2022 SUG meetings week #35 summary – Puppetry

Puppetry demonstration via Linden Lab – see below.  Demos video with the LL comment “We have some basic things working with a webcam and Second Life but there’s more to do before it’s as animated as we want.”

The following notes were taken from the Tuesday, August 30th, 2022 Simulator User Group (SUG) meeting. They form a summary of the items discussed and is not intended to be a full transcript. A video of the entire meeting is embedded at the end of the article for those wishing to review the meeting in full – my thanks to Pantera for recording it.

Server Deployments

For the most up-to-date information, please refer to the deployment forum thread.

  • On Tuesday, August 30th, the simhosts on the Main SLS channel were updated with simulator version 574550. This release fixes an issue with some system textures being unavailable – notably the default water map being absent, resulting in totally flat glassy water or view-transparent mode having everything look solid..
  • On Wednesday, August 31st, all simhosts on the RC channels will be updated with simulator release 574611,which includes the above fixes + additional fixes (release notes pending at the the time of writing.

Available Official Viewers

On Tuesday, August 30th:

  • The Profiles viewer, 6.6.3.574158, was updated to de facto release status.
  • The Puppetry project viewer, version 6.6.3.574545, was issued – see below.

The remaining official viewers stay listed as:

  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Maintenance P (Preferences, Position and Paste) RC viewer version 6.6.3.573877 issued August 15.
    • Izarra Maintenance RC, version 6.6.3.573920, August 15.
    • Maintenance 3 RC viewer, version 6.6.3.573882, August 5.
  • Project viewers:
    • Love Me Render (LMR) 6 graphics improvements project viewer 6.6.2.573263, July 21.
    • Performance Floater project viewer, version 6.5.4.571296, May 10.

Puppetry

See also: the official blog post Introducing Second life Puppetry.

Previously referred to as “avatar expressiveness”,  Puppetry is intended to provide a means by which avatars can mimic physical world actions by their owners through tools such as a webcam and using technologies like inverse kinematics and the  LLSD Event API Plug-in (LEAP) system.

We are excited about Puppetry’s potential to change the way we interact inside Second Life.  For example, using a webcam to track your face and hands could allow your avatar to mimic your face animations and finger movement, or more natural positioning of the avatar’s hands and feet against in-world objects might also be possible.  Alternative hardware could be used to feed information into Second Life to animate your avatar – a game controller or mocap equipment.  There’s a lot to explore and try, and we invite the Second Life community to be involved in exploring the direction of this feature.

– from the official blog post

Note that this capability is still very much experimental / in development and is not feature-complete. Also, the following should be noted:

  • The Puppetry viewer is very much experimental,  and is required to view any puppetry animations – viewers without the supporting code will not show them.
  • The back-end support for the capability is only available on Aditi (the Beta grid) and within the following regions: Bunraku, Marionette, and Castelet.
  • No other special needs beyond the project viewer are required to “see” Puppetry animations. However, to use the capability to animate your own avatar and broadcast the results will take more work.
  • For further information, check out the documentation links below:

Again, please remember this is very much a “alpha” implementation of Puppetry:

  • Linden Lab is looking for feedback from the community in determining potential use cases and onward development.
  • The Lab will be hosting an open discussion on Puppetry on Thursday, September 8th, and 13:00PM SLT. This will take place at the Puppetry theatre in the Aditi  region of Castelet.

Please refer to the video for further discussion on the capability.

Update, September 1st

  • The discussion on puppetry mentioned in  the above articles will be the first such meeting, and if there is demand for it, there will be a similar meeting on Aditi on alternate Thursdays from September 8th onwards, to be held in the theatre on Aditi Castelet region.
  • These meetings will (initially) be very development focused rather than creator / user focused, given the overall status of the project.
  • It is advisable that attendees use the Puppetry project viewer when attending these meetings (available from the Alternate Viewers page), so that they might see any demonstration which may take place during meetings.

2022 viewer release summaries week #34

Logos representative only and should not be seen as an endorsement / preference / recommendation

Updates from the week through to Sunday, August 28th, 2022

This summary is generally published every Monday, and is a list of SL viewer / client releases (official and TPV) made during the previous week. When reading it, please note:

  • It is based on my Current Viewer Releases Page, a list of all Second Life viewers and clients that are in popular use (and of which I am aware), and which are recognised as adhering to the TPV Policy. This page includes comprehensive links to download pages, blog notes, release notes, etc., as well as links to any / all reviews of specific viewers / clients made within this blog.
  • By its nature, this summary presented here will always be in arrears, please refer to the Current Viewer Release Page for more up-to-date information.
  • Note that for purposes of length, TPV test viewers, preview / beta viewers / nightly builds are generally not recorded in these summaries.

