Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: How to Make Your Own Bento Animation Override for Only L$2, Step by Step!

An animation override (AO for short) is an essential part of any avatar setup in Second Life; without it you are relying on the default system animations which are built into the SL avatar, which are nothing short of hideous. (Nothing marks you as a newbie so much as the dreaded default “duck walk”. You can spot it a mile away.)

Those of you who have been following the SL avatar makeovers on my blog already know that my favourite freebie AO is one that was put out by a store called [ImpEle], called Chubby Girl AO. That store closed down years and years ago, but the AO was still available to purchase for free from the SL Marketplace. All you had to do was add a separate hands-only AO for Bento hands (which were thoughtfully included for free with the various freebie versions of the Altamura mesh bodies) and you were all set to go!

Unfortunately, a reader has alerted me that the Chubby Girl AO is no longer available from the SL Marketplace (which makes sense, since Linden Lab is cleaning out the little-used, oldest items from the Marketplace over time).

So I am going to fall back on my second choice. On the Second Life Marketplace is a product called the SEmotion Newbie Girl AO HUD version 3.8, which costs only one Linden dollar, contains some lovely, natural stands, and already includes Bento hand animations, so you don’t need a secondary, hands-only AO like you did with the Chubby Girl AO:

Now, I quite like this AO, but it has one very serious problem: the default walk animation included with it is one of the most horrendous walk animations I have ever seen! (If you don’t believe me, buy it and try it out for yourself on your own avatar. Truly horrific.)

So today, I am going to take you, step by step, through the process of replacing the walk on this dollarbie HUD to another one I like much better! This is not difficult, but there are a number of steps involved.

Tucked away at the very back of the women’s AO section of the sprawling Vista Animations store is a product called Your First AO: Basic Female Mocap AO (here’s the exact SLURL), which is set for sale for only L$1 (please note that for some reason, when you buy this dollarbie AO, it sends you two identical copies):

Now, the particular problem with this dollarbie AO is that the stands are horrible, but the walk animation is absolutely perfect, and a personal favourite of mine! (You can check it out in the video below. The walking animation itself is called DANGERWALKMIX1.)

So, what I am now going to show you today, is how to modify the SEmotion animation override, replacing its hideous default walk with the one from the Vista Your First AO. It’s not hard, but there are quite a few steps involved, and you will need a location with build rights, such as a quiet sandbox, where you can work undisturbed.

PLEASE NOTE: These instructions assume you are using the Firestorm viewer, which you can get for free from the downloads page on the Firestorm website.

Step 1: Turn on the lights

You’re going to need really good, sharp lighting to find and edit tiny objects in Second Life. If you are in Firestorm, Click on World in the top menu bar, then select Environment Editor, then Sky Presets, then Edit Preset, as shown here:

From the list of sky presets, scroll down and select one called CalWL:

Et voilà! Sharp, bright, clear light by which to properly edit tiny AOs. In addition to CalWL, you could try out the presets named Nam’s Optimal Skin 1 and Nam’s Optimal Skin 2, which are also very bright and suitable for this task.

Step 2: Find a good sandbox with a light-coloured floor or ground

You are going to need to find land where you have rights to rez objects to the ground. These are usually referred to as sandboxes, and you can use the in-client Search to find them by searching for the word “sandbox”. There are dozens of them!

For these first few pictures, I used a place called the Timelord Sandbox, where SL users can rez Doctor Who-related objects for roleplay. The Timelord Sandbox has a ten-hour auto-return (i.e. the length of time before your rezzed item is automatically returned to your inventory), which is great, but it also has a black floor, which means you simply cannot find any tiny items you rez to it!

So, as you can see from the pictures I took to illustrate the later steps in this process, I eventually switched from the Timelord Sandbox to a small desert island with object rez rights, , where you can actually see things on the light-coloured sand!

Don’t make the same mistake I did. Pick a place with a light-coloured floor or ground.

Step 3: Rez the Vista Animations HUD to the ground, open it, and copy the animation DANGERWALKMIX1 from it to your inventory

Open your SL inventory, open the folder with the Vista Your Fist AO, and drag the AO down to the ground. Make sure you are selecting the correct item; the icon next to it in your inventory will be a small cube to indicate an object.

Then, right click on the AO on the ground, select Open from the menu, and drag the animation DANGERWALKMIX1 from the AO back into your SL inventory. (I put it back in the original folder that the Vista Your First AO came in, but you can put it anywhere, as long as you remember where you put, because you’ll need it later!)

