Hilaire Beaumont at Monocle Man in Second Life

Monocle Man Gallery: Hilaire Beaumont

Currently available the Monocle Man Gallery, curated by Kit Boyd and Lynx Luga, is an outstanding exhibition by Hiliare Beaumont. Untitled, it presents a series of self-portrait avatar studies that are – despite the fact I often use this phrase with regards to art exhibitions in Second Life – genuinely rich in their depth of narrative and content.

These are piece that bring together a range of inspirations – literature, film, music, elements of fantasy, historical drama to present pieces that are evocative, layered and often highly emotive. Through their presentation, these are pieces that illustrate the fact that Hilaire was initially drawn to Second Life as a place of role-play, and has since grown towards photography as a means of expression and emotional release.

Monocle Man Gallery: Hilaire Beaumont

The role-play aspect can perhaps be seen in the likes of Le Fantome de l ‘Opera, Clown and Lullaby of Woe, together with Old Man, Diggin’ My Grave and The Wild Horde. These last three, intentionally or otherwise, sit together almost as three parts of an evolving story whilst also each standing in their own right; there is within each of them a wonderful sense of the classic western of the Ford or Leone eras.

Both Le Fantome and Clown have very defined origins, but bring with them a real sense of emotion about them that might not be quite in keeping with our usual thinking about the characters they represent: introspection in one, and a suggestion of unemotional, calculated logic with the other. However, of these particular images, Lullaby of Woe is the piece that most acutely caught my attention in the way the story it suggests seemed to flow between various characters, from Sherlock Holmes through to Dr. Jekyll and back, complete with hints of both James Moriarty and Mr. Hyde.

Monocle Man Gallery: Hilaire Beaumont

Other pieces may not directly draw thoughts toward fictional pieces or film, but their emotional content is just as incredibly captivating. Aux Sombres Heros de L’amer (taking its title from the song by French rock group Noir Désir?)  and Je ‘t en remets au vent, for example, are powerfully evocative of a broader story (as well as having a marvellous sense of the 19th century about them).

Alongside of these sit Sympathy and Mother, two pieces that are simply packed with expression and emotion, particularly for anyone who has recently lost a family member. Both are also a tour de force in framing, depth of field, image depth, and camera angle; each genuinely standing as a life study you do not so much view as step into.

Monocle Man Gallery: Hilaire Beaumont

The simple truth is that each and every one of these images has something to say, so much so that a book could easily be written about this exhibition. But equally, the fact that they do is more than adequate reason for going along to the gallery and view them for yourself; they demonstrate the truth of what can oft seem a tired adage: a picture is worth a thousand words. All of the pieces are offered for sale at an incredibly modest price, and I understand that all proceeds are going to support the gallery directly.

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2021 CCUG meeting week #5 summary – graphics

Jacob, December 2020 – blog post

The following notes were taken from my audio recording and chat log of the Content Creation User Group (CCUG) meeting held on Thursday, February 4th 2021 at 13:00 SLT. These meetings are chaired by Vir Linden, with dates available via the SL Public Calendar.

The venue for meetings is the Hippotropolis camp fire.

Due to Vir having to depart the meeting early, the majority of the meeting focused on viewer rendering.

SL Viewer

There have been no updates since the promotion of the Dawa Maintenance viewer to de facto release status earlier in the week. the viewer pipelines therefore remain as:

  • Current release viewer Dawa Maintenance RC Viewer, version 6.4.12.555248, dated January 25, 2021, promoted February 1st, 2021 – NEW.
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Project Jelly viewer (Jellydoll updates), version 6.4.12.553798, January 7, 2021.
    • Custom Key Mappings project viewer, version 6.4.12.553437, January 7, 2021.
  • Project viewers:
    • Love Me Render (LMR) 5 project viewer, version 6.4.12.553511, issued on January 7, 2021.
    • Simple Cache project viewer, version 6.4.11.551403, November 12.
    • Legacy Profiles viewer, version 6.4.11.550519, October 26.
    • Copy / Paste viewer, version 6.3.5.533365, December 9, 2019.
    • Project Muscadine (Animesh follow-on) project viewer, version 6.4.0.532999, November 22, 2019.
    • 360 Snapshot project viewer, version 6.2.4.529111, July 16, 2019.

