edges to the regions – the odd floating tree or snowman – but nothing that really interferes with the overall lay of the land or the opportunity for taking photos. For those who do enjoy photography, the regions a Flick group for sharing pictures.

Snow Falls; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrSnow Falls

All told, another picturesque region by Elyjia and Brayan, and well in keeping with the time of the year in the northern hemisphere.

SLurl Details