Difference between revisions of "Taking snapshots"

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'''<font size="5">[[User:Torley_Linden|Torley]]'s Guide to High-Quality Photography!</font>'''<br /><br />
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'''Inworld photography is one of the most popular hobbies inside Second Life, and getting started is as easy as clicking a single button.''' Do you want to photograph gorgeous scenes like this?
<font face="Courier New">last revised by Torley for Second Life 1.20 — feel free to improve this page and add your own helpful notes!''</font><br /><br />
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== Intro ==
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: {{KBvideo|Slx1RuQQ9h4|640|385|type=youtube}}
[[Image:Wall-o-windlight.jpg|256px|right]]
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The following covers what ''I'' do for beautiful inworld photography.
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This video tutorial from [[Torley]], SL photography master, teaches you the essentials in less than three minutes:
  
First, if you're not already familiar, a little about [[User:Torley_Linden|me (Torley Linden)]]... I won't bore you with formal credentials, but I ''will'' share my joy: before I worked for Linden Lab, I started Second Life as a Resident, and began taking snapshots on my very first day. I've also established the [[Help:Snapshots|Snapshots & Postcards]] resource on this wiki which you can add your helpful resources to (''please!''), and over the last few years, I've taken well over 100,000+ pictures inworld — to the right are some of them.
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: {{KBvideo|Uj7qM1XNlWo|640|385|type=youtube}}
  
These were taken with '''Second Life's [[WindLight]] atmospheric rendering''', with no retouching after they were saved to disk. [http://www.flickr.com/photos/torley/sets/ SEE MORE!!!!]
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== Take your first snapshots ==
  
What follows are my perspectives, founded and inspired by what I've learned along the way. I'm severely grateful to the many who've helped me become a better photographer; oodles of inspiration comes from an earlier guide which I believe was by Bub Linden... that I can't find at the moment (but if this was a doctoral thesis, I'd surely cite it).
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# As shown in the video, in the Viewer's [http://community.secondlife.com/t5/English-Knowledge-Base/Basic-mode-FAQ/ta-p/733541 Advanced mode], simply click the '''Take snapshot''' (camera icon) button on your toolbar.
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# In the SNAPSHOT PREVIEW window, choose '''Save to my computer'''.
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# Click the '''Save''' button.
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# A file browse window appears. Choose your location — like on your desktop — and save it there.
  
If you've found any of this helpful and/or have suggestions on what more useful knowledge I can share with you, [[User:Torley_Linden#How_to_contact_me|please let me know]].
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Now, each subsequent time you '''Save''' a snapshot during this session, it gets saved to the same location. If you want to change locations, click the triangle next to the '''Save''' button to choose '''Save As''', or restart the Viewer.
  
== Essentials ==
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You should also open the snapshot in your operating system to ensure it turned out as you expected.
'''<font size="3" color="#ff0099">You should know these first before continuing!</font>'''
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=== Saving a snapshot to disk ===
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{{KBtip|Snapshots saved to disk automatically have a number appended to them. For example, "Snapshot_001.png, Snapshot_002.png, Snapshot_003.png", and so on.}}
Literally, how you capture your memories. Watch this [[Video Tutorials|video tutorial]] to learn how:
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<p>{{#widget:Vimeo|id=4168702|width=640|height=480}}</p>
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== Use the Ctrl-` snapshot shortcut ==
  
So, there are two ways to do this within the viewer:
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There's a ''faster'' way than repeatedly clicking the toolbar's '''Snapshot''' button: press {{k|Ctrl|`}}. This bypasses the SNAPSHOT PREVIEW and saves to disk directly.
  
(1) '''File menu > Snapshot to Disk''' opens a window that lets you choose a filename and save the snapshot to disk. Any subsequent snapshots taken during a session will be saved directly, and you won't be asked to choose a name until you relog. This is good if you want to take many photos uninterrupted, not-so-good if you want to name each one along the way. Snapshots are numbered sequentially, so with the default name, it'd be "Snapshot_001", "Snapshot_002", etc. I use this simple method most often.
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On PC keyboards with international characters this will not work.
  
[[Image:File_menu_-_Snapshot_to_Disk.png|256px]]
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Instead of {{k|`}} use the '''key on the right side of key {{k|L}}'''.
  
(2) '''File menu > Take Snapshot, or press the Snapshot button on the toolbar''',
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On a Danish PC keyboard for example, the shortcut becomes: {{k|Ctrl|Æ}}
  
[[Image:Snapshot_Preview_%28simple%29.png|256px]]
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On a german keyboard the shortcut is {{k|Ctrl|ö}}
  
and '''click the "More >>" button to show advanced controls''':
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== Change your camera angle ==
  
[[Image:Snapshot_Preview.png|256px]]
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OK, so how do you change your camera angle? Since a snapshot is taken of what you see:
  
I use this for sending postcards, but it can also be used to "Upload a snapshot" directly to your inventory, or "Save snapshot to hard drive" like the aforementioned. Choosing this option opens a window containing controls to help refine your snapshot before it's saved. Some of them are beyond the scope of this guide, but I prefer:
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# Click the toolbar's '''View''' button to bring up the camera (Orbit Zoom Pan) controls.
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# Click the controls to change your view. As you get more advanced, you'll want to try [http://community.secondlife.com/t5/English-Knowledge-Base/Camera-point-of-view-controls/ta-p/700047 keyboard shortcuts] for each of these.
  
