Dolphin Viewer 3.3.5 Released Review

New Machinamists Tool Panel

A new release of the Dolphin Viewer is out: 3.3.5.23763 “Fellini.” This release gets a new graphics floater panel. The idea is it can be used by photographers and machinamists.

The Dolphin Viewer also gets the ability to click a worn item in inventory to edit it. This will be way handy for moving those belly, lip, and nose rings that rez inside the avatar.

A feature to allow clicking a land mark in inventory to open on the world map has been added.

The Mesh Deformer control could previously be found in Preferences -> Dolphin Viewer 3 -> UI. The control is gone, so I assume the deformer did not make it into this version. It seems there are some problems with the Deformer code causing crashes. Also, there is a Linden factor in that Oz says the Mesh Deformer is a TPV Policy 2.k item. This means developers can’t put out their standard public release of a viewer that includes the Mesh Deformer. It can only appear in test viewers.

Download & Install

The download is standard and quick. The install is typical. I did not need to clear the cache or settings before installing. It seems to work just fine without those steps.

The viewer uses its own cache folder and settings file. So, it won’t interfere with other viewers nor will other viewers step on it.

Experience

This viewer is very much a Linden viewer style user interface. It will be an easy transition for new Second Life® users. It has additional features and features existing in the Linden viewer have their controls in pretty much the same places. This makes for a very small learning curve. Plus each upgrades learning curve is small. I think this is an important consideration when recommending a TPViewer to a new SL user.

Machinima Controls

Machinima Tool Icon There are two ways to access the new feature. One can open the Flexible User Interface (FUI) Tool Bar Buttons panel and drag the new button that looks like an old time movie camera to the button bars. Or open the buttons panel from Me->Toolbar buttons…

From the top menu one can use World->Machinima Tools. So, whichever is your preference, is available.

Dolphin's New Machinamists Tool Panel

The main settings for the viewer render and camera controls are in the panel. I suppose one could call it a mini-Preferences panel. It should be handy for photographers and machinamists.

The panel has tabs for; Graphics, Camera, Shadows & Occlusion, Depth of Field, Glow, and Miscellaneous. The Miscellaneous tab has the ‘de-render’ controls. There are two controls:

  1. Derender avatars with attachments above a value. The setting is a slider that allows you specify the cut off values you want to use. Avatars that exceed those values will not be rendered in your viewer. The value is measured in ‘bytes.’ So, the number is large. This is all about the data-size of attachments. The streaming weight of mesh attachments (think triangle count) is likely the item most likely to trigger this limit. You can press Ctrl-Shift-R to the triangles in your attachments.
  2. Derender avatars with a surface area above a value. This feature uses another slider. I am not sure what the units are. I am guessing meters. The values start at 5. I have no idea how to find out what amount of surface area an avatar has or how it affects render time. We’ll learn this one from experimenting.

Both sliders have minor formatting issues. The number values of the sliders run out the right edge of the panel. Since I haven’t changed fonts or font size I’ll assume it is viewer skin formatting issue. But, it doesn’t affect anything, just cosmetic.

Minor Flaw

The panel has handy links to various other control panels, Windlight, Flycam, and others. They are located where I would expect them to be. So, for me the Machinima Tools has an intuitive UI.

Speed

With Lighting & Shadows, Ambient Occlusion, and Sun/Moon I get about 10 to 14 FPS.

Summary

The Dolphin viewer is probably the best new-power-user’s viewer. The transition from the LL viewers is easy. Dolphin 3 is my ‘go to viewer’ when another viewer crashes and I need to be in-world. There doesn’t seem to be any significant memory leaks from the common tasks. Memory use is in the 600k range.

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