Slink released the new mesh heads as promised this past Saturday. I didn’t get to check them out until Monday night. They are interesting. But, they are not for me. I do think they are really nice. They show what our avatars could be.
There is some interesting slight-of-hand tech used in making animated mesh. Any animation or change of a mesh shape is done by making each mesh shape somewhat like drawing each frame of an animation. Then making the shape one wants to see now visible and all the other shapes invisible. When ready for another shape the currently visible one is made invisible and the newly desired shape made visible. This technique makes for really high polygon count items. I can’t tell if that is what is being done with Slink’s heads. But, it is the only way I know to change the shape of a mesh item.
The weights of the two heads are shown in image #1. Don’t pay much attention to the Land Impact or Physics. I did not bother to make a physics layer for my import of the SL Avatar head. So, those numbers are distorted.
The difference in Server weight is striking as is the Display weight. To me this suggests the multiple shapes style of animation is being used.
The images (#2) show the mesh in wire-frame view. The poly count is significantly higher than the SL Avatar’s. But, Not drastically higher. You can see the polygon size is about the same until you get to the mouth and eyes areas.
Considering that GPU’s now draw polygons at about 2 billion triangles per second (GTX560 per nVidia) adding a few thousand polys is not a major problem. Even if all the avatars in a region are wearing Slink heads it probably isn’t that bad.
For now Siddean Munro has made and released two heads; Becky and Emma. They are cute and look great in pictures. Siddean has released the kits to designers interested in making skin appliers. Soon there will be numerous designers making skin and makeup that will work with the Slink heads.
The standard SL head has the eyes, tongue, and hair included. The Slink head is only the head and its Demo tag. Because I am not wearing the head in this shot the teeth are out of position.
There is no doubt the heads are more costly to render than the standard SL head. With the head and ‘expression’ HUD it adds 7 scripts and uses about 300k of memory, which I think is pretty efficient. If one is wearing just the head only 2 scripts are added with a memory cost of a 100k.
For more information on the heads see: Slink Visage Customer documentation.
The problem I have with the Slink Head is I cannot change the shape of the face. So, I can’t make it look like me. Also, the heads are not exactly Fitted Mesh. Only a few of the appearance sliders affect the head. One is Head->Head Size. You are not going to change the width of the nose or its length or tilt.
The customer documentation says most of the effect of sliders is in positioning the avatar’s eye in relation to the head. One may also need to make some adjustments to get a nice transition in the neck. Otherwise you shape is independent of the head.
Skin and makeup are the variants. Otherwise everyone wearing the same head is going to look similar. I’ve already heard people say their face shape is a signature. Therefore they are not planning on using the Slink heads. I pretty much fall in that group.
Also, we are used to our facial expressions easing in and out. Meaning they slowly change. The expressions on the Slink heads snap into place. There is no transition. I think this is just a limitation of mesh in SL.
The heads do not follow the avatars system talking animation. So, lip sync is not part of the deal.
Double Exposure has a pretty pictures of one of the heads. See: The Next Step in Mesh Heads – Slink. A couple of the expressions are shown. They are cute. I suspect many will love the looks.
I think these heads will be great for pictures. I am not so sure they will be good for RP in-world or everyday wearing. I do think Slink’s heads will be a fun addition for many people’s inventories. Grab a demo and check them out.
SLURL: Slink Store
Plurk by: Siddean.