Official LL Viewers

  • Release viewer: version 6.6.2.573358 – formerly the Maintenance 2 RC viewer, dated August 1, promoted August 4 – NEW.
  • Release channel cohorts::
    • No updates.
  • Project viewers:
    • No updates.

LL Viewer Resources

Third-party Viewers

V6-style

V1-style

Mobile / Other Clients

  • No updates.

Additional TPV Resources

Related Links

Space Sunday: “we are go for launch” – Artemis 1 on the pad

Backlit by the setting Sun illuminating rainclouds, NASA’s Artemis-1 Space Launch System rocket sits on launch pad £9B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre, August 26th, 2022. Credit: ESA

If all continues on track, Monday, August 29th, 2022 will mark the start of America’s return to the Moon with crewed missions, just a few months shy of the 50th anniversary of the last crewed mission, Apollo 17 (December 7th-19th, 1972). It will come with the lift-off of the Artemis 1 mission, and the maiden flight of NASA’s new heavy lift launcher, the Space Launch System.

The mission will be – as most no doubtless know only too well – uncrewed, and the destination not the lunar surface, but cislunar space in what will be the most comprehensive test of the SLS rocket and the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) ahead of crewed flights, which are due to commence with Artemis 2.

The final countdown for the launch commenced on Saturday, August 27th at launch pad 39B within the Kennedy Space Centre, Florida, and providing no significant hitches occur, it is due to terminate at 12:33 UTC on August 29th with the ignition of the booster’s four RS-25 shuttle-derived motors and two massive solid rocket boosters (also derived from those used in the space shuttle programme). At the time of writing this piece, and despite a thunderstorm leading to a lighting strike at the launch facility on the evening of August 27th, everything was on course for the launch, and the forecast indicated a 70% likelihood that the weather at Cape Canaveral and downrange from the launch pad would be good for the launch.

Artemis 1 SLS in Pad 39B at Kennedy Space Centre, imaged from orbit by one of the Maxar constellation of Earth-imaging satellites on August 25th, 2022. Credit: Maxar Technologies

However, all things are not guaranteed, and the mission has a slim 2-hour launch window in which to get off the pad. Should the launch have to be scrubbed for any reason, further launch windows will be available on September 2nd (2 hours), and September 5th (90 minutes).

There is a lot riding on this mission; while Orion has already flown once in space – eight years ago in the uncrewed Exploration Flight Test-1, launched atop a Delta IV Heavy rocket – this will be the first flight of the vehicle outside of directly orbiting the Earth; however, for SLS, the mission could very much be make-or-break. The vehicle has been beset by issues throughout its development programme (many of which amounted to either unforced errors or came as a result of the entire Artemis programme being unduly accelerated by the Trump Administration to achieve a crewed landing by 2024 rather than 2028, as originally planned. As such any major or catastrophic failure could have major repercussions for NASA and the US government space programme.

SLS has been more than two decades in development. It started life in the early 2000s as the Ares V under NASA’s Constellation programme. Instigated by the then NASA administrator Michael Griffin, Ares 5 was to be the heavy-lift launch vehicle intended to help return humans to the Moon and (eventually / primarily) help pave the way to Mars, working alongside the smaller Ares 1 crew launch vehicle and what was then called the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV). I say “primarily”, because Griffin was a strong advocate of human missions to Mars and the Ares programme was actually named for (and pretty much lifted from) the Mars Direct humans-to-Mars concept first proposed by Robert Zubrin and David Baker  in 1990.

Despite enormous strides made in the development of Ares 1 (the first of which actually few in 2009) and the Orion CEV, the Obama administration opted to scrap the constellation programme on the grounds of cost. While Ares 1 went away in its entirety, Orion and Ares V underwent a redesign process, the former having its capabilities increased, whist Ares V went back to the drawing board to later emerge as the SLS.

SLS development: on the left, the Block 1 with ICPS that will fly Artemis Mission 1-3.  Centre left: the Black 1B  EUS crew variant to flay Artemis 4-5(+). One the right, the proposed Block 1B and Block 2 cargo variants, that latter of which most closely resembles the Ares V Credit: NASA

The key differences between Ares V and SLS is the former was intended to be a heavy-lift cargo launcher, capable of delivering up to 168 tonnes to low-Earth orbit (LEO), up to 71 tonnes to lunar orbit and around 60 tonnes to Mars, with Ares 1 left to carry crews up to orbit. SLS, on the other hand is intended to be both a crewed and cargo launch vehicle, capable of delivering between 95 and 130 tonnes to LEO depending on the vehicle type, or some 46 tonnes to lunar orbit (Block 2 cargo) and 30-40 tonnes to Mars (Block 2 cargo).

