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 5.1.0.506488 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 5.1.0.506743 (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.

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Second Life Maintenance RC viewer: parcel access, trash, and more

Update, May 23rd: version 5.0.5.326444 of this viewer is now the release version of the official viewer.

On Friday, May 12th, 2017, Linden Lab issued a new Maintenance release candidate viewer – now version – 5.0.5.326444 – featuring a number of bug fixes and improvements.

In particular the viewer includes updates to reflect the revised region / parcel access controls now deployed to the main grid. It also includes improvements to inventory management and purging Trash, and a range of other improvements and updates as well as numerous bug fixes.

As per usual, this is not intended to be an in-depth review of the viewer, but rather to highlight some of the new / updated features and an overview based on the release notes.

Region / Parcel Access Controls

The new region / parcel access controls are paired with a server-side update first announced in April, and the first part of which was deployed to the LeTigre server RC  channel on Wednesday, May 17th. Until these server-side updates are deployed grid-wide, this particular set of changes in the view may not function on all regions.

In short, the new controls mean that when a region holder / manager explicitly set a region for open access by visitors (via the Region / Estate floater), parcel holders on the region will no longer be able to override the setting at the parcel level and create ban lines around their parcel. They will, however, still be able to use their parcel ban list or deploy security orbs or similar (assuming the use of the latter is allowed under any covering covenant).

This means that with this viewer, both the Estate tab in the Region / Estate floater has been updated, and the behaviour of the Access tab in the About Land floater has changed.

In the case of the Estate tab in the Region / Estate floater, the check box Allow Public Access has been removed, and a new option, Parcel Owners Can Be More Restrictive, has been added (see below).

With the new parcel access overrides, the old setting to Allow Public Access (top) has been replaced by a new setting, Parcel Owners Can Be More Restrictive (bottom), as found in the current Maintenance RC viewer

By default, Parcel Owners Can Be More Restrictive is checked, which means that as the updated settings are deployed server-side, parcel owners should see no difference in behaviour for their parcels unless an estate holder / manager opts to make changes at the estate level (as shown in the image above).

Should the option be unchecked, the estate holder / manager making the change will receive a model warning that they are about to make a change that could affect parcel settings in the estate.

The new modal warning estate holder / managers will see when changing the new access settings

Should they go ahead and APPLY  the change, two further things will happen:

  • Parcel owners will receive a new system notification for every parcel in the region they hold which has been affected by the change (below).
The new system notification displayed to parcel holders for every parcel in the region they hold which has been affected by a change to the region’s access settings at Estate level
  • Any previously active banlines around affected parcel will be removed, and parcel owners will no longer be able to set parcel access restrictions via About Land > Access, as the options to do so will be greyed out (as shown below).
    When the Parcel Owners Can Be More Restrictive option is checked, the parcel-level access options in the About Land floater will be greyed out for parcel holders, preventing them from overriding the region-level access

    If a region which previously allowed parcel holders to set their own access restrictions is set to public access (by unchecking Parcel Owners Can Be More Restrictive and clicking APPLY), and then is reverted again (by checking Parcel Owners Can Be More Restrictive and clicking APPLY), all parcels on the region will revert to the access settings applied to them before any changes to region access were made at the estate level.

    Continue reading “Second Life Maintenance RC viewer: parcel access, trash, and more”

    Second Life Maintenance RC: Avatar Rendering updates and more

    On Thursday, March 23rd, 2017, Linden Lab issued a new Maintenance release candidate viewer – 5.0.4.324882 – featuring a number of bug fixes and improvements.The viewer was actually a replacement for an earlier Maintenance RC, version 5.0.4.324646, which was withdrawn after it was noted it lacked some of the expected improved functionality.

    In particular, this RC viewer brings some additional options for managing Avatar Complexity (aka Jelly Dolls), gives us a new option for checking the Grid Status page and offers a number of other nice nips-and-tucks to the viewer, as well as resolving a series of bugs.

    As is my usual approach the following is not intended as an in-depth review of the RC, but is intended to highlight the core changes.

    Avatar Complexity Rendering Updates

    The re-named avatar complexity rendering options in their new sub-menu

    There are several improvements to avatar complexity, which are outlined below.

