Actors are the predominant object you will manipulate to construct your scene. They represent a movable object within the Stage.

An Actor is a StageNode and is usually linked to a Mesh for rendering. As they are StageNodes, Actors can be attached to other StageNodes in parent-child relationships and moved around the scene.

Associating a Mesh

When you construct an Actor (without passing a mesh ID) it is empty, and simply represents an element in the Stages node tree.

To make the Actor visible you need to attach a mesh to it. You can do that with the set_mesh(MeshID, DetailLevel) method.

Once a mesh is attached you will see it rendered at the Actor's location.

Detail Meshes

An actor can have up to 5 meshes attached at different detail levels. When rendering one of these meshes will be selected depending on the Actor's distance from the Camera.

The "base" mesh is the one registered with a detail level of DETAIL_LEVEL_NEAREST. This base mesh is special in a number of ways:

You can access the base mesh through the base_mesh() method, or alternatively by passing DETAIL_LEVEL_NEAREST to the mesh(DetailLevel) method.

Detail Mesh Selection

Simulant will determine the ideal DetailLevel using the ranges defined on the Pipeline being rendered. If there is no mesh attached to the Actor at the ideal level, then the next nearest available mesh will be rendered instead.

To define the distance ranges that activate each detail level you must use the Pipeline::set_detail_level_distances(nearest_cutoff, near_cutoff, mid_cutoff, far_cutoff) method. For example:

auto pipeline = compositor->render(stage, camera);
pipeline->set_detail_level_distances(10.0f, 20.0f, 40.0f, 80.0f);

Any distance above far_cutoff will use the DETAIL_LEVEL_FARTHEST level. Any below nearest_cutoff will use the DETAIL_LEVEL_NEAREST level.


Each Actor has a property called rig. This will be non-NULL if the base mesh is animated using skeletal animation. The rig is where the interpolated joints for the current frame are stored after calculation. This interpolation process happens during the stage update() cycle. The rig will have the same joints as the base mesh's Skeleton.

Just before the Actor is added to the render queue, the final vertex transformations are calculated using vertex-weights and the interpolated joints in the rig. This gives you an opportunity to manipulate the rig before the vertex update happens. For example, if you have an animated character, you might want to manipulate the character's head to look in a certain direction. You could do that by creating a Behaviour with a late_update() method, and using something similar to the following:

Quaternion rotation = calculate_rotation_to_look();

This allows you to take manual control of joints, even if the rest of the mesh is animated.