360 Capture viewer now de facto SL release viewer

via Linden Lab

On Wednesday, December 15th, Linden Lab issued the Cache +360º viewer as the de facto official viewer release, marking the last viewer promotion for 2021.

As the second part of its name suggests, this viewer is designed to capture and produce 360º degree panoramic still images of the location / environment around your avatar / camera position (if freecamming) in a format that makes them suitable for viewer through platform supporting 360º panoramic images (including Flickr). It does this by simultaneously taking six images around the current camera position – one each at the four cardinal points, plus one directly overhead, and one directly looking down, all of which are then “stitched” into an equirectangular projection image.

The first iteration of 360º photo capability first appeared in the official viewer in October 2016, and came with a certain amount of complexity involved. Later iterations of the viewer improved on this, but the viewer continued to be hit by conflicts with the Interest List, and these and other issues forced work on the capability to be pushed into the background.

However, work resumed earlier this year, and as I reported at the time, an updated project viewer was issued in September 2021 (see Lab Issues Updated Projected 360 Capture Viewer). This release represents the latest iteration of that version whilst also being combined with the former Simplified Cache RC viewer, of which more below.

The 360º capture capability is utilised via a dedicated floater which can be accessed via the World menu and / or a dedicated toolbar button and / or a link in the original snapshot viewer and / or by pressing CTRL-ALT-SHIFT-S

Accessing the 360º snapshot floater (this can also be done via CTRL-ALT-SHIFT-S or by expanding the standard snapshot floater to show the full preview and clicking the Take 360º snapshot link in the lower right corner of the preview panel

Actually taking an image comprises a few simple steps:

  1. Position your camera.
  2. Select the image quality – for finished images you’ll need to set High or Maximum quality using the radio buttons.
  3. Click the Create 360º Image button to generate a preview in the floater’s preview panel.
  4. Click on the preview image and drag it around to ensure what you’re seeing is what you want / that things like textures have actually rendered correctly.
  5. Check the Hide All Avatars option, if required – this will cause the process to include all avatars present (it will not alter their in-world rendering).
  6. When you are satisfied with the preview, click Save As… to save it to your hard drive, renaming it if / as required.

Just remember that if you change the image quality, you must also click Create 360 button to update the preview AND image capture process to the new image quality, before click Save As… again.

Note that the required metadata to have image correctly show in Flickr and FB / Meta (and others) is included in the image – so if you save it to disk and upload it, it should render correctly, as per the image below).

An “unwrapped” Maximum quality 360º image captured using the Project 360 Capture viewer, showing the 6 captured images “stitched” together (click on this image to see it in 360º format in Flickr)
This viewer also included updated code for the viewer’s cache. This code is an update to the Simple Cache viewer originally issued in March 2021, but which to be rolled back after it was found to have a number of significant bugs, such as BUG-230337 “Simplified cache viewer is ignoring cache path” and BUG-230295 “Cannot upload images on the Simplified Cache Viewer”.

In particular the code replaces the VFS cache system used to save local copies of frequently used assets such as meshes, sounds and animations with a simplified cache, and should make loading / reuse of these assets smoother.

Given the level of interest that has been shown in the 360º Capture viewer, this code will hopefully find its way into TPVs in relatively short order, holiday period allowing. In the meantime, the official can be obtain through the official viewer download page.

Ego: travels with an artist in Second Life

Art Korner Gallery II: Mihailsk – Ego
Yes, this exhibition is me. Me, the explorer in SL, who travels from light to dark, from colour to monochrome, depending on the mood and moment.
Each of my works expresses a moment with a different mood. Sometimes visible and sometimes hidden. But do not try to look for hidden meanings and symbolism behind the images, because there is none.is none. All my images represent an aspect of me/show a part of who I am.

– Mihailsk in Ego, his latest exhibition

I first encountered the photography of Mihailsk in July 2021, at his very first public exhibition. Despite being active in SL for several years, he had only relatively recently entered the world of SL photography and artistic creation, and his first exhibition came as a result of encouragement on the part of Dido Haas, who hosted that exhibition – and indeed, Mihailsk’s second exhibition – at her Nitroglobus Roof Gallery(see: Mihailsk’s Baptism of Fire in Second Life and Mihailsk’s Red Sky at Nitroglobus in Second Life).

From the start, I was captivated by his approach to Second Life photography; whilst avatar-centric, his work is not precisely focused on his avatar as a subject for / of study in the manner of many SL photographers; rather he utilises his avatar as part of a larger canvas, one that brings together both avatar and location (as in region, rather than constructed studio setting) to offer an expression of a moment, a mood; something reflective of his own mood at the time the image was created. And I’m not alone in finding his work captivating.

Art Korner Gallery II: Mihailsk – Ego

Further appreciation of his work can currently be gained at Art Korner Gallery II, curated by Frank Atisso., where Mihailsk presented his largest exhibition to date. Comprising more than 30 pieces specifically produced for it, Ego is a remarkable journey through the art and mind of the artist. And by “journey”, I am not just talking metaphorically; the pieces again represent the artist’s explorations of many popular places in Second Life, and have also been arranged in a manner that takes us on a journey through them, as we pass through seven rooms within the gallery space, each one offering at least 5 images.

The images in each room carry a theme, defined by the use of a selected colour. The colours used include green (nature, and our relationship with the natural world), yellow (the Sun, life, warm (of feel, touch, etc.)), blue: tranquillity and coolness (of thought and emotions) and monochrome (purity/ clarity of thought and emotion – as in seeing everything in black and white). Each room also includes a quote or passage by a writer or poet, the majority of whom hail from Mihailsk’s native Greece, although in the first room is a piece by George Gordon Byron, better known as Lord Byron, that might be taken as an exhortation of how to live life, and which can also be seen as a code by which Mihailsk approaches his art.

Art Korner Gallery II: Mihailsk – Ego

The use of the quotes within each each is particularly interesting, because while Mihailsk states that his images are not intended to carry “hidden” meaning or symbolism, the words nevertheless encourage us to a certain outlook  that cannot help but add a further layer of possible meaning or interpretation to the pieces in each room. At the same time, thy offer us insight into the artist’s thoughts and moods whilst capturing and processing each piece.

Expressive, vital, and beautiful in the manner in which they frame avatar (either Mihailsk or Dido) together with setting / background with little more than a pose (remember, these are not images that us purpose-built sets, but have been captured during Mihailsk’s travels through Second Life), Ego (the word in this instance being used in its purest sense: to mean “I”, or “me”) is a compelling exhibition, and will be available for people’s appreciation through the Christmas period. When visiting, done make sure you have your viewer set to Use Shared Environment (World → Environment) and have Advanced Lighting Model enabled (Preferences → Graphics).

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