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Mesh Documentation Requests


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Per Nyx Linden at the User Group meeting today:

"Nyx Linden Rusaika - please start a topic in the forums for what documentation you want to see and I'll make sure Jeremy sees it "

 

What I want to see:

* For each 3D modeling / Digital Content Creation program/version which works for making Second Life models for upload, provide a step by step set of instructions for making and importing a basic object.  See https://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/Mesh/Exporting_a_mesh_from_SketchUp for an example of what is intended

* For each 3D modeling / DCC program/version that is known NOT to work, provide identification in a list of non-working software so people know not to try and use it.

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Since Blender is free, I would also like to see community recommended links for getting started with modeling and character modeling in Blender.  We've got a few going already I believe, but having everything in one place would be ideal so it becomes a "Start here to do mesh stuff" document.

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  • Lindens

The bulk of our documentation time is going to be spent focusing on the import process after a collada file has been generated from your software package of choice. There's pletny to be documented in the import pipeline, upload process (wizard and advanced), primitive cost calculations, etc.

 

We probably won't have the cycles to do a complete walkthrough of how to export a mesh from every major 3D editing package before release, though it may be helpful to set up the structure of the pages to allow for user-generated guides for this. Walking through how to export a mesh from a collada file should be a guide that many are capable of assisting with.

Personally I'm more hopeful to get us to publish guidelines on best practices when designing and importing content optimized for our particular system, as that will benefit all creators, regardless of what tool they use to model in.

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perhaps "a collada file" -> "a set of collada files", since the best practice depends on the relationship of LOD and physics meshes to the main mesh file. :matte-motes-smile:

My guess also is that you will stop short of second-level stuff such as how to make uv maps suitable for standard tiled textures? It will be useful to have an outline of the coverage of what the lab will produce so that we can think about complementary subjects.

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Nyx Linden wrote:

The bulk of our documentation time is going to be spent focusing on the import process after a collada file has been generated from your software package of choice. There's pletny to be documented in the import pipeline, upload process (wizard and advanced), primitive cost calculations, etc.

I don't expect a full walkthrough for every piece of software out there (those of us who use them can help with that part), but on your side you should document which version of the Collada format the importer expects, and what tags/order of data within the file the importer will handle.  One or more example files might do that efficiently.  For example "box.dae" example for a simple object, and "rigged.dae" example for one with skin weights, and UVmaps.dae for one with UV mappings.

The above kinds of info will let us compare what we get from any given software and see if it's generating the right information in the .dae export.

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  • Lindens

Hi everyone!  Nyx just pointed me at this excellent thread, and I'll be watching periodically as the Mesh project continues to roll forward.

As for what information we'll be officially providing, I'll generally document any process or information that is specific to Second Life.  For Mesh, that means I'll be covering things like how to upload a mesh object, how mesh objects will count against prim limits, how the different physics settings will work, and how to get started with features like mesh rigging, etc.

As you can imagine, I don't have access to a copy of every major 3D modeling package, so documenting the specifics of how to create a 3D model in each program may be somewhat problematic.  However, I do encourage you to contribute your own tutorials and experiences with specific tools!  We could set up a section of the wiki for Mesh tutorials and best practices, and you can keep sharing your experiences here on the forum, too.

Looking forward to hearing more from you all!

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As I mentioned above, since the .dae file is the interface between outside software and SL, please document the interface.  In other words, what version of Collada is the SL importer expecting, and what XML tags/data fields in what order does is it able to understand?

What many people do not understand is Collada .dae is not an exact file specification like .jpg.  It is an XML scheme describing how to exchange model data between various programs, but the contents of the file can vary according to what exporter/importer software is used and also what settings are chosen at export/import time.  So it is quite possible for one program to generate a valid .dae file, but another program not be able to read it.

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The thing is a "best practices for mesh" guide would essentially be a "how to model" guide.  I don't think it's entirely feasible to do that best practices idea because it'll either be too vague ("make separate LoDs for your mesh and assign them to the various levels...  How do I make an LoD?" essentially) or too complex and you're better off going external for instruction to get it done on time.

There are a good deal of free software choices, but I'd advise at the very least doing a tutorial with Blender because it's the highest profile free software on SL (current interest in sculpties directs you to Blender first and foremost).  It doesn't need to be much, make a low quality hippo in Blender 2.5x and import it to SL, then do the export/upload thing.  You can bookend the whole working in Blender part with community recommended links to other pieces of software and tutorials for them.

