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An Interview with Puppeteer’s Todd Borst

November 12, 2007

profilepic.jpgBy Osprey Therian
For those who don’t know, Puppeteer is a system to produce animated prims, and Todd Borst, the creator, is just about to roll out version 4.0. As well as the commercial usage Puppeteer there’s a free personal use version – hie thee to slurl-12x16.gifXDFusion and try it out if you haven’t already. Todd’s instructions are clear and easy to follow, and the new 4.0 wizard makes after-the-fact settings changes a snap.

Since Doc pointed it out to me ages ago (shrugs and makes an “I don’t know exactly when” face) I’ve used the Puppeteer to make robots and theatre curtains, mostly. What – you don’t see the connection there? That may be because there is no connection – and that illustrates the versatility of the product. There’s a gallery of customer-created Puppeteer objects at XDFusion – as always it’s fun to take a look at what people are up to.

I asked Todd a few questions recently.

What made you make the Puppeteer?
I made Puppeteer out of need. When I was trying to create a Kung Fu Monkey, it finally hits me how hard it was to script prim animations by hand. It took me two days to just make his hand wiggle the right way. After that, I was pretty determined to find an easier way to animate prims.

How long have you been working on it?
On and off, for about a year. I took quite a long break from second life and have just recently gotten back into it. Making something that works is the easy part. Making something that works well and is easy to use, is the goal that I’m constantly striving towards.

What are some of the possible uses for it?
The first and most obvious use is to use it to animate a creature or machine, but there are definitely less common uses that are often overlooked. Other possible uses include:
-Dynamic buildings, furnitures, doors, curtains
-Ambient movement for prim avatars
-Transformable vehicles
-HUD movements
-Water movement such as filling of a pool
-Moving light sources

People often overlook that Puppeteer can animate scale/size changes as well as rotation and position.

Do you have favorite things customers have made with the Puppeteer?
All of the user submissions have pleasantly surprised me one way or another. Lately, some creative use of sculpties and Puppeteer has created some fairly believable prim avatars. My favorite ones has always been ones that made me laugh.

Is there any downside (in sim performance) to animated prims?
It would really depend on the object being animated. If you are trying to animate hundreds of prims at a very fast speed, of course there will be some performance hit. I do not own a full sim myself so I cannot speak to the exact amount of lag it generates, but other people have been telling me that they are amazed at how little lag it actually
generates. Resource use is an issue that I consciously try to address and since the beginning have made every effort to optimize.

What new functions are included in this update?
One major update for version 4.0 of Puppeteer is the Playback wizard. The goal is to make it easier for the user to customize the animation’s playback. Whether the creator wants the animation to play in random order, or to trigger by chat, or loop non-stop, or any crazy combination, they should be able to do it without scripting through the new wizard.

Other features include an update checker so future Puppeteer updates can be delivered automatically for free. I’m just starting a new group called “Puppeteer – Prim Animators”. Everyone is welcome to join. This is where I will post updates, announce Puppeteer classes, and even hand out freebies created with Puppeteer.

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One comment

  1. […] presentation when you’re not so comfortable or facile with scripting or other methods like Puppeteer or Holodecks. So, it’s a lot more involved and time-consuming which is where (for me) the […]



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