Update, March 6th: The 360 snapshot viewer was updated to version 188.8.131.523006 on March 5th. However, while designed to improve overall image resolution and fuzziness issues, this update includes some significant rendering issues of its own. These problems are the subject of bug reports (several of which have been set to non-public viewing). Interim workarounds to avoid them appear to be to either:
- Turn off the viewer’s Advanced Lighting Model.
- OR disable object-object occlusion (Develop > Rendering > uncheck Object-Object Occlusion or toggle off via CTRL-SHIFT-O).
On Thursday, February 22nd, Linden Lab issued a further update to the 360-degree snapshot project viewer. While version 184.108.40.2062774 brings with it some updates and changes, it still fair to say this is more an interim update than the set of improvements and capabilities some of us had been hoping for.
As with the previous update, released in June 2017 – see my Hands-on II review here – this viewer:
- Uses the Alex Ivy viewer code base (only the release code, this time, obviously), and so is available for Windows (32-/64-bit) and Mac OSX; there is no Linux version at present.
- Handles the “stitching” of a captured set of images into a single equirectangular 360-degree image ready for upload to suitable suites supporting 360-degree images.
However, what’s new with this viewer is that it:
- Moves the 360-degree photo option from the snapshot floater to its own floater.
- Sets the 360-mage resolution to 4096×2048 (no more “small”, “medium” or “large”).
- Includes the required meta data for images to auto-display in Flickr’s 360-degree viewing mode, so you no longer have to manually set the equirectangular tag
So, how does it stack-up?
On the positive side, the new capture UI does a credible job of easing the capture process and in offering preview of the 360-degree image. Hopefully there will be some further options added to it in the future – such as image size.
On the negative side the current 4096×2048 resolution could still do with improvement – Alexa Linden informed me that this work is in-hand – as it can exhibit a very definite fuzziness.
Taking the Shot
- Position your camera at the centre point of your 360 shot.
- While it is not specified, I would suggest camera in a circle to encourage the scene to load before capture.
- Use Menu > World > Environment Editor > Sky Presets > Edit Presets to set your desired Windlight and use the Clouds tab to freeze cloud movement. Avoid the use of Depth of Field.
CTRL-SHIFT-C to display the 360-image capture floater.
- Click Capture 360 to commence the capture process.
- The floater will display some basic messages as the images are being captured and process, and the Lab have indicated these may be improved, depending upon feedback.
- Once image processing is complete, the floater will expanding to show an auto-rotating previewing of the captured image. As with any 360-degree image, you can press and hold the left mouse button while over the image and scroll around it.
- Note that there is currently an issue with the preview on Mac systems which can leave it black. If this happens, click Save Local and then Cancel. This should force the preview to displayed correctly.
- If you’re unhappy with the preview, you can re-start the process by clicking Capture 360 again, or you can save the image using the Save Local button. This will save the image in equirectangular format to a location of your choice on your computer, from where yo can upload it to photo sites supporting 360-degree equirectangular images.
As noted above, images captured in this version of the viewer should automatically display in 360-degree viewing mode in Flickr without the need to meta tag them manually. They also should display in the WordPress “VR” shortcode, placed within square braces (“[“, “]”) and in the format:
vr url=path-to-photo.jpg view=360
This should yield a result like this:
A welcome update to a project viewer that was a little long-in-the-tooth: obviously, as well as the 360 snapshot changes, this version also brings the viewer up to par with all of the most recent viewer releases.
I was a little disappointed that there’s no support for uploads to Second Life Place Pages with this iteration of the viewer – something that had been indicated as being on the horizon in some recent user group meetings; apparently, and like the overall image resolution, it requires further work. As the 360 image captures now has its own floater, I’d also personally like to see it gain a dedicated toolbar button as well.
CTRL-SHIFT-C isn’t a taxing short cut to remember, but buttons can make for convenience.
That said, the thing to remember here is that this is still only a project viewer – it still has a good way to go before being ready for prime-time use, which is something the Lab fully acknowledges. So, while it is worth taking it for a drive and having a play, expect to see further improvements and added functionality appearing in – hopefully not-too-distant – future updates.
Download and Release Notes