*"What size image do you need?" = "Current Window", the maximum viewable area.
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{{KBtip|To get an easy shot of your avatar's face, click the '''Preset Views''' (eye) button, then click '''Front View'''.}}
* All checkboxes from "Show interface in snapshot" to "Freeze frame (fullscreen preview)" unchecked, ''unless'' I have a specific need, e.g., taking photos of the user interface.
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* I also leave "Auto-snapshot" checkbox off.
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*: ''If you are taking a lot of photos at a single event though, "Auto-snapshot" is very cool: first shot, click "New Snapshot" and the preview shows in the menu which then stays open with the "Save" button highlighted. When you see another shot you would like to take, just press "Save" — that does 2 things at once: it '''saves''' the previous shot you took and '''takes''' a new shot. If you want to discard any shot, just click "New Snapshot" instead of "Save". Working this way at an event where things are moving quickly saves a LOT of time! '''-[[User:Tid Kidd|Tid Kidd]]'''''
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After a snapshot's saved to disk, you can do further things with it, like play with it in an image-editing program, upload it to a photosharing site, print it out, or archive it for keeps. You can even [http://www.digitalchalkie.com/2007/06/02/comic-life-and-second-life/ turn SL images into comics]. USE YOUR IMAGINATION... this works pretty durn well for me. :)
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== Improve your graphics quality ==
  
=== Camera controls ===
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If you've looked at other Residents' photos and wonder why some things look so vivid or sharp, it could just be because of graphics settings. These are dependent on how powerful your computer is, but if you meet or exceed our [http://secondlife.com/support/system-requirements/ System Recommendations], you should be able to see Second Life in all its glory. Here's a quick setup:
'''These are must-knows for obvious reasons!''' How can you take pictures without knowing how to control your camera? Holding:
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* Alt and clicking something focuses it to the center of the screen.
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# Select '''Me''' menu > '''Preferences'''.
* Alt and dragging the mouse zooms the camera.
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# In the PREFERENCES window, click '''Graphics''' tab.
* Alt-Ctrl and dragging orbits the camera.
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# On the '''Quality and speed''' slider, click '''High''' (or you won't see clouds and stuff), or if you have a really powerful computer, click '''Ultra'''. When you're comfortable, you can also click '''Advanced''' to show more options.
* Alt-Ctrl-Shift and dragging pans the camera.
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# Click '''OK''' to save your changes.
  
''Difficult concepts'' to explain in words, so try it for yourself!
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{{KBtip|To make textures appear sharper and smooth out jaggy edges, click the '''Hardware''' button. Check '''Anisostropic Filtering''' and set '''[[Antialiasing]]''' to at least '''4x'''. Torley thinks this should be on by default on capable systems.}}
  
If you're on a Mac, Alt = Opt (also marked ''Alt'' on newer Macs). For more info, see '''"[[PC and Mac shortcut key differences]]"'''.
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== Change the weather ==
  
You can also use:
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Is it too dark? Want a clear blue sky with no clouds? That's easy too.
  
* '''The directional arrow or WASD (with chat bar closed) keys instead of dragging the mouse.'''
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# Select '''World''' menu > '''Sun''' > '''Environment Editor'''.
* '''View menu > Camera Controls''' — I highly prefer keyboard shortcuts in most cases, as I find them quicker.
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# Drag the time slider to change the time of day, and drag the '''Cloud Cover''' slider to make the sky more clear or more overcast.
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# A lot of extra fun can be had if you click '''Advanced Sky''' and make choices from the '''Sky Presets''' dropdown.
  
[[Image:Camera_Controls.png]]
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This is a local setting, meaning only you see the changes — no worries about burning anyone else to a crisp when the sun gets ''EXTREME!''
  
A combo of these will help get your shot framed as you please!
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{{KBtip|Second Life's atmospheric system is called "[[WindLight]]". You can get [http://bit.ly/wlsettings hundreds more sky and water settings].}}
  
This stuff is also vividly illustrated in this [[Video Tutorials|video tutorial]] (don't worry that the user interface looks different, it uses the [[Dazzle]] skin):
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== Silent snapshots ==
  
<p>{{#widget:Vimeo|id=4167140|width=640|height=480}}</p>
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If the ''whirr-click!'' snapshot sound and animation starts to get on your nerves, you can disable that.
  
=== Enable the Advanced menu ===
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# Select '''Me''' menu > '''Preferences'''.
'''Press Ctrl-Alt-D on PC or Opt-Ctrl-D on Mac.''' You'll see a new menu at the top of your screen next to the Help menu: Advanced. Some options useful for snapshotting can be found within, as we'll see.
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# Click '''Advanced''' tab.
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# Enable '''Show Advanced Menu'''. You'll see it appear at the top of your screen.
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# Uncheck '''Advanced''' menu > '''Quiet Snapshots to Disk'''.
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# In the PREFERENCES window, click '''OK'''.
  
=== Maximize your Second Life window ===
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{{KBtip|The '''Advanced''' and related '''Develop''' menus have plenty of hidden gems that affect snapshots in subtle to drastic ways. [[Taking_snapshots/Old|More of them are covered here]], although that article hasn't been updated for Viewer 2.x.}}
I run Second Life in a window because full screen mode makes it hard to switch between open applications on my computer.
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To enable this, '''go to Edit menu > Preferences > Graphics tab and check "Run Second Life in a window"'''.
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== What's next? ==
  
''Make sure'' to maximize your window so it covers as much of the screen as possible. When you take a snapshot, it captures everything you can see in your SL window, so obviously, bigger is better — you can always crop/trim later, but you can't add missing details so easily; it's generally best to have extra material to work with, just like traditional photography.
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Torley says:
  
=== Turn on the High-res snapshots option ===
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<blockquote>"I've focused on cutting to the chase so you can get photographing without feeling overwhelmed — even though amidst emotional beauty, it's natural to feel that way! Snapshots are a 'gateway skill' of Second Life that will lead you to learning so many other parts. Alas, I want to tell you upfront that despite their joy, there are many technical bugs with snapshots — such as them turning out black or otherwise distorted, which is why I recommend '''always check a test shot before continuing further in a session'''. Here are some links to learn more!"</blockquote>
And how? Easy! '''Advanced menu > High-res snapshots'''. Once that's enabled with an X next to it, all snapshots you save to disk will be 4x the viewable size: 2x the height, 2x the width. For instance, if your actual screen resolution is 1024x768, then the resulting high-res snapshot will be 2048x1536.
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[[Image:Advanced_menu_-_High-res_Snapshot.png|256px]]
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=== What about the other save options? ===
  
'''The "High-res snapshots" option ''only'' works if you use File menu > Snapshot to Disk. If you want high-res snapshots from the option-laden Snapshot Preview tool (File menu > Take Snapshot):'''
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You can also '''Email''' a snapshot, which is also known as "sending a postcard". What's different?
  
