Abranimations Mo-Cap Sex Bed Gold edition “100 animations”, L$4950
Here it is at last: a real, 100% motion-capture sex bed by Abranimations, one of the foremost names in SL mo-cap animation. When we first saw this bed, we were so excited that we dug deep with trembling hand and plunked down our money almost sight unseen, rushed back to our place and prepared ourselves to be amazed. I mean, it’s a Motion-Capture sex bed by Abranimations! How could it possibly by bad?
Well, here’s how: (a) Weird selection of sexual positions, (b) bad menu layout and animation naming, and (c) the fact that avatars are not human beings and don’t bend that way, so you get a lot of very disconcerting alignment problems, with cock totally missing pussy or coming through the woman’s stomach or thigh. It pretty much distracts from the erotic impact of the animations.
Now, alignment problems are nothing new to sex beds, and all beds require some adjustment to make the avatars line up. But here the problem is endemic, and the impressive realism of the motion-capture technology only serves to highlight these misalignments, making them noticeable to the point of embarrassment. Some of the air-fucking or dick-through-the-belly sex makes you want to laugh or just stare, which pretty much ruins the mood. Plus, the animations defy adjustment. They simply cannot be fixed. The human subjects who served as models for the mo-cap apparently just moved around too much to allow an avatar’s rigidly fixed dick to stay where it should be. And we’re not talking a little 2-D misalignment. We’re talking about willies waving in the wind.
The bed is built on the Xpose 3.6 ul engine and comes in a wide variety of styles. We purchased the Prison bedstead model, which was a mistake, because it’s 62 (!) prims. Most beds are much less. (As I said, we were kind of excited.) Abranimations claims “over 100 animations” which is pretty close to the 96 we counted, and they should be applauded for their honesty. They didn’t count swapped positions twice.
The animations themselves are beautiful. They are indeed genuine motion capture and they’re very well done. The movements are fluid and natural, very detailed, and, best of all, quite erotic. There aren’t any facial expressions, but the avatars’ body language–the way they thrust and react and writhe or shudder in erotic bliss–are expressive enough. These are really some of the loveliest and most realistic animations of people having sex we’ve found in SL. If only the poor guy could somehow keep dick in her pussy!
The problem is, paradoxically enough, that realism is not necessarily eroticism and avatars aren’t real human beings. Things that work when done by real people don’t always translate to the cartoon world of avatars, with their fixed anatomies and inflexible penises. It is possible to work around this and incorporate mo-cap elements into standard animations (the TenderMoments system is a nice example of this), but that’s not done here. Abranimations stays true to their claim of all mo-cap, which turns out to be a weakness. The minor misalignments which don’t really show up in the more forgiving mo-cap animations of things like couples’ dances are very obvious here.
So the bed is frustrating. You want it to work, you need it to work. You need these avatars to connect and satisfy their desires in deep, intimate, fusion. Instead, the illusion is ruined and it’s all for naught. Yet they come so close!
The situation isn’t helped by the bed’s choice of sexual positions to animate, a number of which are quite unusual, if not downright bizarre. There’s an animation in which the man is on his back while the woman is on top of him, also on her back, with her head at his feet. Presumably his cock is inside her, which is more than we can say for our avatar when we tried it. In the “OppMiss” position, the woman is on her back on the bed with legs spread, and the man is on top of her facing her feet with his legs straddling her body. Apparently he’s inside her too, but why? What’s the point? (It finally dawned on us that “OppMiss” stands for “Opposite Missionary,” a position we never would have thought of and one that struck us as quite strange.)
Maybe it’s possible to achieve penetration in these odd positions in real life (though I have no idea why you’d want to), but given the fixed and rigid cocks most avatars have, there’s no way to do this without major editing and repositioning. In all of these exotic positions, the man’s jalona is left waving haplessly in the air as they grind away in ecstatic transport.
