Can I tell you a mermaid secret?
Mermaids have a tail. So, we have to always keep our legs together :) Thats not easy to do in SL, because all the animations assume human legs!
So everything a mermaid does requires special poses and animations. From floating around to swimming to flying. Even sitting on the ground like this requires a pose.
So sooner or later, a mermaid gets the urge to make her own poses and animations :)
Fortunately, creating poses for SL is easy and fun. And best of all, there are some wonderful free programs available. So all it would cost are the SL L$10 upload fees (thats less than 4 US cents per upload).
In this tutorial, we are going to use QAvimator to create a simple standing pose. We will upload this pose to SL and try it out on our avatar :)
Animations are typically those items that sit in the "Animations" folder in your Inventory. They have a little "running person" picture next to them.
Animations do what their name suggests: they animate your avatar. Animations can be a simple walk, a dance, acrobatics, or a mermaid swimming :)
To use an animation in your Inventory, just Right-click on an animation and select "Play in World".
You can put animations into poseballs, avatar attachments (like shoes), or into an Animation Override (AO) gadget.
So animations are really useful for bringing life to your avatar! :)
There are some additional information about SL animation in the SL Wiki.
Poses are special types of animations. Poses freeze the avatar in a fixed position. This is great for taking pictures or looking into your BF's eyes ;P
A pose consists of 2 frames:
The first frame is the Reference Frame. This is used by SL as a reference point.
The second frame is the actual pose. SL will move any body part that is in a different position than the Reference Frame.
Any body part that has not changed from the Reference Frame will continue to go thru the normal avatar movements (like breathing or shifting legs). So if you do not move the avatar chest in the second frame, then your avatar will continue to breath normally.
(Note: This can be adjusted by setting the Priority of the animation. See the SL Wiki for more details)
The avatar's hips are the most important part of any frame. The hips determine the avatar's position relative to her position at the start of the animation.
All of the avatar's other body parts are positioned relative to the hips. So the hips are truly the most important body part on the avatar!
If you move the hips, the avatar's position will change. For example, if you move the avatar's hips up 1M, the entire avatar will be shifted up by 1M. This will look like the avatar just jumped up into the air!
Moving the hips are essential for animations that move around, like walking or dancing.
If you do not move the hips, the avatar's position will not change relative to her position at the start of the animation. For this part of the tutorial, we will only move the hips a little bit (to stop the avatar from shifting around).
Downloading and Installing QAvimator
QAvimator is a program specifically designed to create poses and animations for Second Life. The best part is that its free :)
You can download the latest version at www.QAvimator.org. The QAvimator site does warn that the project is in early alpha stage and may or may not work on your system...
Download and install the proper version of QAvimator on your computer. For this tutorial, I am using the April 19, 2007 version of QAvimator.
Once you start the program, you are all set to create animations for Second Life :)
QAvimator is pretty easy to use (this is coming from a blonde mermaid ;P). There are only a couple things you need to know for this tutorial: How to adjust a body part, and how to change the camera view (so you can see better).
Lets play around with QAvimator first to get used to the basics...
QAvimator lets you move your avatar around just like an intricate doll. You can move each body part individually in the X, Y, and Z directions.
To move a body part, first click on it to select it (like the upper right arm in the picture).
You can then move the body part by moving the slider control on the right, or typing in a number.
If you are wondering what X, Y, and Z stands for...well, I dont know. I just move them until the body part goes the right way. Thats probably easier than trying to figure them out :P
Thats it! Thats all you do to create a pose in QAvimator: select each body part, and move the X/Y/Z until it looks right. Easy, isnt it? :)
You can also change the camera view so you can get a better look at different parts of the avatar.
The controls work sorta like SL...
To zoom in or out, press and hold the [Alt] key. Then click and hold on an area outside of the avatar. Now move the mouse forward to zoom in. Pull the mouse back to zoom out. You can also move the mouse to the left and right. This works almost like the Alt camera in SL.
To rotate, press and hold the [Ctrl] key. Click and hold on an area outside of the avatar. Now you can rotate your view by moving the mouse around.
