To Mesh or Not to Mesh?

It's a jigsaw puzzle, right?
Isn’t mesh great?!! ;-P

After another weekend filled with dance shows and people complaining about floating heads, I thought I would take a few minutes and share some thoughts and suggestions.

SL is a very technical, tricky, and many times just downright frustrating place. We keep coming back because we love the magic and wonder of it.

The advent of mesh was/is seen by most as a huge improvement to SL.  You can get more detailed items for less LI (usually) than you can with good ‘ol prims.  Your clothing moves with your avatar in a more natural way (usually).  And it makes everything prettier (usually).

But that darn ‘usually’ sometimes sneaks out for a quick smoke break and screws up our viewing royally when it’s gone.  😛

These days when you go to a dance show, you probably see more mesh items than not – mesh bodies, heads, hands, feet, clothes, props, etc. Which is fantastic – until you can’t see them.

I have a pretty good computer rig and a great internet connection.  And I still sometimes have problems with mesh.  Just this weekend, I had 8 avatars, all dressed in the same outfit.  I saw all 8 avatars (not mesh), but 3 were missing jackets (mesh).  Why?  Beats me.

I wasn’t somewhere super crowded or very laggy.  All 8 avatars were wearing identical costumes, as I said. So clearly the textures for the costumes were loading/loaded, because I saw 5 of them completely.  What happened to the other 3? No idea.

I’m sure there’s a technical explanation as to why this occurs.  However, it wasn’t a huge deal to me – I knew they were dressed identically, so I just shrugged and went on.

When you are attending a dance performance, however, and all of the dancers are wearing mesh bodies and appear only as dancing heads, it can be all sorts of frustrating.

Some dancers don’t care whether the audience has issues and will continue to wear their mesh bodies.  Some will shrug it off, saying that people should upgrade their computers.  Some will think, well, I can see it, so if they can’t, it must be their issue.  Nothing wrong with that – SL is a place for you to do whatever you want, so if they don’t care, they don’t care.

Some dancers, however, will be heartbroken that the dance they spent hours creating is effectively ruined for some audience members because they appear as floating heads.  Other dancers fall somewhere in the middle.

Whatever your stance on wearing mesh bodies to dance, you have options.

Option 1 is to not wear a mesh body.  The system avatars have gotten a bad rap, and I admit, I prefer a mesh body.  However, if my choice is to see a dancing head or a system body, 100% of the time, I will choose a system body. The purpose of a dance is to express something using your body.  If I can’t see your body, I’m not getting anything out of your dance.

Option 2 is to wear a mesh body.  I confess, I have worn a mesh body to dance on many occasions.  However, sometimes things just don’t work out the way I want, and I will use my system avatar for some dances.  (Appliers aren’t always available for some costumes, and sometimes using those appliers with a mesh body can be a hassle because of the inherent alpha conflicts when using multiple layers.)

As a dancer, you should already be doing things to avoid lag – lowering your draw distance, de-scripting everything you can, including set pieces and costume pieces, turning off/de-rendering unnecessary things like sky, terrain, etc. if you can.  Don’t neglect to do these things with your mesh body.

I don’t know about all mesh bodies, but mine is copiable.  So I will make a copy (or sometimes copies) for a dance, set my appliers as I need them, and then delete all the scripts out of them.

If you are a venue owner, you should consider putting a policy in place regarding mesh bodies.  Are you going to allow them or not?  If you allow them, you should consider capping your show attendance.  The more avatars on a sim, the more lag – especially when many/most of the audience may be wearing mesh bodies themselves.  Help your dancers put on the best show they can by helping to limit the lag.

WTHI’ve heard a lot of complaints recently about people seeing floating heads.  It’s a real turn-off for the audience and unhappy customers are usually the most vocal.

Mesh is fantastic, I love it, but learn to use it wisely when you dance. 😀

12 thoughts on “To Mesh or Not to Mesh?

  1. For a longtime it was the bald, handless footless dancers, but at least you could see the dance. The bald dancing heads are a complete waste of time since the dance is lost completely.

    Normally rebaking right before a dance solved most problems in the past but with mesh bodies and hands and feet it doesn’t seem to work as well. I have heard that detaching and reattaching mesh bodies and hands and feet just before can help. In fact yesterday as a back up dancer we were all asked to detach and reattach our hands and feet since the captain had crashed and could not see them. We got hit by a lag spot and it took forever for them to reattach so that was a bit hair raising for us, but we managed just in time.

    1. Oh, yes, I’ve also heard that if you attach your mesh body to your avatar center (rather than the default right hand that every piece of mesh seems to use), it helps to avoid rez failures. Thanks for reminding me of that! I agree, a floating head isn’t doing much to convey the concept of a dance. Certainly keeps things interesting, that’s for sure!!

      1. Yes Diawa Bellic gave us all that helpful hint about attaching the body to the avatar centre. I’ve only danced a few times using a mesh body and as a back up dancer. One captain I know insists her back up dancers wear a mesh body, so her decision and her dance.

        1. Everyone has their preferences – as I said, I’ve worn mesh to dance and not had any issues (that I’m aware of, anyway). I don’t think I would insist that other dancers wear mesh, many don’t have mesh, don’t want it or can’t afford it. But – their decision, their dance, as you say. 🙂

  2. All it takes is one person to go into a sim and they can lag the entire sim out, if they have a slow connection or bad scripts. Venue owners can help with lag by making items phantom, such as table, chairs etc. Dancers could take a page out of the modeling book and derender all avis that are not necessary for them to see and/or interact with.

    1. I usually derender the audience, whether I’m dancing or taking photos. I used to see script limits at shows, but that seems to have fallen by wayside. :/

  3. I am still chicken…I admit it (bock, bock, bock) I have a very reliable set up and hardly ever have issues, but on a sim at the limit, I will lose some of the mesh if everyone in the set and all the costumes are mesh, like you did Kat. Or I get weird grey hair…I know that every now and then when I”m doing a review, the photographers have had to doctor the living daylights out of pictures…adding back in feet and hands or costumes and sometimes we lose a dancer entirely. It stinks 😦 All that time, effort and money for no one to see. I do use mesh character avatars like my sheep and for some reason, likely their simplicity and total lack of scripts, I never lose those. I for one want everyone to see the dance, so for now y’all are just going to have to deal with my bony elbows and knees 🙂

    1. If bony elbows and knees are the sacrifice I have to make in order to actually see a dance, it’s made gladly! 😛 It’s hard to know exactly what causes the issues, but (IMHO) if you let dancers wear mesh bods and you have capacity crowds, you’re just asking for rez failures. 😦 I’d rather wait and have the show repeated and get to see it all, than miss half of it because it doesn’t rezz!

  4. I’d really rather see the dancers, so I can appreciate the show! It’s the same on the runways, though, and sometimes they ban mesh bodies and heads and we’re off t0 the dark ages lol

      1. Yes, it’s sometimes done because of the tremendous lag experienced when there’s a large audience on the same sim as the models – then models wear the standard sized mesh clothing and maybe mesh hands and feet only. There are solutions to this – put the models on one sim and the audience on the edge of an adjoining sim. It all depends on how the organisers want to run the show/event and, I suppose, how much money they are spending.

        1. Ah, much the same solutions have been used with large dance shows. And while lag sucks, it’s good to know that that we are not alone. 😛

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