The primary objectives for Artemis 1 are to prove the SLS launch system’s Block 1 launch capabilities; achieve a distant retrograde orbit (DRO) around the Moon, and make a safe return to Earth with a successful atmospheric re-entry and splashdown by the Orion MPCV capsule. The overall mission duration is expected to be some 42 days.

This first flight – which will also mark the first use of the European-built Orion service module (Orion’s flight in 2014 didn’t require a service module) – is to be one of only three launches of the SLS Block 1 rocket. This uses what is called the  Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage (ICPS) – essentially the upper stage of a Delta IV rocket. From Artemis 4 onwards, launches will use the more powerful Exploration Upper Stage (EUS) in what is termed the Block 1B SLS variant, and which will also be used in the Block 2 cargo variant (if this eventually flies).

The ICPS will be used to insert Orion into its trajectory to the Moon prior to separating from the capsule and its service module and performing one further crucial mission task. It will then pretty much parallel Orion to the Moon before using the latter’s gravity to slingshot itself away into a highly elliptical orbit of its own.

The flight of Artemis 1 as depicted in the mission’s Press Pack. The mission phase durations are variable to account for the different possible launch dates at the time the pack was published. Credit: NASA (click for full size)

As well as being used to check-out SLS and Orion, Artemis 1 has a number of science goals, and the Orion MPCV is not the only payload for the mission. Shortly after Orion separates from the ICPS, the latter – in that other crucial aspect of the mission mentioned above – will deploy multiple cubesats on trajectories to the Moon. These will carry out an range of scientific tasks, including:

  • Detecting, measuring, and comparing the impact of deep space radiation on living organisms (yeast in this instance) over long durations.
  • Studying the dynamic particles and magnetic fields that stream from the Sun and as a proof of concept for the feasibility of a network of stations to track space weather.
  • Imaging Earth’s plasmasphere to study the radiation environment around the Earth.
  • Searching for additional evidence of lunar water ice from a low lunar orbit.
  • Mapping hydrogen within craters near the lunar south pole, tracking depth and distribution of hydrogen-rich compounds like water over a 60-day, 141 lunar orbit mission.
  • Flying by the Moon to collect surface spectroscopy and thermograph and return the results to Earth for analysis.

In addition, some of the cubesat missions will be technology demonstrators, including a further solar sail demonstrator; using very small automated vehicles to operate in close proximity to large vehicles and image them / look for potential damage; using small, low thrust gas motors for trajectory control in the space between Earth and the Moon.

Nor is that all; Orion itself will be carrying a number of experiments within the capsule, with a focus on gaining a better understanding of the radiation regime between the Earth and Moon and within cislunar space.

The most evident of the onboard experiments is “Commander Moonikin Campos”, a mannequin dressed in the Orion Crew Survival System Suit. Sharing (OCSSS).  Sharing same iconic orange colour as the survival suits used on shuttle missions, the OCSSS is a much more advanced version, designed to be worn continuously for periods of up to 6 days at a time (so whilst en route to the Moon, whilst in lunar orbit and during a return to Earth), to offer enhanced radiation protection for the wearer whilst aboard Orion. To this end the mannequin – named for Apollo 13 electrical subsystems engineer Arturo Campos, who played a major role in bringing that crew back to Earth alive – is equipped with a plethora of radiation sensors to test the effectiveness of the suit.

Continue reading “Space Sunday: “we are go for launch” – Artemis 1 on the pad”

Seanchai Library: mysteries, memories and myths in Second Life

Seanchai Library

It’s time to highlight another week of storytelling in Voice by the staff and volunteers at the Seanchai Library – and this week previews the launch of a very special event.

As always, all times SLT, and events are held at the Library’s home in Nowhereville, unless otherwise indicated. Note that the schedule below may be subject to change during the week, please refer to the Seanchai Library website for the latest information through the week.

Sunday, August 21st, 13:30: Evil Under the Sun

A Seanchai Library special event at SLEA.

The are times when even Belgian ex-pat detective Hercule Poirot needs a break from his chosen vocation; so when the opportunity arises for him to enjoy a holiday in Devon at the Jolly Roger Hotel (inspired by the Burgh Island Hotel) located on a tidal island just off the south Devonshire coast, he looks forward to the chance of a little R&R. 