    The Options for how you render an avatar have been updated to Default (i.e. in accordance with your avatar complexity threshold setting); Always (i.e. always render the selected avatar) or Never (i.e. permanently render them as a grey imposter). These options have also been moved to a sub-menu on the right-click Avatar context menu (shown on the right).

    Also, and following Firestorm’s lead, whatever setting you select for an avatar will now persist across all log-ins for the viewer, until either reset or your settings are cleared by a clean install or similar.

    Finally, the viewer gets two new options for Avatar Complexity, located on the Preferences > Graphics tab. The first is a check box, Always Render Friends, which is pretty much self-explanatory: when checked your friends will always fully render, regardless of your Avatar Complexity threshold.

    Graphics > Preferences: the new Avatar Complexity options

    The second is an Exceptions button, which adds a further level of complexity control for how other avatars – including your Friends – are rendered in your view.

    Using Avatar Rendering Exceptions

    Clicking the Exceptions button opens a new floater, Avatar Render Settings, shown below left. This comprises a people filter for the list of names recorded on the floater (which is obviously blank when first opened), together with a + (add) button.

    The Avatar Complexity Exceptions floaters

    Clicking + will display a pop-up with two options:

    • Always Render A Resident
    • Never Render a Resident

    Clicking on either of these will open the Choose Resident floater, shown above right. You can then use the Search, or Friends or Near Me tabs to select an avatar or avatars, adding them to the list on the floater. Clicking OK will add them to the Avatar Render Settings panel. The avatars will also be rendered in accordance with whichever option you used to launch the selection process (Always render or Never render).

    Changing the Avatar Complexity setting for an avatar listed in your Exceptions floater – not Default will remove them from the list, as they will be rendered as per your Avatar Complexity setting

    You can also update how any avatar in your Exceptions list is displayed.

    To do this, simply open the list floater via Preferences > Graphics > Exceptions, locate the name of the avatar in question (use the filter if you have a lot of avatars in your exceptions), and right-click on the avatar’s name.

    This displays a sub-menu of rendering options, with the currently selected option indicated by a tick. Click on either of the other two options to change it. Note that “Default” will remove the avatar’s name for your exceptions list and display them in-world in accordance with your overall Avatar Rendering Complexity setting.

    Grid Status Display Toolbar Button

    Maintenance RC 5.0.4.324882 adds a new Grid Status toolbar button to the viewer. This can be accessed via Me -> Toolbar or by right-clicking your toolbar to select Toolbar Buttons. Either of these routes will open your Toolbox floater. You can then drag the Grid Status button to the toolbar location of your choice (left, right or bottom of your screen) where it will be displayed.

    The new Grid Status button

    Clicking on the button will open the Grid Status page in the viewer’s built-in browser, regardless of your Preferences setting for how web content is to be displayed.

    Other Improvements

    In addition to the above, this RC viewer also includes the following improvements:

    • Inventory Offer messages now display the name of the object being offered to another avatar
    • Library items can now be worn via a right-click context menu, and not just drag & drop
    • The Snapshot floater will now remember what you did last, and open with that mode next time (until you next relog)
    • You can now see and change the type of block (Voice / Text / Particles) from within the block list in People floater
    • LLTextBox message lines will extend along with the length of the message now.

    Bug Fixes

    The release notes provides the following list of bug fixes with this release:

    • Some builds wouldn’t link to release notes. Now they do.
    • Other minor UI tweaks and adjustments
    • Removed several instances of legacy People API usage, thanks to Ansariel Hiller.
    • Inventory floater was missing UI for spawning new Inventory floaters. So now you can do it even if you don’t know the Ctrl+*Shift*+*I* shortcut.
    • Build floater used to hide behind other floaters due to wrong Z-priority. Not no more!
    • Appearance editor didn’t “Save as” as well as it should have, but now does.
    • Avatar animations wouldn’t play after several operations with editing and wearing objects, but do now.
    • Closing inventory window used to leave an orphaned context menu.
    • Active listings folder stayed active after everything was cut from it. We don’t need that confusion.
    • Teleport offers and Eject messages will show complete name when that’s what you’ve chose to see.
    • You can now remove friends even when you’re in a Groups floater looking at Members list.

