Firestorm 6.4.12 Shadows for Photography

I recently saw a video about getting Firestorm Viewer’s shadows to look as good as Black Dragon’s shadows. Huh? What?

The thing they were doing is getting hair shadows to render well on the avatar face. The video (4 min) I found has horrible audio. Luca The Guide, the author, was ill the day she made the video. So, I can’t complain too much. I don’t even try to make video tutorials when I am sick.

The video did get me looking and comparing Black Dragon and Firestorm.  I launched Black Dragon (BD) and took a couple of pictures, see below. Then Launched Firestorm (FS) and took a couple.

Black Dragon – My typical environment
Firestorm – Again my typical environment

With both, I used the same projector attached to the Center of Gravity attachment point aimed at my nose and in front and above my head. Both viewers were set to use the default environment in the Bellisseria region. Both viewers were using their default shadow settings.

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Catching Up in Second Life

I have survived CoVid-19. It took me down for about 15 days. Still recovering, I easily tire. My four-mile hiking is down to a half-mile.

What I learned about CoVid-19 is there is more confusion, contradictory information, and horrible reporting. The worst information and often deliberately injurious information is coming from California and New York. Even my doctors had little information and kept saying they would have to talk to experts and get back to me when I asked questions.

Being in California I was dealing with the state’s and country’s requirements and quarantine instructions. Most annoying was the followup contact tracing. It was obvious there is a political bias in the contact tracking. They only collect information related to those facilities the state wants to close down. Information for those facilities the state wants open is not collected.

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The Firestorm Viewer and EEP

EEP is the Enhanced Environment Project. I consider this a step in the Lindens rebuild of the render engine. Whatever it is, the Firestorm team has released a Beta version of their viewer with EEP.

Photoshop Play Time

Beta, in this case, means the software is not yet ready for prime time. It also means it is your choice as to whether you install this version. And for those of you using a version three versions back, this does not count as one of the three allowed versions. So, you aren’t going to have that 3rd old version blocked from the grid. Yet…

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Second Life: Moving/Positioning Avatars

In 2013 Strawberry Singh posted a couple of articles (here & here) about positioning and moving avatars when setting up snapshots. This was needed for those areas where you do NOT have rez rights. Over time viewer upgrades broke those processes.

Avatar Positioning with Black Dragon

Every so often I would check to see if the problems with those processes had been fixed. With Firestorm 6.3.9 (May 2020 release date) I can move the avatar again sort of with her process.

Strawberry explained the process for moving your avatar. (Ref)

  • Open the Develop menu. Top menu, press Ctrl-Alt-Q to reveal it.
  • Then enable Develop->Avatar->Character Tests->Allow select avatar.
  • Press Ctrl-3 to open the Build Panel.
  • Right-click the avatar. Move arrows appear. Move.

Here is a video showing how it used to work. If you have a mesh avatar, right-clicking the avatar likely is not going to work. Instead, you have to right-click on your name tag. Then it works.

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Second Life: Black Dragon’s Poser

How does it work?

Cassie Middles made a 12-minute video tutorial showing how to use it. It is sort of a “Poser” beginner’s tutorial. Not every feature of the Poser is covered. The important stuff regarding posing for pictures is the focus.

Black Dragon Viewer’s Poser

I think it is a nice video. The intro is a bit long but that seems to be a YouTube fad.

She skipped the save-a-pose features. They are intuitive so no biggie.

Before clicking MORE… the next page is not entirely safe for work.

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Second Life: What Improved Camera Controls?

The Linens have released Second Life Release 6.4.2.541639 – Camera Presets. See the Release Notes for all the details.

It took me a second to figure out which camera they were talking about. Well, there is only one camera in the viewer. There are a number of ways to look at it. So…

Graphics Settings – these controls in Preferences->Graphics do control the camera. I suspect most of us think of these settings as controlling the render engine, which they do. But the render engine is the camera. So, most of the labels tend toward describing what we are doing with it.

This isn’t what changed.

Snapshot Panel – I tend to think of this as more the camera than Graphics Settings. This, also, is not what changed.

SL Viewer’s Improved Camera Controls

Camera Controls – This is the thing they changed. I almost never use it. I consider it the newbie thing. I use and Alt-LM-click-drag and Ctrl-ALT-LM-click-drag to control my “camera”. My last guess as to what changed was this.

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Second Life Photography w/Black Dragon & DoF & Photoshop

This is a tutorial on how to use Black Dragon to capture DEPTH information for use in Photoshop (PS). The techniques can be used in GIMP and Paint.Net. The buttons are just in different places.

The reason you may be interested in using PS rather than a viewer’s built-in DoF is to get more control. Viewers tend to provide a perfect render of a scene. Our eyes pick up the texture and dust of real-life so a computer image usually doesn’t fit our experience of how the world looks. Making a photo-realistic is about adding the subtle noise of real life to an image.

Nal @ Port of Senses
Nal @ Port of Senses

This image raised some questions in the SL Forum thread How does your avatar look today? (About 1,300 pages) Mostly, I think, because I pointed out I did the Depth of Field out of focus thing using Photoshop with a Black Dragon Depth map.

Most viewers provide Depth Maps. You can create Windlight settings that will create a depth map too, but that is a PITA. It is easier to use a viewer that has the feature. So, Firestorm or Black Dragon or the Linden Default Viewer. I haven’t checked the others. I assume most have the feature.

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Second Life’s Firestorm Viewer April 2020

Everyone is interested in when Firestorm will release a new viewer with the EEP feature. Me too. However, it isn’t urgent for me as I may use the new Linden EEP viewer for a bit as it is said to have a really low crash rate. Something that has been an issue for me with this version of Firestorm. But, I am addicted to some Firestorm tools that keep me coming back to Firestorm.

The Takeoff
The Takeoff – Shergood’s EC-135

Whirly Fizzle says Firestorm has just branched their code tree. This is something they do in preparation for releasing a new version. Sort of a feature and fix lock to allow items in the build to be cleaned up so it is ready for release. They stop adding stuff in. The new stuff goes into the new branch of programing code.

I am usually overly optimistic about Firestorm release dates, but I’ll say probably in the next 2 to 4 weeks.

NOTE: Flying often results in a crash from network and region issues. This version of Firestorm has contributed its share of crashes often poofing and dropping me to desktop. So, I am looking forward to the coming Firestorm update with the hope the crash rate improves.