Monday, June 27, 2005


Re-working the range of avatar expressiveness one cube at a time...

The sexy story of Phil Murdock and Snow Hare last week actually began, as many New World Notes stories do, with something entirely different. I met Phil and Snow during a demonstration of PoseCubes, a new avatar animation technology from Hiro Pendragon, which they are implementing into a new furniture line.

Hiro's goal is to replace Poseballs, the unwieldy little spheres that have become the community-standard method of automatically animating an avatar when the user sits on them. Trouble is, a Poseball can carry only one animation, so if you want avatars to go through a gamut of positions and animations in a single space, the solution is to toss in more and more Poseballs, until the place starts to look like a multi-colored explosion of Nerf balls.

"This is a project I thought up back in October," Hiro tells me, while Phil and Snow go through a variety of poses on the couch next to us. "I saw how inflexible Poseballs were, and how laggy."

His solution embeds multiple animations (up to fifty) into a single primitive, and enables the user to assign key text phrases to each. (And since they're on a prim, they can be disguised as throw pillows or other objects that fit the situation.)

I was skeptical that all this was possible, so I gave Hiro the text of a soliloquy from, well, Hamlet, and challenged him to incorporate some dozen animations into it. In a few days, he came back with a Posecube for me to wear sit on, and built a stage for me to stand on, while I typed Hamlet's "Oh what a rogue and peasant slave..." soliloquy in the chat window, line by line. On every trigger cue, my avatar bounded across the stage or shifted positions-- at "Who calls me villain?", looking around suspisciously; at "About, my brain!", sitting down and thinking furiously, and so on.

"[T]he idea behind the phrases is that changing poses can be worked into natural conversation," Hiro tells me later. "In real life, people fidget, people move around a bit, people cross their legs, lean to the side. Animators can now make all of these animations, and suddenly BODY LANGUAGE is capable in SL."

Because in here, if you want to incorporate the thousand natural fidgets that flesh is heir to, you need to write them into the script first.

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He, Hamlet you should tryout Siggy Romules' Emote A Rama. It does a similair thing.

Posted by: Frans Charming at Jun 27, 2005 3:21:21 PM

PosAbility offers a lot of features that similar products do not. You can review a product explanation:

Posted by: HiroPendragon at Jun 28, 2005 7:24:51 AM

Emote-A-Rama is a gesture replacement system, not so much a 'sit system' - it lets you customise your av's personality by bypassing the limitation of gestures (a single animation per line) and automatically fires animations on each word (in the order you said them).

The end result is something akin to sign language/gesture overdrive.

customisation - because all thats required to use any anim is to rename it to the word you want to fire it off and and drop it in the attach.

I think Hiro's product is more a sit ball replacement system.

Posted by: Siggy at Jun 28, 2005 10:38:33 AM

I sense a "You got served"-style battle of mad Pose skills and Emotes in the making here!

Posted by: Hamlet Linden at Jun 28, 2005 12:57:06 PM

I don't - I'm pointing out that they are totally different products that do totally different things.

One is a pose system (dealing with sitposes/movement and animations)
One is a gesture system (dealing with a sentence of spoken words translated into animations)

If anything I'm trying to stop any such discussion before it starts - Last thing I want is a cross-product hijack of an article.. If you want further discussion on the E-A-R, feel free to contact me in world, or email.

Posted by: siggy at Jun 28, 2005 1:26:18 PM

You're so boring siggy ;0

Posted by: Baba at Jun 28, 2005 4:47:00 PM

Hmmm you sure have a perty mouth there baba :P

Posted by: siggy at Jun 28, 2005 5:57:09 PM

Actually, PosAbility does both. ;)

Keep in mind this article is from a user's perspective - not a developer's. I'm not going to turn the comments into one long infomercial though, so I'll keep this:

PosAbility will be open-sourced sometime this fall, depending on certain timelines. (Including features that Linden Lab has planned like object to object communications and others.) It's my intention that this be a tool that everyone will be able to use freely to bring SL closer to a fully immersive environment.

Posted by: HiroPendragon at Jun 28, 2005 8:51:35 PM

Errata: sorry, reread. Missed the "every emote in the sentence" part. PosAbility does not do that, precisely. However, I am adding an expression layer that will allow for default expressions on top of animations.

Posted by: HiroPendragon at Jun 28, 2005 9:01:53 PM

"with a Posecube for me to sit on,"
""[T]he idea behind the phrases"
"His solution embeds multiple animations (up to fifty) "

Last post on the matter for me - Just to make crystal clear they are radically different products...

E-A-R is a worn attachment - NOT a pose system.

It works on word level case sensitive substitutions, not predefined phrases.

I only use my own anims in mine (76 currently) - although one avid user says his is still going strong at over 120...

Please please please for the love of god don't buy it if you want a pose system.. I've gotten 5 IM's already :(

Posted by: siggy at Jun 29, 2005 12:27:41 AM

woo. I made my comment about the Emote A Rama because hamlet seemed to like the fact the the avatar reacted on what you type in chat.
So i thought he should check it out.
Didn't wanted to start a fight, or confuse people.

Posted by: Frans Charming at Jun 29, 2005 7:48:28 AM

Frans, Hamlet inadvertantly came up with a way to do machinema with the PosAbility system. I wonder if Emote A Rama could further enhance the possibilities of doing that? I am designing an "emote" layer to the PoseCubes, the current version has an interface already via link message; perhaps we can talk and make a link-message triggered version of Emote A Rama and maybe it will make something cool. :)

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