New House New Light

The first things I unpack in both lives are kitches and bedroom. You’ve got to eat and sleep. The rest is negotiable. I moved into a new house from Scarlet Creative and I’m perplexed with my love for it. It’s not my style yet I can’t get over how amazed I am by it. Continue reading

Creators Roundtable #5

This is the fifth and final installment featuring Second Life® creators discussing their work and the limitations that determine what is possible. This final post is drawn and synthesized from several comments by many different designers. I synthesized their comments in a plurk asking for their suggestions. That is followed by additional commentary from the participating Roundtable designers. Again, I thank the following designers for their generous gift of time and willingness to participate: Cyclic Gearz (CG), SySy Chapman (SS), Tyr Rozenblum (TR), Siddean Munro (SM), Anya Ohmai (AO), Shai Delacroix (SD). 

For the complete series, see Creators Roundtable #1 , #2,  #3 and #4.

What do you, as designers, wish your customers knew?

1: The cost of producing an item is a lot more than the 10 linden upload fee. Including in the cost of production are software purchases, licensing fees for design elements such as textures, animations and components, and above all time. There is an opportunity cost to all the time spent developing skills, designs and creations. When you buy a dress in your real life, you don’t object when it costs more than the thread and fabric. You understand you are paying for the experience, skill and time that went into making it. You understand the cost of production includes things like utilities, insurance and labor. Second Life businesses are businesses and have overhead costs, production costs and labor costs just like any other business.

CyclicCG – Consider that SL for most creators is a fulltime job, spending 40+ hours a week including weekends creating, for less than minimum wage a lot of the time. Someone who works doing something similar RL would be earning a lot more and at least get the weekends off.

 

2: Marketplace transactions are handled by Linden Labs, not by us. We are not informed of failed deliveries or other problems. If you don’t tell us about a problem, we don’t know about it and can’t fix it.

3: Just because our store is open 24/7 does not mean we are online all that time. Be patient when requesting customer service. When requesting help, read the profile. Before requesting help, read the notecards that came with the item. Perhaps you missed something. Some designers prefer notecards, some prefer IM. Some have customer service staff that address problems and do not want to be contacted. When you make contact by IM, start with your request. Don’t just say hello and wait for a response.

TyrTR: I want to add to this, just because stores are open all the time, and we are online, doesn’t mean we are working 24/7. We came to SL for the same reasons our customers did, and thats to have fun as well. Unfortunately we can’t put a closed sign up. So if something happens late one night that can’t be fixed until the following day, please try to understand, we do have lives.

Cyclic
CG:
Also think about timezones – not everyone is on SLT time.

 

 

SySy
SS:
 That. We’re not machines. We eat, sleep and have RL. Also: a customer is not the ONLY customer we have to deal with ;)

 

Shai
SD:
That we appreciate your feedback. Not only does it help us improve, it makes us feel better about our work. We love that you took the time to message us about errors or colors you prefer. Thank you.

 

4: Understand that there are script limitations. They cannot fit every person and every shape and height. Pose engines have adjustment options and customers can use them, but even with adjustment options, they will not fit all torso lengths, arm lengths and so on. It is not possible.

ShaiSD: That even if we make the mesh and rig it, we cannot possibly account for all animations in SL to work well with the rigged mesh item we sell. Some animations rotate/deform on places that affect our items. Unless both are purchased from the same creator and was made to work together. Same goes for AO creators who cannot adapt their work to all rigged mesh clothing. Its not all bad rigging or bad animations. Ideally, we should be working in the same studio swapping meshes and rigs, using the same simulated scenery and tools.

5: Read the ad before buying so you know what the perms are and are not surprised. If it says skin not included, skin is not included. If it says no trans, it’s not transferrable.

TyrTR: With gacha being as popular as it is, it’s important to note where you purchased something from. If you find an item labeled after a store on MP, be sure to read the sellers name if a transaction goes wrong. We unfortunately cannot help with third party purchases. It’s really important to be responsible about your purchases.  This goes for anything too, KNOW who you are buying from. Lots of shady sellers on MP will sell empty box products and dupes. Both things original creators cannot do anything about.

 

 

 

 

The Folly

Snapshot

When Inex Hax shared her newest release for The Secret Affair on Plurk, I had to comment that it looked like it might just be my favorite of her designs ever. After getting in world and trying it on, it turns out I was right! It’s yummy and comes in white, black red, yellow, pink and blue. I loved each and every one of the colors.

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Creators Roundtable #4

This is the fourth installment featuring Second Life® creators discussing their work and the limitations that determine what is possible. Again, I thank the following designers for their generous gift of time and willingness to participate: Cyclic Gearz (CG), SySy Chapman (SS), Tyr Rozenblum (TR), Siddean Munro (SM), Anya Ohmai (AO), Shai Delacroix (SD). 

For the complete series, see Creators Roundtable #1 , #2 and #3.

