2019 Content Creation User Group week #42 summary

Summerland, August 2019 – blog post

The following notes are taken from my audio recording of the Content Creation User Group (CCUG) meeting held on Thursday, October 17th 2019 at 13:00 SLT. These meetings are chaired by Vir Linden, and agenda notes, meeting SLurl, etc, are available on the Content Creation User Group wiki page.


Project Summary

An attempt to re-evaluate object and avatar rendering costs to make them more reflective of the actual impact of rendering both. The overall aim is to try to correct some inherent negative incentives for creating optimised content (e.g. with regards to generating LOD models with mesh), and to update the calculations to reflect current resource constraints, rather than basing them on outdated constraints (e.g. graphics systems, network capabilities, etc).

Current Status

  • Data gathering is continuing, with the intention of gathering enough information on different rendering operations to be able to update the current cost coefficients being using in the rendering cost calculations.
  • Normalising the settings across different client-side hardware is seen as a challenge.
    • One thing the Lab proposes doing is running the resultant model across a range of client hardware types and different ranges of settings.
    • However, if there are significant differences across hardware types (which is likely), then some weighting mechanism will need to be used.
  • One issue noted as a part of the work is a persistent spike – frames in every second that were much longer than the others in the Windows viewer. This was traced back to a call being made to an expensive API that wasn’t even required and has therefore been removed.

Environment Enhancement Project

Project Summary

A set of environmental enhancements (e.g. the sky, sun, moon, clouds, and 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 includes the ability to use custom Sun, Moon and cloud textures. The assets can be stored in inventory and traded through the Marketplace / exchanged with others, and can additionally be used in experiences.

Due to performance issues, the initial implementation of EEP will now likely not include certain atmospherics such as crepuscular rays (“God rays”).


Current Status

  • The viewer is being merged up to the latest release viewer (version, dated September 17th, promoted October 15th). This may also include at least one UI issue fix as well.
  • There are no further simulator-side updates that are ready for deployment as yet, but work has been continuing in resolving bugs.

Other Items in Brief

  • Following on from the discussion at the previous meeting about object size and land impact calculations a feature request – BUG-227762 “Removal of Size from Land Impact calculation/Texture LOD/Adjustable LOD distance” – has been submitted, and has been accepted by the Lab for consideration
    • The Jira also touches on texture management and handling, suggesting a way the textures for an object could be manipulated / downscaled in real-time.
    • It was pointed out that Firestorm offers an automatic downscale of 1024 textures in its 32-bit versions (and the setting in optional in the 64-bit versions), but the suggestion is that be providing users with information in the viewer could allow them to make more informed choices when making adjustments to help with their own performance.
    • This JIRA will be looked at in reference to ARCTan.
  • Something of a companion idea to this would be to allow a texture upload to produce multiple versions of a texture (e.g. a 1024×1204 also produces a 512x512x256x256 and 128×128). This has been discussed in the past, and is seen as something that, will requiring input from the Product Team, might be worth exploring.
  • A suggestion to lessen the reliance on high-res specular maps is for the Lab to provide a set of default grey textures at (say) 128×128 against which specular glossiness and environment could be set. A counter to this was that the blank white texture could be used and tinted to grey.
  • There was also general discussion on PBR and its possible introduction to SL in the future (it is *not* on the roadmap right now!) and its potential impact on existing content were it to be introduced.

Art with zodiacal signs in Second Life

ArtCare Gallery: Signs of the Zodiac

Opening at 13:00 SLT on Thursday, October 17th, 2019 is a joint exhibition Signs of the Zodiac, featuring the photography of Mara Telling and the 3D art of Impossibleisnotfrench (aka Harry Cover), presented at ArtCare Gallery. I was kindly offered the opportunity to visit the exhibition ahead of the opening by Carelyna, the gallery’s curator, and Harry, whose work I’d only recently encountered at Ladmilla’s THE EDGE Gallery (see: Art and inspiration in Second Life) and had immediately become enamoured of it, so I was delighted to take up their offers.

As the title of the exhibition suggests, the theme is very much about the zodiacal constellations that have long been a part of human mythologies (alongside the constellations as a whole) and the subject of the pseudo-science of astrology. However, whether or not you identify with astrology or not is beside the point here; this isn’t an exhibition related to that subject per se. Rather, it is designed to offer a combination of pictorial representations of the 12 zodiacal signs and models of their twelve related constellations.

