SL project updates 27/1: server, viewer, misc

Simbelmyne blog post

Server Deployments Week 27

As always, please refer to the server deployment thread for the latest updates.

  • There was no deployment to the Main (SLS) channel on Tuesday, July 4th, and it remains on simulator version # However the bi-weekly restart did take place.
  • On Wednesday, July 5th, the RC channels should be updated as follows:
    • BlueSteel and LeTigre will remain on simulator version # This contains internal fixes, and an update to the week #25 deployment (# )
    • Magnum should receive a server maintenance package (# comprising the ongoing OS system update for the simulators.

DJ Boards Issue – Magnum RC

The original deployment of this OS update to Magnum resulted in breakages to scripts used by various streaming service DJ boards (as noted in BUG-10073 and also in the forums). An initial attempt to fix the issue was made in June, but wasn’t entirely successful. The Magnum deployment (# above contains a revised fix for the problem.

SL Viewer

The Project Alex Ivy 64- bit viewer moved to release candidate status with the release of version on June 30th.

The 360-degree snapshot project viewer updated to version on June 29th. This version still does not correctly define images for 360-degree playback on Flickr (tag must be manually set). I have a hands-on look at the updated viewer: Second Life 360 degree snapshots hands on II.

The rest of the viewer pipeline is as follows:

  • Current Release version, released on May 26th, promoted June 20th – formerly the AssetHTTP RC viewer – overview
  • Release channel cohort:
  • Obsolete platform viewer version dated May 8, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7.

User Group Meetings

  • There is no Simulator User Group meeting on Tuesday, July 4th due to the US Independence Day holiday.
  • The Content Creator User Group will be meeting on Thursday, July 6th, rather than being held over to allow for the Lab’s internal start-of-month meeting.

Second Life 360-degree snapshots hands-on II

Credit: Linden Lab

Updated July 7th: to include information on easy embedding in WordPress.

Linden Lab has recently made two updates to the 360-degree snapshot project viewer, which I’ve been meaning to review for the last couple of weeks.

On June 19th, version of the viewer was issued, which included image processing updates, and which included offering the viewer in both 32-bit and 64-bit Windows flavours. Then, on June 29th, the viewer was further updated to version (at the time of writing the current  version), which largely saw the viewer brought up to parity with the current release viewer.

The core functional changes to the viewer in both of these updates is the removal of the need for manual post-processing via zip file download and a web back-end provided by the Lab (see my original hands-on of the initial release of the viewer for more). Instead, the viewer is intended to process the image and provide the necessary meta-date to allow automatic playback on most 360-degree image sharing sites.

I’ve so far tested the viewer on Flickr and a number of 360-degree photo sharing sites such as VRchive.  The latter appear to work as expected, Flickr  requires 360-images uploaded from the viewer to be manually tagged from within Flickr in order to work. This is a minor inconvenience – but would be smarter if the metadata allowed for auto-tagging of the images as equirectangular, as can be done with other 360-imaging tools. A JIRA has been raised on this.

In the meantime, here’s a look at taking photos with the viewer, and getting them working on Flickr.

The 360-degree photo option is fully integrated into the snapshot floater, and when selected will disable all other options and will only allow you to save images to your local hard drive. Note that if you set any other options (e.g. check the Interface option or setting a filter) prior to checking the 360-degree snapshot option, this will result either in the viewer reverting to taking a “normal” snapshot, or ignoring the filter when processing as a 360-degree image.

The 360-degree option enabled in the snapshot floater

Before taking a shot, you should do a little preparation first:

  • Position your avatar  / camera at the centre point of the image you wish to capture (you can “hide” your avatar using a full body alpha or something like a “vanish” animation if you don’t want it appearing in the shot). Use ALT-cam or flycamming to position the camera if you want your avatar to appear in the image, but not at its centre.
  • Use Menu > World > Environment Editor >Sky Presets > Edit Presets to set your desired Windlight and use the Clouds tab to freeze the clouds. Avoid the use of Depth of Field.
  • Turn your camera / avatar slowly around in a circle to see everything in the snapshot field of view, allowing everything to render as you do so.