Why do so many designers use really bad templates? Isn’t that in some way considered cheating? If you do use them, why charge so much when i can find the same outfit on marketplace for less?

CyclicCG – This is a pretty contentious area, there’s a lot of for/against when it comes to templates. They can be very good starting points for creators who aren’t confident with mesh skills, in learning how UV maps work, and learning about texturing. There isn’t really anywhere you can go further than that without learning mesh and making it yourself though. ‘Bad’ templates are usually seen as bad because of the rigging being a rush job I guess, but they’re often cheap and thats an easy in for new store owners.

TyrTR: No, it isnt cheating, in the real world if you worked in a studio, you would be doing one or two jobs max. You would be a texture artist, an asset artist, environment artist, animator, character modeler and so on. While I do think that everyone COULD learn to model if they wanted, I know people have their strengths and sometimes its just not learning a complicated UI that on some occasions feels like a 3D math test. It comes down to customers do not care. They want a hot looking item, with good texture, they don’t think about who made it, who took the time to be a unique snowflake. They want to pay their lindens and go. And really it shouldn’t matter to creators either. Everyone starts somewhere. I was a mesh snob when I finally learned, and that isn’t okay, because I went from templates in 2011 to doing it myself. I think the only problem with templates isn’t the templates themselves. I imagine it gets hard with events to see the same template recolored. Which is the ONLY reason I really suggest people learn, or maybe find a store partner who knows how, and then do texturing.

ShaiSD:   As a consumer, I prefer to pay for items who are made by the artist themselves. SL is for me is about the artists and being true to your craft. I feel like I cannot ask someone to pay for something I didn’t fully create myself. At the end of the day, your audience will have confidence with your work as you find your unique look. They know how you failed at this part of the construction, feedback is instantaneous in SL.  When you use templates, that feedback and responsibility falls on a third party.  Art, anatomy, and mesh proficiency is developed through time and consistency. There are no shortcuts.
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Designer Download — Caelan Hancroft

aug15_004

Cae Dazzle Set photo by Cajsa Lilliehook

DesignerDownload

My introduction to Caelan Hancroft was on Plurk where Second Lifers have found a new community outside of SL®. I read her blog and was excited to see her make the leap from blogger to designer, particularly when her choices filled a void in the jewelry market. There were many jewelers producing luxurious gems designed for the most formal occasions. There were also s few jewelers creating avant-garde designs, modern chunky jewelry and naturalistic hippie designs, but what about the more everyday to semi-formal jewelry. While there were a few, there was definitely some wide open spaces in the jewelry market. Since then, she has gone from success to success and is now a go-to jeweler for many of us. 

It’s Only Fashion: What was your first day in Second Life® like? What made you stick it out through the learning curve?  

Caelan Hancroft: My first day was in early December 2007 when I was given an assignment to research Second Life for work. One of our directors had seen SL mentioned in an article and suggested we look into it.  I logged in and wandered around Orientation Island and a few other sims to finish up my report and then logged out. I thought I was done. I’ve never been a gamer and was always bored immediately after the character creation process of most games, but I was a new mom with limited opportunities to socialize and thought SL could be a social “fix” so I logged back in. At the time I started, Last Call was having its 100L closing sale and I quickly discovered Celestial Studios and ETD so I managed to skip the super-awkward noob phase (at least for 2007). Continue reading

Creators Roundtable #3

This is the third installment featuring Second Life® creators discussing their work and the limitations that determine what is possible. Again, I thank the following designers for their generous gift of time and willingness to participate: Cyclic Gearz (CG), SySy Chapman (SS), Tyr Rozenblum (TR), Siddean Munro (SM), Anya Ohmai (AO), Shai Delacroix (SD). 

For the complete series, see Creators Roundtable #1 , #2 and #4.

Why are so many details baked into the textures rather than created as individual pieces – like belts on clothing or doorknobs on cupboards?

CyclicCG: Anything you see in SL has to be downloaded to your computer. The more complex it is, the longer it takes. Mesh is made up of individual shapes, called polygons. The lower the amount of polygons a mesh object is, the easier on your computer it will be. To add all of these details in as mesh, increases polygons, which in turn increases the Land Impact, which not only increases how much prims it takes up (in the case of furniture), but increases how long it takes for your computer to load in from the server. Many designers compensate for this by using textures to add in the detail so you can have more mesh visible without it taking a long time to load.

Again, as I said before, you can either have mesh that loads faster, and puts less stress on your computer/the SL servers, or you can have highly detailed physical mesh. There are some creators who do add this detail and bring down the land impact with some tricks in the uploader, but that doesn’t really reduce the strain on the server or your computer.