* Under "What size image do you need?", select "Current Window".
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* '''Save''' button changes to '''Send'''.
* Take note of those numbers, and multiply "Width" and "Height" by the highest multiple it will go under or equal to a maximum of 6016 pixels. So, if "Width = 1600" and "Height = 1200" or "1600x1200", then "3200x2400" would work, or even "4800x3600". The higher you go, the bigger the file, and the longer it'll take to save.
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* Clicking '''Send''' opens a window where you can choose a recipient and enter a message. There's a bug where the thumbnail here may be distorted but looks fine when received.
* You don't have to adhere to strict proportions, but if you take a picture that doesn't match your aspect ratio, it'll end up squished/stretched. To avoid this, check "Keep specified aspect ratio".
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* There's an '''Image quality''' slider. Usually '''75''' or above gets adequate results. Postcards ''can't'' exceed a filesize of 1,024 KB (that's 1 megabyte) as shown under the thumbnail, so you'll need to decrease this.
* Click "New Snapshot" (if "Auto-snapshot" isn't on) every time you make a change, to preview what your snapshot will look like before it's committed to your hard drive.
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* When you're happy, click Save.
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'''Taking hi-rez snappies will momentarily freeze your computer, and in some extreme instances, may crash Second Life.''' Having both lots of RAM and a fast hard drive help here: I have 4 GB (~3 GB accessible under 32-bit Windows) and a 150 GB [http://www.wdc.com/global/geturl/showproduct.asp?sku=2813994 Western Digital Raptor], which is a speedy-but-somewhat-expensive HD. If you're serious about snapshots in the long run, you'll want proper equipment! Plus, image editing of big pictures will also tax your resources, so if you intend to post-process, make sure your computer's up to stuff.
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{{KBwarning|1=Sending postcards has been crappy for a long time: postcards may fail to be delivered and can significantly slow a server. [https://jira.secondlife.com/browse/SVC-2283 SVC-2283] and [https://jira.secondlife.com/browse/SVC-5387 SVC-5387] are two of Torley's most hated bugs, and for reasons explained within, he really wants to see them fixed. Despite this, postcards sent to sites like [http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=secondlife&ss=2&s=rec Flickr] and [http://www.sluniverse.com/pics/ Snapzilla] remain popular — a testament to the dedicated lengths our Residents will go to for capturing the moment!}}
  
High-res snapshots are suitable for print, which has a higher resolution than your computer screen can display. A good idea if you intend to make jumbo posters.
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And lastly, you can save a snapshot as a photo (texture) directly to '''My inventory (L$10)''', which costs that amount each time. What's different?
  
Another way to get high-res results is to take smaller pictures and stitch them into a panorama. Blessed you, I wrote a tutorial titled '''[http://torley.com/tutorial-how-to-make-a-beautiful-second-life-panorama-in-15-minutes How to make a beautiful Second Life panorama in 15 minutes]'''. This panorama of Prim Hearts [http://www.flickr.com/photo_zoom.gne?id=1303160981&size=o&context=set-72157594425797728 is 7785x3357 at full size]!
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* '''Save''' now shows it costs L$10 to save each photo to your inventory.
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* '''Width''' and '''Height''' is ultimately constrained to powers of 2 because of [[Texture aspect ratios|Second Life's technical texture limits]]. What this means for most people: to avoid unwanted stretching/squashing, take square pictures (usually 512x512).
  
[[Image:1303160981_c0362dd653_b.jpg|512px]]
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Since this can be confusing, Torley suggests avoiding saving textures directly to inventory unless you have a special reason. Instead:
  
You can also view [http://www.flickr.com/photos/torley/sets/72157594425797728/ my gallery of panoramic creations] for more inspiring works.
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# '''Save photos to disk for highest archival quality and because you get a local backup'''. (Saving many textures from inventory to hard drive is tedious.)
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# Before you upload a texture into Second Life, crop and post-process it as you desire.
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# Select '''Build''' menu > '''Upload''' > '''Image''' to choose a file and [http://community.secondlife.com/t5/English-Knowledge-Base/Uploading-assets/ta-p/700165 upload a texture from your hard drive to your inventory].
  
=== Set your Preferences > Graphics to the max ===
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The only real difference is your uploaded texture appears in your '''Textures''' photo instead of your '''Photo Album''', and with a different icon.
Second Life 1.19.1 and newer, powered by [[WindLight]], has a [[User:Torley_Linden/Project_updates#.5B2007-09-20.5D_Better_Preferences_.3E_Graphics_tab_is_very.2C_very_nice |''greatly simplified'' Preferences > Graphics tab]], and just 1 of them instead of 3. It includes presets controlled by a master slider so you can move many settings at once, and also override that with custom, finer-grained controls if you so desire. Basically, all you gotta do is move that slider to Ultra, and there, you're pretty much set for high-quality snapshots! :)
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If you want more control, click the Custom checkbox to show all the options underneath.
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Other subtleties that aren't important enough for most people to care about:
  
[[Image:Preferences_-_Graphics_tab_%28WindLight%29.png|256px]]
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* The '''Capture: Depth''' mode only works in '''Save to my computer'''.
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* You can't choose a format when using '''Email''' or '''My inventory (L$10)''' — the former uses JPG and the latter uses Second Life's internal JPG2000.
  
