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  • Enhanced Skeleton (Project Bento)

    Jeremy Linden

    Note: Because Project Bento makes changes to the Second Life avatar skeleton, some avatars (specifically, those using the new joints, bones, and animations allowed by Project Bento) will appear to be distorted or "bunched up" to Residents who are not running the Project Bento Release Candidate Viewer.

    This is expected during the Release Candidate period and will be resolved once Project Bento leaves Release Candidate status.

    If you are running the Release Candidate Viewer and still observe a distorted avatar, you can reset your view of the avatar's skeleton by right-clicking the avatar and choosing Reset Skeleton. This resets the skeleton for you only; other Residents in the area (including the distorted avatar) will see no change.

    What is Project Bento?

    Project Bento is an extension to the existing avatar skeleton to include many new bones, joints, and attachment points. These new bones support rigging and animation to provide the opportunity for a much wider range of avatar body types, facial expressions, and animations than is currently possible in Second Life.

    The "classic" (default) Second Life avatar is not changing with the introduction of Project Bento, and all the existing joints in the avatar skeleton have not been altered. This means that all existing avatars and attachments will continue to function as designed and will not need to be updated. However, new mesh avatars and mesh attachments may take full advantage of the new joints and attachment points.

    New bones, joints, and attachment points

    A full listing of the new bones and attachment points can be found in the Project Bento Skeleton Guide on the Second Life wiki.

    A summary of the new bones and attachment points:

    • New limb bones - For wings, additional arms, or extra legs.
    • Tail bones - Include your tail in avatar animations.
    • New hand bones - For finer control over hand animations.
    • New face bones - For complex facial expressions, and animating ears and antennae
    • New attachment points - Associated with the new bones. Accessorize your new limbs!

    Getting started with Project Bento

    To get started, you need to download and install the Project Bento Release Candidate Viewer from the Alternate Viewers page on the Second Life Wiki.

    Third-Party Viewer support for Project Bento will not be available until after Project Bento leaves Release Candidate status and is fully released.

    Once installed, log into Second Life to upload and test content with the extended avatar skeleton.

    Tip: To see an avatar's bones in the Second Life Viewer, you can use a new option in the Develop menu: Develop > Avatar > Show Bones.

    Creating content for Project Bento

    Creating content for Project Bento is very similar to the current process for creating rigged mesh content. With the addition of more joints, there are some new limitations and differences:

    Creating mesh content

    As with all mesh content in Second Life, meshes for Project Bento must be created in an external modeling program such as Maya or Blender. These meshes must be exported as Collada (.dae) files for upload into Second Life.

    Meshes may be rigged to any of the bones or collision volumes of the avatar skeleton, but may not be rigged to attachment points. Meshes may be rigged to a maximum of 110 joints; this is less than the total number of joints in the new extended avatar skeleton, so you must make sure that your mesh does not list more joints than you are actually weighting to. If you need to rig to more than 110 joints, you need to model in more than one piece such that each piece does not exceed the limit.

    Meshes may include overrides for the positions of some or all of the included joints to change the shape of the avatar. If you are wearing multiple meshes with different joint position overrides, only one of the meshes is chosen to provide the value for the joint offset. To minimize conflicts, define only as many joint position overrides as you need for each mesh.

    When uploading, you can choose whether to apply available skin weights and joint position overrides to the uploaded mesh. If skin weight or joint position override information is missing or invalid, these options are ignored.

    Creating animations

    Creating animations for the new skeleton in Project Bento is very similar to the process for creating animations for existing avatars, with more joints and a few limitations:

    • Animations may be uploaded in .bvh or .anim formats
    • Animations can be applied only to recognized avatar joints and attachment points, which are defined in "avatar_skeleton.xml". We suggest leaving attachment points unmodified, except for a mesh override so non-rigged attachments will behave as expected.
    • The total size of uploaded animations cannot exceed 120kb

    For additional information on creating and uploading animations for Second Life, see our Knowledge Base article and our community-maintained wiki page on How to create animations.

    Frequently asked questions

    What do I need in order to use the new joints?

    Project Bento is currently available on the main Second Life grid (Agni) using the Project Bento Release Candidate Viewer.

    What kind of content can take advantage of the new joints?

    Mesh avatars and mesh attachments may take advantage of the new joints, and newly uploaded animations are able to move them.

    I am using a classic (non-mesh) avatar. Can I use the new joints?

    Classic avatars themselves do not use the new joints, but the joints are available for use by attachments. This means that while classic avatars can't suddenly grow extra limbs or use complex facial animation, they can wear mesh-based attachments that use the new joints and animations, such as wings, tails, or even animated masks.

    How will Project Bento affect my old content?

    Project Bento does not affect any existing content in Second Life. All existing avatars and animations should continue to function as they were designed.

    What are the system requirements for Project Bento?

    Some older graphics cards and drivers may encounter difficulty rendering the increased number of joints, and you may experience a change in framerate as a result. If possible, upgrade your OS or driver to the latest version.

    What features are available to help troubleshoot issues with my avatar skeleton?

    The Second Life Viewer includes some tools to help troubleshoot or fix problems you may encounter with avatar skeletons.

    Show Bones

    You can view avatar bones by selecting Develop > Avatar > Show Bones from the top menu bar. If you cannot see the Develop menu, you can enable it by checking Show Develop Menu under the Advanced tab of the Preferences window.

    While enabled, the Show Bones feature shows avatar bones as colored lines:

    • Red - If there is a joint position defined for the bone.
    • Cyan - If the bone is rigged to at least one mesh.
    • Green - In all other cases.

    Note that the Show Bones feature can negatively impact the performance of the Second Life viewer and is not intended for routine use.

    Reset Skeleton

    When something has gone wrong with an avatar's skeleton or animations, you can reset the avatar's skeleton by right-clicking the avatar and selecting either Reset Skeleton or Reset Skeleton And Animations.

    Choosing Reset Skeleton restores the avatar to its correct state by resetting it to its default position, then applying the appropriate sliders and joint positions.

    Choosing Reset Skeleton And Animations resets the avatar's skeleton as described above, and also resets the avatar's animations. When applied to another Resident's avatar, this resets the state of their active animations but does not stop them; no changes will be visible to other Residents. When applied to your own avatar, all animations on your avatar are stopped, and other Residents are able to see the change.

    Note that Reset Skeleton and Reset Skeleton And Animations affects only your Second Life Viewer and do not affect other Residents (with the exception of stopping animations on your own avatar).

    More information about Project Bento

    Follow the discussion on our Creation Forum, or read our initial announcement on the Second Life Blog.

    For more detailed information on how to test Project Bento and provide feedback, please see Project Bento Testing on the Second Life Wiki.

    A full list of the new bones and attachment points introduced with Project Bento can be found on the Second Life Wiki, in BentoSkeletonGuide.

    Edited by Jeremy Linden

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