ArtCare Gallery: Signs of the Zodiac – Mara Telling

Mara Telling (Sign of Zodiac: Cancer) and Harry Cover (Sign of Zodiac: Leo) first met in June 2019 and became friends immediately. They’ve inspired each other from the very first chat and found out that they share a similar sense of humour and values. The idea for Signs of the Zodiac came up as Harry was looking for new themes for this mesh egg creations. Why not showing all signs of zodiac from the view of a mesh-creator AND a photographer?

– From the introduction to the exhibition

For her interpretations of the 12 signs of the zodiac, Mara notes that she had originally been planning on props and costumes for each sign, but in the end opt to go sans props and instead rely on just her avatar, her camera and a set of custom poses.

My own opinion is that she made the right choice; unencumbered by props and adornments, each image is a wonderful personification of the sign it represents. Some have a marvellous minimalism about them – Libra and Virgo, for example, are perfectly represented by the simple placement of arms and hands. Others offer a more evocative interpretation, as with Leo and Sagittarius, while several – Cancer, Pisces, Capricorn and, of course, Aquarius – fold into them the elemental aspect of their nature.

ArtCare Gallery: Signs of the Zodiac – Impossibleisnotfrench (Harry Cover)

Harry’s eggs offer miniature reproductions of the twelve constellations of the Zodiac, presented in two sizes per constellation. Clicking the top of an egg (if not open) will reveal the constellation rotating gently above a smaller version of Mara’s image of the zodiac sign, providing the link between the two.

He notes that this collection of eggs is something of a departure for him; until now his eggs have been informed by his own experiences with life from childhood onwards. As such, there has always been something of a personal connection to his work – one that actually enfolds anyone viewing it, both in terms of offering the observer the opportunity to share in his memories through an egg and, possibly, through recollections of their own past an egg my trigger.

ArtCare Gallery: Signs of the Zodiac – Impossibleisnotfrench (Harry Cover)

Given the much broader canvas of this exhibition, he admits to moving outside his comfort zone. Not that I think he has anything to worry about; each egg is also captivating and, for anyone familiar with astronomy, each constellation is clearly identifiable (even when rotated to fit its egg, as some have been), making these collectable pieces, perfectly finish through the inclusion of Mara’s art.

Included with each display is a vendor through which you can purchase a set of two eggs and 2 images for each star sign. In addition, Two information givers are available for each sign; when clicked one will offer to take you to further information on the constellation, the other to further information on the zodiac sign.

ArtCare Gallery: Signs of the Zodiac – Mara Telling

Presented beneath a dome of a starlit sky, the floor of which offers a familiar zodiacal ring centred on the Moon, Signs of the Zodiac is engaging to the eye whatever your level of interest in astrology or astronomy. The opening on October 17th will feature singer Lisa Brune, and DJ Jan Ross, and the exhibition will run for approximately 3 months. For those particularly taken by any one of the 12 signs, each is available for purchase in a pack comprising 2 versions of the image by Mara and the two versions of the constellation’s egg by Harry.

SLurl Details

The Boho Refuge in Second Life

The Boho Refuge, October 2019 – click any image for full size

The Boho Refuge is a homestead region designed by Jaccaranda Jael which recently opened to visitors, offering a mix of public spaces and private rental properties. We were alerted to its presence by Sorcha Tyles, who recommended we hop over and pay a visit.

As I’ve noted before in these pages, writing a review about a region that offers rentals can be difficult; by its nature it is intended to offer people a private home, so providing a write-up that encourages people to drop in and wander around can interfere with the privacy those renting the properties might otherwise want. This can be particularly true if the balance between public spaces and private residences is biased towards the latter.

The Boho Refuge, October 2019

Fortunately, The Boho Refuge offers a good balance between public and private that makes a visit rewarding for casual visitors whilst keeping private residences reasonably well apart from the public areas. Most of the latter – 11 homes in all – sit around the coastline of the region or along the gorge that splits the region in two.

