Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Fantasy Faire 2010 Venue - Fabulous!

I admit that I rarely make it to fairs - although I have good intentions I am reluctant because of the endless series of booths and bland. Sorry but it's true.

Fantasy Faire 2010 is different - very different. It's amazing! The Faire has been organized by The Friends Fighting Cancer captained by Ember Farina. The amount they have raised for the cause on just the second day is breathtaking. The Faire covers 9 sims, the central sim gives you directions to each of the others which are arranged by theme.

Each theme is landscaped appropriately and even the approach to the sim is fabulous. This next photo is of the approach to the Dark Realms region.

There are details everywhere that will delight you and add to your experience.

As for the "booths" .... they're stores or at least they look and feel that way. The majority of them are decorated and they all match the theme of their region.

The Wings Wands and Wonders area is too cute to be believed.

Many of the stores in all of the regions are worth visiting just to enjoy the view. There are concerts everyday during the Faire if you get tired of shopping. :)

I don't know the names of all of those involved in designing and building the Faire venue but I do know they have done an awesome job and deserve applause and awards!

I found some great new stores but admit that I've only spent money so far at []Trap[] which was already my favourite skin source. The Faire isn't over yet though - I (and you) have til the 25th.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Perils of Owning an Island in Second Life

I did my usual check on Taylor Bay this morning for litter and discarded prims and found an unexpected floating island. 637 m in the air was this grass lawn with a teleporter on it belonging to a complete stranger. This was not a newbie though, he's almost as old as I am and an ex mentor. Usually I just return things but I thought I'd find out if the person really thought they were going to live there.

[7:48] Honour McMillan: Good Morning! ( my time) So you decided to move onto my island? Any particular reason? :)

[7:49] Stranger: Hi :D

[7:49] Stranger: oO

[7:49] Stranger: What is the name of your island ?

[7:49] Honour McMillan: lol are you on more than one? Taylor Bay :)

[7:50] Stranger: Oh yeah Taylor bay x)

[7:50]Stranger: You can delete everything...I forget :/

[7:50] Honour McMillan: I'll return it to you

[7:50] Stranger: I juste needed an island for a few minutes and i found your island

[7:50] Stranger: I'm very sorry x)

[7:51] Honour McMillan: no problem - if you wish to use it in the future just let me know first :) I have a sandbox for some friends (also French) - we could make arrangements

[7:51] Stranger: Ok...Thank you :D But I don't think i will have to use your sandbox

[7:52] Honour McMillan: OK :)

[7:52] Stranger: It was just a qui ck solution for me

[7:52] Stranger: (and excuse me for my bad bad bad english :P)

[7:52] Honour McMillan: It's better than my french :)

[7:52] Stranger: haha :P

Not a nasty encounter - just one of those odd moments that happen in SL. :)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

So You Want to Build Sculpties for Second Life? (part two) Let's Talk LOD

I thought I'd update you on my progress in that long strange adventure I've been on in Blender. If you haven't read it I suggest you refer back to Part One on this topic. Remember I'm not an expert on Blender but sharing my journey gives me an excuse to take a break from it. :)

It has taken an obscene amount of time but I finally created the shape I want in Blender and successfully uploaded it to SL. I still need to fuss with baking textures but for the moment I'll be happy with a large argyle thing. I can tell you (if you're planning to embark on the Blender adventure) that it's a lot easier to do stuff once you know the way Blender works. That sounds obvious but learning the shortcuts and the keyboard functions makes a huge difference.

One of my objectives was to make a sculpty that doesn't lose its shape when you move away from it. This one holds its shape at more than 100m which makes me happy. I'd like to be able to put out trees that don't dissolve into a blob a few steps away.

Of course this means learning all about "LOD" and understanding what you have to do to achieve the effect you want.

"LOD" stands for "Level of Detail". For the purposes of Second Life you care about "LOD x size x distance". It doesn't matter how detailed you've made your sculptie, as your distance from it increases the number of vertices visible to you decreases. The larger the object the more distance required before the vertices start to disappear.