Evil Under the Sun – a Seanchai Library special event

Whilst at the hotel, he encounters the other guests, notably Arlena Marshall who, desire being at the hotel with her husband Kenneth and step-daughter Linda, spends a lot of her time flirting with Patrick Redfern – much to the anger of Redfern’s wife, Christine and the disgust of her step-daughter. Also among the guests is Rosamund Darnley, who was once sweethearts with Kenneth Marshall.

Trying to keep himself apart from the intrigue, Poirot finds himself drawn into the middle of things and in need of his most particular deductive skills when Arlena Marshall is found dead on the sand of a secluded cove across the little island far from the hotel; a place where she apparently had a secret assignation…

Evil Under the Sun – a Seanchai Library special event

Join David Abbott, Corwyn Allen, Gloriana Maertens, Elrik Merlin, Kayden Oconnell, and Caledonia Skytower as they commence a reading of the 23rd adventure for Agatha’s Christie’s hero, first published in 1941, within the setting of the Jolly Roger Hotel. Should you wish, you can also enjoy the hotel’s grounds and facilities, partake of a little fun – and visit the cove which proved fatal for Arlena Marshall.

Monday, August 29th, 19:00: Remembering Ktahdn Vesuvino

Ktahdn Vesuvino: storyteller, music lover, traveller, warm-hearted companion, friend to charity – all this an more describes someone known to many and now lost to us all. A frequent weaver of tales at Seanchai Library, this will be a special evening of remembrance by all who knew him.

Tuesday, August 30th

12:00 Noon: Russell Eponym

With music, and poetry in Ceiluradh Glen.

13:30: Remembering Ktahdn Vesuvino

For all those who could not make Monday’s event, a  further chance to remember Ktahdn and say their farewells.

19:00: The Last Cuentista

There lived a girl named Petra Peña, who wanted nothing more than to be a storyteller, like her abuelita.

But Petra’s world is ending. Earth has been destroyed by a comet, and only a few hundred scientists and their children – among them Petra and her family – have been chosen to journey to a new planet. They are the ones who must carry on the human race.

Hundreds of years later, Petra wakes to this new planet – and the discovery that she is the only person who remembers Earth. A sinister Collective has taken over the ship during its journey, bent on erasing the sins of humanity’s past. They have systematically purged the memories of all aboard – or purged them altogether.

Petra alone now carries the stories of our past, and with them, any hope for our future. Can she make them live again?

Caledonia Skytower read Donna Barba Higuera’s 2021 winner of the  Newbery Medal and Pura Belpré Award.

Wednesday, August 31st 19:00: Seanchai Flicks

A special for Star Wars month as the Seanchai cinema space plays host to videos and throw popcorn around!

Thursday, September 1st, 19:00 More Monsters and Mythology

With Shandon Loring.

A Storybook’s return in Second Life

Storybook, August 2022 – click any images for full size

Now open once more in Second Life is Storybook, held and designed by Natalie Starlight and Nessa Nova. It is a setting, alongside of their Lost Unicorn I have long loved because I have always found both to be personally appealing with each visit I’ve made over the years, and because they are so visually rich and imaginative. Hence the multiple appearances of both within these pages, together with the Lost Unicorn Gallery.

The region started life in 2018 as Storybook Forest, and was immediately captivating in the manner in which it embraced the universe of fairy tales (as I wrote about in September 2018); and it set its tone with a quote that perfectly defined all that awaited visitors as they set out to explore its many paths:

If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be very intelligent, read them more fairy tales.

– Albert Einstein

Storybook, August 2022

After also two years of continuous life, Storybook endured a brief closure in mid-2020 before re-emerging in a new form a few months later, only to remain conspicuous by its absence when Lost Unicorn itself was rebuilt and re-opened in March 2022. I was therefore overjoyed to receive a personal invitation from Nessa to drop in and see the new Storybook design as it was being prepared for its official Grand (Re)-Opening.

It took a while to rebuild Storybook after our two previous versions, but we promise you it’s better than ever! All your favourite fairy tales are represented in a gorgeous forest. Picture perfect spots around every corner, loads to explore, both on land and underwater. Come prepared to take pictures, we will be introducing a Photo Contest as well!

– Nessa Nova in her invitation to visit the new Storybook

Storybook, August 2022

Sharing its Full Region home with the Lost Unicorn Gallery – which, in celebration of its Grand Opening is playing host to a special exhibition of art by Jeanette StellaMarina (LoredanaStMa) within its first floor display area – Storybook is a rich re-imagining of the original, brining back many of the popular fairy tale vignettes from that 2018 and 2020 builds, as well as ordering new touches of its own.

