360 Capture viewer now de facto SL release viewer

via Linden Lab

Note: for those wishing to know how to embed 360º snaps taken with this viewer / capability into WordPress posts and pages, please refer to Embedding Second Life 360 images directly into WordPress.

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 viewing 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.

2 thoughts on “360 Capture viewer now de facto SL release viewer

    1. There is a beta capability for embedding 360-degree images into WordPress.com posts / pages, and also a plug-in if you are self-hosting via WordPress.org. The former alters the aspect ratio of an image when viewing in a web page, and the latter I am unable to test currently, as I do not self-host. However, I’ll be writing a piece on 360-degree images and WordPress as soon as time allows.

      Otherwise, the simplest means of viewing is to do as I’ve done above, upload to Flickr and than copy the image URL (not the image embed code) into your media uploads > from URL option, and adding a caption for people to click on the image to view it in 360-degree on Flickr (obviously, you can also set the image to open in a new tab). If you have limited media storage space for your WordPress site, this also avoids you having to upload a multi-megabyte image fime to your WP media storage.

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