Have Avatar Will Travel

Dateline: 10/27/99

Avatar Studio
Images courtesy blaxxun

The release of blaxxun's Avatar Studio brings easy to use avatar creation to the masses. Actually Avatar Studio was codeveloped by CANAL+, Le Comptoir des Planetes, and blaxxun. The tool offers users a fun way of creating the body you wish you had.

The VRML avatars you save with this tool can be used as your new identity in blaxxun's various communities (of course). You can download a fully functional version from blaxxun's web site. Well almost fully functional, you can't save the avatars until you get the paid version for $24.99.

When starting the tool you choose if you want to design a male or female. Next you go through any sequence of accessories, such as shoes, lingerie, business or casual clothes and so on. Avatar Studio

The overall experience of using the tool is somewhat disappointing. It's a lot of fun to manipulate the shape and type of bodies but the overall performance and user interface is slow and awkward. One thing in particular that annoys me is the cursor. This is a 3D application but for some reason the designers implemented the cursor itself as a 3D cursor. The performance moving the cursor around and selecting the control objects is simply too sluggish and for no good reason. It's not as if the 3D cursor is used for 3D selections and it detracts from the experience. The overall interface is a tad confusing and selections sometime result in unexpected choices but a little practice cures most of those problems. Avatar Studio

On the positive side there is a very robust and entertaining collection of accessories and manipulations possible for the avatars. Not only can you create hundreds of variations on the shape of the avatar bodies be created but there is an equally large number of clothing and accessories to adorn the body. You can even pay careful attention and manipulate a variety of facial expressions and pick from several hairstyles. Avatar Studio face manipulation

One of the most amusing aspects of the tool are the clothes themselves. The French influence here is fairly obvious with the scantily clad female lingerie. In addition the interface allows you to simply click on the clothes on the avatar to remove the piece of clothing. Although for some reason one could not produce a completely naked avatar...I suspect this may be for an Americanized version of the program :-) To be fair there are also equally scantily clad semi naked male models as well. Avatar Studio animation controls

In addition to the shape and clothing of the avatar you can create motion sequences and animated the figures by recording a series of key frames. You select body parts using a diagrammatic image of the figure and then position the figure by using a two dimensional device. It takes a little getting used to but is quite functional.

Oh and remember that price. Avatar Studio sells for all of $24.99. It really is a great deal for such a robust product. It's not perfect but certainly well worth the price.

Hey guess what! This article marks my TWO YEAR ANNIVERSARY being the Guide for this web site. There are over 100 of these tasty articles now, can you believe it! Let me know what you all think of this stuff.

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