amazing ant

Bret St. Clair's amazing ant

When they were announced and the first demonstration specimen were shown, they were the big hope. When they got available they led to frustration and were a big disappointment. Meanwhile a lot has been done and they seem to be even more amazing and more worthwhile than when first shown off. The talk is about the sculpted prims (“sculpties”) for Second Life (SL). I will go into details when it is time for making shoes, collar, and tie for Fantomas, but now I just can not withhold what I glanced upon during the last days.

Sculpties are a way to import geometry created outside SL. Basically it works via transforming mesh data into colour data of a twodimensional image. The image is imported to SL and then used to define the shape of a “prim”. The biggest drawback till lately was the information loss or corruption due to the import of the picture, because no matter how precise your mesh was, and how good your application’s plugin made the picture, on importing it heavily got jpeg2000 compressed. Luckily lossless texture compression was introduced (mind the little checkbox in the lower left corner of the “upload image” dialog window). There has been discussion about the thing working or not, but since release candidate viewer 1.18.6 RC0 the issues should be resolved.

The big hope with sculpties was that they could overcome the restrictedness of the inworld regular prim manipulation possibilities, and open SL up to the power of full-fledged 3D visualization software. Those days finally seem to have arrived. Please refer to the meanwhile very comprehensive Sculpted Prims: 3d Software Guide. Beyond that the true highroller is the Advanced Sculptie Exporter From Maya, allowing you to export a whole scene from Maya and import it to SL. As usual I haven’t had time to do it myself yet, but the ant on the picture above was made that way and can be adored at Qarl’s (SLurl:) Q. The ant was made by Bret St. Clair —follow the link and you can fathom what kind of professionalism went into it.

Exactly this mixture of amateurs and professionals, of open source and commercial software is, what especially interests me, in terms of cyberanthropology. It is very similar to what is to be found within the game modding milieu.