This is a Second Life photographer’s dream viewer. I don’t use it for everyday use. But it is fast and has great visual features. As KirstenLee is changing things faster than most other viewer makers so this may be the least stable of the alternate Second Life® viewers. Others claim it is the most stable and needs the least CPU power. That just has not been my experience. Still, if you want that great shot of an area or model looking so sexy, this is your viewer.
Gwyneth Llewelyn wrote about viewers in June and felt the S-17 (198) viewer was simply great. See Pushing the Limits.
I did try it in a combat sim. Server lag, automatic weapons fire and all… it did pretty good. No locks ups and the FPS stayed over 10, which is great for a combat sim.
KirstenLee released the S-18-1 (208) version of the viewer August 22. It has a feature for those of us with Alternate AV’s. In Preferences on the General tab right at the top is the choice to ‘Save name list’ and ‘Clear password when selecting’. Checking them adds a drop down for AV names. The feature makes it much easier to move between alternates. The ‘Clear Password…’ has it’s obvious uses.
Another interesting feature is the opening screen before you logon is a modified version of the Kippie Friedkin Cheat Sheet (Cira July 2008) for the Second Life® Viewer. If you have not used this sheet it is worth checking out.
August 25 KirstenLee released a Quick Test Build 209 version. This is a play version where she is experimenting with the post processing Linden Lab started. This uses specialized renders to create effects. Check her blog to see more images. Did I say this was a photographer’s viewer? Let’s add in artists too.
Shadows and Compatibility
Dynamic Shadows is what the S-18 (208) viewer is all about. But, that version requires some computer horse power and a good video card. Even then you will see your frame rates come way down. The Quick Test Build 209 version is said not to have the dynamic shadows features included. It is supposed to runs on many more computers. But I can turn shadows on in my 209 copy…
Dynamic shadows are coming to Second Life. We aren’t sure when the standard viewer will get them. It is likely to be an option one can turn on or off because of the performance hit. Photographers will want to get in position and have the shot setup and then switch on shadows.
In many viewers no one has made it easy to turn on shadows. To do that open the Advanced menu (Ctrl-Alt-D) and the Debug Settings. Look for RenderUseFBO and set to TRUE. Next find Render Deferred and set to TRUE. You should see the viewer freeze for a few seconds. After it changes to shadows-on-mode you will see it slow down. Depending on your computer and video card that will be in the range of 1 to 15 frames per second. Get your photo and set Render Deferred to FALSE. Move to the next shot and set Render Deferred back to TRUE. When you have all your shots set both to FALSE.
In the S-18 viewers there is an easy way to turn shadows on. Edit -> Preferences -> Graphics -> Hardware Options. Select The Open GL options for the best performance and then enable per Pixel lighting and shadows for shadows. My viewer was getting 38 frames per second but drops to 8 when I enable shadows.
For some reason my camera does not work. Shadows don’t show in my photographs. I have to use screen captures.
The version 209 added some shaders that KirstenLee is playing with. One can turn those on and play with them. In World -> Environment Settings -> PostProcess are the shader controls. However, one must turn off the Basic Shaders to see them work. Edit -> Preferences ->Graphics tab -> uncheck Basic Shaders (it is a custome setting).
Installing Multiple Versions
KirstenLee’s viewers each install in their own folder in Program files. This means one can have multiple versions installed and run whichever version is needed. KirstensLee’s uses somewhat separate caches and log files. Seems S-17 caches are separate from S-18 caches but the S-18 caches seem to share the same folder… its heard to tell what’s going where and I’m not geeky enough to care.
Keep your 207 install. If the 209 crashes it seems to get stuck in a loop of sending an error report and crashing. The 208 then seems to follow along and repeat the process. Run the 207 version and it clears up… (it is a repeatable problem). Before you logon, clear you cache any time you have problems (Preferences -> Network -> Clear Cache – on next start).
Crash on Start
Some people experience a crash or error message when opening the viewer. That usually means you need to update your Visual C++ Run Time library. Google for that update and hope. Microsoft has made it ridiculously complicated to find the right version.
Others freeze up in different places in SL. It is usually repeatable. Seems several viewers are using OpenAL for sounds and sounds with zero sound levels (you are too far away to hear them) will cause problems for the viewer. It’s in the OpenAL code so update those drivers. See the OpenAl.org web site for more info on updating.
Slow on Start
With the 209 viewer I see freezes and lockups along with video card resets (black screens). This happen whenever I first start the 209. It takes 5 minutes or so for that to stop. Some times after it stops a 360 spin will cause it to happen again as the AV rotates. Once everything has rez’d in this seems to stop. The process repeats in a new sim.
Give it some time. It seems to recover and then work well.
See the updates:
KirstenLee’s S18-1 (214)