Today we got a Second Life™ blog post about the fate of the Mesh Deformer. See: Making Mesh Garments Fit Better. So, what is going on? Well, quoting Linden Lab:
Today, we are launching an experimental Project Fitted Mesh Viewer with additional collision bones needed to support dynamically fitted mesh garments on all of the avatars. When these changes have been finalized, they will enable garment designers to use the superior capabilities of mesh content creation tools to make garments that adapt to a wide range of Second Life avatars.
The point of this change is that this Fitted Mesh viewer and new new Fitted Mesh clothing will allow better fitting mesh clothes for a WIDE RANGE of SL avatars is a big deal. One of the frequent objections to the mesh deformer was that it had problems working with a ‘wide range’ of avatar shapes. Large and tiny avatars didn’t work so well with the Deformer. So, this is a big feature plus… provided it works well.
The Lindens point out that creative types have gone to standard size mesh clothes and Liquid Mesh. (See SL LIQUID MESH is it a Real Solution? from December 2012 or all of the related articles here: Second Life Liquid Mesh) But, for many of us that just isn’t working. I’ve mostly been avoiding mesh clothes. Also, the avatar physics doesn’t work with these solutions. That was an advantage of the Karl Mesh Deformer project.
So, what has the Lab done? They have adopted the system used by Liquid Mesh. That system rigged to the avatar’s collision skeleton. Read:
The Linden Lab development team has studied both approaches, and compared their effectiveness, maintainability, and performance. Neither approach completely eliminates the occasional need for an alpha clothing layer to prevent small parts of the avatar skin from appearing through garments, but both work quite well at resizing garments so that they fit the avatar and move naturally with it. While the collision bones method requires the creator to do some additional rigging, we have decided that because it leverages more of the existing avatar shape system it is likely to be the more maintainable solution and to perform better for a wider range of users.
The problem with Liquid Mesh is it did not work for breast size changes or advanced physics. The Lab has corrected that by adding bones and tying them to the operation of the avatar.
The Lab warns that the new avatar skeleton may change from the one now being tested. So, don’t be selling or buying the new Fitted Mesh clothes. Remember. We went thought multiple changes to the Mesh Deformer that were not compatible to each other. I expect the same thing may happen with Fitted Mesh.
I am expecting this to roll out pretty fast. Unless people find problems. So, the wait should not be long.
What is Fitted Mesh?
Basically it is an improved Liquid Mesh. You can read about the details of it here: Wiki – Mesh/Rigging Fitted Mesh.
There are new bones:
List of original collision bones:
Collision bones added with Fitted Mesh
- BUTT *
- LEFT_PEC *
- RIGHT_PEC *
*Affected by Advanced Avatar Physics.
You can get the new avatar files here: Second Life Skeleton Files. Look near the top of the page in the text box. The files are FBX files, which Blender, Maya, and 3DS can import.
Gaia Clary is changing Avastar to support the new skeleton. Gaia has already found a problem with the Belly bone. It is not consistent with the previous position values for belly size, I think that is what was meant. But, Gaia thinks that is a typo. If so it is an easy fix.
Gaia is not giving us an ETA on the change. She is working on the change today.
She is happy the Lab is supporting collision bones.
You can download the project viewer from the Alternate Viewers page: Second Life Project Fitted Mesh Viewer version 188.8.131.523899.
Of course there will be problems. Now is the time to find problems. It is also the time to suggest changes. So, get the word to your favorite creative types. Get them involved in testing.
Report problems and suggestions here: Fitted Mesh Project – JIRA.
Please add the words feature request to your title for feature requests.
I am happy with this change. It provides several advantages.
One big one is a problem voiced by Oz some time ago. The Deformer as it was last implemented required we relate our mesh item with the shape it was based on. This shape thing was required to get a better fit for a range of avatar shapes and sizes. But, it was not ideal. People still fussed about the result.
This ‘specified shape’ thing was going to create a huge amount of confusion in the market place. How do you tell people which shape you are basing your design on when there are thousands of shapes? Avoiding this little thought of problem is a really good thing.
This appears to be the smallest change they could make and get things working. I see that as a good thing because it avoids putting more obstacles in the way of an improved avatar.
That it is a small change also is likely to mean there is little to go wrong. So, we may see this roll out relatively quickly now.
There are rumors that changes have been made to the avatar morph code in the viewer. I suspect they are small changes that move or copy morphing controls from the animation skeleton to the collision skeleton. We’ll find out in time.