Standing together in Second Life

Stand: Relay D'Alliez
Stand, Relay D’Alliez

Stand is the title of a portrait exhibition currently open in a purpose-built gallery above the Relay Rocker’s Relay d’Alliez region and a part of Rocker’s Relay for Life campaign.

The portraits, all of which have been taken by Catalina Staheli, feature some of those who have been faced with cancer in one of its many forms and have either survived, or are living within its ever-present shadow – and in one case, someone who lost their life to the disease.

Each of the pictures features several images of the subject, which change every 30 seconds to show them in different poses (and even different forms, if they use more than one avatar in SL), with one image of each of them offering a quote.

Stand, Relay d'Alliez: Les Karsin
Stand, Relay d’Alliez: Les Karsin

Each of the framed portraits is displayed in its own space or alcove, allowing visitors to focus solely on each in turn without distraction. In addition, those featured in the portraits have each written a brief personal story, which offer moving reading, and can be obtained through the information givers found within the gallery space along with RFL kiosks for those wishing to make donations to RFL of SL and the American Cancer Society.

Taken together, the portraits and the gallery space – also, I believe, designed by Catalina – present a moving and inspirational exhibition, and full kudos should go to her for developing the idea for the exhibit and for producing such remarkable pictures. Thanks, as well, should go to the Relay Rockers for agreeing to host such an exhibition; even though there were some misgivings at first, as Trader Whiplash, the Rocker’s Co-Founder, freely admits.

Stand, Relay d'Alliez: Raven Cedarbridge
Stand, Relay d’Alliez: Raven Cedarbridge

“As always I asked the same question I have asked of the Relay Rockers for 11 years,” he said. “How much work it involved and how much will it raise?  The answer was unclear.  We weren’t even sure it would raise any money at all!  We talked for a few days.  We met resistance in several directions from the team, including myself.”

“I was however wrong,” he added with a laugh. “I totally underestimated the importance of this event. This exhibition  not only captures the essence of survivorship, it celebrates our diverse community here in Second Life and does much to explain how a virtual world can become the seventeenth largest Relay For Life in the world!”

Stand, Relay d'Alliez: some of the "Why I Relay" challenge portraits
Stand, Relay d’Alliez: some of the “Why I Relay” challenge portraits

Also on display in the gallery are some of Catalina’s Why I Relay challenge, which was also featured at this year’s Fantasy Faire. The challenge offered anyone supporting RFL of SL with the opportunity to have their photo taken by Catalina, together with a short message on why they participate in RFL.

This is a remarkable, inspirational and poignant exhibit; inspirational in the stories that are to be found here, and poignant through the presence of the portrait set of Riko Kamachi, one of the early participants in the exhibit, but who sadly lost her life to cancer before she could provide her story. Instead, she is remembered here in pictures and in the words of those who knew her.

Stand, Relay d'Alliez: Riko Kamachi
Stand, Relay d’Alliez: Riko Kamachi

Stand, will be open through until the end of the RFL Weekend on Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th July 2015, and I urge you to find the time to pay a visit; it beautifully encapsulates and spirit and meaning of Relay for Life of Second Life.

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Black Dragon snapshot floater and cinematic camera

Blackdragon logoOn Saturday, May 23rd, NiranV Dean released version of his Black Dragon viewer, which brings with it three core updates:

  • Revisions to the Unified Snapshot floater
  • An experimental cinematic camera
  • A “lock” feature to synchronise map changes (diffuse, normal and specular) across all three channels simultaneously.

Unified Snapshot Floater Updates

The snapshot floater updates include:

  • An option to save the snapshot upload type
  • Automatic file format changes when switching to profile/inventory upload and back
  • Fixes for auto-refresh
  • Improved world freeze – the entire world is now frozen, and allows proper camming around.

However, what is likely to find favour with a lot of users (assuming it is adopted by other viewers, including LL’s)  is the ability to now preview snapshots in a separate, resizeable texture panel.

The alternative snapshot preview panel can be accessed via the Preview button in the Unified Snapshot Floater
The alternative snapshot preview panel can be accessed via the Preview button in the Unified Snapshot Floater

This is enabled by a new Preview button in the snapshot floater, as shown above. However, do note that this does not “tear off” the existing preview pane, but actually opens a separate panel, linked to the floater – the original preview pane will remain open as well, until such time as it is closed using the << button at the top of the snapshot floater. Also, as it is a separate panel, the resizeable preview panel must also be closed separately to the snapshot floater.

Once opened, the alternate preview panel can be resized by dragging from the sides, the top or bottom edge or from the corners to more readily suit your requirements. note also that in doing so, the image will retain the correct aspect ratio.

The additional preview panel can be resized via dragging from the top / bottom / sides / corners
The additional preview panel can be resized via dragging from the top / bottom / sides / corners

I did encounter a slight problem with the updated snapshot floater – not with the new preview panel, but in the fact that the floater appears to be locked into saving images to disk in PNG format without my having changed any install defaults. On selecting either JPEG or BMP, the floater defaulted back to PNG.

Cinematic Camera

The Cinematic Camera is an experimental option, enabled through a debug setting, UseCinematicCamera. The camera will track head movements as you move – and is most effective if you’re using one of the Black Dragon over-the-shoulder third-person views. You’ll need to ensure your avatar’s head movement is free to follow the mouse as well.

If I’m honest, I didn’t have too much success playing with it – but that could easily be down to me doin’ it wrong. However, Niran has provided a video which may help to demonstrate things:

Texture Sync Lock

build-1The “Lock” option on the Texture tab of the Build floater operates in a similar manner to the Synchronise option found in the official viewer. When set, it ensures that changes made to the spinners for repeats, offsets and rotation on a texture are applied across all three materials maps.

This allows the viewer to use a single set of spinners for adjusting offsets, etc., against a set of maps applied to a surface / object and ensures they are applied across all three maps correctly.

Niran also provides some advice when using the Lock capability:

Note that this might cause the spinners and/or faces to revert sometimes, this is NORMAL behaviour, it’s due to lag which was already present long before this change (sadly). Usually happens if you use the spinners via mouse repeatedly, to prevent it most of the time you should type in your desired values directly and press enter ONCE then wait a bit.


An interesting set of updates, and the ability to use a resizeable preview panel for snapshots could fine some popular support given some people have found the default preview panel size in the Unified Snapshot floater to be overwhelming. As such, it’ll be interesting to see how the Lab and other TPVs option to implement this particular change or not (I understand Niran will be contributing the updates to LL, if he has not already done so, as he did with the original Unified Snapshot floater code).

Note also that as well as the features outlined above, this release includes a number of fixes, updates and changes – please refer to the release notes for details of these.

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