Saturday, December 02, 2006

The Problem with Straps

You'll recall that, back during the CopyBot brouhaha (which I must admit to having overreacted to), I wore a couple of CopyBot protest T-shirts. You'll also notice that they looked utterly unlike such T-shirts would look in RL or, more to the point, with software that more accurately models how clothing behaves. Like everything else in the physical world, they tend to assume the position with least potential energy. (In brief: everything is lazy.) In the real world, this means that a single piece of cloth will tend to conform to the convex hull of the body wearing it.

(So, the mathematical definition of one's bustline is the perimeter of the convex hull of a horizontal cross section of one's torso taken through the largest part of one's bust. I have to wonder what my professors would think about this application of math...)

In SL, on the other hand, clothing is rendered as if the cloth were vacuum sealed around one's body. Some, to be sure, rather like this, but if you're a T-shirt designer trying to get your message across, it's a problem.

The other place that the problem shows up is with straps. Take a look at the photo. Those straps look like they're about to fall off. (Yes, straps do fall off, but only after they somehow get over the hump of one's shoulder, which requires some energy input or some movement on one's part to smooth the way to the really low (and embarrassing!) potential energy level.) They don't look like they're holding up anything, either. In a more accurately modeled world, they'd touch me at the shoulder and at whatever point on my bosom is on the convex hull of a vertical cross section through my torso, and if you looked close, you could see the gap. (UPDATE: On second thought, I might be flattering myself rather a lot by saying that.)

At some point someone decided it was too computationally intensive to do it right, I guess. SL clothing rendering pretends that we're all convex, or at least flat-chested. That's probably why you don't see much clothing like that in the picture; instead, straps are edited out (as the fine folks on The Goods, far more perceptive than I, have mentioned) or made short and kept away from the breasts.

So, cry Havoc 2, and let slips (and bikinis and bras and dresses with straps)... oy, I can't believe I typed that. I'll go quietly, Mr. Shakespeare.

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