One gets the feeling that the bed is showing off, giving you stranger positions than you ever would have come up with yourself. The problem is, sexual acrobatics aren’t the same as erotic heat, and the bed would have been better off with less contortionism and more good, simple and soulful fucking.
The big thing we’re missing here is foreplay. There’s a Masturbation menu with 4 choices, but that’s not quite foreplay to us, and the positions available in the Cuddle sub-submenu (which can often stand in for foreplay on other beds) really aren’t suitable here. We couldn’t really find any animations expressing the post-sex closeness and coziness we enjoy, and we wondered if this was maybe because those kinds of static positions don’t provide much opportunity for mo-cap magic. The 3 animations marked Cuddles 1-3 are all virtually identical, and consist of the man and woman sitting against the head board with the man’s arm draped amiably across the woman’s shoulders.
There are 9 oral animations, 13 Cuddles, and there’s a BDSM section with 9 animations, including a couple spanks and some rope bondage. The rope is some of the thickest we’ve ever seen in SL, and looks like anchor hawser.
Menu Layout and Ease of Use
At first glance, menu layout seems straightforward enough. The initial Menu gives you: MMF, MFF (5 animations each), Sex Positions (61 animations), Oral (9 animations), and Affection (13 animations, including the Cuddles sub-sub-submenu), then Masturbate (4) and BDSM (9). Plus the usual administrative buttons: Options, Swap, Stop, and Help.) Altogether, 96 animations.
The sex is in the Sex Positions button, of course, and clicking on it opens a submenu with buttons for: Front 1, Front 2, Rear 1, Rear 2 (each has 10 animations), Sit/Kneel (7 animations), Standing (6 animatioons), and Extreme (8 animations).
So far it seems fine. The Fronts contain positions where the couple is facing each other, topologically speaking at least, and the Rears contain the positions where the man and women are facing the same way.
The problem is, facing or not-facing is not a good way to organize sex animations. We’re not used to thinking of them in those terms, and within a given category, some of the positions are intimate, some of them are rather casual, and some of them are just plain weird, as we mentioned above. The more common Man on top/Woman on top method of organization is much more informative, because it actually tells us something about the emotions conveyed by the various animations. The party on top is the one showing the initiative, usually.
This might not be such a problem were the animations names more descriptive or easy to decipher, but they’re not. ArchedKnee is a missionary position with the man on top. Archedface, on the other hand, is a cowgirl position with the woman on top. The two animations are next to each other in the Front 1 menu, since the couple is facing each other in both.
The oddness of some of the positions no doubt made naming them difficult. What do you call it when the man sits on the bed Indian-style while the woman lies face down with her loins pressed against his, supporting herself on her arms? Here it’s called Accordian.
In any case, in the several months we’ve had this bed, we haven’t grown comfortable with the menu system yet. We can find an initial missionary position to start things off (it’s called ArchedKnee, as we mentioned, and is the first animation Sex Positions submenu), but after that, trying to find another good man-on-top animation that maintains not only the continuity of the love-making but penile contact with the woman’s vagina as well, is pure hit-and-miss. And usually miss.
Beautiful animations but the eroticism is ruined by the fact that avatars don’t line up like real people, so motion capture–at least this kind of motion capture–just doesn’t work. The misalignment problem is further exacerbated by the weirdness of some of the positions, which seem to have been chosen more for their novelty value than for any erotic heat or emotional expressiveness.
We love Abranimations and admire their work, but this bed is an instructive failure. It demonstrates perfectly that realism, which is a science, is not at all the same as eroticism, which is an art. It drives home the amount of skill and artistry involved in making a sex bed capable of expressing the beauty of sexual love and passion.
–Aiden Swain, 7/3/2010
P.S. As we neared the end of writing this review, it occurred to us that maybe the people at Abranimations intended this bed to be used by avatars without genitals. It does, in fact, work better that way, and if that’s what you’re looking for, then this might be the bed to try.