Tutorial: Viewer Camera Presets

The default viewer camera placement has long been the bane of the Second Life viewer. Placing the camera well above and behind the avatar, it gives an awkward over-the-head view of the world, rather than the more intuitive over-the-shoulder view seen in many video games.

While the camera’s debug settings have allowed a custom camera preset to be set-up, it has never really been possible to easily create, save, and swap between presets according to need.

Table of Contents

The Camera Presets controls, developed and contributed by Jonathan Yap, the developer responsible for the graphics presets options in the viewer (see Avatar Complexity and Graphics Presets in Second Life for more), changes this. It is a capability that allow users to create one more more custom camera presets within the viewer to suit particular needs and then save them. This means, for example, you can now have a camera position for general exploring, another suitable for combat games, another for building, etc., all of which can easily be accessed and used at any time.

This tutorial explains how to create and use presets via Camera Presets options.

Note: at the time of writing, the camera presets options are only available in the official viewer, version 6.4.2.541639 or later.

UI Elements

There are five UI elements associated with creating and using camera presets:

  • The Camera Presets icon and drop-down – presenting the means to quickly access and use created camera offsets.
The Camera Presets icon, found in the top right of the viewer window, and a populated version of the drop-down that can be displays on clicking on it.
  • The Camera Controls floater. This provides access to provides access to the following:
    • The familiar “on the fly” controls for positioning the camera / selecting any of the pre-set camera positions, setting the camera focus or switching to Mouselook. These can also now be used to create a custom camera preset.
    • Camera Position floater for creating new camera presets numerically.
    • Save Camera Preset floater – save any preset you have created or replace an existing preset with new values.
    • My Camera Presets floater – allows you select and delete any preset you have created, or reset your camera to one of the viewer’s default front, side or rear camera positions.
    • In addition, the Camera Controls floater includes a drop-drop menu to provide quick access to any custom camera presets you have created.
The Camera Controls and camera presets floaters – click for full size, if required

Creating a Custom Camera Preset

Using the Camera Controls

  1. Open the Camera Control floater by:
    • Hovering the mouse over the Custom Preset icon at the top right of the viewer window to open the drop-down and then clicking the Open Camera Floater button OR.
    • Clicking on the Camera Controls (Eye) button in your viewer’s tool bar, OR
    • Selecting Me→Camera Controls… from the viewer menu bar.
  2. With the Camera Control floater open, clicked the required view button (Front, Side, Rear) if required.
  3. Use the camera orbit, slide and zoom controls on the left of the camera floater to position your camera as you would like it to be relative to your avatar.
  4. When you are satisfied with the camera position and angle, click Save As Preset button in the floater, and:
    • Either make sure the Save As New Preset radio button is selected and type a name for the preset in the text box.
    • Or click the radio button for Replace a Preset, then click the button to display a list of current presets and highlight the one you wish to replace (including one of the three default positions, shown in italics).
  5. When you have entered a name or made your choice, click Save.
Using the camera controls to create a camera preset

Using the Precise Controls

If you have a numeric set of camera and focus offsets you use (e.g. such as those provided by Penny Patton, or use the table below to set your camera to some typical view points):

  1. Open the Camera Control floater by:
    • Hovering the mouse over the Custom Preset icon at the top right of the viewer window to open the drop-down and then clicking the Open Camera Floater button OR.
    • Clicking on the Camera Controls (Eye) button in your viewer’s tool bar, OR
    • Selecting Me→Camera Controls… from the viewer menu bar.
  2. In the Camera Controls floater, click on Use Precise Controls.
  3. In the Camera Position floater:
    • Enter the X, Y and Z figures for the camera offset position.
    • Enter the X, Y, Z figures for the focus offset position,
    • Use the slider to set how near / far the camera is to be positioned from your avatar.
  4. When you are satisfied with the camera position and focus, click Save As Preset button in the floater, and:
    • Either make sure the Save As New Preset radio button is selected and type a name for the preset in the text box.
    • Or click the radio button for Replace a Preset, then click the button to display a list of current presets and highlight the one you wish to replace (including one of the three default positions, shown in italics).
  5. When you have entered a name or made your choice, click Save.
Setting a precise position for a camera preset

The following table offers Penny Patton’s recommended positions for over-the-shoulder camera presets.