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There are lots and lots of softwares that handle .dae. I wouldn't expect the Lindens to cover all that, BUT a mention of those packages that do have the right .dae file export to work with SL import might help people to at least know which and try them and document anything interesting they might need to. Plus, the companies might be glad to have a person quickly investigate it and make a tutorial, mention it on thier forums and so on. So, it can be a good thing to have a list, I feel. I remember reading about the sculptie exporter made for Rhino in it's forums. Considering some software companies also have plug-in makers, you never know which might make stuff and will add it all on thier own. So I can see how docs on that might not be a big deal because there are so many that might benifit from doing the work. Tonnes of software packages..

Anything to do with LSL that is sort of different for mesh is a great help. Texture animation comes to mind. Physics stuff. Vehicle stuff. Scripting for setting shiney ect. I mean, surely this is easy for others to think up rather than me. I figure you get my drift. Some things might be different, even if obvious. Obvious stuff to some is not always obvious to others. 

Anything to aid in higher performance. Lag busting and performance are something many think about, at least a little bit. I wish I had recently used some new techniques, but forgot to even check up on what was capable! So, maybe another effort to advertise documentation lol. If we don't know it exists, we can't use it. Which is a  

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Hi.

I have started a text based article about the transition "from making good Sculpties to making good Meshes". But since this is a bad title i condensed it into "The Kettle Quest":

    http://blog.machinimatrix.org/kettle-quest

This is a work in progress but it is already available on the Web for review and if you like (and i'd appreciate that) for feedback.

My final goal is to create a full blown video tutorial and i think this tutorial will not be blender specific but be addressed to all mesh makers. Any help (clarification/correction/further hints..) from the experts is more than welcome.

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I believe that making a good mesh is not realy "easier" but "different" to making a good sculpty. Yes, you can do better models with mesh, yes you can do better texturing with mesh, yes you can use main stream 3D editors, work like a professional 3D designer, ...but then also you have to:

 

  • take care about LOD in your model editor, the SL-LOD generator is only good for a quick step (better than nothing)
  • understand how to do model specific UV-unwrapping
  • understand how to optimize a mesh for usage in a game engine
  • understand physics

This is a lot MORE to deal with compared to what you need to know when you make sculpties. Sure with sculpties you are limited and with mesh you can do more "what you want", but then you also must know what you want and you must know how to get what you want...

So... transition from sculpty to mesh will mostly deal with why a sculpty maker has to give up some habits and how to fill the missing links to create better meshes.

Just watch what currently happens in my tutorial... i am at the point where physics and costs come int play... i still do not know how to put that in simple words ;-)

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Gaia Clary wrote:

I believe that making a good mesh is not realy "easier" but "different" to making a good sculpty. Yes, you can do better models with mesh, yes you can do better texturing with mesh, yes you can use main stream 3D editors, work like a professional 3D designer


Up to this point I was almost thinking it was going to be a, "Huh, you know what?  Yes it is easier" post.  >3

 


Gaia Clary wrote:

 ...but then also you have to:

 
  • take care about LOD in your model editor, the SL-LOD generator is only good for a quick step (better than nothing)
  • understand how to do model specific UV-unwrapping
  • understand how to optimize a mesh for usage in a game engine
  • understand physics

Honestly the only thing you really do need to know from this is the UV unwrapping, which is very much a learned skill.  You can be taught how to do it all day long, but in the end it's your own talent at unwrapping new shapes you make that counts.  LoDs with mesh however is easier and better than with sculpties because your fabulous looking chair degrades to a mess of triangles as soon as the LoD changes due to all the folding necessary to make independant legs and possibly a backing with posts, and aside from limiting your design choices (no separate legs, no opened back) or dedicating more vertices to enforcing your design (thus taking away detail) you can't stop it.  And that lack of control over the LoDs is what turns a lot of people off of sculpties.

The other two are what the guide will be for, I'm sure.

 


Gaia Clary wrote:

 

This is a lot MORE to deal with compared to what you need to know when you make sculpties. Sure with sculpties you are limited and with mesh you can do more "what you want", but then you also must know what you want and you must know how to get what you want...

So... transition from sculpty to mesh will mostly deal with why a sculpty maker has to give up some habits and how to fill the missing links to create better meshes.

Just watch what currently happens in my tutorial... i am at the point where physics and costs come int play... i still do not know how to put that in simple words ;-)

There's not a whole lot that a sculpter needs to know about modeling besides "remember that whole, start with one shape and never change its topology?  Forget that, here's how you extrude and cut..."  Now...  Keeping a coherent topology is an entire tutorial line in itself, and the subject of many a school course.  >3

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You realy have to distinguish between people who know about 3D creation principles and people who come here as hobbyist with no or only small knowledge and maybe only know about Sculpted Prims.

