A new release of Exodus is out. This one has lots of new features. Many are for photography and machinima. The viewer may be losing it emphasis on being a gamer’s viewer and being a photographer’s viewer. But, one may as well expose controls to the video pipeline while working to optimize it. So, it may be too soon to say.
The Exodus Devs have noticed the coverage in the blogs. So, they added some features just for the photographers and machinima peeps. Nice. I hope they keep their gamer focus and avoid trying for a viewer that is all things to all people.
Some features are not what I think of as features as much as they are new ways of looking at presenting the viewer’s settings. The Dev’s are exposing more visual controls. The Visual Settings panel exposes many of the settings found in the Debug panel. The labels they chose for the settings use terms I think will make sense to most people. Terms from photography are used for the appropriate settings.
Floating Point Frame Buffers
OK, this is a bit geeky. Floating point numbers are what we call real numbers. We see them written as 3.1415. In use in most graphics programs are integers, like: 3 with no decimal. These we call whole numbers as in 3 apples.
In graphics processing integers were used because CPU’s handled integers faster. Handling floating point numbers required more processing steps and that made them slower. Precision was determined by the number of digits available. Inside computers 3.1415 and 31415 have equal precision, 5 digits, which is a little different than we think of precision.
As technology has advanced computers are built to handle larger numbers and more quickly deal with real numbers. It seems the Exodus Dev’s are taking advantage of this in their viewer.
Light Bloom, Tone Mapping, and Filmic Tone Mapping are techniques that use the higher precision.
Vignette is a new feature in the viewer too.
Gamma Correction is another new feature. This feature is about getting things to look the same on all viewers… well, more accurately, on our different computer screens. #D games tend to not render in standard Gamma Space. This feature allows one to correct Gamma rendering to fall into your screens gamma space.
I ran into a problem while testing mesh clothes with my friend. We were trying to adjust our sculpty feet and shoes to match our skin tones. She is a redhead cracker and I’m more chocolate. We each thought we had perfect color matches. The skin on my leg and foot matched… in my viewer/screen. She said they did not match and she thought hers matched and I could see they didn’t. Hopefully the gamma correction will reduce that problem.
The Dev’s are adding gamma Correction in a way to be more compatible with Apple computers and those using older OpenGL versions.
In Exodus this is an optional feature. The Dev’s had provided a mesh to turn Deformation on or off. Since I’ve explained what the deformer does a number of times in previous articles I won’t repeat that here.
Not a lot is said about 64 bit in the release announcement. But, there is a 64 bit version of the Exodus Viewer available for download.
Download & Install
File size is about 28mb and downloads quickly. The install is simple and typical. It installs in its own folder and uses its own cache location and settings file. So, you can run this with other viewers.
On the initial launch there is a disconcerting time with the viewer icons and menus on screen and the render area black. It looks like a render fail. But, in a few seconds the render of the world appears.
The viewer has another variation of the transition to a new region when teleporting.
I find there are two Preferences panels. The more or less standard panel found in the Lab’s viewers. There is also the Exodus Preferences… See the image.
Looking through the Exodus panel one sees the strong gaming tie this viewer has.
There are way too many options and settings to get into them all.
Turning on/off the Mesh Deformer is done in the top menu -> Advanced -> Rendering Features -> Mesh Deformer.
I hoped to try this out to see how it compared to Nirans. But, I could not see any mesh. No mesh, no spheres, or tori. Nothing.
UPDATE: I went back in later today and found a couple of mesh items I had tried to rez in the earlier tries. So, mesh is working in Exodus on my computer. I suppose it was an SL or region glitch. Since one of the neighboring regions was down then, mine may have been affected too. Whatever, Yay!
As best I can tell they work the same. It is nice to be ale to turn the feature on and off.
The feature creates some problems on my computer with a Duo Core2 and nVidia GTX560Ti. You can see the problem in the images; the first in the article and the one below.
Turning on Ambient Occlusion and Shadows makes the render nice but does not help with the problems.
With Shadows and Ambient Occlusion off I get about 20 FPS. Turning them on I get about 16 FPS, which is not bad for a 32 bit system and a Duo Core2.
While I am disappointed that mesh is not working, the shadows and performance are nice. Also, it is a beta version with alpha code for the Mesh Deformer. Problems are to be expected. I suspect the mesh problem will fix in a day or two.
It is a nice viewer and it has been progressing nicely.