Trouble Shooting

Now lets recap a bit. Until now we have taken the Skeleton structure as granted (well, this is dictated by the capabilities of the SL virtual world). We have not yet given much attention to the animations. We just created something like a basic walk cycle to test our mesh. We have taken the Mesh Topology as a given thing as well (at least for the most part of this tutorial). And all we have done by now is:

We added weights to the mesh until it works as expected without thinking much about why things are as they are.

So it is time to understand what we are doing here and why we do it.

The 4 aspects of animation

While we where stepping over this tutorial, we have actually met 4 areas which take part in our animation:
  1. The Skeleton structure (The hierarchical structure of the bones).
  2. The Skeleton Animation (How the Bones are moving).
  3. The Mesh topology (How we organize the mesh in faces).
  4. The Mesh weighting (How the mesh deforms with bone movement).

These aspects are interdependent, So you must account for all of them if you want the best results. But …

  1. As indicated above, the skeleton structure (topology) can not be changed. We can not add our own bones or rearrange the skeletal hierarchy to optimize our models and attachments.
  2. The animations are often given as well (users typically buy their animations from various sources for various purposes). And the mesh attachment maker often has no idea what the users actually do with the weighted attachment.

So all we can do is to optimize the mesh topology and optimize the weights. And here are a few tips how you can do this in a meaningful way:

  • Get the topology to work for you
  • Keep the weighting simple and clean
  • Use reasonable limits
  • Test with the SL default animations
  • Improve by experience

At the end …

You have chosen a very demanding hobby. So keep patient and give yourself enough time to become moe experienced over time. And when you just can’t get it right, do not give up, but start over again or step back to a simpler project first. It is as simple as that: Don’t give up.