Also remember this general principle: '''moving sliders all the way to the right, checking checkbox buttons, and selecting the lowest of radio buttons (those round ones you can only select one from a series of) will result in the highest quality, at the price of lower performance'''. That's what I generally do, but:
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=== More options ===
  
* I keep Tree Mesh Detail in the middle unless I'm doing some special nature shots with lots of Linden foliage in them. I find it can induce too much of a performance hit and doesn't really make the overall scene look better from a great distance. Often, I prefer Resident-created trees, like some of the impressive sculptie ones I've been seeing lately at [http://www.flickr.com/search/?w=70285332%40N00&q=straylight&m=text Straylight], [http://www.flickr.com/search/?w=70285332%40N00&q=jaguar%20creek&m=text Jaguar Creek], [http://www.flickr.com/search/?w=70285332%40N00&q=siege%20guild&m=text Siege Guild], and [http://www.flickr.com/search/?w=70285332%40N00&q=lilith%20heart&m=text Lilith Heart's work]. Don't be timid to explore new locations — remember, long-distance travel via teleportation is free in SL, make the most of it!
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In the SNAPSHOT PREVIEW window, click '''More''' to reveal additional choices. Here's what each one of them does when '''Save to my computer''' is selected:
* I don't bother moving the Flexible Mesh Detail slider; it's currently broken, I think. It ''should'' make flexiprims move smoother when it's all the way to the right, but I'm not noticing a difference in 1.18.3, and it looks like it's been this way for awhile.
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Need more help? Watch this Graphics Preferences Guide [[Video_Tutorials|video tutorial]]!
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* '''Size''' - Default is '''Current Window'''. If you change the size, it may only capture part of the visible Viewer area, as shown in the preview thumbnail. Torley usually leaves this alone, since he prefers to crop in an external image editor. General rule: capture as much as possible, you can always ''edit down'' later but it can be time-consuming to re-setup an earlier scene.
 
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* '''Format''' - Default is '''PNG''', which Torley recommends as the best balance for archiving snapshots in a web-friendly and relatively compact format. '''JPEG''' degrades image quality (plus, you can always convert PNG to JPEG) and '''BMP''' is an old format incompatible with the web, and uses bigger file size. Unless you know what you're doing, leave this alone.
<p>{{#widget:Vimeo|id=4276226|width=640|height=480}}</p>
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* '''Width''' and '''Height''' - Change this if you want to change the dimensions of the captured area. You could increase them to capture at a higher resolution than your Viewer window's actual dimensions, although this can result in glitches. There's usually not a need to mess with this.
 
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* '''Constrain proportions''' - This is grayed out unless you choose a '''Size''' of '''Custom''' proportions.
=== Turn on antialiasing and anisotropic filtering ===
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* '''Capture''' - '''Colors''' is the normal mode. '''Depth''' shows a depth map that you can use in Photoshop for selective masking, although it behaves somewhat flaky.
'''[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antialiasing Antialiasing] smooths out jaggy lines.''' It affects just about everything you see inworld, and increases your overall immersive experience. Antialiasing is especially important when you want to capture fine details like avatars with intricate attachments. On lower-end graphics cards, antialiasing ''will'' have a noticeable performance impact, especially at higher-quality modes. But on mid-range and particularly high-range cards — I currently (2007-10-30) have an NVIDIA GeForce 8800GTS. — you can crank it all the way up.
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** '''Interface''' - Check this to show the Viewer's user interface (menus, sidebar, and so on) in the snapshot. Torley leaves this unchecked and uses external programs like Jing to capture, instead of flipping this on and off.
 
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** '''HUDs''' - Check this to show [http://community.secondlife.com/t5/English-Knowledge-Base/HUDs/ta-p/700083 HUD attachments] in your snapshot. While you'd usually want this off, there are photographic HUDs like the [http://www.flickr.com/groups/karikomradhud/pool/ Kari Komrad] that place a stylized frame or other effects and are ''meant'' to be shown.
Also make sure in Second Life, Preferences > Adv. Graphics' "[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anisotropic_filtering Anisotropic filtering]" is on. A layman description: '''anisotropic filtering makes stuff at angles in the distance look sharper'''.
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* '''Keep open after saving''' - Keeps the SNAPSHOT PREVIEW window open after you save a snapshot. Torley leaves this unchecked and uses the shortcut mentioned above.
 
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* '''Freeze frame (fullscreen)''' - Does a cute visual effect when you take a snapshot. Torley leaves this unchecked because it's somewhat confusing and slows him down.
In Second Life 1.20 and newer, you can adjust antialiasing within Second Life:
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* '''Auto-refresh''' - Refreshes the thumbnail preview each time you change a control. Torley leaves this unchecked, again because of the aforementioned shortcut.
 
