Mirror, mirror…

Update: I’ve add a link to Zonja’s excellent instructions to the my Tutorials Index Page

Last night, Chestnut Rau led me, by way of Whiskey Monday to a three-year-old post from Zonja Capalini on using Linden Water as a mirror. As old as the post may be, it has considerable relevance given how LL and TPVs are striving to improve the graphics capabilities of the Viewer – and it goes to show how easy it is to miss a highly informative blog post! My thanks to Chestnut and Whiskey for pointing me in the right direction, and to Zonja for documenting the process.

The technique isn’t new, per se, as a number of people have been using the idea for a while and produced some very clever effects, but Zonja’s instructions make it so easy to implement, they are a joy to follow and make trying things out for oneself as easy as 1-2-3.  And I mean easy – if I can get things sorted, then anyone can.

As well as clever visual effects, the technique can be used to produce some interesting shots as one travels SL – or even of one’s own home region.

Using the mirror water effect to capture one of the houses on my land (click to enlarge)
Black Spot, one of my favourite places in SL, gets the mirror water treatment (click to enlarge)

Of course, it is rare for real water to be so glassy-smooth, but the results are worth ignoring that fact. The effect can obviously be combined with other graphics effects – Windlight sky settings, lighting and shadows, etc., – although you can find your system getting pushed hard. Lighting and shadows in particular left me with very grainy pixelation on images…

The same shot, but with lighting and shadows active  – on my system, this does degrade the image quality somewhat

There is a slight difference between Zonja’s instructions and achieving the same result in V3-based Viewers, inasmuch as everything can be achieved from the one dialogue box when setting-up the water Windlight requirements. Just go to WORLD->ENVIRONMENT EDITOR->WATER PRESETS->NEW PRESET… Not exactly rocket science to find, but worth mentioning. Once there, set all options and sliders as Zonja defines in her article.

The most interesting use for the technique is that of self-portrait style pictures, where some fun can be had. Zonja and Whiskey has some stunning examples of these. I was a little reluctant to include any of myself, given my current fetish look – but “in for a penny”, as they say.