The landing point is located on an octagonal terrace sitting at the foot of the grand staircase leading up the great halls of the Lost Unicorn Gallery. The latter is located on its own island around which the rest of the region curls protective arms, a broad bridge spanning the waters between the gallery and the land,  connecting the landing point (which can also be used to host open-air events) with a town square those who remember the original Storybook will likely find familiar.

Storybook, August 2022 – playing hide-and-seek with an Imp!

Here the shops are packed with detail, and the townsfolk are invariably cuddly – although as most are going about their daily business, permission might best besought before any grabbing and cuddling goes on! The town is also where details of the Grand Opening photo contest can be obtained by those wishing to participate, whilst Mary Poppins keep an eye on things from overhead.

Within the wider setting are paths and trails leading to little scenes some might find familiar – such as a certain Tea Party or a rowing boat occupied by an infamous one-handed Captain (and followed by a certain crocodile, clock held in its jaws!). Elsewhere visitors might come across Hansel and Gretel or Little Red Riding Hood (looking oddly friendly with the BIG wolf), or Cinderella, the Queen of Hearts, Sleeping Beauty, the Darling Family, Snow White (in repose and surrounded by friends) and more.

Storybook, August 2022

Also awaiting discovery is the storybook circle, where visitors can relax around a campfire and enjoy a good book or two  – although not necessarily by reading them! Not far away, within a little cove, people can also enjoy a ride on a whale’s back, or drop under water to a little mer-retreat – one of several under the waves, and which are connected one to the next along the channels that run through the region and also separate it from Lost Unicorn to the north.

When exploring, do keep an eye out for the interactive elements. Not just the places to sit – mouseover objects carefully, as you never know where you might find a waiting pose, be it peeking around a line of giant books or floating serenely above an oyster under the sea, or something else. Travel far enough, and you might get to find yourself on a yellow brick road or have the opportunity to “borrow” Prince Charming’s horse.

Storybook, August 2022

And also in your explorations, keep an eye out for the signage along the way, as many will provide you with a wealth of information on the tales by which they reside – information which may be familiar, but which also may make for new reading for you are not familiar with the full richness of European folk tales.

Obviously, given all that has been packed within the region, some viewer adjustments might be necessary (I personally switched my viewer down to a draw distance of 70 metres – given the forested nature of the region, this lost me little in the way of the detail but did help me boost FPS quite comfortably), and some things might require a little time for their textures to render. But these are minor points of niggle, easily put aside in the face of the sheer beauty and charm of the setting.

Storybook, August 2022

Once again completed with its own EEP settings and bearing a custom sounds cape, Storybook is a place heart both young and old can visit and appreciate, and find much that will being a smile to the lips and  – perhaps – a song or two to mind!

SLurl Details

  • Storybook (Lost Unicorn Gallery, rated Moderate)

Duraya at Monocle Man in Second Life

Monocle Man, August 2022: Duraya

Currently open through until the end of August at the Monocle Man sky studio is an untitled exhibition by European artist Duraya which is simply captivating in its content.

I first encountered Duraya’s work earlier in 2022 and was immediately struck by her technique. Starting with a foundation of an image captured or framed / posed within Second Life, Duraya uses a skilled application of post-processing to create images which are genuinely breath-taking in their beauty and narrative strength.

Monocle Man, August 2022: Duraya

Within this exhibition, Duraya takes this a step further, adding animated elements – both 2D and 3D – to some of the 27 images within the selection presented across the gallery’s two floors, supported by 3D elements Duraya has either created or added in order to provide further depth to the exhibition.

Avatar focused, some of the images might be said to lean towards nightmare, others towards joy, and some appear to be statements on the state of Earth and life. Each can be appreciated in its own right; however, there is a broader sweep of interpretation here, one that is likely personal to Duraya – the images potentially being reflections of her state of mind within her journey through life.

Monocle Man, August 2022: Duraya

The clue to this comes in the form of selected lines from Our Deepest Fear, a passage by Marianne Williamson which first appeared in her 1992 bestseller A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles, and which has often been (mistakenly) attributed to Nelson Mandela. It’s a passage (found in chapter 7 of the book) which has gone on to be used as an inspirational poem, the first stanza of which reads:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness
That most frightens us.

– Marianne Williamson

In her selection of Williamson’s words, Duraya offers a clear framing to her works at Monocle Man: a recognition of the power (and creativity) of self when one is at ease with who one is, together with the liberty that brings (including through self-expressive mediums such as art) to oneself – and to others one encounters.

Monocle Man, August 2022: Duraya

Rich in content and metaphor, this is a richly layered selection of art in which the pieces can be appreciated both in and of themselves as single-frame stories, beautifully presented (and animated in some cases), or as a whole and as an exploratory selection.

SLurl Details