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* Go to Preferences > Graphics tab.
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* Click Hardware Options.
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* Boost antialiasing as you please, but be aware higher settings will be slower because it renders the scene at multiples of itself before downscaling. More powerful graphics cards will be able to do higher-quality modes (e.g., 16x).
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You can also adjust antialiasing within your drivers.
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I'm mostly familiar with NVIDIA cards, and in Windows XP with [[Graphics_Drivers|recent drivers]]:
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* Go to Control Panel > NVIDIA Control Panel.
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* Expand "3D Settings" and select "Adjust image settings with preview".
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* Click the "Use my preference emphasizing" button.
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** The quickest way to get results is to move the simple slider all the way to the right — "Quality".
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** If you're feeling adventurous and know what you're doing, after selecting Quality (which changes a whole bunch of micro-settings), select "Use the advanced 3D image settings".
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** You can keep most of these settings how they are; you'll generally want to set both "Anisotropic filtering" and "Antialiasing - Setting" as high as possible — mine are at 16x, but the maximum will depend on your hardware.
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* After setting this, try running Second Life and see if you can tell the difference, both in terms of visual quality and performance. Even 2x is noticeably better than having none on at all.
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[[Image:NVIDIA_Control_Panel_-_3D_Settings_-_Adjust_image_settings_with_preview.png|256px]]
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I reckon the process is similar for ATI cards; if someone wants to help me fill in the details, please do!
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=== What if doing the above makes Second Life too slow? ===
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Aw. :\ Well, if that's the case, have comfort that you can change the aforementioned options back to more moderate settings. '''I sometimes crank up settings extremely high for the purpose of taking snapshots, then move them back down after a photo session is done'''. While it may be clunky to twiddle with all the custom sliders & buttons, you can use the master slider (Low, Mid, High, Ultra) for one-click settings.
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== More useful skills to have ==
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Some of the following is covered in this [[Video Tutorials|video tutorial]]:
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<p>{{#widget:Vimeo|id=4168893|width=640|height=480}}</p>
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=== Use keyboard shortcuts ===
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Whenever possible, '''I use keyboard shortcuts to save time'''. Each appropriate menu item has its shortcut listed next to it. For example, "Snapshot to Disk" is Ctrl-`. You can press that rapidly from the keyboard to take a sequence of many snapshots, then discard the ones you don't like later.
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You'll find over the long run that using shortcuts is ''far'' advantageous to repeatedly reaching for the menus, and wasting your energy. (As I like to say, "economize your moves!") Shortcuts ''can'' take awhile to get used to, so don't worry if they feel awkward at first — and the best way to build a good habit is to use keyboard shortcuts regularly and often.
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=== Changing time of day ===
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'''You can locally (meaning ''only you'' will see the changes) change the time of day anytime you wish:'''
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* World menu > Environment Settings.
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* Select either Sunrise, Midday, Sunset, or Midnight.
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* World menu > Environment Settings > Revert to Region Default will get you back to how things used to be, or you can relog.
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[[Image:World_menu_-_Environment_Settings.png|256px]]
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Watch this [[Video Tutorials|video tutorial]] to learn more:
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<p>{{#widget:Vimeo|id=4168265|width=640|height=480}}</p>
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=== Zoom In & Out ===
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These are very useful options which surprisingly aren't more obvious: '''View menu > Zoom In and Zoom Out'''. You can use each multiple times — Zoom In 13 times, Zoom Out 6 times — to increase the magnitude of zoom.
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[[Image:View_menu_-_Zoom_In.png|256px]]
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Zoom In is useful for when you have problems getting closer to specific subject matter, altho if you zoom in ''very'' close, you may feel like a sniper/voyeur.
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Zoom Out is great for wide-angle vantage scenes, like certain kinds of panoramas, or when you're trying to cover a city that spans a whole region in one shot. Instant drama of the good variety.
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Be careful, tho: if you use Zoom Out 6 times, the screen will look like something out of a ''Star Trek'' warp speed scene! Just '''go to View menu > Zoom Default to reset at any time'''.
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Watch this [[Video Tutorials|video tutorial]] to learn more:
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<p>{{#widget:Vimeo|id=4168859|width=640|height=480}}</p>
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=== Disable Camera Constraints ===
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Ever wanted to take an epic shot of vast scenery but were frustrated you couldn't move your camera far enough to capture it all? There are a couple things you need to do:
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# '''Edit menu > Preferences > Graphics tab and set Draw Distance to at least 128 m.''' I even set mine to 256, or even 512 to see really far away. With higher draw distance, you can move your camera further.
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# '''Advanced menu > Disable Camera Constraints.''' You'll notice with the (see [[User:Torley_Linden/Snapshot_tips#Camera_controls|Camera controls]]), you can "grab" the terrain much further.
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Watch this [[Video Tutorials|video tutorial]] to learn more:
+
 
+
<p>{{#widget:Vimeo|id=4384092|width=640|height=480}}</p>
+
 
+
=== Advanced lighting ===
+
If your computer meets our [http://secondlife.com/corporate/sysreqs.php System Recommendations], you should be able to turn on local lighting. '''Preferences > Graphics tab and select "Nearby local lights". If you don't see this option, click the "Custom" checkbox.
+
 
+
In addition to backlighting from the sun & moon, the 6 nearest lights (if you're curious, it's an [http://www.falloutsoftware.com/tutorials/gl/gl8.htm OpenGL limit]) will cast light on avatars, objects, and terrain within their proximity. Like "First Life" photography, well-placed lights can add contrast, tone, and depth to a scene. For example:
+
 
+
[[Image:Kirkby%27s_Linden_Village_Landing_Point_-_Local_Lighting_OFF.jpg|256px]] '''<— Local Lighting OFF'''
+
 
+
[[Image:Kirkby%27s_Linden_Village_Landing_Point_-_Local_Lighting_ON.jpg|256px]] '''<— Local Lighting ON'''
+
 
+
You can even create transparent objects that illuminate what's around them, and some Residents have gone so far as to create their own [http://www.google.com/search?q=%22personal+lighting%22+%22second+life%22 "personal lighting"] gadgets with elaborate controls, like the [http://ploreho.blogspot.com/2007/07/luxace-v10.html Luxace].
+
 
+
For an animated video showing how to create a basic personal light, '''[http://youtube.com/watch?v=LU-NhMedmnk watch the tip @ 2:36 of this video]'''.
+
 
+
=== Quiet Snapshots to Disk ===
+
If you get annoyed at the ''whirrrr-click!'' that happens whenever you take a snapshot and others complain that you sound like a tourist (it's happened to me!), you can disable that sound and animation. Go to '''Advanced menu > Quiet Snapshots to Disk''' — it does what it says! However, there ''is'' a bug ([https://jira.secondlife.com/browse/VWR-2448 VWR-2448] on our [[Issue_tracker|Issue Tracker]]): it only affects File menu > Snapshot to Disk, and not File menu > Take Snapshot (where the Snapshot Preview palette comes up).
+
 
+
[[Image:Advanced_menu_-_Quiet_Snapshots_to_Disk.png|256px]]
+
 
+
There's a workaround, tho: '''Advanced menu > Debug Settings, and in the top text field, enter "UISndSnapshot". In the bottom, erase the "3d09f582-3851-c0e0-f5ba-277ac5c73fb4" so it's blank'''. You'll still animate when snapshotting, but it'll be silent. If you ever want your snapshot sound back, just click "Reset to default".
+
 
+
[[Image:Debug_Settings_-_UISndSnapshot.png|256px]]
+
 
+
=== Hide the User Interface ===
+
Framing matters a lot, and it's normal in Second Life to have a clutter of windows blocking parts of your screen as you're taking snapshots. Sure, you can close them, but it's inconvenient to reopen and close them time and time again, especially if you routinely have many. And even if you don't have any windows open, the top menu bar and bottom toolbar will likely be blocking small horizontal strips of your total viewable area.
+
 
