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!

Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: Ryan’s Eight Rules for Freebie Hunting

Here are 8 rules for freebie and bargain hunting that I have compiled over eleven years in Second Life:

  • Be patient: Freebies can come and go; freebie stores like The Free Dove and Ajuda SL Brasil rotate their freebies regularly, so it’s worthwhile to visit every couple of month just to see what’s new. It can take some time to pull together a complete look from various components picked up as freebies at different times from different stores and events.
  • Monitor the various freebie news sources: Here’s the best six groups to join for freebies. Here are four blogs and four Flickr groups to follow for news of freebies. And read my blog 😉 and other SL fashion blogs and Facebook groups for news. And watch the Cat Pink SL series of YouTube videos for more news about hunts and other freebies.
  • Join groups which are known for giving great deals and freebies to their members: For example, if you joined the Akeruka mesh heads group a year and a half ago, you would have picked up no less than six fully-adjustable Bento mesh heads (three female and three male), all for a single group join fee of L$150. That works out to only L$25 per Bento mesh head, a truly outstanding deal! Also join the Altamura group for L$50, which gives you access to the deals that Altamura offers on mesh heads and bodies at various events around SL, as well as many group gifts in the mainstore. Alien Gizmo’s regularly gives away L$200 gift cards for their store to their group members. Join these groups and stay in them, because you never know when there will be a bargain or a freebie available in future.
  • Watch for free group join periods: A perfect example is Scandalize, which has lifted its group join fee of L$100 from Sept. 15th to 17th (more info here).
  • Use the lucky chairs and panels: You can often pick up some great freebies this way. Here’s my list of the 18 best lucky chair and panel locations in Second Life.
  • Participate in hunts: Hunts are often a great way to pick up free or inexpensive items. The Free Dove picks three different designers every month who hide hunt items all over the store. A recent example was the August hunt by Sweet E’s at The Free Dove and Sweet E’s mainstore.
  • Visit fashion and gacha events: These can be another great place to pick up free gifts (be careful, though; some gifts at some events can be as much as L$10!). For example, the regularly held events run by the Gimme Gacha group have dozens of free gifts available for you to pick up. FaMESHed is another regular event with many high-quality freebies.
  • Don’t be too picky: Even though the free item might not be the exact style or colour you wanted, you can probably still make it work, and look good too. It’s the picky shoppers who land up spending a lot more money to get exactly what they want. For example, do you really want that expensive ballgown, when you can pick up that simple but beautiful Nadia ballgown as a free gift from Hilly Haalan (the group is free to join), with a HUD that gives you 15 different colour choices? You can probably make that work well with accessories already in your inventory, and look stunning.

Here is a perfect example of an avatar where I was able to pull together the entire look, over the course of a year and a half, for only a single Linden dollar! It is a combination of lucky chair prizes with free group gifts (joining the group when it was free for a limited time), plus store giveaways. Please click on each picture to see it in a larger size:

This avatar is wearing:

Mesh Head, Eyes and Makeup: Kenna mesh head (free group gift from Genesis Lab; the group join fee was free at the time I joined, but they have since raised it to L$99)

Mesh Body and Nails: Afrodite body by LUCYBODY (free from the Midnight Madness board if you join their group for free; more details here)

Hair: Ivy hair (free gift from Entwined; the 3 HUDs included in the package give you a total of 65 different hair colours!)

Dress: red and black Devil’s Heart Sweets dress (lucky chair prize from Alien Gizmo’s; enter the store at the main entrance, turn left, and walk along to the second courtyard near the far end to find the lucky chairs, or just use your map and follow the red arrow from the provided SLURL)

Choker: Nina choker by RxK (free from the Ajuda SL Brasil freebie store; more details here)

Clutch: Helena clutch (lucky chair prize from MODA; the HUD gives you 24 colour choices for the purse, and a choice of either gold or silver for the metal accents; enter the main store in front of you at the spawn point, and go around into the back room where the four lucky chairs are located or just use your map and follow the red arrow from the provided SLURL)

Shoes: Bijou pumps (lucky chair prize, also from MODA; the HUD gives you 36 colour and pattern choices each for the shoe and the platform)

Avatar AO: Your First AO Basic Female Mocap by Vista Animations (L$1; it’s located at the back of the Female AO section of the store, so use your map and follow the red arrow provided by this SLURL)

Bento Hands AO: Jenny Hands AO (part of the free Jenny Altamura mesh body package available for free at the Freebie Megastore in London City; it can be worn with the Vista AO, which does not have built-in Bento hand animations; more details on how to get Jenny here)

Ankle Lock: by Baby Monkey (freebie from the blue bag on the reception desk)

My total cost to assemble this complete avatar look was only L$1 (for the Vista AO).