Sansar Meetups Are A Valuable Experience

Sansar Meetup Group Pic Pro

Inara Pey has an excellent blog post regarding a couple of meetings between Bjorn Linden (Bjorn Laurin, Linden Lab’s Vice President of Product), Widely Linden (head of Product for Sansar), Pete Linden (aka Peter Gray, aka Gray of the Lab from San Fan Francisco, Linden Lab’s Director of Global Communications),  Xiola Linden (Second Life Community Team Manager) and users of Second Life and Sansar.

The post is really important in terms of where Sansar is at this point in its development, where it’s going, why it’s called creator beta at the moment, why Linden Lab built their own engine and much more, it’s a really good read.

Meanwhile I’ve been attending meetups in Sansar, taking no notes, but making observations and I’ve found these meetups very beneficial in terms of enjoying Sansar and getting an idea about what I might like to do with Sansar.

Sansar Jenn Speaks

The meetups are largely voice based but conversations do take place in text too. This helps people find the text chat module and interact with each other, add friends, look at the features available and share knowledge of the platform.

I’ve recently reported how impressed I was with the mouth movements inside Sansar when avatars talk due to the integration of Speech Graphics technology within Sansar. Inara’s post touches upon this in a couple of important areas, firstly in terms of how detailed the Sansar avatar is :

The Sansar avatars are actually extremely, extremely advanced. I would actually go so far [as to say] they are among the most advanced avatars there is today, on any platform. Just the female avatar in Sansar has over 125 bones in the face, to make it work as we want it, to make it look realistic. That’s more than actually humans have.

I want you to build your own avatars. for now that technology we put in is so new, no-one else is using it, we’ll be able to use it for a long time, to make it look realistic, and that’s part of it. When they talk normally it’s going to look better as well, it’s going to look better, in any language, it doesn’t matter. It may Chinese, could be English, could be Swedish, could be Portuguese, Spanish. It’s going to look good. We’ve spent a lot of time on that, and I’m super excited about these small things that make it immersive, that make us want to spend more time in there.

I certainly agree on the point regarding this being a small point that makes Sansar immersive because I found this small detail to be extremely engaging but there’s an added side of this too when it comes not just to people using avatars, but also in terms of NPC’s, inclusiveness :

So you can imagine scenarios whereby you have an NPC [non-player character] that has a whole dialogue embedded within it that the user’s interacting with, and you’re not only getting a reasonably synthesised voice, but you also have the facial animations that go with it automatically – and they look convincing. So you have facial animation that’s at a quality that a lip reader probably could get information from it. And that’s something that we have right now in Sansar that is not available in other platforms; not just yet, anyhow.

The reason that this came to my attention though was because I was at a meetup in Sansar and noticed this technology at work due to interactions with other avatars.

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Getting Social In Sansar With The Aid Of Speech Graphics

Ryan Schultz in VR

Last night I attended a Sansar meetup and a few things caught my attention. Obviously you can do social in Sansar, you don’t need a VR headset to get involved in a conversation, indeed with the text chat app you don’t need a headset of any sort, although the conversation was largely in voice and a voice headset definitely helps.

Some of the avatars moved, their arms would move when they spoke and I know at least one such avatar was wearing a VR headset but what took me more by surprise was the mouth movements and facial expressions of some of the avatars. At first I thought this was a feature of a VR headset but then one of the avatars mentioned that she was looking forward to getting a VR headset, but didn’t yet have one.

Now the facial expressions and mouth movement of this avatar had most caught my attention because at one time I’d convinced myself I could lip read her words.

A tweet later from Stanford VR explained to me what was likely to have been happening, Speech Graphics voice driven facial animations are apparently at work in Sansar, and if that’s true, they work bloody well.

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