This gorge runs from west to east, leaving the bulk of the region as two rugged islands linked by a road bridge. The southern island offers the landing point, with the rental office sitting within a pink walled hacienda that looks like it might in another life offer a cosy bar / lounge, and that sits to one side of a dirt road that winds over the island from the bridge and down to a working quayside to the west. This, and the other little public buildings scattered  over the island offer plenty of opportunity for photography, while two of the rental properties lie on the southern coast and one on this side of the gorge splitting the region into its two main islands.

The Boho Refuge, October 2019

Follow the track toward the bridge and you’ll find it forks, one arm turning north to link with the crossing to the north island, the other continuing east. Follow the latter, and it will lead you down to the access points to the rentals, and also to a fourth private home at the eastern end of the region that sits on its own little isle; so do please respect the privacy of anyone renting the houses.

The slightly larger northern island is more rugged, and features seven rentals around its edges, either snuggled against the coast and facing to the north and east, or perched higher up on the cliffs and facing either north or west, a singleton tucked into the gorge rounding them out. A T-junction at the north end of the bridge allows visitors a choice of routes: west to the access point for rentals and a climb up to the island’s peak, or east and a curving route down to where the road becomes unsurfaced once more and splits to provide access to the homes at the eastern end of the island or to a small public beach (with a rental home just off to one side, so again, be careful when visiting).

The Boho Refuge, October 2019

The upper reaches of this island are open to the public, and accessed by stone steps or a board walk and wooden steps that curl around the highest peak from the western end of the island – although be aware that these were blocked at the time of our visit by a non-phantom tree throwing its physics across the steps. The tops of these hills offer an number of little points of interest: an outdoor spa, a little greenhouse that would make an ideal lovers’ meeting place, the old tower of an abandoned observatory and numerous lookout points.

Packed with plenty of detail, The Boho Refuge offers a fair amount to see, while each of the rental properties sits within its own parcel, making privacy possible for those renting them. They also include a security orb to help warn away straying feet. Finished with a rich sound scape and offering plenty of water fowl and otter to be spotted by keen-eyed visitors, the region could be a cosy home for those seeking somewhere to live – prices available from the rental office.

The Boho Refuge, October 2019

SLurl Details

Catznip R12.3 goes BoM!

Catznip version R12.3 surfaced on Tuesday, October 15th, and made it the default download / update version on Wednesday, October 16th.

This is a maintenance release, following on from version 12.2, which saw a “de-coupling” of updates that are more focused on bug fixes and improvements from larger releases that include significant updates and new capabilities. However, it does include one major new feature: support for Linden Lab’s Bakes on Mesh capability.

As always, details of updates are available through the official release notes, although given the size of the update, just about everything included is noted below.

Linden Lab Derived Updates

Viewer Parity

This release brings Catznip to parity with Linden Lab viewer release, formerly the Umeshu release candidate viewer (Dated September 5th, promoted to de facto release status by Linden Lab on September 10th).

Bakes on Mesh

R12.3 provides support for Bakes on Mesh (BoM). This is a capability to allow system wearable layers as used with the “classic” Second Life system avatar – skins, tattoos, underwear, shirt and jacket layers – to be used with mesh bodies and heads, and without the need for additional applier systems.

The system requires mesh bodies and heads to be “BoM enabled” – and many creators have already updated their products, or are in the process of updating their products to support Bakes on Mesh. In addition, some applier makers are producing applier systems that leverage Bakes on Mesh to apply wearables to mesh bodies and heads – although these may be limited in some respects due to differences between how skin textures and mesh bodies are made).

Through Bakes on Mesh, Linden Lab hopes:

  • Users can avoid the need to use appliers, but can add wearables to their mesh avatar directly from inventory.
  • Creators will be able to simplify avatar mesh bodies and heads by removing the need for some of the “onion” layers. This should – if done – reduce the rendering complexity for bodies and heads, thus hopefully improving people’s SL experience (as avatars won’t be quite so resource intensive or require quite so much “assembly time” when encountering them on logging-on or after teleporting somewhere).

Bakes on Mesh support is required to both use the BoM capability and to correctly view mesh avatars using BoM.

