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Collada Avastar

Export as Collada

The Collada exporter exports your Mesh character or mesh attachment to a form that is recognizable by the target System (SL, OpenSim or any compatible online world). You find the Mesh Exporter in the Blender Export menu.

The Exporter opens with a file selection window where you can select the file to where you want to export, or you can type in a new filename.

Note: If you prefer to see the Collada exporter in the Tool Shelf, then you can customize the Avastar Add-on Preferences.

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The Export option Panel

Hint: You usually can keep the default settings and just click on the “Collada(Avastar)(.dae)” button in the upper right corner of the Window (see zoom icon in this chapter title).

A File Selector will pop up. Here you can navigate to your export directory and then export your file as a Collada file (using the file extension “.dae”)

The Export option Sub-panels

The Exporter provides a couple of export options for special cases. Please use these options with care.

Modifiers

By default Avastar applies all mesh changing Modifiers except the Armature Modifiers to the exported meshes. However, some modifiers offer 2 sets of options, one option set is for rendering, the other option set is for the Viewport. We offer 3 options here:

modifier_export
  • Apply according to the View Settings (the 3D Preview settings)
  • Apply according to the Render Settings (the settings for Blender’s own Renderer)
  • Don’t apply modifiers and only export the base mesh

The exporter by default applies the View settings. These settings are very closely related to the Blender Render System. In most cases you can actually just use the defaults. We will get back to this when we talk about how to use (or not use) Modifiers.

Side note: The Armature Modifier

Armature Modifiers define the relation between your meshes and your Skeleton (Armature). Avastar never applies the Armature Modifiers when exporting because the mesh would be transformed to static non rigged Meshes. This is almost never what you want.

For the curious: You find the Armature modifier in the Modifier Stack (see image). Remind: Armature modifiers are always defined in the mesh modifier stack. Armatures them self have no Armature modifier.

We will get to armature Modifiers in the “Create an Attachment” tutorial.

modifiers

Hint: You want to display the modifier in edit mode and adjust edit cage to modifier result

Textures export (advanced)

You can export images along with your models. In that case Avastar stores the images as files on your disk and adds a reference to the Collada file. The SL Importer knows how to read and import these images for static meshes.
Note: But for rigged meshes the images are not recognized.
texture_export
  • UV Textures & Material Textures: Blender supports Material based textures and UV textures (which are directly assigned to polygons). Normally you want to export only the UV textures. In rare cases it is more desirable to export the material based textures instead. But beware, Blender does not export the render results, but only the source images!
  • Image Type: The image format is typically predefined in the Blender Render settings. However we found it convenient to offer an immediate setting in the Exporter. By default the exporter applies the image type only to generated images.
  • Use ‘Image format’ for all images: If you set this option, then Blender will use the selected image format for all exported images. If you disable the option, then only the generated images are affected.
  • Use RGBA: Blender can export the Alpha channel for images. Normally you set this in the render settings where you can specify to use either RGB or RGBA for image exports. If the selected export format supports Alpha then enabling RGBA here will export images with Alpha channel even if the render settings are set to RGB and vice versa.

Hint: You may want to NOT use RGBA because of the Alpha glitch. However this is not a general advice. There are many situations where using Alpha images is even recommended (when you want to create an Alpha mask).

Hint: If the format of the exported image(es) does not support an Alpha channel then the “Use RGBA” option is simply ignored.

Advanced options

The Advanced Options are related to some special issues. You should normally keep the options set as they are. This ensures your exports are well suited for SL. However in some situations you will have to get back here and set the options according to the descriptions below:

use bind pose

Apply Armature Scale: If you have scaled your Armature in Object Mode for making a tiny or a giant you should not apply the scale to the armature because then the entire Avastar Animation system may no longer work. But the Object Scale must be applied when you export the mesh.
Otherwise the target online world does not recognize the scaling and the giant shrinks back (or the tiny grows back) to normal size. The apply Armature Scale option ensures that the Object scale is applied in the exported Armature.
Apply Rotation & Scale: If you have Scaled or rotated your Objects in Object Mode then this Scale&Rotation should be applied to all objects of an export to avoid unexpected scaling and rotation issues within the target system. However this is all so often simply forgotten and sometimes even unknown.
Hence we have added an automatic apply Rotation&Scale to the exporter. This setting does not affect the original objects.
Weld Edge Normals: When two separate objects share a boundary line, then you typically see a boundary seam in the object texture. This happens because the vertex normals differ even if the adjacent objects share the same vertex locations.
The exporter recalculates the vertex normals at the adjacent boundaries of the selected objects.
Weld to all visible: Sometimes you want to only export one part but still want the vertex normals be fixed.
This option lets the exporter take all visible objects into account when calculating the vertex normals at object boundaries.