When you’re ready to take your shot, click on Save to Disk on the snapshot floater and set your preferred image size:

  • Small – 1024×512
  • Medium – 2048×1024
  • Large – 4096×2048

Save your snapshot to the location of your choice on your hard drive. You can now upload it to your preferred 360-degree image sharing website.

Displaying In Flickr

If you are uploading to Flickr, remember to manually set the equirectangular tag in the image page, and then refresh the page. The image should reload and display in 360-degree format.

To get snapshots to display as 360-degree images in Flickr, click the Add Tag option and enter “equirectangular” (without the quotes) and press ENTER. Refresh the page and the image should start to auto-scroll once the page has reloaded

Displaying in WordPress

WordPress has a beta 360 photo and video processor allowing users to embed 360-degree images into their posts. However, in the case of images, this requires the .JPG file extension to be used. Currently the snapshot viewer uses .JPEG. However, once the extension has been changed, images should work fine.

To embed a 360 image, upload it to your WordPress media library (or similar on-line storage – but not a photo sharing website), making sure it has the .JPG extension. Then within your blog post, add the following shortcode between square braces (i.e. [ and ]) in either the Visual or Text editor:

vr url=path-to-photo.jpg view=360

This should result in the image being displayed so that it can be clicked on an manually scrolled, as per the image below:

As noted, 360-degree snapshots should auto-play on any photo sharing sites such as VRchive which parse uploads to ensure they are in the required equirectangular ratio (information on using VRchive can be found in this blog here).

Whether or not the viewer can be set so that the metadata allows Flickr to auto-recognise the 360-degree images as such, and simply play them without manual tagging remains to be seen. But as noted, it’s not a major inconvenience of not (after all, who of us here doesn’t fiddle with images post upload to Flickr?). As it is, this is a definite step up for the viewer in managing 360-degree images, and  I’d certainly be interested in hearing from anyone as to how it works with Facebook.

One other point to note as well is that at the moment, the 360-degree snapshot project viewer is not compatible with format used for 360-degree images on SL Places Pages. However, the latter will be revised to support displaying images captured by the viewer at some point in the future.


Reflected on Black in Second Life

Riflessi Sul Nero

Riflessi Sul Nero (“Reflected On Black”) is the title of the latest installation by Italian artist Terrygold, which is now open to the public at Solo Arte. It comprises a series of around 15 large format avatar studies, all set out within the setting of an old mine works visitors must explore.

On arrival, visitors should be sure to set their viewers in accordance with the local instructions – accept the local windlight, then ensure Advanced Lighting Model (ALM) is set via Preferences > Graphics and, if your system can handle them, enable shadows (a little is lost in terms of general ambience by not having shadows active, but not enough to spoil the installation). Once set, follow the tracks down into the mine.

Riflessi Sul Nero

Within the tunnels and vaults of the mine can be found Terrygold’s self-portraits, and the reason for the title . Rather than being in her usual alabaster skin, she is using an ebony skin for the portraits – so she is literally a reflection (image) of herself in black. Presented in a large format, these are to be found spaced along the tunnel walls and within the side room and chamber opening off of the main horizontal shaft as it slopes and twists gently downwards.

The mine itself is  superbly done – testament again to Terrygold’s skills as a designer.  Beautifully lit and atmospheric, it gives a very real impression of going underground. The lighting is extremely well done (again, just make sure you have ALM enabled), while shadows further add to the ambience.

Riflessi Sul Nero

The setting might also be a play on words, working on a number of levels. Gold is often mined, and we have Terry’s full name – Terrygold, so we are literally entering a mine to discover the gold of her images. Coal is also mined, and this is a celebration of an ebony look, so again there could be a thematic tie.  Finally – and as Caitlyn pointed out, there is the reference to black gold used in jewellery. Just as the latter can be produced  by a variety of means, including eletroplating, which sees the gold coated with black rhodium or ruthenium, so Terrygold has coated herself in an ebony covering to produce these images.

My one minor quibble with the installation is that the lighting does in places work against the images; in places it can be a struggle to fully appreciate them. Nevertheless, this is an intriguing and interesting installation to visit.

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