I know this is week 25. But, I’m a bit behind.
The Mesh Deformer has been the subject of lots of debate and discussion. It centers around the Mesh Clothes Sizing and how that will or won’t be handled in the Parametric Deformer Project, aka Mesh Deformer.
Last week (24) Karl Stiefvater, the Mesh Deformer coder, talked about where development of the Mesh deformer is headed in a MetaReality’s podcast: Come Together. Discussion starts about the 34:20 minute mark.
Standard Sizes Out
It seems sizes are out. Don’t get excited if you are Standard Size supporter. The real issue is how to fit our custom shapes and deal with some of the extreme shapes Second Life® users use. It looks like a better way has been found then using standard sizes or multiple base shapes, which was my favored solution until now.
With this change we should get better fit and designers will build for a single base shape… sort of. Read on.
Karl talks about some of the sizing issues. (38:20) Karl thinks he and the Linden he is working with on avatar shapes (apparently not Oz Linden when it comes to avatar details) have come to an understanding of what needs to be done next. Emails are in transit, so this is an in-progress discussion and things could change.
But, in regard to the shape issues, it looks like instead of being limited to a fixed set of shapes the actual avatar parameters will be encoded to the mesh object. The Lindens are/were concerned about which base avatar shape to use. I am hoping they were considering how to avoid any farther lock-in to the current avatar mesh and shape. Whatever, they were talking using a stick-figure. Karl suggested building in the ‘parameters’ to enable doing that.
I think we are talking appearance settings parameters being built into the mesh clothing. So, the parameter that sets my breast size would be included in a blouse. Changing my breast appearance setting would change the blouse size setting too.
My guess is we would be able to associate our mesh to the various parameters used in appearance. I don’t have any information on how this will work in an app like Blender. I am guessing the Viewer’s Collada Importer would change to recognize shape keys or something we can control in the 3D modeling program.
Whether this can work depends on the room left in the mesh asset definition. An asset definition is all about how the data regarding an asset is arranged and written into the asset database. So, this possibility would seem to hinge on whether there is enough room or the system can be easily tweaked enough to fit the extra data in.
Another issue is in the vertex matching math. One of the things the Deformer does is figure out which vertex in the clothing mesh we make matches up with a vertex on the avatar. Then as the avatar vertex moves according to the appearance settings, so too does the ‘matching’ clothing vertex.
There are some distortions from not being able to make perfect match-ups. That is why Standard Sizes and Multiple Base Shapes were being discussed as possible means to reduce the distortions we see when shape sliders start to hit maximum and minimum settings.
It looks like matching will need to look at ‘normals’ as well as position when calculating the match up. So, that is being added and should relieve some of the distortions we have been running into.
What’s All This Mean for Designers?
Well… I think it is better… actually I’m sure it is better… but I can’t say I can explain it correctly. I’m not sure how this is going to work on the design side.
At the 40:00 time mark Eclectic Wingtips asks what including the mesh shape info into the mesh item will mean for mesh designers.
Karl answered. I heard the words, but I’m not sure I understand even after running the audio several times. So, you need to listen to the audio, about 2 minutes worth (40-42 minute marks).
I get that we will not be building to sizes and that is a good thing. Building multiple sizes would be a tedious drag. Most designers wanted to avoid multiple sizes.
Exactly how and where the ‘parameters’ are going to be handled, I’m not sure. But, I think Karl means we will have more controls in the mesh uploader? Or maybe we are going to be able to use the shape keys and modify them in Blender, or whatever modeling application we use. I’ll probably one get an answer once I see the next Deformer Project Viewer.
It looks like Karl and the Lab have a better solution that we were anticipating. If things go well we will essentially get mesh clothes that pretty much fit correctly without base shape issues.
Don’t go nuts and think things will be perfect. Some of the breasts I’ve seen wouldn’t fit in a cargo ship much less a blouse. There are likely still going to be some fit issues.
Nor will a good Deformer remove the need for an improved avatar. It will however, make the one we have more acceptable. Hopefully we’ll still see some minor improvements to the existing avatar.