Sansar’s Creator Academy: Hall of Materials launches

Creator Academy: Hall of Materials

Linden Lab has launched its Creator Academy: Hall of Materials experience. It is intended to help creators explore and better understand the materials capabilities of Sansar, learn about the various shaders and physics materials using interactive kiosks, and how texture values interact and impact one another.

The hall comprises two sections; the first covers media surfaces, stereoscopic media, UV animation materials, emissive materials, standard materials, and metals. Overhead, spheres float as a physics demonstration. The second, rotunda-like section, provides insight into audio materials and materials layering.

Creator Academy: Hall of Materials

Kiosks provide overviews of specifics aspects of using mateirals, and some of these are are interactive. In the rotunda for example, walk across the different surface types (sand, water, ceramic, glass, carpet, etc) – to trigger the corresponding sound. With other, proximity might trigger a level of interaction.

However, it has to be said that some of the interactive elements appear to be more geared towards those in VR mode – as indicated in the introductory video. Some kiosks, for example, use panels of buttons which are currently largely inaccessible to those in Desktop mode. While this may well change as Desktop mode interactivity improves, it nevertheless limits the effectiveness of Hall of Materials as learning experience right now.

Creator Academy: Hall of Materials

Also, while I favour tutorials, it has to be said that Sansar’s very nature perhaps limits the effectiveness of experiences like this. Unless you tweak the client or have multiple accounts, you can’t visit the experience and simultaneously try things out directly for yourself in Sansar’s Edit mode, and fix concepts in your head by doing so. As such, I did wonder if the effort in building the experience might not have been better served in producing a series of short videos on the subject matter, perhaps in the manner of Torley’s famous SL TuTORials.

Given these points, Hall of Materials should perhaps be viewed as an experiment in teaching / learning more than anything else, and it’ll be interesting to see where the concept goes and how it develops. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with the introductory video, which provides a basic overview of the experience, in its own somewhat “novel” approach.

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Sansar events list launched on web Atlas

The new Sansar events section on the web Atlas Home tab

Update: the events section of the web Atlas has been updated to display information a little differently and more clearly than defined here.

Following the recent deployment of the Friends release for Sansar (see my overview for more), the promised Events update has now been deployed to the web Atlas, as the first iteration of an events notification capability that the Lab intends to grow over the coming months.

For this initial deployment, the feature is – as noted – limited to the web Atlas, where it appears on the Home tab for the Atlas, located between the banner list of experiences and the Recommended Experiences (aka “Featured” experiences, as referenced in the client Atlas, and more generally by the Lab). Note that if there are no events listed, the section will not be visible in the Atlas.

The capability is currently limited to just three events at a time being displayed, as shown in the banner image at the top of this article, and below. Each is displayed with an image of the experience hosting the event, the event title,the time (PST) / day (and presumably date, if the event us further out than “tomorrow”) it is being held. Beneath this is a short description of the event, which can be expanded by clicking on the More… option, as shown below.

Details of an event can be expanded (to a degree) by clicking on its associated More… option

Clicking on either the image or the title for an event will display a pop-up message, again repeating the day / time of the event, and which also give the URL for the host experience, allowing users to visit it via the experience’s web page & then launching the client.

Clicking on the image / title of an event will display a pop-up which includes a link to the hosting experience’s Atlas page, allowing people the visit the experience

Currently, the events are limited to those run by Linden Lab – simply because these are the major form of event in Sansar – such as the daily Community meet-ups and the weekly Product Meetings, as listed.

However, in the future, as the capability grows, users will be able to e-mail the Lab with details of their own experiences for inclusion. I’ll blog on this / update this article once the e-mail address and requirements for submitting an event have been made available.

The Events feature itself will, as noted, be expanded over time to allow more events to be included, although exactly what form it will take (additional tab in the Atlas?) is, I gather, still TBD at the Lab.  Again, I’ll cover further updates as they appear.

 

Sansar: competition winners and Fashion release news

Courtesy of Linden Lab

On Monday, October 30th, 2017, Jenn from Linden Lab blogged two news items on Sansar.

In the first post, Jenn announced the winners of the two recent Sansar competitions: the Top Props contest and the seasonal Sansar’s Scariest competition for the best Halloween-related experience.