Step 4: Unpack the SEmotion Animation Override

Purchase the SEmotion Newbie Girl AO from the SL Marketplace (using the link near the top of this blogpost). It will come in a box, which you must rez and click on to unpack:

Step 5: Turn on Highlight Transparent Objects feature in your Firestorm viewer

(This is the part where I had to move from the Timelord Sandbox to my desert island to continue.)

Press Ctrl-Alt-T to highlight transparent objects in your Firestorm viewer (you can press Ctrl-Alt-T to turn it off again; it’s a toggle swtich). When you do this, items with transparency (like parts of the hair on top of my avatar!) will have a red glow to them. I do this so that it is much easier to see the very tiny SEmotion AO when I rez it onto the ground.

Step 6: Rez the SEmotion AO to the ground.

Step 7: Right click on the SEmotion AO and open it.

Step 8: Open your SL inventory, find the DANGERWALK1 animation, and drag it into the open Object Contents window of the SEmotion AO.

Step 9: Now, scroll down to the very bottom of the Object Contents window for your SEmotion AO, and find a notecard called WomanNewbie.

Step 10: Click to open the WomanNewbie notecard. An edit window will appear on your screen.

Step 11: Scroll down in the WomanNewbie notecard until you find a line that says:

[ Walking ]SEmotion-f-walk14|nowalks

Step 12: VERY CAREFULLY EDIT that line to replace “SEmotion-f-walk14” with “DANGERWALKMIX1”:

[ Walking ]DANGERWALKMIX1|nowalks


Step 13: Save the edits to the WomanNewbie notecard using the Save button at the bottom of the edit window. Then click the X in the upper right hand corner of the notecard to close it.

Step 14: Edit the SEmotion AO to give it a new name, then take it back into your Second Life inventory.

BEFORE YOU TAKE THE EDITED SEmotion AO BACK INTO YOUR INVENTORY, right click on it and select Edit. Go to the General tab and give it a new name (e.g. add the word “New” to the front part of the Name field). This will help you figure out which is the old SEmotion AO and which is the new one in your Second Life inventory.

(I chose to put the edited AO back in the original folder that the Semotion Newbie Girl AO came in, but you can put it anywhere, as long as you remember where you put it, because you’ll need to find it later!)

Step 15: Now find the newly-edited SEmotion Newbie Girl AO in your inventory, right click on it, and select Add.

Once you have added the SEmotion AO, it will attach to the bottom right-hand corner of your Firestorm viewer. Click once on the Options menu, and a blue menu will appear in the upper right-hand corner of your Firestorm viewer. Click the Reset button on the blue menu. (IMPORTANT: NOT the Load Button, the Reset one!)

A number of chat messages will appear in your chat window:

Loading notecard 'WomanNewbie'…
Finished reading notecard 'WomanNewbie'.

Congratulations! You now have a wonderful new Bento animation override for your female avatar, for a grand total of only two Linden dollars! (Beat that!)

(Reminder: Don’t forget to press Ctrl-Alt-T again, to turn off the highlighting of transparent objects in your Firestorm viewer!)

Here is a one-minute video of my new Bento animation override in action, showing you the walk and a few of the stands:

Please note that you can use this step-by-step method with any animation override that uses a notecard to control the various walking, standing, flying, etc. animations (and most of them do). Your new animations might be ones that you bought from a store instead of ones inside an AO you already own. The process is the same.

I hope you find this tutorial useful! Please share it with your friends, thanks!

Abramelin Wolfe Brings His Abranimations Brand of Avatar Dances to Sinespace

Abranimations is a well-known brand of avatar animations in several virtual worlds, including Second Life, IMVU, and Sansar. Jim Clark of Edinburgh, Scotland (better known by his avatar name, Abramelin Wolfe) is the creator behind the Abranimations brand.

Abramelin Wolfe has been profiled by the documentary filmmaker Draxtor Despres twice: once in Second Life (in 2013) and a second time in Sansar (in 2019):

Well, Abramelin Wolfe has finally brought his dance animations into Sinespace! Here’s a link to his brand-new store on the Sinespace Shop, where he has dozens and dozens of dance animations available for sale for only 50 Gold each (and some dances can also be bought for 5,000 Silver):

And here’s a quick sample, a 7-second video courtesy of Sinespace user Alicia, dancing her heart out at the Welcome Centre (thanks, Alicia!):

Earlier this week, I interviewed Abramelin Wolfe via text chat about the launch of his Abranimations brand in Sinespace:

How did you get started in creating animations and other content for virtual worlds? Please tell us a bit of your background.