+
So, what to do? ''Easy!''
+
 
+
I often use '''Advanced menu > Rendering > Features > UI''' to have a "clean" view of Second Life before taking a snapshot. I actually use its equivalent shortcut, '''Ctrl-Alt-F1''', to save time. The cool thing is, after taking a snapshot, the UI (User Interface) will automatically show again.
+
 
+
The UI is just ''hidden'' when you do that, and the windows ''aren't'' physically moved off the screen ''a la'' [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Expos%C3%A9_(Mac_OS_X) Mac OS X's Exposé], so you can actually still click buttons and other things if you aren't careful — keep that in mind!
+
 
+
Note, if F1 doesn't work for you, make sure [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F-Lock F-Lock] is ON.
+
 
+
== Special Debug Settings ==
+
'''<font size="3" color="#ff0099">The following applies to Second Life 1.19.1 or newer. Also note that you may want to ''remember'' to turn them off after your snapshotting is done — some may have undesirable effects and/or too much of a performance impact in regular usage.</font>'''
+
 
+
These Debug Settings are useful for increasing visual quality at the cost of performance. They're not directly accessible from the usual places in the user interface (e.g., Preferences), and are sort of "secrets". Aren't you glad you're reading this so you know this?
+
 
+
To access any of these, '''go to Advanced menu > Debug Settings and type the setting's name in the top box and press Enter'''. You'll see its parameters appear, and some help text to guide you on your way.
+
 
+
Special thanx to Runitai, Brad, and BigPapi Linden for cluing me in:
+
 
+
=== RenderDynamicLOD ===
+
Set it to "FALSE" to reap the benefits. I primarily use this because it makes far-away terrain look more organic and natural. LOD stands for "Level Of Detail". Try going to a place rich in terraformed hills, valleys, and other geographical features and compare.
+
 
+
=== RenderFarClip ===
+
This is also known as "Draw Distance", but the advantage of setting it here is that you can boost it to extreme numbers like "2048.000" (that's meters, folks!), which will also result a huge performance impact. For laughs, try setting it to something short like "32.000" and you may find an artistic use for the premature clipping. I like setting this real high and moving my camera far above a cityscape to see all the tiny details within. [http://www.flickr.com/photos/torley/2314787249/in/set-72157604061754829/ See example.]
+
 
+
=== RenderUseFarClip ===
+
If you set this to "FALSE", performance will decrease because objects past the far clip plane will be drawn. Good to use in combination with a reasonably long draw distance, as it preserves more stuff in the distance. Again, this is worthwhile to experiment with and see what it does for you. I do many of [http://www.flickr.com/photos/torley/sets/72157594425797728/ my grand panoramic vistas] with this on "FALSE".
+
 
+
=== RenderGlowMinLuminance ===
+
Lower this to about "0.250" or so to achieve full-scene glow — it looks ethereal and dreamy, like a wedding photo! If highlights get too washed out, go to the Advanced Sky Editor > Lighting tab and lower Gamma to compensate.
+
 
+
HUD objects can also have glow, so overlaying an HUD object atop the whole screen is an alternative way to do this.
+
 
+
== Built-in artistic effects ==
+
While this guide doesn't endeavor to cover ''all'' myriad possibilities, you may want to explore these...
+
 
+
=== Wireframe ===
+
Instant cyber-vision! '''Advanced menu > Rendering > Wireframe''' shows you a bare-bones view that may remind you of such flicks as ''The Matrix'' and ''The Thirteenth Floor'':
+
 
+
[[Image:181145394_492b61a030_o.jpg|256px]]
+
 
+
Intriguing things can happen when you take pictures of a normal scene and its wireframe counterpart, then composite them, [http://www.flickr.com/photos/torley/501749299/ as shown here].
+
 
+
=== "Depth" and "Object Matte" capture modes ===
+
These are accessed through the Snapshot Preview tool when you select "Save snapshot to hard drive" (it's not enabled with "Send a postcard" or "Upload a snapshot") and next to "Capture", change "Colors" (the "normal mode"):
+
 
+
[[Image:Straylight_snapshot_-_Colors.jpg|256px]] '''<— Colors (normal mode)'''
+
 
+
[[Image:Straylight_snapshot_-_Depth.jpg|256px]] '''<— Depth'''
+
 
+
[[Image:Straylight_snapshot_-_Object_Mattes.jpg|256px]] '''<— Object Mattes'''
+
 
+
Both are useful for layering post-processing in an image editor, where for example, you can selectively apply a zoom blur depending on the depth of the scene.
+
 
+
'''Depth is also very handy for taking silhouette-esque shots''', like [http://www.flickr.com/photos/noelanilightfoot/401110862/ Noelani Lightfoot's "Treehouse"] and [http://www.flickr.com/photos/syene/409241394/ Syene's "Gallery Space"].
+
 
+
'''Object Mattes''' may look like a ''TRON''-ish array of blue and green splotches at first, but it '''is useful for [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masking masking] and distinguishing individual objects for precise manipulation'''. [http://www.flickr.com/photos/fianna/1848673789/ Fianna Idora's "Matte Profile"] and [http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniekiddofsl/1572009949/ Melanie Kidd's "me and ary"] are good examples of how it can be used artistically.
+
 
+
Alternatively, '''Advanced menu > Rendering > Info Displays > Pick Render also shows object mattes''', and this method's advantage is you can include it in postcards and uploaded photos without any intermediary steps. Thanks for the tip, Lyndyn Tzara!
+
 
+
You can combine Depth and Object Mattes with the aforementioned Wireframe mode too.
+
 
+
I've just scratched the proverbial surface here, so go wild with your creative instincts and show me what you come up with!
+
  
 
== Related resources ==
 
== Related resources ==
=== [[Help:Snapshots|Snapshots & Postcards]] ===
 
^ '''Check out dat page for more of "the good juice".'''
 