Viewer Rendering

Love Me Render Viewer

The Graphics team are getting close to an RC release of the Love Me Render 5 (LMR 5) viewer (project viewer version 6.4.12.553511 at the time of writing).

  •  The one remaining issue they addressing with it is the matter of incorrect vertex attribute normals (not normal maps themselves) being rendered with Debug Normals enabled in the viewer (see BUG-228952 “Mesh Debug Normals display incorrectly. Normal Maps on scaled objects appear to use incorrect mesh normals for shading calcs”).
    • This appears to occur with models created in Maya with normals applied, but which uses non-uniform scaling.
    • The fix involves updates to both the Debug Normals code and the affected shader code.
  • The focus of LMR 5 is EEP fixes, apparently including the inverted rainbow issue, going on comments made (although currently that isn’t listed in the release notes), together with more general fixes related to things like specularity renderings, etc. It also includes a number of TPV contributions that fix assorted rendering issues.
  • It is hoped an RC version of the viewer will be available in the next week or two, with the aim of moving it to release status as rapidly as possible.

Outside of any specific rendering work going on for LMR 5 (or which my be directed into the next Love Me Render viewer, aka LMR 6 (such as BUG-5975 and BUG-229462, which might be investigated as part of LMR 6 work), it was indicated the Graphics Team would like to work on the environment map, if only to reduce the performance load it currently places on rendering.

Rendering API Replacement

No specific updates at present on the replacement of OpenGL as the rendering API.However, it was indicated that consideration is still being given to supporting more than one rendering capability by means of some form of back-end “tool kit” or library. There are a number of reasons for this:

  • As indicated in my previous CCUG meeting summary, there appears to be a substantial portion of Windows users accessing Second Life on hardware that cannot support more recent APIs like Vulkan (which had been the preferred choice).
  • Whilst they are set to deprecate OpenGL at some point in the future (prompting the need for the switch away from OpenGL), Apple actually don’t provide native support for Vulkan, thus prompting the need for a second alternative (such as – perhaps – Apple’s own Metal API).
  • Therefore, the use of an intermediary tool box / library approach would, whilst adding a layer of complexity, allow Linden Lab to potentially leverage more than one rendering API to support a wider range of user hardware.

Looking to Possible Future Options

Some thought is being given to rendering capabilities beyond the replacement of OpenGL, such as physically based rendering (PBR).

  • It is important to note that none of these are currently being considered for adoption at this point in time; they are simply on the Graphics Team’s wish list of things they would like to look at.
  • As such, if something like PBR were to be adopted, it would not be until some time after the need to replace OpenGL has been addressed, which itself is liable to be a long-term piece of work.
  • In terms of PBR in particular, it was noted that in practical terms, it would only be of value on  objects that utilise PBR materials.
    • This likely means that if it  were implemented, it would be a opt-in capability: creators would set a flag against content they are importing to indicate it uses PBR, and thus use the required shaders.
    • Such an approach would prevent any “breakage” of existing content (which would effectively continue to be rendered “as is”, and in turn allows creators to determine which of their products they might like to update to / replace with models utilising PBR.
  • Outside of PBR, it was suggested that High-dynamic-range  (HDR) rendering might be something the Graphics Team would like to look at at some point in the future.

Mesh File Formats

Again, not a project under active development or something that will come about in the near future, but the Graphics team are also giving thought to potential mesh model file format support outside of the current .DAE.