While for those who fall into the first category it is a major relief to get meshes,
for the hobbyist it is probably another bunch of new (probably unknown) concepts to deal with.

Remind that modelling from scratch is something that needs to be learned also. And sure everybody must do that in the long term to become a good mesh maker. Actually i do not know how people will anticipate the changes and personally i think that i can deal with the concepts of meshes well, although there are still an awfull lot of holes in my knowledge which want to be filled ;-)

But i do not feel like "meshes is realy easy going compared to sculpties" no i do not feel like that...

Now i still would be very happy if anybody , regardless whether a knowing person or a noob or anyone inbetween, would ask questions, hints to further knowledge, whatever, to turn this "kettle Quest" into a real life saver for those who are not yet "ready for mesh" ... ;-)

Lastly i do not know if this sort of article/tutorial is something planned to be made by LL themself. So if some Linden Lab person would comment on that, that might also help a bit.

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Well, see, everyone who's interested in sculpties, and now makes them, forces themselves to learn.  They learn Blender (or a small part of it), they learn the limits of sculpties, they learn how to add in the export package (JASS or Primstar), they learn that while 32x32 is the supposed dimensions a 64x64 works better (usually), and finally how to texture to this new shape with an odd texture map.

 

Now, suddenly, all they really need to learn is a bit more of Blender, and how to make textures work on what they made (and possibly how to rig and weight an avatar, but that's advanced level stuff and I would expect people to need tutorials for that).  For those already familiar with sculpties, the sudden cut/extrude-ness of meshes is most likely going to be a breath of freedom.  For those unfamiliar with either, it'll be an easier barrier of entry to overcome than sculpties because suddenly the thousands of tutorial videos and sites for Blender (to say nothing of the hundreds and thousands (and hundreds of thousands) of tutorials for Maya and 3DS) all apply in spades.  Everything short of particle emissions (like hair, leaves on trees, or fire).  The entry level is lower.  The mastery is a long but hopefully enjoyable road.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have read through what you have done on the "Kettle Quest" so far Gaia, and love it! The lightbulb came on for me in a few places. I am still very new to Blender.

I would like to see some detail about how you took the kettle interior UVs and put them onto their own UV map. I am guessing that you are probably one step ahead of me and already plan to do this.

Thank you for all your effort to help the rest of us. I know I appreciate it and I am sure many others do as well.

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Vivienne Daguerre wrote:

I would like to see some detail about how you took the kettle interior UVs and put them onto their own UV map. I am guessing that you are probably one step ahead of me and already plan to do this.

I want the kettle quest to be fully independent from any 3D editor. So neither the text document nor the planned video "making of the Kettle" will explicitly show how exactly some things are done.

However i plan to also make a few detailed blender specific "Howto" videos and one of them will definitively be "Making of the UV-map" Actually that part is realy easy:

Afer i have marked the seams, iselect all verts and then press "u" (in edit mode) and then i choose "Unwrap". that already does most of the task. Then i only select the parts, scale them and move them on the map. Ok it is a bit tricky to separate the map for the interior into another image...

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Yes, I can make a basic UV map and change the layout, scale things up and down depending on detail wanted for texturing, and so on. It is the separating the UVs into 2 UV maps that I don't know how to do, but I can wait for that or search the net. There is so much stuff out there on Blender that I am sure to find it somewhere. Meanwhile, if anyone just happens to have a link to that information, I sure would appreciate it!

By the way, the triangles are a good trick that I had not thought about using to bridge to an area of half the loops. Thanks for that!

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I am sure there is a way of doing it properly which is better, but I simply assign the materials, then select by material and edit the UV map that appears just for that selection. If you select all, the maps are then on top of each other, but it doesn't seem to matter. For baking, I select by material, separate the vertices into a new object, bake that, rejoin to the main object and elimnate double vertices. That way, the bakes don't go on top of each other. Crude, but it works.

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[edit]: I just found an easier method (i still use the kettle as example)

 

  • 3D view: go to face select mode
  • select all faces
  • UV editor: Create a new image "interior-texture" (or select it if it already exists)
  • Deselect the interior faces in the UV editor (keep all others selected)
  • Create another image "outside-texture" (or select it if it already exists)
  • Bake

 

 

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