The first meeting of Second Life’s™ Project Bento User Group was held today. There was a good turnout, about 33 residents and 3 or 4 Lindens. We got new information about the Bento Avatar and lots of questions were answered.
The meeting is Lindens in voice and residents mixing text and voice. The plan is to have the meeting each Thursday at 1 PM SLT. But, scheduling conflicts will push that around so all are encouraged to see the Bento UG page to confirm the meeting time.
The place will be the north east corner of Mesh Sandbox 2, ADITI (Preview Grid). That region gets the newest Bento updates.
Many attendees were wearing their latest Bento Avatar creations.
There has been conversation in the Bento Feedback thread about being allowed to use translation as well as rotation. Several examples have been posted as to why translation is important for facial animation.
In response the Lindens have opened up ADITI to allow animations that use translation to be uploaded. To explain this change Vir Linden has made a new post in the Feedback thread. See Bento Feedback Page 29.
Quote: 1. Avatar distortions. Animation of positions (except for the special case of the pelvis) was never designed into the product and is not supported as well as we would like for a supported feature. In particular, it is easy to get the avatar into a distorted shape by running such animations, which can require relogging to fix. This is not a good user experience, and one thing we will be investigating during the test period is whether we can improve this behavior, providing ways to re-initialize joint positions in a predictable way. This will likely require delving into some complex corners of our code, and could affect our schedule if it turns out to be feasible at all.
Bone hierarchy came up in the Feedback discussion. The Lab is also taking a look at bone hierarchy. Their concern is the amount of lag such animations create. So, they are looking to see if the can minimize that or if they will have to disallow it.
There is also the idea of custom skeletons. That is VERY unlikely to happen. Vir explained why that is. As the system is designed now, the skeleton structure is stored in an XML file that is part of the viewer. So, if you were to make a custom skeleton, you would have to make a custom XML file and talk everyone into downloading and installing it. Then if I make a custom skeleton and have people download my XML file it would replace yours. What happens if your custom avatar and my custom avatar in the same place? Only one XML file can be installed so, one of us is not going to render right. Changing how the system works in this regard is too big a change. The budget for Project Bento can’t handle that much work.
Scaling is a problem as soon as translations are introduced. It is easy to scale rotation animations to whatever size the avatar is. But, add translations and it becomes a big problem. It isn’t a new problem. Designers are already working around that problem with the avatar system we have now. Vir explains it this way:
Quote: Scaling issues. One advantage of rotation-only transformations is that they work independently of the size of the avatar. For example, you could make a rotation-based dance animation that worked equally well for a tiny, a normal-sized human, and a giant. But what if you wanted to make a smile animation that included translations, and use it for all those avatars? The magnitude of the translations would be appropriate for only one size of avatar, and would generate effects far too large or too small for other sizes. (This is actually a somewhat more complex issue, since it depends on whether we’re talking about changing the avatar size via sliders that affect the scale of some bones, or via bone position overrides in the mesh – these two mechanisms do not combine with animated positions in the same way). During the test period, we will do some investigation into whether we can improve on this behavior, but at this point it is by no means guaranteed that we will have a fix before Bento goes live, or ever. This means that animations that include position changes may always be tied to particular avatar shapes and sizes, in a way that rotation-based animations are not. It will be important for content creators to be aware of this.
A problem from the scaling problems is avatars remaining distorted after the animation is over. So, the solution may be in how to recover the default bone positions… or something like that. As it is now we often relog to solve bone position problems.
The Lindens are open to suggestions and ideas. I will point out that the change to seriously considering adding translation and the Lindens unlocking ADITI for animations that use translation comes from people having shown them solid examples of the problem, actual animations and avatars.
Whatever problem you have, make an animation that reveals it or the lack of something and let the Lindens see it. As always it is user cases that most influence the Linden’s thinking.
Wear your creations to the next Bento UG meeting.