3D modeling is sort of a new think in Second Life™. Now that 3DS, Blender, Maya, and SketchUp models can be imported we have a whole new realm of knowledge and learning to deal with. One of the tough areas is finding ways to handle the Level of Detail (LoD) aspects of modeling. LoD has a huge impact on Land Impact (LI) costs. So, we have lots of incentive to understand the concept.
I watch for ideas and tutorials that will help me with that challenge. Indigo Mertel Plurked about a modeling expert giving out tips on 3D modeling LoD. So, I’m down with that. Her article and link to the tips is here: Expert games tips: Generate more effective level of detail models.
No I’m not going to copy them here are even discuss them all. The article explains the need for LoD and gives a good example of what LoD is doing. We have LoD in SL, so you do need to understand it. Someday I’ll get around to digging out all of Drongle’s posts on LoD specifics and math in the SL forum and get them into an article… or not. But, the Tips article explains the basics and is worth a read.
The tips are for generic gaming and modeling. So, some of them are not usable or only partially usable in SL. For instance:
#3 – We can’t hack-away at hands unless we are making an avatar body replacement. But, the idea of simplifying the model is the basic idea of LoD. The image shows how the model gets simpler while maintaining the outline/silhouette of the model, which is the key to making successful LoD’s.
#4 – Facial animation is something we cannot do with rigged mesh. We may see that change in the future.
#11 – In this idea of reducing textures, we are limited in that if we have 4 textures on our highest LoD model (most polygons) we must have the same 4 on the lowest LoD. Other systems allow different textures to be used on each LoD model, not SL.
#12 – We cannot simplify our armature/skeleton or reduce the bones or joints in SL.
#14 – We do not yet know if we will be able to drop Normal and Specular map textures from LoD models, because we don’t know what they are going to do with the Materials System. I doubt we will see this in the first release in any event.
#18 – Blender triangulates as it experts to Collada. So, it is possible to suffer from the problem of normals shifting between what we see in Blender and Second Life. The newer versions of Blender make controlling the triangles easier.
The ideas are all good and most of them we can use in Second Life. Check out the site 3D World for more interesting information and tutorials on 3D modeling.