Hopefully you have been following the Mesh Deformer and developments around it. Today in the Content Improvement group meeting I brought up the subject of Consensus on Mesh Deformation Tools.
Some people have the same concern I do. What’s best and how do we know? There is speculation on what is the best way to deform mesh so clothes fit. Discussion extended into the work flow of making clothes too. Maxwell Graf is keen on the idea that any solution has to provide a reasonably simple work flow. I agree. Making mesh clothes is already complicated.
Karl’s Mesh Deformer is reasonably simple. It certainly avoids adding complication to the clothes making process. In general it will simplify what needs to be done to get clothes to fit. Simplicity is a large factor.
Discussion thrashed out what one would need to do to make clothes using what we call Morph Targets, which is different than Redpoly Inventor’s Collision-Bone method. Geenz Spad provided his take on what would be needed to implement the use of Morph Targets. It will likely take some changes to the asset data, the servers, and the viewer. So, it is not a free process and the Lab will be involved.
However, Morph Targets are already in use. The Appearance Sliders are activating Morph Targets in the existing avatar. In Blender morph targets are labeled Shape Keys. If you read my tutorial Working with #SL Male Shape you’ll see Shape Keys at work in Blender.
Shape Keys are created by editing the base mesh. One actually models the shape by moving vertices. One can use Sculpt Mode to build the new shape. I’m not sure whether a complete set of new vertices positions is created or not. But, it works to think of it that way.
In the tutorial I don’t focus on it, but one can use the Shape Key slider in Blender to morph between the base shape and the target shape. This is pretty much what the Appearance sliders in the viewer do. So, it seems there is no massive development project needed to create an ability to use Morph Targets. In the viewer we would probably pretty much be riding on existing code.
How we get the data into SL from Blender and then store it in the asset servers is another issue. Geenz is going to talk to some Lindens about how easy or complex it will be to implement.
The challenge here is in learning how to use Shape Keys/Morph Targets (the name depends on your 3D modeling software). Instead of… or rather in addition to weight painting we will need to model the mesh of our skirt or jacket into additional shapes. Then we have to get the weight painting to work with the shapes and the ‘tween shapes too. It is starting to sound complex.
With the added complexity comes the ability to have more control over the deformation of a jacket or skirt. I imagine I could do something about that horrid sketch section in the front and the back of skirts. So, we get more control and more complexity. Max points out this choice makes it much harder for non-professionals to start making clothes in Second Life™. That is a serious down side.
The result of the meeting discussion is a proposal is probably going to be prepared and submitted to Linden Lab™ regarding implementing morph targets.
At this point the issue for me is whether Karl Stiefvater is going to wait for this process to work its way through the Lab before doing any more work on the Mesh Deformer, which we’ve been discussing and working with for months. Karl has said he is waiting for some consensus, presumably from the community.
The next question popping up is: why can’t we have both? While a hard vote was not taken, the consensus at the group meeting was obvious that most if not all of the 30+ attendees was for the Mesh Deformer to be completed and the Morph Targets/Shape Keys proposal to move forward too.
We have no way to figure out, at this point in time, if they will both work together and be complementary or be mutually exclusive. Geenz was probably the most technically competent in this area that was at the meeting. He doesn’t see anything that makes the two mutually exclusive. So, the community consensus seems to be: move ahead on both.
Approached another way, it is also obvious that the group wanted whatever could be completed and implemented as soon as possible.
So, hopefully Karl will get moving and complete the Mesh Deformer. A couple of people asked if they could message Karl on his blog. Well… yes. So, stop by his blog and leave a note. QLab
The choice of 30 or so people is a pretty small sample, even if it high in content creators. So, take the following poll and add your voice. Contact anyone that you think should have a voice in the decision and ask them to vote.
Please, if you don’t understand the issues, don’t vote. Thanks.[poll id=”9″] [poll id=”10″] [poll id=”11″]