If you keep up on Second Life chatter you’ve the term Bento tossed around for months now. But what is it exactly? Why is everybody so eager to see it in motion? And most importantly, why should you care?
No, it’s not the food packing craze! Project Bento is Linden Lab’s update to the avatar skeleton in Second Life. It adds new joints, bones, and attachment points so creators have more options when designing content. This allows for smoother movement and greater customization of wings, hands, and faces. Creators have much more freedom using bento, though it’s also a more complex process. Thankfully as a consumer the most difficult part is selecting which product to purchase. A bento enabled viewer is required in order to see it in action. The latest Second Life and Firestorm viewers work nicely.
The most popular bento products right now seem to be Mesh Heads. Catwa’s Catya and Lelutka’s Simone 2.0 are the most popular heads, though at the time of this post there are also heads available from Genesis Lab, GA.EG, and Absolut Creation.
Bento allows Mesh facial customization by the customer like no other. You can purchase a bento head and adjust it yourself via sliders to get your own unique style. This allows for different personalities with simply one head. Once you start mix and matching skins and make up the possibilities are seemingly endless!
Bento has added 30 more bones to the face. More bones means more precision in facial animations. Animations in Second Life have always been improving upon themselves. With such a noticeable change in the facial structure we’ll notice a lot more realism in our faces. Catwa has created custom bubblegum animations for the Catya head that are a joy to watch, and that’s just the beginning. I can’t wait to see what products we’ll have in a year’s time.
The first bento mesh hands available were made by VISTA ANIMATIONS. Tonic released theirs soon after. Slink released their highly anticipated Slink Dynamic Hands just a few months later. Maitreya has confirmed via their VIP group that bento hands are being worked on.
We’re finally able to independently move our fingers thanks to bento. Peace signs, flipping the bird, playing with our nails, it’s all possible now. VISTA ANIMATIONS created their bento hands to get a head start on creating animations that utilize the new technology. Their Miriam Bento AO is a wonderful example of day to day hand movements. The fluidity of the hands makes the entire body’s movement feel more natural. If you’re unsure which hands are right for you check out my bento vs standard mesh hands article.
The more I play with bento products the more I fall in love. I encourage you to grab some demos and let me know what you think of it in the comments. Once I tinker a bit more expect pictures, videos, and maybe even a shape or two.
Updated to reflect Vista Animations no longer being the only bento hands on the market.
Added link to bento vs standard mesh hands article.
Updated to reflect Slink’s bento hand release.