 
Also watch the '''related [[Video_Tutorials|video tutorial]] on how to send a postcard from Second Life to an email address''':
 
 
<p>{{#widget:Vimeo|id=4168979|width=640|height=480}}</p>
 
 
=== [[Joystick_Flycam|Joystick Flycam]] ===
 
This must be one of the bestest "hidden features" EVAR. The Flycam is useful for cinematic, smooth, and other sorts of tracked shots in [[Machinima|machinima]], but it can also '''assist you in positioning your camera''' for still shots. If you have a capable joystick or other input device, this is well-worth checking out. As of Second Life 1.20, we have formal support for 3Dconnexion's [[Space_Navigator|SpaceNavigator]] 3D mouse:
 
 
<p>{{#widget:Vimeo|id=4242973|width=640|height=480}}</p>
 
 
[[Video_Tutorials#SPACENAVIGATOR|Watch more video tutorials on how to use it.]]
 
 
=== Misc. tips ===
 
Did you know you can:
 
 
* '''[[Saving_Textures|Save textures to your hard drive?]]''' For example, if you've uploaded snapshots to your inventory, this lets you export them so you can upload them to other sites and post them outside of Second Life. You can do this by opening a texture with full permissions and going to File menu > Save Texture As — see the link for further details.
 
 
* '''Hide foot shadows?''' Advanced menu > Rendering > Features > Foot Shadows
 
 
* '''[http://www.flickr.com/groups/secondlife/discuss/72157600062846532/ Use "Slow Motion Animations" to make action shots easier?]'''
 
 
* '''[http://www.flickr.com/groups/secondlife/discuss/72157600055309030/ Move the camera around while taking a freeze-frame snapshot?]''' Great for getting an ideal angle with little fuss.
 
 
* '''[http://emmanowhere.blogspot.com/2007/04/using-flickr-photos-in-second-life.html Use Flickr photos as streaming media in SL?]'''
 
 
== [[Help:Snapshots/A_state_of_snapshots|A state of snapshots]] ==
 
^ Torley's personal notes on how things've come to be.
 
 
=== Read up on non-SL photo tips ===
 
I find inspiration in our analogue world, and while some things like exposure and aperture settings don't exactly correspond to SL's somewhat-limited built-in snapshot tools, you can still learn a lot — plus, due to the magic of post-processing, you can bring your SL snapshots into Photoshop or another image editor and make them look worn, frayed, and more organic.
 
 
I check [http://popurls.com/ popurls] daily, not just for photog tips but because of the sheer amount of useful + fun headlines that come up. It's a mega-aggregator of many useful sources.
 
 
I also dig [http://lifehacker.com/software/photography/ Lifehacker's Photography] section a lot, which also regularly highlights programs that you can use on your pictures. Make it a good habit to check these resources at least every few days, and stick with it for at least a month so you've established familiarity with what's out there. I've learned a ''lot'' doing this.
 
 
Learn about things like the "[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rule_of_thirds rule of thirds]" so you know how to break 'em later. ;) It may sound philosophical, but by knowing your limits and knowing what's already been done, you're freeing yourself to explore, to venture further — into the "unknown" of your creative space, and express yourself as you truely see fit.
 
  
''I wish you all the best in photographing your Second Life!''
+
* '''[[Taking snapshots/Old|The old version of this guide]]''' - Dating back to the Viewer 1.x days. Some of it is obsolete but you may enjoy soaking up the history. However, many principles still apply and details have yet to be added. ''You'' can make this page awesomer by editing it!
  
[[Category:Tutorials]] [[Category:Creation]]
+
[[Category:Content creation]]
[[Category:Textures and Snapshots]]
+

Latest revision as of 23:58, 20 November 2012

Inworld photography is one of the most popular hobbies inside Second Life, and getting started is as easy as clicking a single button. Do you want to photograph gorgeous scenes like this?

This video tutorial from Torley, SL photography master, teaches you the essentials in less than three minutes:

Take your first snapshots

  1. As shown in the video, in the Viewer's Advanced mode, simply click the Take snapshot (camera icon) button on your toolbar.
  2. In the SNAPSHOT PREVIEW window, choose Save to my computer.
  3. Click the Save button.
  4. A file browse window appears. Choose your location — like on your desktop — and save it there.

Now, each subsequent time you Save a snapshot during this session, it gets saved to the same location. If you want to change locations, click the triangle next to the Save button to choose Save As, or restart the Viewer.

You should also open the snapshot in your operating system to ensure it turned out as you expected.

KBtip2.png Tip: Snapshots saved to disk automatically have a number appended to them. For example, "Snapshot_001.png, Snapshot_002.png, Snapshot_003.png", and so on.

Use the Ctrl-` snapshot shortcut

There's a faster way than repeatedly clicking the toolbar's Snapshot button: press Ctrl+`. This bypasses the SNAPSHOT PREVIEW and saves to disk directly.

On PC keyboards with international characters this will not work.

Instead of ` use the key on the right side of key L.

On a Danish PC keyboard for example, the shortcut becomes: Ctrl+Æ

On a german keyboard the shortcut is Ctrl+ö

Change your camera angle

OK, so how do you change your camera angle? Since a snapshot is taken of what you see:

  1. Click the toolbar's View button to bring up the camera (Orbit Zoom Pan) controls.
  2. Click the controls to change your view. As you get more advanced, you'll want to try keyboard shortcuts for each of these.
KBtip2.png Tip: To get an easy shot of your avatar's face, click the Preset Views (eye) button, then click Front View.

Improve your graphics quality

If you've looked at other Residents' photos and wonder why some things look so vivid or sharp, it could just be because of graphics settings. These are dependent on how powerful your computer is, but if you meet or exceed our System Recommendations, you should be able to see Second Life in all its glory. Here's a quick setup:

  1. Select Me menu > Preferences.
  2. In the PREFERENCES window, click Graphics tab.
  3. On the Quality and speed slider, click High (or you won't see clouds and stuff), or if you have a really powerful computer, click Ultra. When you're comfortable, you can also click Advanced to show more options.
  4. Click OK to save your changes.
KBtip2.png Tip: To make textures appear sharper and smooth out jaggy edges, click the Hardware button. Check Anisostropic Filtering and set Antialiasing to at least 4x. Torley thinks this should be on by default on capable systems.