Over the Left Shoulder
Centre
Over the Right Shoulder
Camera Offset
X= -2.0
Y= 0.4
Z= -0.2
X= -2.0
Y= 0.0
Z= -0.2
X= -2.0
Y= -0.4
Z= -0.2
Focus Offset
X= 0.9
Y= 0.7
Z= 0.2
X= 0.9
Y= 0.0
Z= 0.2
X= 0.9
Y= -0.7
Z= 0.2
Offset Scale Slider
1.5 1.5 1.5

Using Your Custom Presets

From the Presets Icon

  1. Hover the mouse over the Custom Preset icon at the top right of the viewer window to open the drop-down.
  2. Click on the required preset name to select it.

From the Camera Controls Floater

  1. Click on the Use Preset button in the Camera Controls floater.
  2. A drop-down of custom camera presets is displayed.
  3. Click on the required preset name.
  4. The preset is selected, and the button updates to display the preset’s name.
Using a custom camera preset

Deleting or Resetting Default Presets

Notes:

  • You can only delete custom presets and reset default presets.
  • No confirmation is requested: actions will be immediately implemented – so if you have overwritten one of front, side or rear camera position presets, your custom version of that preset will be lost when reset.
  1. Display the Camera Controls floater.
  2. Click the gear icon.
  3. The My Camera Presets panel opens (may default to the top left of your screen).
  4. Hover the mouse over the preset you wish to delete or reset.
    • Custom presets will display a trash can. Click it to delete the preset.
    • Default presets will display a reset icon. Click it to return the preset to its original values.

First looks: Camera Presets Second Life RC viewer

On Friday, January 24th, Linden Lab issued the Camera Presets release candidate viewer – links at the end of this article.

Developed as a result of the code contributions and work of Jonathan Yap, who was responsible for bringing graphics presets to the viewer (which allows users to create and store custom graphics settings for their viewer – see: Early looks: Avatar Complexity and Graphics Presets (2015)). This idea with this viewer is to provide an easy and intuitive means for users to be able to create avatar camera positions they find comfortable to use, and which can be saved and used as needed.

Many people have developed custom camera placement options that range from instructions on editing the camera debug settings through to the use of scripted HUDs. Some third-party viewer developers also provide adjusted defaults within their viewer offerings. There are many reasons for doing this – from things like improved game play (combat games, etc.), through to being able to better build to scale without fear of cameras ending up stuck the wrong side of ceilings, etc. For my part, and as an example, I’ve long used Penny Patton’s camera offsets, which she first allowed me to reproduce in these pages far back in 2011 (see: SL Camera Offsets), and which I still use today, saved as a part of my personal settings for Firestorm.

However, manually setting up a camera preset involves a dive into using the viewer’s Debug settings – something many users do not find comfortable and which is not particularly easy unless you know exactly which debug options to play with. The Camera Presets Viewer eliminates this by providing access to the required options through the viewer UI and by using the camera controls. What’s more, it makes it possible to create and save multiple camera presets that cane be used as requires with a simple click or two of the mouse.

To achieve this, the Camera Presets RC viewer presents five new or updated UI elements::

  • The Camera Presets icon and drop-down – presenting the means to quickly access and use created camera offsets.
  • An updated camera floater, which is used to both control your camera and create any camera presets you may need. It in turn provides access to three new options:
    • A new Camera Position floater – allows you to create a camera preset using the Camera Offset and Focus Offset debug settings.
    • A My Camera Presets floater – allows you manage your camera presets:
      • Delete any custom ones you have created or
      • Reset a “standard” Front, Rear or Side camera preset you may have replace with your own values to its default position.
    • A Save option – directly save a camera offset you have created under a unique name (adding it to the Presets drop-down) or using it to replace one of the default camera positions of Front, Side or Rear.
The Camera Presets options and floaters (includes the updated Camera Controls floater, centre)

A Quick-Fire Guide to Creating and Using a Camera Preset with the Viewer

Note that you can create multiple camera presets, depending on your SL needs.

Creating a Custom Preset Using the Camera Controls

  1. Open the Camera Control floater by:
    • Either clicking the Custom Preset icon at the top right of the viewer window to open the drop-down and then clicking the Open Camera Floater option.
    • Or clicking on the Camera Controls (Eye) button in your viewer’s tool bar.
  2. With the Camera Control floater open, clicked the required view button (Front, Side, Rear) if required.
  3. Use the camera orbit, slide and zoom controls on the left of the camera floater to position your camera as you would like it to be relative to your avatar.
  4. When you are satisfied with the camera position and angle, click Save As Preset button in the floater, and:
    • Either make sure the Save As New Preset radio button is selected and type a name for the preset in the text box.
    • Or click the radio button for Replace a Preset, then click the button to display a list of current presets and highlight the one you wish to replace (including one of the three default positions, shown in italics).
  5. When you have entered a name or made your choice, click Save.
The revised Camera Controls floater and using it to create camera presets

