For our second I.T.F.E. review, we discuss one of their cetacean offerings; an Orca avatar. This is one species of animal that users do not see very often, but when it is done, it catches peoples’ eyes for being so unique.
Out of the Box:
- Muzzle-Talking Function
- Fish in Mouth Show/Hide
- 20 Eye Colours
- Multiple Ear States
- Twitching Tail
- Squeals and Clicks Sounds
- Particle Spout Atop of the head
- 10% of Proceeds go to the World Wildlife Fund
|Script Time (With HUD)||~0.046|
|Script Time (without HUD)||~0.021|
|Avatar Rendering Cost (Scale Here)||~372|
Build and Skin:
The skin for this avatar is fairly simple, thanks to the fairly uniform and non-complex patterning of real-life orcas. As such, effort has gone into giving the textures over the body some definition in terms of shine and softness in the appearance. As such, users will see that the transitions between colours, while clear cut, are smooth and organic, and that the entirety of the body shape and the attachments themselves are glossed over in a smooth sheen. The avatar is offered in numerous different colours, but the ones in different tones of grey and black stand out as the more realistic, aesthetic bunch. Males receive some definition in the abs, while females have a smoother stomach and more detail around the breasts. Since orcas are mammals, it would seem plausible that an anthropomorphic rendition of killer whales would have mammaries. In short, the default skins for this avatar were done very well.
The avatar also comes with a “Wet” version of the skin. This rendition of the avatar means that while the attachments and features are all the same as the “Dry” version of the avatar, the “Wet” skin makes the user appear as if they are underwater. This version of the skin is done very well over the body, with extra shine and some drawn reflection of the water’s ripples on the body itself. The head is a different matter, however. The textures themselves are at the base, the same as the dry skin, but the added ‘water reflection’ and sheen takes a little bit away from the overall look. The application of “Wetness” to the head could have been executed better.
The feet on this avatar are simple in their construction, two toes connected with a single webbed membrane between them. (See Right) The design is intriguiging, but the execution could have been done better with the sculpts as one single prim instead of 4. The shape foot sticks out a little bit at the sides of the prim foot, so invisiprims would have helped.
The next attachment of note is the tail, which comes in several different positions. ITFE has opted for a shorter, rather than longer tail which some users may prefer. Users can choose whether they wish the the tail to point straight away from the body and at other angles that the pictures show you. (See Right) The textures tend to reflect the same level that we see on the rest of the body, with black skin on the top surface of the tail, and patternings on the bottom; both on the fluke and near the base of the tail. A criticism for the tail would have to be the sculpt quality (See Left). Depending on the position that the user has chosen, there is going to be varying degrees of sculpt bumps and wrinkling which detract from the tail overall.
The fin lodged between the shoulders on the back of the avatar is the smoothest sculpt on the body, contrary to that of the tail. While maintaining the signature fin shape we expect on killer whales, the textures make it stand out from the body itself, so you can see it from most any angle.
Finally, the head. As per the ITFE style, the head is an amalgam of prims and body shape. However, this avatar has taken a concentrated effort to make more of the head out of prims than the actual shape head. The overall result has been a head that looks more aesthetic, smooth and complete. The only part where the shape peeks through is at the very back of the head and at the sides of the eyes. The colours on the prims match well with the actual body shape skin, depending on the lighting environment the user is in. Sometimes you can tell that the shape head is being used for the eyes, while at other times, you may not be able to tell. This is due to the Second Life client more than the creator’s fault.
The eye textures themselves are well made, though they could have benefited from the addition of eye whites in the corners. The shape head surrounding the eye is less smooth than the sculpted prims, so a percentage of the aestheticism is lost. From different angles, you can see that the roughness of the shape head contrasts heavily against the well made sculpts. Users may be able to get the brows and eye shape to smoothen out a little bit to match the sculpts.
The muzzle of the avatar is very much reflective of that on actual Killer whales, not only in the tooth shape, but also in the arrangement of the teeth and the size and texture of the tongue. When the mouth is shut, you get the enigmatic smile of the orca done very well. Users can open the muzzle into a smile and also open it to a full length. As this is a cetacean avatar, the user is able to walk around with a fish hanging out the side of the muzzle (as seen in accompanying picture). This can be turned off by using the HUD.
A small discrepancy with the head is that the whites on the bottom jaw is textured to match the skin almost perfectly, but the whites on the rest of the head are a pure white. This error sets the cohesive look of the head back a slight, but not too much. How well you see the color difference depends on the lighting setting.
Features and Heads-Up Display (HUD):
This avatar has kept things simple and short, forgoing a lot of the regular features for just the barebones expected of most avatars. All of the avatar’s options are managed by the HUD which relies on the built-in Second Life dialog box to change options.
The options are as follows:
- Spout Activation
- Sound Activation (Clicks and Squeals)
- Eyes: Choose from 20 of preset eye colours
- Blabbermaw: Muzzle Open/Half-open (Smile)/Closed, Muzzle Talking Function On/Off, HUD Messages On/Off, Talking Animation On/Off, Show Hide/Fish
- Tail: Down, Straight, Up, Relaxed, ::Close::
Note: In some versions of the avatar, there is also a listed option under the Tail Dialog menu to activate ” ::Close::”. When the user clicks on it, nothing actually happens. We remain curious what function this was intended to play, or if it was added by accident.
The option to activate the spout was well thought out; when users actually click it, they are treated to a sudden spout of particle water that sprays above the head for a brief moment. While a fun visual effect, the stream is a little too thick and billowy, slightly reminiscent of a real whale’s spout more than an anthropomorphic killer whale spout.
Thanks to the head once again being a mixture of shape head and prims, users are able to employ just about any accessories or attachments made for the ‘normal’ human avatar. As such, third party hairs are easily fitted to the head. The avatar is copiable and modifiable, so users should have no problems customising it to their heart’s contentment.
The ITFE Orca once again defines ITFE’s dedication to their style of avatar creation. The avatar is truly a mixed bag. On one hand it had a very well made “Dry” Skin, with an aesthetic, robust muzzle that captures the personality of a killer whale. On the flip side, however, while sculpt quality on the head was smooth and symmetrical, the shape eyes did not follow this pattern, looking crinkled against the sculpts. Over time, we hope to see ITFE fine-tuning their body shapes to suit their sculpting skills. All other issues and strengths aside, the addition of the “Wet” version of the skin was also well thought out. While this skin itself was not perfect, it offers users a photo-taking and role-play opportunity to appear as if they are underwater.