TyrTR: This is something we don’t do anymore unless an item just isnt going ot have any options (or need to turn something off). How I learned to do it was to bake it all together. Now I just don’t see the point. Maybe I’m reading this question wrong. So I’ll answer it a second way (because, i’m not sure if I got confused here sorry!) we don’t bake all the details in to our stuff because unlike home and gardens, we’re not really trying to save on prims. I know, okay, that it’s probably not the best way, but for the most part as a fashion designer we follow what our customers want. PC’s be damned, they want detail. So we’ll generally model it in, but use the lower poly, or decimated versions. I know earlier on I personally went a little nuts >.> with face count. I don’t think fashion design can get away with the same stuff home and gardens do to cut corners. When people shop home and gardens they look for the lowest possible prim, with best look. With fashion they just want the most detail, come hell or high water.

ShaiSD: Some users have a hard time downloading mesh to their clients due to hardware limits or bandwidth . Some computers aren’t as updated to render current game graphics. I live on a 5 MB DSL connection that limits my streaming. Before mesh, I had a hard time building anything with prims as it would lag or double up. I think of this as a standard for my clients. That’s why I personally prefer to do most of it on texture and normal maps. As a character artist, I try to keep my mesh in good topology and low in polycount with proper LODs.  This is industry standard. There are details you can’t sacrifice and there are weighting issues to address with unnecessary polygons. In 3D movies or next gen games, you decide which area requires more details as the camera focuses on it. In SL, everything is in scrutiny, everyone is a hero character. My challenge lies in balancing these issues with the overall style in mind. Continue reading

Creators Roundtable #2

This is the second installment featuring Second Life® creators discussing their work and the limitations that determine what is possible. Again, I thank the following designers for their generous gift of time and willingness to participate: Cyclic Gearz (CG), SySy Chapman (SS), Tyr Rozenblum (TR), Siddean Munro (SM), Anya Ohmai (AO), Shai Delacroix (SD). 

You can find the rest of the series at Creators Roundtable #1#3 and #4.

Why can’t we apply an alpha to mesh body parts like a texture map?
For more information about this question, see this article at New World Notes.

 

Cyclic


CG
: That’s a limitation within SL itself, a Jira was created, but LL have said it’s not feasible. (Link to the Jira https://jira.secondlife.com/browse/BUG-8100)

 

Tyr

 

TR: What she said

 

SySy

 

SS: That.

 

Shai
SD:
Yes you can. This is possible with our own creations only and crafting specific models for our own lines.  I’m not sure I understand the point of making alpha maps for mesh bodies. Sorry.

 

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At The End Of The Day

At the end of a long day shopping and shooting in the studio, I have to confess I require some caffeine. It’s probably why I put my coffee station right next to my door – so I could grab a cup coming or going. If immediate access to coffee is wrong, I don’t want to be right. Continue reading

Creators Roundtable #1

A while ago while out shopping, I bumped into Shai Delacroix, the well-respected creator behind the Shai brand. We chatted a bit and she suggested I do a post addressing some of the common questions that come up about creating in Second Life and volunteered to provide her technical expertise. It seemed like a great idea to me, so I eventually made a couple plurks soliciting questions and then recruited some designers to offer their answers and opinions. The result is a sort of Creator’s Roundtable discussion which thanks to the many questions and answers has run to more than 20 pages. For that reason, I am breaking it up into a few separate pieces. The series continues with Creators Roundtable #2#3 and #4.

First things first, though. I have to thank the following designers for their generous gift of time and willingness to participate: Cyclic Gearz (CG), SySy Chapman (SS), Tyr Rozenblum (TR), Siddean Munro (SM), Anya Ohmai (AO), Shai Delacroix (SD). 

Why do people make so many strapless tops and dresses. Why no sleeves? 

Cyclic

CG: In all likelihood, it’s because sleeves are harder to rig and shape well. You have to take into account how the shoulder, elbow and wrist moves, and for people new to rigging, strapless items are a good start.

 

SySy

 

SS: I second what Cyclic says, specifically the shoulder area is very hard to rig.

 

TyrTR: Agreeing with Cyclic, but to add, sleeves (while one of my fave things to do), aren’t the only major issue. You see a lot of strapless more so because the shoulder blades of the avatar are basically awful. Often you’ll see them unweighted and pulled out from the av (which to me looks awful), or they move oddly. Generally they move oddly because the creator is trying to adjust to the terrible weights on the avatar base. If you don’t you get a lot of clipping through straps when shoulder/collar joints move.

ShaiSD: The shoulder portion of the avatar shares 3 – 4 weight areas: Collar, Shoulder, Neck, Chest. Balancing these with little polycount/points to hold the those weights is a bit tricky to do. Skinning it on a tpose (default skeleton with arms out) is also a point of contention, when it comes into SL, you cross check it on a pose standing with arms down, it can become a nightmare. With strapless, tube top styles, you don’t have to deal with this and can produce mesh faster.

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Catching Up

Snapshot

I shot these pics a few days ago wearing an outfit featuring items from last month’s Collabor88. Don’t despair, you can now find them in the store. The top, leggings and boots are all from Tres Blah. They come with a puffy jacket, too, but I left that off. Growing up in a place where it’s really cold, I have never understood those puffy jackets with no sleeves as anything more than an extra lining if your coat is not warm enough.
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