    Feedback

    I’ve not driven this viewer for more than an hour thus far, so cannot give any feedback on performance / stability. In terms of the improved features, making Avatar Complexity settings persist between log-ins is a welcome addition to the viewer. Both the Always Render Friends check box and the Exceptions options are also nice additions. .

    The Grid Status button is also a handy addition, and should provide help for those of us wanting to know what is going on with the grid (when suspecting something might be wrong), but who get a little annoyed at having to manually visit the grid status page in order to do so.

    Second Life Maintenance RC viewer 5.0.2.323359

    secondlifeOn Friday, February 3rd, Linden Lab released the latest Maintenance RC viewer – version 5.0.2.323359 – which brings with it another round of updates and fixes, together with a couple of new features requested by users, one of which could prove popular for creators and builders: the ability to select default folders for saving uploads.

    Also for builders, the RC includes some long-awaited fixes to the build floater / objects when building. Several other niggles people have had with the viewer are also fixed with this update, making it a handy set of improvements to have.

    The following is not intended as an in-depth review of the RC, but is intended to highlight the core changes.

    Custom Folders for Uploads

    With Maintenance RC 5.0.2.323359 users can now select their own preferred inventory folders into which uploads – images / textures, sounds, animations and mesh models are saved by default (rather than having all textures + images go to Textures for example).

    You can select your own preferred folders for image, animation, sound and mesh uploads, rather than using the normal default folders
    You can select your own preferred folders for image, animation, sound and mesh uploads, rather than using the normal default folders

    To set a custom folder for an upload type:

    • Go to Inventory and right-click on the desired folder.
    • Select Use As Default For. This opens a sub-menu of upload types (shown on the right).
    • Click on the type of upload you wish to always save to that folder.

    Note that this only applies to uploads: images / textures, mesh models, etc., received via transfer will still go to the their “default” folders.

    So, for example, an animation passed to you in-world by someone else will still go to your Animations folder, regardless of any custom destination you have set for animation uploads.

    You can also review which custom folders you have set at any time via Preferences > Uploads, a new tab in the preferences floater. This list updates dynamically as you select / change custom locations for your uploads.

    The new Uploads tab in Preferences
    The new Uploads tab in Preferences, with a custom location set for mesh uploads

    Other Requested Fixes / Updates

    There are several other oft-requested updates are also included in the RC:

    New Block list tally
    New Block list tally
    • A long-term and understandable annoyance among role-players / combat players is that a change made by the Lab some time ago meant that the Damage icon would not show in parcels that were damage-enabled. This has now been reverted.
    • The issue of the Sun sometimes appearing to jump around rather than moving incrementally has been fixed.
    • The Block list has been updated so that the last name on the list once again displays correctly, and a tally has been added to show number of avatars / objects blocked, and total limit (see right).
    • Avatars should now correctly display after a fresh inventory fetch.
    • Changes in wearables should now properly save.

    Build  / Edit Improvements

    The following build / edit fixes and improvements have also been made to the viewer:

    • Repeats per meter value is now correctly saved.
    • An object created when a linkset is open is now shown in the linkset list.
    • Select Face will now show selection for all faces until such time as an individual face is selected.
    • The contents of any object worn from the ground should now correctly update.
    • The Script Debug Floater should now be useful once more.

    Other Updates and Improvements

    The release notes for the viewer also draw attention to the following updates:

    • Hanging texture downloads have been cleaned-up for better performance (via contribution from Ansariel Hiller).
    • Viewer Login will no longer save password when it is not supposed to.
    • Beacons will once more show when in Mouselook.
    • Teleport location selected from World Map no longer omits Z value.
    • Grid selection short cut at login is fixed.
    • Crash Fixes in LLPanelEditWearable::isDirty(), LLFloaterIMContainer::visibleContextMenuItem(), opening many scripts.
    • /displayname and /completename no longer change when toggling “View Display Names”.
    • Link added to Events in World menu.

    Full details on the viewer updates, included a list of resolved MAINT JIRAs can be found in the viewer release notes and download page. Note that as they are MAINT (LL internal), not all of the JIRAs may be open to public view.