Sunday, 27 May 2007
A report on initial experience with sculpted prims.
Nicholas, K. "A report on initial experience with sculpted prims." Proc Royal Soc 2007; 2 (advance communication ahead of printing).
Availability of sculpted primative constuction allows for a greatly-expanded repertoire of objects for the builder. Preparation of the sculpted prim is nonintuitive, and requires additional methods and skills that may not be readily available. Further work is suggested to improve access to sculpting methods. Proceeds from the sale of the developed sculpted-prim glassware should go towards future research and development of sculpting methods.
Constructing a primitive object (prim) has to this point required little in the way of preparation or skills beyond that required for day-to-day existence. Linden Lab have added an option to transform a prim into a unique shape based on a map of sorts (Fig. 1). Construction of this map is nonintuitive, and requires what appears to be a fair amount of mathematics
to translate a three-dimensional representation into this color-based map.
Methods available to perform this conversion require a knowledge of three-dimensional artistry, and an investment in the tools. One tool requires a L$ 1,820,000 capital outlay (1). Less-costly tools are available, with varying degrees of utility, and are detailed elsewhere (2).
Using the "Rokuro" software (3), a series of maps were created to model common laboratory glassware (the first objects available for study). Eleven items were created; five were solid objects, and six attempted to recreate the hollow nature of actual glassware (Fig. 2).
The object maps were loaded on to the beta grid for testing. All objects were given a standard glass texture (without any alpha channel), set to 30% transparency, with low reflectivity and "brightness" bump-mapping settings (Fig. 3).
Creating the object maps via the lathe tool took on the order of 5 to 10 min per object, trending towards the lower end as the author gained facility with the method.
Figure 3 shows the different effect seen with hollow ("A") and solid ("B") prims. At a uniform level of transparency, the solid prims provided a more life-like outer appearance, with the hollow objects showing a penumbra, and the solid objects presenting a clearly-defined outer edge.
Figure 4 shows the glassware on a different background; figure 5, with different lighting (sunrise), and figure 6, at night, using only ambient lighting.
Simple sculpted primative construction is within the ability of the average-to-advanced builder, using very specific tools, and and access to the beta grid for testing. Glassware emulation produces reasonable results, though the correct, hollow representation of vessels produces a somewhat-indistinct outer edge. No attempt was made to optimise texture methods, and it is acknowledged that texture map creation for sculpted prims is difficult (4). Further research is required to maximise the utility of sculpted prims; furthermore, more available (and accessible) tools for builders are required.
All of the glassware will be on sale at the offices of the Royal Society, in Tamrannoch, Caledon. These will be priced at below-upload-cost, with the set of 11 pieces sold at L$100. Naturally, proceeds from the sales will fund futher sculpting methods.
The author is supported by a new-materials grant from the Duchy of Loch Avie (LA-21-003), and by viewers like you. She has no industry support or conflict of interest to disclose.
(1). Autodesk Maya (ex-Alias|Wavefront, ex-Silicon Graphics) was sighted at US$ 6999. Linden Lab's current officially-suported sculpted prim import pathway (singular) is for Maya.
(2). Building forum, secondlife.com. Accessed repeatedly, often to little avail.
(3). Jewell, Y. Rokuro (lathe) http://www.kanae.net/secondlife/ Accessed 25 May 2007.
(4). Krogstad, A. Personal communication.