Creating a Custom Preset Using the Precise Controls

If you have a numeric set of camera and focus offsets you use (e.g. such as those provided by Penny Patton):

  1. Follow steps (1.) and (2.) above to display the Camera Controls floater.
  2. In the Camera Controls floater, click Use Precise Controls to display the Camera Position floater.
  3. Enter your X, Y and Z figures for the Camera and Focus offset positions. Use the spinners to fine-tune your positioning, if required.
  4. As there is no field for entering a CameraOffsetScale adjustment, zoom must be used as an arbitrary means of setting camera distance from the avatar, should this require adjusting.
  5. When you are satisfied with the camera position, follow steps (4.) and (5.) above to save your camera preset.

Using Your Presets

  • From the Presets icon:
    • Click the Custom Preset icon at the top right of the viewer window to open the drop-down.
    • Click on the required preset name to select it.
  • From the Camera Controls floater:
    • Either click on the required view button (Front, Side Rear).
    • Or click on the Use Preset button (only available if custom presets have been created) and select the required custom preset.
  • Note that with either approach, the currently-selected custom preset will be indicated in both the presets drop down (by a tick appearing next to it) and in the Camera Controls (the Use Preset button will update to display the name of the preset being used).

Deleting or Resetting Default Presets

Note you can only delete custom presets and reset default presets. Note that no confirmation is requested: actions will be immediately implemented.

  1. Display the Camera Controls floater.
  2. Click the gear icon.
  3. The My Camera Presets panel opens (may default to the top left of your screen).
  4. Hover the mouse over the preset you wish to delete or reset.
    • Custom presets will display a trash can. Click it to delete the preset.
    • Default presets will display a reset icon. Click it to return the preset to its original values.

Feedback

This capability has been in development by Jonathan for a while, and it is good to see it finally surface. As a long-time user of custom camera presets I’ve been looking forward to Jonathan’s work seeing the light of day in the hope it will provide an easier means for people to adjust their camera without the fear / concern of having to dive into debug settings.

In this, I was somewhat disappointed to see there is no option to quickly enter a value CameraOffsetScale using the “precise controls”. It’s a minor niggle, although it can be advantageous to some views in having the camera set back further than the usual default distance. While the zoom slider can still be used to achieve this, it is somewhat arbitrary compared to entering a precise value, which still requires the use of the debug setting to achieve.

On the positive side, being able to set a preset through the familiar orbit, zoom and slide controls in the Camera Controls floater is probably going to be more than enough for most users, and the approach makes experimentation and playing with camera presets a lot less off-putting than tweaking debug settings.

Also, all of the new panels and drop-downs are clear and easy to understand, although some on laptops or lower-resolution screens might find the increased size of the Camera Control floater gives rise to a certain amount of gritting of teeth if it is a floater they like to keep open. For my part I admit to liking the way in which it brings all the Camera Control options together as a single visible element, rather than having to “page” between them as is currently the case with the release viewer.

Given the contained nature of the capability and the fact it appears to be working exactly as advertised – and my hope that CameraOffsetScale might find a way to being included in Camera Positions Floater with a future release notwithstanding – I suspect this might be a viewer that could quickly find its way to being promoted to de facto release over the next few weeks, rather than awaiting its turn in line behind others.

Links

Second Life: end of support for Windows 7 announced

On Tuesday, January 14th, 2020, Microsoft is ending support for Windows 7. This means that while the operating system will continue to function beyond that date, Microsoft will no longer provide:

  • Technical support for any issues.
  • Software updates.
  • Security updates or fixes.

As as result of this, and as initially announced at the 2019 TPVD meetings week #50 summary, Linden Lab plan to cease their own support for Windows 7 from that date. This has now bee confirmed in an official blog post, which reads in part:

Accordingly, Linden Lab is updating our system requirements to remove Windows 7 from the versions we support. This does not mean that Second Life will stop working on Windows 7 immediately; existing viewers, and possibly some new viewers, should run as well as they did before. However, we will not be testing any viewers on Windows 7, so it is likely that compatibility problems will develop and increase over time. In addition, we will not attempt to fix any problems which occur only on unsupported operating systems (if a bug is reported against an unsupported system, we usually try to reproduce it on one that is supported; if we can’t, we don’t investigate further or attempt to fix it).