  • In the past, users have expressed a desire for .FBX support; the problem here is potentially that whilst widely used and accepted as a “standard”, it is pretty much close-source by Autodesk.
  • The open-source Graphics Language Transmission Format  (gITF) has been suggested by some as an alternative, particularly given it is already supported by Blender as via a plug-in option, and the Graphics Team have indicated they will have a look at this as and when time allows.

Date of Next Meeting

  • Thursday, February 18th, 2021.

A return to Tonarino in Second Life

Tonarino, February 2021

On February 1st, we dropped in on Tonarino, the Full region held and designed by 秋元のん (n0rik0). At the time, the focus of our visit was the region’s sky platform, Nekomachi Street (see: The cats of Tonarino in Second Life), but I noted we also hopped down to see what had changed within the region’s ground level design since our last visit in December 2019 (as recorded in Tonarino: an oriental curio in Second Life), and I promised to provide an update.

Well, truth be told, first looks tended to suggest not a lot had changed; the majority of the region is still given over to a large landmass in part cut through by the single line of a railway track that terminates abruptly alongside a little station building, while a small stream slices through the bedrock. Around both lies a landscape suggestive of the outskirts of a town somewhere; the kind of place most people only see whilst rapidly passing through with barely a thought for those whole live there.

Tonarino, February 2021

However, further examination revealed to us that things had changed since December 2019 – although obviously I cannot say quite when they changed; and changed enough to provide a reason for further exploration and looking around.

In this, the most noticeable change lay to the north-west. where the land rises in rocky steps to overlook the rest of the region and particularly overshadows the local school.

Tonarino, February 2021

When we visited in 2019, I noted this was the home of a temple sitting within  a small garden area and overlooking a large traditional Japanese house occupying a shoulder of rock below it. Well, the temple is still there, complete with its little refreshment stand for those needing sustenance after the climb up to it or after a period of sustained prayer. However, and if memory serves, it has now descended from the uppermost table of rock upon which it once sat, to occupy the same elevation as once was occupied by the large house.

Instead, the high table of rock that was once home to the temple is now a lookout point with vending machines and seating. Below it, the walled house has also gone, replaced by a group of restaurant stalls sharing a common outdoors space for patrons, who can be entertained by two more of the remarkable juggling cats by 丸角の人 (shiro0822), who also make up the inhabitants of Nekomachi Street up on the sky platform.

Tonarino, February 2021

I admit, I’m not totally convinced about the nature of the food being served in one of the restaurant stalls, given it is being prepared and offered for consumption by red-faced little demons, so the fact the area also has a little shrine of its own sitting within a bamboo fenced enclosure is perhaps handily placed for those wishing to ward of any wicked spirits that may have been delivered to them with their meal! The shrine and its Torii gate also mark the path to where a stone stairway descends the snowy slopes between the little houses that cling to them, offering a further route back to (or from) the lowlands.

Elsewhere are other subtle changes. One of the private islands to the west side of the island has been removed; elements within the building site have changed (although overall progress on whatever is to be built / installed appears to be a little slow!) an there is what appears to be some work to be finished off behind the school, although visitors can still cross the footbridge and visit the café – although I’m not sure if the quizzes there are still being held.

Tonarino, February 2021

What I find particularly engaging with Tonarino is the manner in which it naturally suggests it is a work-in-progress, so to speak, with the excavator and building blocks in a cleared field, etc..  At the same time the careworn look of the buildings and houses give them a lived-in feel that suggests that while they may be less than pristine, they have the comfortable look and feel to those living within the little town.

Certainly Tonarino remains a place with plenty of opportunities for photography under almost any environment settings, and which – again like so many careworn places in the physical world – has little spots of beauty that suddenly leap out at you as you explore. And that very much retains it as a place worth looking at.

Tonarino, February 2021

And for those who wish to see Nekomachi Street’s marvellous cats, just look for the kitty dancing at the mouth of a road tunnel. Pat his head gently and he’ll get you there 🙂 .

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