Ample Clarity, the owner of the PrimPossible brand, made his mark producing 1-prim household items, initially using sculpties (not good for rendering, etc., but nevertheless impressive for their time for those pushed for LI) and more recently for doing much of the same with mesh. He’s well aware of my fondness for the piano, and so recently sent me a beta version of his new 1 LI mesh Bento baby grand piano featuring a selection of motion captured animations, and I decided I’d take it for a quick spin.
I cannot speak to the packaging of the piano, as it was delivered to me unboxed. However, in terms of shape and styling, it follows the expected form for a grand, and rezzes with the lid open and music stand raised. The former will tend to close when an avatar sits on the stool, but typing “open lid” (no quotes required when typing) in open chat will set it open once more.
Given this is pretty much a single mesh, there are some elements that can catch the eye a little: the curves of the housing rim perhaps aren’t as smooth as seen on other piano models; the detailing of the soundboard / plate / strings is a little basic compared to other piano models I’ve tried (but also better than others). Certainly, the keys and nicely raised and the texturing of the ivory gives them something of a look of having been used, rather than appearing utterly pristine – a touch I appreciate in my SL pianos.
Sitting at the piano will open the main menu, the top level of which provides access to the piano’s impressively broad range of animations. Depending on which animations are available, depends on whether you have the Adult or PG variant. For the PG variant, which I have, the animations are broken down into the following categories / sub-menus:
- Bento: general single (male or female avatar) and couples sitting animations than make use of Bento animations. This can place avatars on or around the piano in a variety of animated poses.
- Non-Bento: similar to the above in terms of general sits / cuddle, but also with non-Bento piano playing animations (female, male and duets), and a selection of “friends” animations that again place avatars in poses for chatting, etc., around or on the piano.
- Bento piano: a set of four playing styles created for Bento hands and finger movements.
- Bento Mo-Cap: as set of single and duet playing styles for Bento hands and created using motion capture software.
The Bento piano animations offer sufficient range for playing most of the pieces of music included in the piano, with Piano Boss adding a little athletic fun to the start of any playing for those so inclined! The Mo-Cap options (two single pianist options for “standard” and “tall” avatars, plus three duet pairs) are, like the Bento animations, fluid, and offer perhaps a more natural placement of hands whilst playing (as they have been motion captured).
A total of 24 pieces of music are supplied, the majority of them classical and public domain (Ernest Gold’s theme from Exodus would have entered public domain in 2017, had it not been for the 1978 change to US copyright laws….). Accessible through the Extras > Music Menu option, these are a familiar and popular selection – Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Grieg, Mendelssohn, Satie, etc., – with a touch of Gershwin.
The music menu includes a Start / Stop option (so you can play the piano sans music, if you have music playing over the stream, etc.), plus options for selecting / playing / looping pieces, and for adjusting the piano’s internal playback volume. I confess that some of the pieces seemed to suffer in places from recording levels perhaps being set too high, with a – to my ears at least – a noticeable distortion.
When playing music, it is also possible to alter the playing animation to better match the piece selected, if desired, and the duets options offer a nice sense of shared moments, although having a couple of additional pieces obviously suited to duet play might be nice. For those who enjoy their piano to play by itself, this is possible: simply use the music menu to select the music and play mode and then click Play (if the piano isn’t already playing). You can do this either whilst seated at the piano or with a touch to bring up the menu when standing.
Also included in the menu are options to set permissions on who can use it (owner, group or anyone), plus texturing options and to adjust the level of shine, the ability to set it to phantom (and avoid bouncing into the air when standing up!), and to adjust your sitting position. The latter brings out one of the little niggles I have with all pianos that have both the instrument and the stool as a single item: as the stool is “fixed” relative to the piano, I never can quite get my avatar to what I feel is the optimal position for playing.
A final thing to note about this piano is the LI. The single LI count of the piano applies to when it is not in use; as soon as an avatar sits at the piano, the LI count will increase to 3. This is necessary due to the nature of SL and sit targets: the PrimPossible piano requires an additional (and invisible) “shell” to be rezzed with it in order for avatars to be correctly sit targeted. This shell is automatically deleted when the piano is not in use, returning it to the advertised 1 LI. So, if you opt for this piano, do keep this in mind should you note the LI count changing – it’s not an issue / error.
The PrimPossible Bento piano is available in four versions and price points:
- No Copy, Mod or Transfer PG at L$800 or Adult at L$950.
- Copy, No Mod / Transfer PG at L$2,000 or Adult at L$2,400.
These prices are also listed as being “introductory beta”, and I understand that further animations and Mo-Caps will be added over the coming months. Even so, when comparing the L$2,000 price tag for the Copy version to something like the Culprit Sonata Bento Baby Grand (supplied Copy, No Mod / Transfer, and which I reviewed in March 2019), that’s a hefty difference should you be in need of a Copy version of a piano. Were I to give a very quick, high-level contrast between the PrimPossible and the Culprit it would be:
- PrimPossible lower rendering and server costs (4576 and 1.0 respectively), lower LI (1 or 3), but fewer music options (24) and playing styles (for the present). Includes non-playing animations.
- Culprit: higher LI (11) with a higher level of detail (particularly the soundboard / plate / strings / hammers / dampeners), more music options (56) and playing styles. Higher rendering / server costs (8561 and 10.7 respectively).
As it is, the Culprit wins out for me for general home display / use. I find the playing styles more varied (and some more reflective of piano playing techniques) – although it’ll be interesting to see what else is added to the PrimPossible model as the beta progresses. As someone who loves the grand piano, I also appreciate the amount of work put into the Culprit’s “innards”, and I’m not sure I like seeing one clambered all over / sat on, so the additional sitting animations in the PrimPossible model, while potentially fun, hold no real appeal here.
For those who might be pushed for LI, and given more is to come with the PrimPossible piano, it is certainly worth a look and consideration, given the range of prices and the additional animations. As it is, the PrimPossible has been added to my Linden Home houseboat (where it will admittedly be more decorative than functional), where it looks quite at home.