Those will have not upgraded to Windows 10 but have a valid copy of Windows 7 may still be able to upgrade using the Microsoft Windows 10 update site (note that free updates to Windows 10 were supposed to have been discontinued be Microsoft at the end of December 2017, but some are reporting it is still working via the Create Windows 10 Installation Media option).

Again, note that that’s Lab’s decision does not mean users on Windows 7 will find themselves blocked from accessing Second Life on or after January 14th, 2020, but will continue to be able to use the platform as before. However, and as noted in the official blog post, such users:

  • Will not receive assistance from LL support should they encounter problems.
  • Will not have bugs they report investigated or fixed unless said bugs can be reproduced using Windows 8 or Windows 10.
  • May find that, over time, viewer updates may not function as expected on Windows 7, simply because updates and new features will no longer be tested against Windows 7.

Given the potential exposure to malicious activities, both Microsoft and Linden Lab point to the need for users to only utilise supported versions of Windows on their computers, and keep up-to-date will all official patches and releases.

2018 SL UG updates #13/1: Simulator User Group

Soul2Soul River; Inara Pey, February 2018, on FlickrSoul2Soul Riverblog post

Server Deployments

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

  • The Main (SLS) channel was updated on Tuesday, March 27th, to server release 18#18.03.14.513292, containing the new server capabilities (see below).
  • At the time of writing, the Release Candidate channels were all TBD regarding potential deployments. This report will be updated if the deployment thread provides further information on the RC channels.

New Capabilities

The new capabilities in 18#18.03.14.513292 for the Main (SLS) channel is the first part of a set of server and viewer updates.

  • The new IM cap is to overcome of off-line IMs failing to be delivered when a user logs in. Currently, these are delivered via UDP, whether or not the viewer is ready to receive them. With the new capability (once grid-wide and implemented within the viewer), the viewer will request off-line IMs, which the server will package and deliver to the viewer via HTTP.
  • The new abuse report cap will replace the need for the viewer to have AR categories hard-coded into it. Once fully deployed, and a viewer update released, it will mean the view will request the current list of AR categories from the server when starting up, making the management of the list easier, and hopefully reducing the number of ARs filed under outdated categories.

Updates to the viewer incorporating these changes will be made available by the lab in the near future.

SL Viewer

  • The Maintenance RC viewer updated to version 5.1.3.513630 on Friday, March 23rd.
  • The Media Update RC viewer updated to version 5.1.3.513644, on Tuesday, March 27th.

The remainder of the pipeline remains as:

  • Current Release version 5.1.2.512803, dated February 23, promoted March 1 – formerly the Nalewka Maintenance RC – No change
  • Release channel cohorts:
  • Project viewers:
  • Linux Spur viewer, version 5.0.9.329906, dated November 17, 2017 and promoted to release status 29 November – offered pending a Linux version of the Alex Ivy viewer code.
  • Obsolete platform viewer, version 3.7.28.300847, May 8, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7.

In Brief

First Name / Last Name Changes

This is still a long way off from being implemented, however, Oz Linden confirmed llDetectedName() will return the current name for an avatar, no matter what the change. However, it may take some time for it to change everywhere due to caches.

More on the return of last names and name changes, please refer to The return of Second Life Last Names – update with audio.

SL Messaging Layer

Simon Linden is looking into the Second Life messaging layer, which may be the problem behind a lot of “lag” issues. “There’s actually a number of small improvements I want to make, but I’m being careful to do them one at a time and have real data showing it gets better,” he said in providing an update on the work.

Friendship Offers Failing

Some are experiencing Friendship offers failing, even when the offer is accepted – see BUG-215977. According to Simon Linden, this might require a server-side update to fully correct.

Region Crossings

Simon Linden has been looking at vehicle region crossings alongside of  Joe Magarac (animats) testing with the viewer (See Firestorm JIRA FIRE-21915, BUG-214653, this SL Forum thread, this Google document, and my update here for more).

Part of the issue, a previously noted, is viewer / simulator communications. If these are suffering latency or packet loss, then things can get rough with vehicle region crossing very quickly. This is something Joe has been trying to compensate for by introducing a script that turns off physics and freezes the vehicle when received by a new region until it can confirm the associated avatar data has arrived.

Unfortunately, excising the viewer from region crossing data handling would be difficult, as it has to be involved to move and change its primary connection for an avatar. It would take a major protocol change to remove the viewer from the region crossing loop and separate connection hand-off from crossings. Further, if such a protocol change were to be made, it would require more work to support both new and old until enough viewers get updated.