Bone Filters

Export with Joints: When you have edited the Armature to adjust the Rig to your special character (Alien, creature, pet…) then you normally want to keep your edited Armature when you export your Meshes.

Hint: You want this option disabled only when your rig is so complex that Avastar can not calculate the Neutral Rig for your situation. In that case please set the sliders to SL Neutral and never touch the sliders again.

Disabled: Export the Rig visually as it is. Note: You must make sure that the Appearance Sliders are reset to the SL Neutral Shape (White Stickman Icon). Otherwise Avastar rejects the exports.

Enabled: Calculate the neutral skeleton from the current rig settings (temporary set Sliders to Neutral SL Settings) but apply the current Slider settings as bind pose. Pleased refer to the Bond Pose document for further explanations.

Only Weighted Bones: Avastar can export all deform bones of the Rig. However in most cases it is enough to only export the deform Bones which are actually used (weighted to meshes)

Hint: You want to enable this option in most cases.

Disabled: Export all deform Bones unconditionally
Enabled: Export only those bones which are actually used (have weights for meshes)

Only Deform Bones: Avastar has many control bones (mainly for IK-animation, targetless Animation and attachment points) Avastar can export all Bones of the rig, or only the Deform bones

Hint: You want to enable this option in most cases.

Disabled: Export all Bones in the Rig unconditionally
Enabled: Export only deform Bones

Include Parent Hierarchy: Ensures that all parent bones of exported bones are also exported, even if they have no weights defined.

Details: When you enable the above bone filters then it can happen that not all bones of a Bone chain are exported. This becomes a problem when one or more of the not exported bones have Joint edits defined. Those definitions would then get lost during export.

Hint: You want to enable this option in most cases.

Disabled: Do nothing
Enabled: Take care that all parent bones of exported Bones are also exported.

Export Bone Roll: Export Bone Roll using the Blender Collada Scheme.

Hint: This is only useful when you want to later import back the Dae file to Blender.

Disabled: Do nothing
Enabled: Export the Bone roll according to Blender’s Collada Scheme

Export Bone layers: Export Bone Layer Data using the Blender Collada Scheme.

Hint: This is only useful when you want to later import back the Dae file to Blender.

Disabled: Do nothing
Enabled: Export the Bone Layer data according to Blender’s Collada Scheme

Export with Blender Profile: Use Blender Collada scheme for exporting Blender specific Information

Hint: This is only useful when you want to later import back the Dae file to Blender.

Disabled: Do nothing
Enabled: Export Extended Options according to Blender’s Collada Scheme (XXX: to be clarified)

Export with SL Rotation: When you export an Avastar Rig then it must be rotated according to the SL Standards (so that the character looks into the positive X direction).

Hint: You want to enable this option when you export to Second Life or similar worlds.

Disabled: Do nothing
Enabled: Rotate the Rig by 90 degrees to make it compatible to the SL specifications

Accept Attachment Weights: SL does not allow weighting of attachment points. Hence we suppress the export of weights for attachment points by default.

This option should indeed never be used for SL! Handle with Care. It is very likely that the SL importer rejects meshes with attachment point weighting at some time in the future.

 

Sanity Checks: Perform tests on the Mesh (tricount, texture face counts, etc…)

Hint: You want to enable this option in most cases.

 

 

Unsupported Options

 Avastar also provides some advanced export options. However those options are not shown by default as they are only rarely used.

You enable these options in the Avastar Add-on Panel (where you initially enabled the Add-on after you installed it):

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Tick the advanced export options to get the buttons in the UI

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Advanced Export Panel with unsupported options enabled

Limit Weight Count: In SL the number of weights per vertex is strictly limited to 4. We believe this number is enough for all weighting tasks. In cases where you think this limit is too low, we always found the real problem was due to bad mesh topology and bad rigging.

Setting this number affects the maximum number of weights which are exported by Avastar. We strongly recommend to keep this number set to 4.

Include Deformer Shape: Some virtual worlds support the Mesh deformer which was originally developed for usage in Second Life.
When you enable this option, then the exporter creates an extra xml file. This XML file is later used by the SL Importer as reference shape (the Importer must support Deformer shapes, currently used with OpenSim)

Trouble shooting guide

My mesh looks OK in SL but it does not fit.

This can happen when you use Appearance Sliders together with a Mesh that uses Collision Volume Weighting (Fitted mesh). In this case you must export your work in the Secondlife Restpose.

  • Klick on the white stickman icon to reset your pose to the SL Restpose (no worries, Avastar preserves your edited joints)
  • Make sure that you export the mesh with the male gender disabled (yes! that is important)