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Blender and Second Life; The Sizes and Scales


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So, as a student of animation with a copy of Maya, I want to know a few things about what I need to do before I go crazy and start creating things for second life (especially at this moment, buildings and structures). The things I want to know are:

- What is the exact size and scale of things in SL that I need to input into Maya? As in, how big is a maya unit compared to a unit in SL?

- I tend to do a lot of work in quads as oppossed to triangles, so just about how low-poly would I need to make say, a house or a piece of a building?

- Is it better for fairly large structures (for example, let's say I want to build a castle, a high-tech fortress, or a shopping mall) as "pieces", or to make a basic shape of the structure and then add the details into it?

- Will I have to create UV maps, or are textures able to be applied directly to the shapes?

- How should I set up my maya workflow?

If anyone can help me out, it will be appreciated!

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ArtieMacnar wrote:

 

- What is the exact size and scale of things in SL that I need to input into [blender]? As in, how big is a [blender} unit compared to a unit in SL?

As far as I know, a default Blender unit will translate into 1 SL meter. In 3ds Max (which I use), you can customize the units. Maybe some Blender user can tell you if this is possible in Blender as well.


- I tend to do a lot of work in quads as oppossed to triangles, so just about how low-poly would I need to make say, a house or a piece of a building?

The only good answer is a somewhat vague one: as low as you can get it, without losing the detail you want.

 

 

Quads are nice while modeling, but not very efficient for realtime rendering engines (games). Imagine a wall with a single window. With quads, you'd have a 3x3 quad surface with the center quad removed. So you're left with 8 quads, which translate into 16 tris. The vertices on the edges don't define any shape, only the ones in the corners of the wall and the corners of the window do. So if you push the vertices you don't need to the corners, the shape will be the same, but the number of verts and the number of tris are halved. You can see it in the picture below.

quads_vs_tris.PNG


- Is it better for fairly large structures (for example, let's say I want to build a castle, a high-tech fortress, or a shopping mall) as "pieces", or to make a basic shape of the structure and then add the details into it?

That differs on a build to build basis, but personally I have some rules of thumb. Render load and Land Impact are directly related, so optimising your builds will improve both.

When you zoom out, the viewer will switch to a lower poly version of the model. This is a 3 step process (so 4 levels of detail) and the distance at which the model is changed depends on object size. You want to make sure people see your build from a distance, so the outline needs to be well defined with basic shapes. They will need to be very big, so using one object for the entire build works well. Details aren't important from a distance, so they can be built with smaller objects. Interiors don't have to be seen from a very large distance as well, so they can be built with smaller objects.

I usually split my buildings into exterior overall (one object or a small number of big objects), interior (smaller objects), and details (such as cornices and windows, small objects).


- Will I have to create UV maps, or are textures able to be applied directly to the shapes?

In 3ds Max some shapes have their default mapping, for example a cylinder or box, so you could upload those without unwrapping them. As soon as you alter the geometry (extrude, pull out edges etc), the UV maps will be distorted. So in pretty much all cases, you'll need to unwrap your models.

 

 


- How should I set up my [blender] workflow?

No idea:)

 

EDIT...You might want to change the title of the thread, if it shows "Blender" instead of "Maya", I'm sure you'll get a lot more response.

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I'm quite sorry I didn't respond to the post sooner, given what has happened this past week making me forget about SL. =P

I think the overall creation of models won't be that difficult of a task to accomplish, given that I'm just mostly concerned about the scaling and how to package the items.

But I'll see about this whole changing of the title thing to get some more feedback... Because I just don't want to create furniture and buildings that are way out of scale for people to use.

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The scale of your objects is up to you. A lot of SL avatars are well over two meters tall. Some are made to resemble RL meters. Since you're building in mesh, I'd say it's best to make your furniture a bit bigger in SL meters than it would be in RL meters, maybe 25% bigger. People can then scale it down without an increase in download weight. So make sure your furniture is scalable. Also watch the physics weight when you scale down the furniture, it can increase as the model gets smaller.

Of course you could do the obvious and see for yourself what scale fits SL best.

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Kwakkelde Kwak wrote:

Since you're building in mesh, I'd say it's best to make your furniture a bit bigger in SL meters than it would be in RL meters, maybe 25% bigger. People can then scale it down without an increase in download weight. So make sure your furniture is scalable.

Personally I would prefer the opposite. It would be nice if all designers started to make their content exactly to RL dimensions instead of making them bigger. Sure everything should be modifiable. Then the bigger avatars could enlarge things for them if they so wished.

Making things to RL sizes by default would be the way how SL would gradually have more consistent scaling of things. Why to continue the trend of making things randomly bigger? There is no inherent need to make everything bigger in SL, except for the oversized avatars. And there is no need to make avatars hugely oversized - normal RL human size variations in avatar sizes would be perfect.

 

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Coby Foden wrote:

Why to continue the trend of making things randomly bigger? There is no inherent need to make everything bigger in SL, except for the oversized avatars.

Most things in SL are oversized. Not randomly though, things are sized according to the things around it. It's not just avatar size. For example, a RL corridor as narrow as one meter feels quite comfortable, as long as it's not too long. This is not the case in SL, or any virtual environment.

So if you build a chair to your RL proportions and scale, most people will scale it up. As a merchant you'll get a lot of complaints if you say your object has a LI of 3 and it turns out to be 5 when scaled to the average SL environment.

Instead of selling it slightly bigger, you could also show the different LI's for the different sizes.

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  • 4 weeks later...


Kwakkelde Kwak wrote:

Most things in SL are oversized. Not randomly though, things are sized according to the things around it. It's not just avatar size. For example, a RL corridor as narrow as one meter feels quite comfortable, as long as it's not too long. This is not the case in SL, or any virtual environment.


Most things in SL are scaled up "generally" to a combination of:

  • The size of things around them
  • The size in relation to that of the creator's avatar
  • To work comfortably with SL's poor camera placement defaults

This results in a world where almost everything is upscaled, but by how much is fairly random as some objects will be maybe 1/3 larger in scale while others may be more than double scale. You'll find this to be true of almost every environment you'll come across in SL.

 I do agree that even with good camera placement settings you'll want to fudge scale slightly to give the camera room, but not nearly as much as the current defaults push people towards.

 I like the idea of illustrating to customers the LI savings of using more reasonably sized mesh items. I've often suggested creators should include two versions of their objects. One at 1=1 scale and one at more typical SL sizes, with the object description explaining the difference in land impact.

 

 Even moreso I wish more TPV developers would include better camera defaults. Camera placement has a profound impact on how cramped or spacious SL feels.

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