To pan your view, press and hold the [Shift] key. Click and hold on an area outside of the avatar. Now you can pan your view by moving the mouse around.
If your camera gets like totally messed up, just press the "Reset camera view to default position" button :)
You are now a QAvimator expert ;P
So lets make a pose!
Creating a Pose
We are going to create a simple pose that positions both hands in front to hold an object, like a candle.
(Im so going to get on Santa's "Good" List this year! ;P)
Lets start with a new screen!
Click on "File" from the top menu bar and select "New".
Make sure that the "Figure" setting is set to "female" (the X, Y, Z values I provide below would be different for a "male" avatar).
Change the number of frames from 30 to 2 at the bottom of the window. It should read "Frame 2 of 2" when you are done.
Click on the avatar's "Hips".
Go to the "Position" setting on the right side of the window. Change the "X Position" to 0.1.
This small change will freeze the avatar's hips, and will stop her from shifting thru the "normal" stand poses.
Click on the avatar's Left Collar (or "lCollar"). This is the small area between the avatar's upper arm and neck.
Change the "Y Rotation" to "-25".
Change the "Z Rotation to "-23".
Click on the avatar's Left Upper Arm (or "lShldr"). Change the settings as follows:
X Rotation: -12
Y Rotation: -29
Z Rotation: -33
Click on the avatar's Left Forearm (or "lForeArm"). Change the settings as follows:
X Rotation: 8
Y Rotation: -87
Z Rotation: 2
Click on the avatar's Left Hand (or "lHand"). Change the settings as follows:
X Rotation: -20
Y Rotation: 0
Z Rotation: 0
Now do the same thing on the avatar's right side, starting with the avatar's Right Collar (or "rCollar") and working down to the Right Hand (or "rHand"). Here are the settings:
rCollar X:0 Y:20 Z:16
rShldr X:7 Y:29 Z:47
rForeArm X:-8 Y:92 Z:3
rHand X:-5 Y:-4 Z:-23
Finally, we need to move the thighs and shins slightly to keep them from shifting around.
Click on the Left Thigh (or "lThigh"). Change the "X Rotation" to "-1".
Click on the Left Shin (or "lShin"). Change the "X Rotation" to "-1".
Repeat the same thing with the Right Thigh and Right Shin:
Thats it! Our pose is now ready to be saved and uploaded to SL :)
Click on "File" from the top menu bar. Select the "Save As..." option.
At the "Save Animation File" window, type in "Hold Candle Pose.bvh" in the File name box. Note that you HAVE to type in the ".bvh" part of the name!
Upload and Testing the Pose
Now comes the fun part! We get the try out our new pose :)
Go into Second Life.
Select the "File" option from the SL top menu bar. Select the "Upload Animation (L$10)..." option (bet you never thought you would use this ;P).
At the Preview window, change the "Priority" to 4. This gives your pose the highest priority over other animations (from normal avatar movements to other AO's you are wearing).
Click on the "Loop" checkbox (because we want to play our pose indefinitely).
Change the "Hand Pose" to "Fist". This will turn our hands into fists most of the time (the hands will still occasionally open...theres no way to control that in SL).
Finally, press the "Play" button to see a preview of the pose.
If everything looks good, click on the "Upload (L$10)" button to upload the animation! (Note: this will cost L$10!)
Now, just look for the "Hold Candle Pose" animation in your Animation folder. Right-click on it and select "Play in World" :)
You can hold an object by attaching it to one of your hands (like a candle or a flower).
Congratulations! You are now an animator :)
Creating good poses require some fine tuning. So you will often have to upload a pose, make some small changes, and upload again until it looks right. For example, for this tutorial, it took me 5 uploads to get the hand positions correct :)
So dont be shy about uploading to SL. If you dont want to pay the L$10 upload fee, a couple residents have suggested the Beta Grid. I havent tried this method, but it sounds like it would work. You can download the Beta Grid SL Program here.
Good luck and have fun making those poses!
Now, where can I find a Christmas tree to stand on? ;P
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