Change the weather

Is it too dark? Want a clear blue sky with no clouds? That's easy too.

  1. Select World menu > Sun > Environment Editor.
  2. Drag the time slider to change the time of day, and drag the Cloud Cover slider to make the sky more clear or more overcast.
  3. A lot of extra fun can be had if you click Advanced Sky and make choices from the Sky Presets dropdown.

This is a local setting, meaning only you see the changes — no worries about burning anyone else to a crisp when the sun gets EXTREME!

KBtip2.png Tip: Second Life's atmospheric system is called "WindLight". You can get hundreds more sky and water settings.

Silent snapshots

If the whirr-click! snapshot sound and animation starts to get on your nerves, you can disable that.

  1. Select Me menu > Preferences.
  2. Click Advanced tab.
  3. Enable Show Advanced Menu. You'll see it appear at the top of your screen.
  4. Uncheck Advanced menu > Quiet Snapshots to Disk.
  5. In the PREFERENCES window, click OK.
KBtip2.png Tip: The Advanced and related Develop menus have plenty of hidden gems that affect snapshots in subtle to drastic ways. More of them are covered here, although that article hasn't been updated for Viewer 2.x.

What's next?

Torley says:

"I've focused on cutting to the chase so you can get photographing without feeling overwhelmed — even though amidst emotional beauty, it's natural to feel that way! Snapshots are a 'gateway skill' of Second Life that will lead you to learning so many other parts. Alas, I want to tell you upfront that despite their joy, there are many technical bugs with snapshots — such as them turning out black or otherwise distorted, which is why I recommend always check a test shot before continuing further in a session. Here are some links to learn more!"

What about the other save options?

You can also Email a snapshot, which is also known as "sending a postcard". What's different?

  • Save button changes to Send.
  • Clicking Send opens a window where you can choose a recipient and enter a message. There's a bug where the thumbnail here may be distorted but looks fine when received.
  • There's an Image quality slider. Usually 75 or above gets adequate results. Postcards can't exceed a filesize of 1,024 KB (that's 1 megabyte) as shown under the thumbnail, so you'll need to decrease this.
KBwarning.png Warning: Sending postcards has been crappy for a long time: postcards may fail to be delivered and can significantly slow a server. SVC-2283 and SVC-5387 are two of Torley's most hated bugs, and for reasons explained within, he really wants to see them fixed. Despite this, postcards sent to sites like Flickr and Snapzilla remain popular — a testament to the dedicated lengths our Residents will go to for capturing the moment!

And lastly, you can save a snapshot as a photo (texture) directly to My inventory (L$10), which costs that amount each time. What's different?

  • Save now shows it costs L$10 to save each photo to your inventory.
  • Width and Height is ultimately constrained to powers of 2 because of Second Life's technical texture limits. What this means for most people: to avoid unwanted stretching/squashing, take square pictures (usually 512x512).

Since this can be confusing, Torley suggests avoiding saving textures directly to inventory unless you have a special reason. Instead:

  1. Save photos to disk for highest archival quality and because you get a local backup. (Saving many textures from inventory to hard drive is tedious.)
  2. Before you upload a texture into Second Life, crop and post-process it as you desire.
  3. Select Build menu > Upload > Image to choose a file and upload a texture from your hard drive to your inventory.

The only real difference is your uploaded texture appears in your Textures photo instead of your Photo Album, and with a different icon.

Other subtleties that aren't important enough for most people to care about:

  • The Capture: Depth mode only works in Save to my computer.
  • You can't choose a format when using Email or My inventory (L$10) — the former uses JPG and the latter uses Second Life's internal JPG2000.

More options

In the SNAPSHOT PREVIEW window, click More to reveal additional choices. Here's what each one of them does when Save to my computer is selected:

  • Size - Default is Current Window. If you change the size, it may only capture part of the visible Viewer area, as shown in the preview thumbnail. Torley usually leaves this alone, since he prefers to crop in an external image editor. General rule: capture as much as possible, you can always edit down later but it can be time-consuming to re-setup an earlier scene.
  • Format - Default is PNG, which Torley recommends as the best balance for archiving snapshots in a web-friendly and relatively compact format. JPEG degrades image quality (plus, you can always convert PNG to JPEG) and BMP is an old format incompatible with the web, and uses bigger file size. Unless you know what you're doing, leave this alone.
  • Width and Height - Change this if you want to change the dimensions of the captured area. You could increase them to capture at a higher resolution than your Viewer window's actual dimensions, although this can result in glitches. There's usually not a need to mess with this.
  • Constrain proportions - This is grayed out unless you choose a Size of Custom proportions.
  • Capture - Colors is the normal mode. Depth shows a depth map that you can use in Photoshop for selective masking, although it behaves somewhat flaky.
    • Interface - Check this to show the Viewer's user interface (menus, sidebar, and so on) in the snapshot. Torley leaves this unchecked and uses external programs like Jing to capture, instead of flipping this on and off.
    • HUDs - Check this to show HUD attachments in your snapshot. While you'd usually want this off, there are photographic HUDs like the Kari Komrad that place a stylized frame or other effects and are meant to be shown.
  • Keep open after saving - Keeps the SNAPSHOT PREVIEW window open after you save a snapshot. Torley leaves this unchecked and uses the shortcut mentioned above.
  • Freeze frame (fullscreen) - Does a cute visual effect when you take a snapshot. Torley leaves this unchecked because it's somewhat confusing and slows him down.
  • Auto-refresh - Refreshes the thumbnail preview each time you change a control. Torley leaves this unchecked, again because of the aforementioned shortcut.

Related resources

  • The old version of this guide - Dating back to the Viewer 1.x days. Some of it is obsolete but you may enjoy soaking up the history. However, many principles still apply and details have yet to be added. You can make this page awesomer by editing it!