Talking about Animations

“Don’t focus too much on what you expect to happen, or you’ll miss the beauty of the unexpected.”

Hi Maddicts,

So let me start with a disclaimer (always good, right?). I don’t create animations, nor am I a scripter – I’m just a mesh body/head lover who likes to throw my thoughts into the ethos to see if they may help someone (designer or user), so with that said – let’s talk about animations and mesh bodies/heads.

Mesh Head expression integration with SL Furniture

First up, I’m talking about those facial expressions that you see on the system face when using certain types of furniture in world. You all know the kind *cough*. Recently I was part of a discussion on Plurk with the owner of Dutchie (who by the way makes the most incredible animations for their furniture range), and I learnt something I never knew – the LAQ mesh head is scripted to respond to some system facial animation triggers! How cool is that?

Now don’t get too excited, we’re not talking bento-style here. What I’m saying is the script triggers for say, the sl system head’s ‘gasp’ animation – in turn, the LAQ head creators have told their head to ‘hear’ that command and respond by playing the ‘open mouth’ expression built into the head. Cool huh? To enable this, go into the expressions tab and make sure ‘auto animation’ is highlighted, then jump on some furniture or something that gives you expressions, and you’ll see some will do it. Now it’s only some (in my Dutchie lap dance chair, the only one that did it was an uh ‘oral’ animation, which triggered the LAQ ‘open mouth’ expression) but it poses a really interesting question, especially with bento coming. SL is starting to get even more immersive and streamlined, particularly with mesh now not being the static thing it once was – so my question for mesh head creators is, will you start to look at compatibility of expressions with furniture and other interactive objects? For the user, it’s obviously a big bonus – I mean having a static pouty face on while horizontal folkdancing with your partner can be kind of a mood killer I imagine – and for the head creator, being able to sell their head as responsive to interactive objects in world is a bonus too. So watch this space guys, I’m really hoping that with bento rolling out, we start to see scripting in heads that still recognise the old system expressions and either respond by doing it, or triggering an equivalent of it like LAQ’s does. Similarly for furniture designers, with facial bones now in place, now’s the time to be thinking about including these in furniture and other objects, so that when bento rolls out, your items are even more realistic than ever before!

AO’s

Secondly – AO’s! Have you ever wondered why sometimes fitmesh works perfectly for your friends but not you? Well, the common conception is that it’s a result of shape (and sometimes this is very true, I must say, because certain riggers don’t always rig to include higher  body fat/belly fat/muscle slider levels) – but have you ever wondered if maybe it’s your AO? Well, it’s worth thinking about! You see, let’s take a dress for example – when a creator ‘rigs’ fitmesh for a mesh body, they do so with a few things in mind:

  1. Making sure the item stretches at the same rate/shape/size as the mesh body itself;
  2. Making sure the item moves at the same rate/angle as the mesh body itself.

Riggers achieve this by telling each vertices within the mesh how much to move with each ‘bone’. Now that said, let’s look at a dress. When we’re weight painting a dress, we’re telling the bottom of that dress to move as each leg moves, because if we don’t, well the legs will poke through. On a basic level, think of it like glue. We need to glue to dress to the legs to make it move when the body’s legs do, so the front of each leg is glued to the relevant side of the front of the dress.

Sound difficult? Well it is, and some incredible designers out there do such an amazing job handling this issue – but what happens when we add AO’s into the mix? An AO is basically a set of movements created by giving the SL ‘bones’ a sequence to move in. This can be problematic with some AO’s and outfits, because as designers, there are only a limited number of ‘influences’ we can give to a mesh verticies (4 to be exact). This can mean that some animations (and keep in mind I’m using Vista as an example because I’m a fan so use theirs a lot) such as Vista’s stands, can cause breaking of the mesh. How? Well in many cases, the leg ‘rolls’ outwards (almost as if you were moving to try and expose your inner thigh by rotating your leg). This movement is awkward and especially for your glued on mesh dress, stretches it quite substantially.

The reason I’m talking about this is two fold really – firstly, I’ve noticed the newer Vista AO’s contain ‘mesh body supported’ logos on them, and secondly that with bento coming out, so will many new AO’s that take advantage of the new bones. Something I would truly love to see from Vista and all other animators, is a movement towards making AO’s that are truly mesh body compatible for bento. What do I mean? Well, think of the AO movements in terms of the mesh the user may be wearing. Odd arm/leg rotations, twists and crossed over legs are all big no-no’s for fitmesh bodies and clothing, yet so many AO’s still contain them. So, I propose (especially with the influx of new AO sales opportunities once bento is out) that animators look at the limitations of mesh bodies and heads, and at the very least, include an AO version that doesn’t contain the dreaded leg rotation, leg crossover etc. If I can help via testing, I’m happy to do so (again, I know nothing about how to create them, but I’d love to see a standard in place for Mesh Body Compatible AO’s and animations!). Just a thought!

Well that brings us to the end of today’s rambling post! I hope you’ve read something interesting 🙂

<3 Daria

I’m wearing:
Mesh Body – Isis by Belleza
Mesh Head – Trinity by LAQ
Skin – Mimi by Glam Affair (Available at Uber)LAQ applier
Hair – Pippa by Mina
Top – Gizem by Addams Includes Belleza (all), Maitreya, Slink (both) & TMP sizes
Shorts – Jimena shorts by Blueberry – Includes Belleza (all), Maitreya, Slink (both) & TMP sizes
Boots – Indio by REIGN – Includes Belleza (all), Maitreya, Slink (both) & TMP sizes
Pose – Camera 02 by Frozen Poses (Available at Tres Chic)

6 thoughts on “Talking about Animations

  1. I realized how true this is for the AO’s recently. I had recently been wearing the Belleza mesh body and some specifically rigged shorts and the stands made parts of my body show through. A quick shopping trip to replace my AO stands with newer ones and all is perfect once more.

  2. I know my AO reeks havoc on some items I wear because I have a neko AO that I made myself. Some animations cause myself to bounce around so I have to tailor my clothing purchases to my AO. Sometimes it makes me sad that I can’t wear something but for the most part I don’t have any issues. It would be nice with bento that I maybe I can remake a better neko AO.

  3. It’s also true that some creators don’t seem to account for any movement of an avatar. Man, I have bought some things and been absolutely shocked at the fact that any movement at all made my body cut through. These days, I’m being much more selective in my purchases and rarely buying any mesh that just comes in standard sizes. Sadly, I’ve been also shocked to buy items that have a size specifically for Maitreya and … yeah … not. I’ve had to still alpha out a lot. Speaking as one of those that *cough* uses those pieces of equipment on occasion, I would love to see the mesh heads have animation triggers as well. Emoting and triggering your own animations is just a pain! lol

  4. Well while I agree that integration and cooperation would help the Animations I find it highly unlikely we will see such changes. Mainly I say that statement cause to be honest I doubt they ever choose to work together cause for a lot of them the other creator is a competitor.

    • How so, Wes? Someone who creates equipment with animations built-in is rarely a competitor for someone who builds mesh heads. In fact, it’s a plus for them to work together because, just like classic avatars, animating the faces improves the experience of using the equipment.

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