Back in August 2015, I blogged about Reshade, a post-processing injector for games and video software available for Windows. When installed and associated with a game or application like Second Life, it can be used to overlay the screen with a wide range of shader-based effects. These can them be used in screen captures or when recording machinima, to provide “real-time” visual effects.
Since that time, Reshade has been through a couple of iterations, with version 3.0.3 appearing on October 21st. As I’ve not revisited Reshade since that 2015 article, I thought I’d provide a short overview of installation and general use of this latest version.
A quick and dirty demo video I made with Reshade 1.0, showing how it can be used used in Second Life machinima filming
Please ensure you’re logged out of Second Life when setting-up ReShade.
- Go to the Reshade website and download the installer, double-click to run it.
- You will be prompted to select a programme for association with Reshade:
- Click Select Game and navigate to the installed folder of the viewer with which you want to use Reshade and click on the viewer EXE file.
- You will be prompted to Select Rendering API:
- Click on OpenGL (note this may already appear to be selected – click on it anyway). You will be asked if you want to install the shaders- make sure you do.
- The shaders will be downloaded and installed in a folder in your viewer’s installation location on your computer.
- The Reshade installer will report Done, and can be closed.
To associate Reshade with any other viewer you have installed on your PC, you will have to follow these instructions again. You do not necessarily have to install the shaders again (although this is easiest) – you can set any additional versions of Reshade to point to shaders already installed.
Note: the following is not intended to be an exhaustive guide to using Reshade. It is intended to get you started. The best way to gain familiarity with Reshade is to use it; should you need additional assistance, please refer to the Reshade forums. I don’t profess to be an expert in the applications, and will probably not be able to help with detailed technical support!
Reshade is available whenever you launch the viewer with which it has been associated. To access it, press
SHIFT-F2. This will display the UI panel which may enter Tutorial mode, if you haven’t saved any presets.
- Click the Continue button in the Reshade panel.
- The preset selection bar will be highlighted. Click on the + button to the right of it to open the Name bar, and type in anything you like – this will become the name of a preset INI file, which yo can save and then select at a later date, loading all the sahder settings you have established in it.
- The available shaders are loaded (and highlighted in red in the tutorial). Read the explanatory text and click continue.
- The settings panel is highlighted and briefly explained. Read and click Finish.
- The full Home tab will be displayed.
This comprises 5 sections:
- Preset selection area (top), with + (create a new preset INI) and – (delete selected preset INI)
- The shader search bar – type in all or part of a shader to display just that shader and its settings options. This also includes the Collapse / Expand toggle for opening / collapsing all shaders in the upper and lower panes of the tab
- A scrollable list of available shaders. Clicking on any one of these will open it to display the activation button (1), above, and the hotkey toggle option (2), above – you can type-in any key combination you like here to automatically select the shader.
- A scrollable list of settings, by shader (3), above).
- The Reload button (reset everything to defaults) and Show error log buttons.
The two main panes in the tab – shader list and settings – can be adjusted by clicking on the divider between them and moving it up or down.
The power of Reshade lies in its ability to offer stunning visual results without the need for post-processing PhotoShop, etc. Perhaps the finest exponent in using Reshade I know of is Loverdag, who is also one of SL’s premier photographers – see her Flickr stream for more of her work.
Shaders can be used in almost any combination to produce a range of effects and results – although there are some which may conflict with one another. The best way to gain familiarity with them is by experimenting. If your screen starts to look a mess at any time, click the Reload button to reset everything.
To use a shader:
- Locate it on the shader list by scrolling through the list or by using the search bar.
- Click the shader to display the activation button (if not displayed) and click it.
- In the settings pane, locate the relevant shader settings (if not already displayed). Then:
- Hover the mouse over each setting to display a brief description of what it does and the permitted values.
CTRL-click the setting field and enter your own value for it – experimentation might be the order of the day.
- The results are displayed in real-time on your screen.
- If things get a mess, use the Reload button to reset.
- When you are satisfied you have something you wish to capture, either use the Reshade screen capture button (Print Screen) or use a suitable screen capture application.
- Reset everything by pressing Reload, if required.
When taking a screen capture, remember:
- Reshade overlays the Second Life view, so applied affects will not be picked-up by the viewer’s own snapshot tool, even though they might appear to be applied in the snapshot preview
- When taking a screen capture, remember as well that any worn HUDs open viewer panels, etc., will also be captured – so hide / close them first
- If you are using a separate tool for screen capture, hide Reshade as well by clicking the “close” icon, top right of the panel – use
SHIFT-F2 to re-open.
As well as the Home tab, the Reshade 3.x Settings tab may be of interest. This allows users to set certain options, including:
- The Reshade activation key combination (
SHIFT-F2 by default)
- Setting the screen capture key (Print Screen by default), and the format for captured shots
- Setting the default paths for saving screen captures, the search path for locating shaders (so you can have one central cache of shaders accessible from multiple Reshade implementations associated with different viewers on your PC), etc
- Changing the Reshade UI colours
One thing to note here is the Usage Mode option. This toggles Reshade between Configuration Mode and Performance Mode. If you are making changes to shader settings, you will want to be in Configuration Mode. Note, as well, that ReShade uses it own AA filters by default, so things like text can sometimes look a little weird. If this happens to you, try disabling anti-aliasing in the viewer.
To remove ReShade from your viewer:
- Log out of Second Life
- Navigate to your viewer’s installation folder and delete opengl32.dll and the Reshade folder
Reshade offers a lot of opportunities for SL photographers and machinima makers alike. The initial releases were a little quirky, and I head through the grapevine that version 2.x could be problematic. Version 3.x seems to be pretty reliable and stable. I encountered a small issue following installation, but a quick re-run of the steps fixed that.
For those who enjoy photography and post-processing, and who haven’t tried Reshade, version 3.x might be a good starting point. Those with the technical know-how can even create their own shaders.
Finally, remember that ReShade is third-party application, LL and TPVs cannot provide assistance in using it – and nor can I. If you need help with it, please refer to the Reshade forums.