So we got some news on one point of the Second Life Views program which is about the physical avatar (the topic about the participants were asked to be quiet about for one month) and it sounds quite promising. Actually Robin Linden posted about it on the Announcements Forum (you need to have a Second Life account in order to see this) and gave some details as well as some discussion points. Later she will also post it to her blog.
So here are the key features of the physical avatar project on which Ventrella Linden is working (quoted):
what is it?
“Basically this technology allows for in-world posing of avatars, and expressive puppeteering, along with physical, rag-doll effects.”
So what you can do with it (if I understand it correctly) is some in-world poser as a start by e.g. just holding CTRL and dragging your avatar in the pose you want it to be. Later they will add scripting capabilities and an animation editor. We might also see collaborative posing which might be handy for photographers who can then simply move their model into position (replace “photographer” by whatever you want 😉 )
What won’t be in there though at first will be facial expressions and fingers as the file format used right now (bvh) is not capable of storing this information. This might be added later by scripting (“could determine key points on avatars that let them sync up to shake hands for example”). This also means that it’s compatible with the bvh file format. It is not clear to me though if these poses can be saved in the first version and if so how (inventory of file system).
So this sounds like great news for the animation market (think of scripted animations) although people might be able to do their own poses themselves. But there will always be a need for good animators and for now it will also just be poses and not full animations.
No release date yet, though.