There were four categories in the Top Props contest, with the winner in each category receiving an Oculus Rift + Touch bundle, plus a one year Sansar Super Creator Subscription, while honourable mentions receiving a one year Sansar Creator Subscription. The winners, selected by a panel of Sansar staff and special guest judges are:

Sansar Top Props contest winners

The Sansar’s Scariest contest offered a single Grand Prize of US $10,000 together with an Oculus Rift + Touch bundle and a one year Sansar Super Creator Subscription. In addition, three honourable mentions would each receive a one year Sansar Creator Subscription.

The final selection on winner and honourable mentions was made by journalist and VR consultant Alice Bonasio, who has written extensively on VR for a number of publications, including VRScout, WIRED, Fast Company, and The Next Web. Her selections were:

Grand Prize winner The Diner by C3rb3rus

Having spent time in both of these experiences, I’ll be providing write-ups on them in due course for those who may not have had the opportunity to visit.

In addition, Alice outlined a number of other experiences she enjoyed. For her feedback on those, and her notes for the winning entry and the honourable mention, and for the honourable mentions in the Top Props contest, please refer to Jenn’s blog post.

Image courtesy of Linden Lab

In the second post, Jenn outlined the upcoming Friends and Fashion releases. If all remains on track, the Friends release – focused on social aspects of Sansar – will be deployed on Tuesday, October 31st, and in addition to Jenn’s notes, you can read more about it in my Sansar week #43 update.

The Fashion update, currently scheduled for around mid-December 2017, will allow designers to create and sell avatar outfits, which thanks to the integration of new technology will be able to move and fold naturally. In addition, the update is currently planned to include:

  • The ability to restricted access to an experience to just those on your Friends list if you want.
  • More branding options for creators on the Sansar store, and the ability for the Sansar team to present curated collections of selected sellers and items.
  • Improvements to full-body IK.
  • Support for importing terrain height maps, and audio materials for terrain.

I’ll have more information on both the Friends and Fashion releases as a part of my weekly Sansar technical updates.

Linden Lab announces Voyages Live: Egypt with Insight Digital

The Tomb of Nahktamon (“TT341”) in Sansar – part of the collaboration with INSIGHT

Linden Lab has announced the first Sansar virtual tourism / history event, which will take place on Wednesday, October 4th., between 10:00 – 11:00 PDT on Wednesday, October 4th.

Presented in partnership with the Institute for Study and Implementation of Graphical Heritage Techniques (INSIGHT, also referred to as Insight Digital),  Voyages Live: Egypt offers those registering for the event the opportunity to join with Egyptologist, author, and INSIGHT co-founder, Dr. Philippe Martinez for an interactive guided tours of select Egyptian heritage sites which have been recreated in Sansar with a high degree of fidelity.

The cenotaph at Gebel el-Silsila as modelled in Sanar

These sites, which are inaccessible to the public, have been recreated as a part of a joint project between INSIGHT, the Sorbonne University, and the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities. The project has used LiDAR (or LIDAR – Light Detection and Ranging – a surveying method that measures distance to a target by illuminating it  with a pulsed laser light and measuring the reflected pulses) and photogrammetry (the science of making measurements from photographs) to produce models of sites of antiquity in Egypt. Some of these models have been  optimised by Linden Lab and presented in Sansar in exacting “you are there” detail.

One such model in particular, that of the entrance to the tomb of Nakhtamon (“TT341”), was optimised from a model of some 50 million polygons to produce a 40,000 polygon Sansar experience used extensively in promoting the platform in the run-up to the Creator Preview and Creator Beta programmes.  This experience is linked to the Voyages Live: Egypt experience, which also allows visitors to travel to what appears to be a work-in-process of the Ramesseum “Coronation Wall”, and to the cenotaph at Gebel el-Silsila.

Dr. Phillipe Martinez, Lead Archaeologist for INSIGHT, and who will be leading the Sansar tour on October 4th, 2017, pictured at Gebel el-Silsila

As the co-founder and Lead Archaeologist for the INSIGHT programme, Dr. Martinez is well-placed to talk about the INSIGHT work in the digital preservation of sites of historical import in Egypt and on Egyptology in general. Thus, Voyages Live: Egypt offers a potentially fascinating field trip. However, it is only open to a limited number of participants, so those interested are advised to register sooner rather than later in order to secure a place on the tour. Detailed information on the event will be sent via e-mail to all successful applicants in due course.

With thanks to Jenn at Linden Lab.