I first found my way into Virtual Worlds in 2004 when I Joined Second Life. At the time I was working as a freelance website developer. I played Second Life for fun and enjoyed using my prior programming experience to create fun toys and gadgets. I had no expectations of it making any money, I just loved the creative outlet it provided. I can’t remember exactly when, but at some stage I found it was making a substantial part of my monthly income so I dedicated more time to it. When I first joined SL I played a lot with particles and tried making various vehicles, furniture and I made a magic staff for my avatar (who was a wizard at the time). I found myself wanting to learn all the tools SL had so before long figured I’d try animating too. I started with Poser which was recommended by LL at the time. For a while I created animations using that. A bit later I decided to invest in a relatively cheap inertial mocap system which was how I got into mocap. Today I primarily use an optical motion capture system that is much more precise.

What platforms have you made animations for?

As well as the Second Life store, we also have stores in IMVU, Sansar, and more recently we opened a Hypergrid-enabled OpenSim region. This week, I opened up shop in Sinespace, too.

What hardware and software tools do you use to create animations today? Have there been significant changes in the tools you used since you started doing this?

I create most animations now using an OptiTrack mocap (motion capture) system to record trained actors & dancers. I use the system software to clean up the raw optical data and then perform further cleanup and final processing in Autodesk MotionBuilder. My first animations  back in 2004 were made using Poser. I used it a lot for quite a few years. I liked Poser, but it was not very good for motion capture data cleanup. I moved to use MotionBuilder which is built for this purpose. There is a dramatic difference in quality and realism in mocap over keyframed animation. However it is very expensive (equipment, studio space, dance hire, software etc.) and it can be very time consuming recording and cleaning up the data to a high standard. If I want a quick animation and am not worried so much about  realism I will still keyframe animate by hand. We  also make lots of other content today, my wife works with me now too. As well as helping with the mocap studio she is an artist and makes all our avatars and other characters. 

Could you briefly outline the steps involved in creating an animation from scratch (not too technical, just a general overview that my blog readers could understand easily).

I first decide what animation I want to make. This could be a specific dance or something else. I’ll research and refine a shot list and then hire a dancer or actor that is able to perform the motions. In the studio we suit them up in a black lycra suit  with reflective markers stuck to it and record them with special mocap cameras. The mocap system records the markers as dots moving in 3D space and the software processes this to generate a moving skeleton from it. The resulting data tends to need a lot of post-shoot work to fix various problems. Once the optical data is clean I export it from the system and import it into MotionBuilder for further cleanup and processing of the skeletal data. There are various issues at this stage too that also need fixing. Once the animation is free of errors and is processed to look as intended I transfer the data onto the final skeleton used by the end platform. If it all looks good I’ll then  upload the animation onto the end platform and hopfully it works!

What advice would you give to people who want to create content in Sinespace and are just starting out?

Well Sinespace is based on Unity, so the first thing I’d say is download a copy of Unity!  There’s  loads of tutorials online that can be helpful in learning just about every game engine and software application. Don’t be put off by any initial daunting feelings, some  software can seem pretty formidable when you first open it up. But if you persevere eventually everything falls into place.  Finally, never think something is too hard or impossible even if other people tell you so, just give it a go, and have fun!

This blogpost is sponsored by Sinespace, and was written in my new role as an embedded reporter for this virtual world (more details here).

New Sansar Update: Sits and Zippers!

Among the new features in the most recent update to the Sansar client (which happened yesterday) are two that I would like to highlight.

First, WE CAN FINALLY SIT DOWN! It’s not much—a cross-legged sit on the ground—but at least it’s a start. Here’s what it looks like:

Cross-Legged Sit in Sanar 11 Apr 2018.gif

Immediately, Sansarians began posting pictures of their newfound capability!

Picture by Beverly Zauberflote

Sitting at the Park.jpg
Picture by Sergio Delacruz

Picture by RetroMetallic

And second, we can now have working zippers in clothing created using the Marvelous Designer software! Here’s a picture of what that looks like:

zipper demo.gif

Ravioli has released a very funny superhero outfit for both men and women, in red or in blue, on the Sansar Store:

Zippr Superhero Outfits 11 Apr 2018.png

The Zipperman costume has supersized working zippers! (Click on each image for a larger size.)

You can pick up your Zipperman or Zipperwoman superhero outfit on the Sansar Store for FREE (thanks, Ravioli!).

Blogger Isabelle Cheren has posted a cute YouTube video in which she demonstrates all the animations currently available in Sansar, and even shows you how to combine them!