For more detailed information on Bakes on Mesh, please refer to the following links:

Linden Lab:

Creator-related BoM documentation:

Informative Bakes on Mesh blog post:

Catznip Fixes

Release 12.3 also includes the following updates from the Catznip team:

  • Minor installer issues.
  • Revert SL-1579 and allow taking rezzed items if their originating folder was Received Items.
  • Crash in busy/crowded places while camming around (thank you Nicky from Firestorm).
  • CATZ-532: Avatar (sometimes) ends up deformed when detaching something while an Animesh attachment is worn.
  • CATZ-535: Remove Google+ links.
  • CATZ-539: Creator Name on the build floater is always disabled.
  • CATZ-542: Render Everyone As setting affects your own Animesh attachments.
  • RLVa – FIRE-24230: Login crash when RLV @showloc restricted with no teleport history file.
  • RLVa – BoM universal layer is missing from @getoufit.

Related Links

Kultivate The Edge: October 2019

Kultivate The Edge: M8ty

The October exhibition at Kultivate’s The Edge Gallery opened on Sunday, October 13th. Primarily a black and white / monochrome exhibition space, The Edge features for this exhibition images from both Second Life and the physical world by aht1981, Angyel, M8ty, MTH63, John Bianna, Lena Kiopak, Anouk Lefavre, Moora McMillan, Veruca Tammas and Tintin Tuxing.

As with such ensemble exhibitions, this is a very mixed collection of art, each display offering something unique and potentially appealing to visitors.

Kultivate The Edge Gallery: Anouk Lefavre

Perhaps the most striking in terms of catching the eye due to the colour text used, is aht1981’s The Future Is Yours, a set of three portraits of avatars presented with mini interviews with each of the subjects, together with an introductory set of notes. The latter reveal the images are part of a planned larger project intended to present images and interviews of some 20 people, the interviews intended to give greater depth to the portraits of the interview subjects.

Along the back wall of the lower level of the gallery are three displays that particularly attracted me: those of M8ty, Angyel and Lena Kiopak. For his work, M8ty, presents a series of avatar portraits that are striking in their presentation and depth. Alongside of his work is the display by Angyel, a wonderful mix of landscape-style images some encompassing famous locations within Second Life and the physical world. Similarly, but equally fascinating in presentation are the half-dozen pieces presented by Lena Kiopak offering unique visions of in-world locations.

Kultivate The Edge Gallery: Lena Kiopak

When dealing with an exhibition like this, I often say that singling out one or two artists or pieces in an review like this isn’t entirely fair to the exhibition as a whole, which is why I emphasise that while I might only mention four artists here, all of the displays within this exhibition have much to offer, as noted above. As such, I do encourage those lovers of art in Second Life to drop in to The Edge gallery over the next four weeks and see this exhibition for themselves.

Slurl Details

2019 Simulator User Group week #42

Frogmore, August 2019 – blog post

No significant news. A lot of back and forth on region crossings and whether they are “worse” and personal views on how they can be fixed.

Simulator Deployments

Please refer to the server deployment thread for the latest updates.

  • On Tuesday, October 14th the SLS (main) channel was updated with server release 2019-10-03T01:12:11.531528, previously deployed to an RC channel and comprising:
      • Fixes: BUG-227645 EEP issue; windlight no longer rendering properly.
      • Internal logging changes.
      • Improvements to simulator state saves, which should make rolls smoother.
  • On Wednesday, October 16th, a new server update, 2019-10-11T18:12:36.531693, should be deployed. This comprises all of the above updates plus the internal script improvements previously documented in these updates. This deployment will expand these updates (originally deployed to one RC on Wednesday, October 9th in release .531529) to all of the primary RC channels.

SL Viewer

The Vinsanto Maintenance RC viewer, dated September 17th, 2019 was promoted to de facto release status on Tuesday, October 15th. The remainder of the pipelines remained unchanged at the time of writing:

  • Release channel cohorts:
  • Project viewers:
    • Legacy Profiles viewer, version, September 17. Covers the re-integration of Viewer Profiles.
    • Project Muscadine (Animesh follow-on) project viewer, version, September 11.
    • 360 Snapshot project viewer, version, July 16.
  • Linux Spur viewer, version, dated November 17, 2017 and promoted to release status 29 November 2017 – offered pending a Linux version of the Alex Ivy viewer code.
  • Obsolete platform viewer, version, May 8, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7.