Avatar FAQ
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"Action? Adventure? A World Builder seeks not these things."
  "Your first task, young World Builder, is to craft an avatar..."   

How do I make a cool custom avatar like yours?


I have heard that question more than once, and I've answered it more than once...so that makes it a Frequently Answered Question and that means I can save some breath if I make a FAQ.

  1. You must have a web site on which to store your own custom avatar; it has got to live on the Internet. If your Internet Service Provider (ISP) does not provide you with disk space, then you can try http://www.geocities.com or http://www.tripod.com and get 10 megabytes of space for FREE.

  2. There are many other sources of pre-built avatars if you just Sorry, you need a VRML plugin to see this. Go to http://www.blaxxun.com to get one free! want to use something someone else has made. You can see many that I have built on my avatar preview page.

  3. Blaxxun Interactive has a tool in their Avatar Den that will allow you to make your own variations on a humanoid animation compliant avatar. They also have a program called Avatar Studio that is cheap ($20US) and makes avatars that work well with their software.

  4. If you want something more original than what you can get from the Avatar Den, then try the Avatar wizard in the Flux Studio software package. It has wizards that work well with blaxxun's software. Many of my avatars are public domain models which I animated with Flux Studio.

  5. If you are still reading this then you have the tenacity it takes to make your very own Avatar. Let's start with something simple first. You can get fancy later. Here is all the code you need for a very simple avatar. Cut and Paste the following code into a text editor such as notepad, and save it as something like myavatar.wrl (the .wrl file type is important). Sorry, you need a VRML plugin.

  6. #VRML V2.0 utf8
    Transform {
      children [
           Shape {
    	 appearance Appearance {
    	 texture ImageTexture { url "newfacet.gif" }
    ### insert your picture or texture in the above URL ###
    			geometry Sphere { radius 1.0 }


  7. See an VRML example of myface97.wrl. Here is how this looks like as plain text: myface97.txt. If you right click on "myface97.wrl", then do a save target as... you can easily capture this world on your computer. Alternatively, you can cut and paste the text files. The TXT and the WRL files are identical except for the file types! You might be able to see that we are making a shape (a sphere), and draping or wrapping a texture (a picture) around it.

    As a footnote: The picture is distorted as it is wrapped around the ball so I have made the edges of my GIF transparent so that this gathering around the edges is not too noticeable (so as to minimize spherical distortion). This can be avoided altogether if you use a box instead by substituting

    geometry Box { 1 1 1 }

    in place of the

        Sphere { radius 1.0 }
  8. But I want fancy animation!!! OK so you do...it is, of course, slightly more complicated. There are 3 files involved instead of two!
    [These files came from http://www.blaxxun.com/support/developerguide/developer/avatars/avatar.html well, except for my face.]

    My picture newfacet.gif (this is the texture).

    The gestures gestures.wrl or gestures.txt. (you can NOT "see" gestures.wrl, these are interpolators.)

    The avatar file avatar_cc.wrl or avatar_cc.txt. (this file is the sphere and it fetches gestures and texture.)

    Instead of a sphere, you could use a Billboard node as in the treeAvatar.wrl or see treeAvatar.txt

    The avatar file "calls" the gestures file, and includes the picture as a texture. There are two approaches to gestures; one is to have a fully articulated humanoid style skeleton and the other is to simply bounce around the whole avatar. The second method is a lot easier and very effective. NOTE: These gestures interact with Blaxxun's server software, so these avatars will not "dance" for you when you are off-line.

  9. But I want to edit the gestures; how do I do that? This is getting more complicated and it is best attempted with tools. There is a FREE product by Sony called Community Place Conductor that I have successfully used to modify Blaxxun's default gestures (search the web for it). There are other tools that allow animation editing. CosmoWorlds by SGI is a powerful but expensive building/modeling/animating tool. Make the ball bounce or spin on command! Flux Studio has a Cybertown Avatar wizard that is relatively easy to use. Sorry, you need a VRML plugin.

  10. But I want a real human looking avatar that walks talks and breaths! Yea, sure you do. You've got to think about the human joint model and other weighty issues. Fortunately, there is already a group of bright people working on the issues involved. There are other bright people that have made avatar authoring programs. And there is a very good starting place written by Peter Graf of Blaxxun and it works very well with their 3D server software (i.e. Cybertown). They even have a perl tool that allows you to make your own creation.

  11. OK, but what did you make with all this knowledge? I used Flux Studio revolution tool to make geometry which I cut and pasted into Blaxxun's Avatar/Animation/Arena code. It is unique, if not beautiful.  At a later date this avatar arena and gesture triggers were added to Flux Studio at my request. Using Flux Studio, I can now do in minutes what once took me a day to do by hand.
    Sorry, you need a VRML plugin.

  12. The first Avatar that I fully animated....The VRML Juggler! 
    I animated a pre-existing avatar geometry (that I got with VRCreator) in Flux Studio. Click the bars on the right to see the gestures. The 2 in 1 hand move was the hardest to program. The Cybertown avatar wizard in Flux Studio made this all possible.

Last, but certainly not least, is Hermetic_Cabs annotated avatar tutorials (gesti).

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