Machinimatrix has a lot of good videos and the one on LOD is well worth watching but I'll give you a brief overview here.....

  • You want to create a shape that is visible with as few vertices as possible - so one that looks right from a distance.
  • However, you also want to create a shape that (if it has edges) is sharp and detailed. This requires more vertices.
  • So you will give up sharpness and detail at a distance but you want to maintain the basic shape.
  • To do this in Blender you use MultiRes. This is a function (supported by Jess and Primstar) which allows you to increase the number of vertices for the purposes of creation and yet test that you've maintained the shape with fewer vertices. Sounds like bafflegab I know but it does work.

To illustrate MultiRes I've added a cylinder mesh in Blender at Level 1 with 32 x 32 vertices. This size will give you the 64x64 pixel size you want for SL.

If I add a MultiRes level to 2, the number of vertices is increased.

At level 3 we've multiplied the number of vertices about as far as you'd need to go.

The video I mentioned will explain this much better than I but there are a couple of important points you should note which might not be clear.

  1. Everything in Blender means something - including the colours of the dots on the vertices. As you increase the MultiRes levels you'll notice that some of the dots are pink and some are yellow. The yellow ones are vertices which still appear at lower MultiRes levels. This is important. Note that the colour differences will disappear when you start editing so make sure you know where they are and lower your level to 1 periodically to check.

    If you create a masterpiece which requires visible vertices that only appear at Level 3 you're screwed unless you only want your brilliance visible from 1m.

  2. If you're wondering why you'd bother with this (editing your shape at Level 3 even though you are aiming for something visible at Level 1) extra work - it's because it will increase the clarity and sharpness of the object's shape at all levels.
  3. Whatever we do on the computer we're told to save our work as we go. Blender is the reason why we've been trained to do this. I cannot count the number of times a day I say "How the %*&^^ did I do that?" and have to start again.

I'm going to work on texture baking. Good Luck to you!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

SL Sunday Show & Tell

I usually work on Sundays so I rarely get to the Show and Tell in Avaria which is a shame. If you've never been you must check it out next Sunday at 2:00 PM slt (and every Sunday at that time). It's a chance for people to show the things they've been working on and make everybody else feel inadequate (OK I'm the only one who winds up feeling inadequate, you'll be fine).

This week there was a spectator I don't remember seeing before. Nobody got stomped or munched so I assume he's friendly.

Selene Putzo demonstrated her new chair and table sets. What's interesting here is that each table and each chair are one prim. She made them using Sculpt Studio which is the inworld tool and allows you to join bits and pieces and still have a one prim object when you're finished.

Lillith Siamendes brought something she's been working on called "Mayan Build". It speaks to the varying forecasts of RL doom and will eventually show that we make our own paths and determine the outcomes ourselves.

Frofidor Niekerk did a demonstration of his "light sabres on steroids" (well that's my description of them). For the truly macho amongst your warrior friends these will be a "must have". They have really cool detail on the hilts and great animations/sound effects.

Renata Topaz showed us her first build.........yes, first build. If you're like me, your first 20 builds were plywood boxes. Not Renata. sigh

Show & Tell is also a competition with the audience voting for their favourites. 3rd Prize today went to Chrysanthus Seuss who has turned into a Wizard and, therefore, needed a way to control particles. This is a HUD based controller with 8 emitters which you can modify as you wish and save various settings for the appropriate occasion.

It is SciFi month apparently and that famous Tiny Bloodsong Termagant was challenged to build a personal transporter. It's very cool and won 2nd Prize! You can change the colours and that changes the trail as well as the little ship. You haven't lived til you've seen a Tiny do a 360 in one of these.

First prize went to Prana Krutschek's book. Not just any book mind you. It's a 1 prim book that rezzes so quickly you have to keep turning the pages just to prove it to yourself. If you're an artist or creator who wants an easy way to hand people your portfolio this is it! He's building a HUD version which will allow you to use it where rezzing is not permitted. This book blew us all away.

It was a good show and I wish I could get there more often. :)