April 9 – Machinimatrix updated AvaStar. The announcement is here: Avastar 1.4-5.
AvaStar now has the ability to use custom shape keys. This doesn’t mean the shape keys can be loaded into Second Life™. It does mean you can use them to speed your design while working in Blender.
As the video shows, (if you clicked through) you need both AvaStar and Sparkels installed to use the shape keys feature.
Gaia doesn’t really explain the work flow one would use with Shape keys. I expect there will eventually be a video explaining that process. However, training videos from Machinimatrix now tend to be in the form of retail training courses. The basic overall-this-what-this-does-videos are still free. But, the detailed how-to-videos are sold as training courses.
The training courses are probably as much work as is building AvaStar/Sparkels, if not more. Plus every so often the videos have to be redone to stay current with Blender, which is changing about every 3 months. Fortunately we haven’t had any big user interface changes for a time. But, the updates take time and effort and the cost has to be covered.
It is frustrating that the promo videos are somewhat restricted too. It takes extra clicks to get to these play-at-Vimeo-only-videos. Generally merchants want their promotional information to be as easily distributed as possible. Fundamental marketing data shows each click required in the purchase process shaves off some percentage of sales.
This new release of AvaStar has an panel just for AvaStar. That panel has a Check for Updates button. It sends the version information of your installed software to a web page in the Machinimatrix site. The page checks that version information against the currently available versions and shows you the results, you’re up-to-date or not. It also shows your current version number. This is a nice feature. It makes it very easy for me to start a project, click the button, and be sure I am up to date. I don’t have to chase down the current version and remember of figure out which I have installed.
State of Mesh Design
Gaia is adding features to AvaStar that handle problems she is seeing in world. One of those is attachment and avatar orientation mismatches.
The image shows an orientation mistake. When the model is rotated the same as the avatar, meaning both are designed using the same X,Y,Z vales for the model origin and the rotation values match, the odd positioning during rez doesn’t happen.
Recently the render time for mesh has improved, at least in some of the RC Viewers. The main viewer is still suffering without the improvements in the RC Viewers.
This shot taken at the Remnants of Earth landing point shows some of the odd appearances we see with slow mesh loading. If you don’t want your junk hanging out, wear system clothes or alpha layers.
This version of AvaStar should help with these problems as orientation is a more automated, behind the scene correction.
I haven’t been importing shapes for awhile. So, I did not realize the XML import was broken in version 1.4. Gaia has fixed that in 1.4.5.
Updated Template Files
The texture and animation templates were using an older AvaStar avatar model. That has been updated.