Mainland Price Restructuring

While the Lab does not issue numbers, Oz Linden indicated at the Simulator User Group meeting that since the Mainland Price Restructuring, “mainland ownership is up quite significantly.”

SL project updates week #48/1: server, e-mail verification, viewer

Malal's Autumn; Inara Pey, November 2017, on FlickrMalal’s Autumnblog post

Server Deployments Week #48

  • There was no deployment on the Main (SLS) channel on Tuesday, November 28th, leaving servers running simulator version 17#17.11.11.510664.
  • On Wednesday, November 29th, the three RC channels should be updated with a new server maintenance package 17#17.11.17.510835, comprising:
    • IMs sent to an off-line resident will only be sent to verified email addresses.
    • Internal Changes to Outgoing Emails.

E-mail Verification

The RC server deployment sees a further step in the Lab’s plan to reduce the volume of e-mail traffic it generates by only sending e-mails to those addresses Second Life users have actually verified as being valid with Linden Lab (see Making Email From Second Life (More) Reliable).

With this deployment, and if you have not verified your preferred SL-related e-mail address with Linden Lab, you will no longer receive off-line IMs as e-mails sent from users on any regions using the RC channels. Further, once this change is deployed to the Main (SLS) channel, you will no longer receive off-line IMs as e-mails at all until such time as you have verified your SL-related e-mail address with the Lab.

So, if you haven’t already done so, ad wish to continue receiving off-line IMs as e-mails from wherever they originate in-world, make sure you have verified the e-mail address recorded in your viewer  with Linden Lab. Should you require detailed instructions on how to do this, please refer to my blog post Important: verifying your e-mail address with Second life.

SL Viewer

There have been no SL viewer updates thus far, leaving the current viewer pipelines as follows:

  • Current Release version 5.0.8.329115, dated September 22, promoted October 13 – formerly the “Moonshine” Maintenance RC.
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Martini Maintenance RC viewer, version 5.0.9.329906 November 17th.
    • Alex Ivy 64-bit viewer, version 5.1.0.510354, November 2nd (still dated Sept 5th on the wiki page).
    • Voice RC viewer, version 5.0.8.328552, October 20 (still dated Sept 1 on the wiki page).
  • Project viewers:
  • Obsolete platform viewer version 3.7.28.300847, dated May 8th, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7.

 

SL project updates 2017 14/1: server, viewer

Orcadi Islandblog post

Server Deployments

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

  • On Tuesday, April 4th, the Main (SLS) channel received the server maintenance package previously deployed to the three RC channels in week #13, comprising a small update to asset metrics stats logging.
  • On Wednesday, April 5th, the three RC channels should all receive a new server maintenance package which includes a new option in the estate settings which allows parcel owners to override the public access settings for all parcels in the estate. However, this change is pending a viewer update in order to make it visible to users.

SL Viewer

The Maintenance RC viewer updated to version 5.0.4.325124 on Monday, April 3rd. This viewer as a number of updates and improvements, which I reviewed in a recent post (albeit for the earlier version of the viewer).

Outside of this, the release of the LL viewer pipeline remains unchanged:

  • Current Release version 5.0.3.324435, dated March 13th – snapshots to e-mail hotfix
  • Release channel cohorts:

    • Voice RC viewer version 5.0.4.324770 released on March 20th – several improvements to voice
  • Project viewers:
    • Project AssetHttp project viewer, version 5.0.4.324828 dated  March 30th – This viewer moves fetching of several types of assets to HTTP / CDN – overview
    • Project Alex Ivy (LXIV), 64-bit project viewer, version 5.1.0.503537 dated March 17th
    • 360-degree snapshot viewer, version 4.1.3.321712 dated November 23rd, 2016 – ability to take 360-degree panoramic images – hands-on review
  • Obsolete platform viewer version 3.7.28.300847 dated May 8th, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7.

Region Capacity and Access

On Tuesday, April 4th the Lab announced increases of between 10% and 25% on the number of avatars can enter a region, the exact percentage depending on the region type. These percentages apply to the default maximum number of avatars each type of region (Full, Homestead and Open Space), and to the limit imposed by the region owner. They also include other changes – refer to the official blog post (or my own) for further information.

Commenting on the change at the Simulator User Group meeting, Oz linden pointed out the change was made as an attempt to respond to multiple requests made at the SUG meetings for accessing full regions to be “improved”. Hints were given that the approach might be further refined  / updated in the future.