New Black Dragon Viewer Update

Image Source: xelerus.de

This was brought to my attention by a post in the Visionaire group from WrenNoir Cerise.  There has been an update to the Black Dragon viewer.

I’ve used the Black Dragon viewer before and really liked it for taking photos.  However, I haven’t used it in ages – mostly because I haven’t really been in SL much in ages.

But I will definitely be downloading it and trying it out.

The new update apparently lets you move any/all of the individual bones that make up your avatar.  So you can pose yourself exactly how you want.

WrenNoir included a link to a video in her notice, which I’ve embedded below.  If you can’t see the video, click here for the link.

The music was a tad annoying, so I muted it.  The first part of the video shows the editing of the avatar pose in Black Dragon.  The last half is photo editing in Photoshop, so you can skip that if you’ve no interest in that part.

I can’t wait to dig in and start experimenting.  Thanks to Wren for the heads up!

Firestorm Has Bakes On Mesh

Image Source: xelerus.de

Firestorm has released an update that includes the new Bakes On Mesh option.  I have updated my viewer, but I haven’t yet had time to play around with how it all works.

However, I have watched a few videos and read a few blogs that have some pretty good explanations.

Elayne over at The Studio has 2 videos about BoM.  The first one explains the difference between the two alphas provided with her mesh head and which one you should use depending on what you’re trying to do.

She keeps the explanations fairly simple and non-technical, which is always helpful, in my opinion.  Lots of people don’t care how it works, they just want to know how to use it.

Elayne also linked to a blog post by Cazimi that has a lot of resource links for BoM at the bottom of it.  Tons of good info there.

I still need to pick up the Maitreya BoM HUD and the nail fixers, but I’m excited to play around with them.  I have a ton of makeup layers and tattoos I used to wear all the time and I’m curious to experiment and see what they look like using the BoM system.

Not having to use a HUD to apply layers to my mesh body would be a HUGE deal for me personally.  I never got into tons of appliers, especially makeup, because it was too overwhelming for me dealing with all the layers of a mesh head.  Plus, I try to be conscious of my personal rendering cost, so wearing things that are easier to render is a bonus as well.

I’m still debating whether to keep my Maitreya body or pick up the SLink Redux body made for BoM.  I don’t know if Maitreya plans to remake their body with fewer onion layers, so the SLink body is tempting.  Except that previous frustrating experiences with SLink hands/feet issues is still recent enough that I don’t know if I want to do that.

On the other hand, if I do pick up the SLink body, I definitely will need to go shopping, as most of my current shoes and clothes are made for Maitreya only.

Hmm, an excuse for shopping – I may have made my decision! 😛

Bakes On Mesh Has Arrived

Image Source: http://www.darrickbynum.com

The new Bakes on Mesh viewer is now live (if you use the official SL viewer).  Those of us who use a third-party viewer will have to wait until an update is released.  So those who are already using BoM will probably look strange to us until then.

There are several really good blog posts out there already about how to use BoM, but what it essentially boils down to is the ability to use system layers (remember those?!) for skins, tattoos, makeup, clothing, etc. – even with your mesh body.  I’m not going to explain it all here in detail (for that, you can read more here, here, and here).  I haven’t actually tried BoM myself yet, so I don’t want to hand out bad information.

If you use a SLink body, an update for use with BoM is available.  I haven’t yet heard about update for any other bodies or heads, so we will have to wait for those creators to update.  I’ve used my Maitreya body for so long that I don’t think I even have other mesh items anymore, so I really hope it gets updated.  If it doesn’t, I may have to switch over to SLink.  I did keep my SLink hands and feet (and shoes!), so I’ll have to wait and see what happens.

There are some issues with BoM, so don’t expect it to work perfectly right out of the box.  Hands and feet are known to cause issues, so I’m hoping that by the time Firestorm updates for BoM, most of the bugs will have been worked out.  Fingers crossed!

Bakes On Mesh

Image Source: xelerus.de

I saw a blog post today that said that the new Bakes On Mesh viewer would be released soon, perhaps Monday.

I don’t use the Official Viewer, so I am assuming that a new Firestorm update will happen soon after.  Once BoM is live, I expect content creators to issue updated mesh bodies to accommodate the new options.

I know that SLink has said they have updated versions ready to go, I can only hope that Maitreya will follow soon thereafter.  I have noticed that with my purchases recently, I have received textures that are labeled as BoM textures for some of the items.

BoM is supposed to help reduce avatar complexity, and therefore, I hope, the lag that is sometimes generated because of it.   I don’t expect it to go away completely, however, since lag can be caused by a whole host of factors, some of which can only be changed/controlled by the end user.

And, unfortunately, many people don’t take the time to educate themselves about what might be causing their lag, finding it easier to blame something else for the issue.

I have gotten into the habit of derendering people as I travel around SL.  It’s amazing how much faster you can get around then. 😛  Of course, I am generally either shopping or taking photographs, so I don’t need to interact with others for the most part.  For those who spend most of their time in social settings, I’m sure things can get frustrating.  Let’s hope this BoM update makes things better for those people.

Firestorm Update, Jelly Dolls, and Graphics Settings

Yesterday Firestorm released a long-awaited update.  I downloaded and installed it immediately.  I love Firestorm, and I am always sad when I am forced to use the LL official viewer.  (Yes, I know there are some who love the official viewer, and that’s great.  Use whatever makes you happy.  Me, I’m sticking with Firestorm.)

First, let me just say that I am so appreciative of the Firestorm team and all the volunteer work they do to keep tech-illiterate peeps like me swimming in all the gorgeousness of SL.  If you are in the Firestorm support group, a thank you might be appreciated.  In fact, one sec while I go do that myself. 🙂

Ok, that’s done.  Now, the two biggest things with this latest update are the Jelly Dolls and the Quick Graphics preferences.  I have been awaiting both with great anticipation.

Jelly Dolls

I’ve talked in many posts before about ARC/Render Weight.  This is now called ‘Avatar Complexity.’ (How this number is calculated I don’t know exactly.)  You can now set your ‘Maximum Complexity’ how you wish, in order to avoid being lagged out at busy events, for example.  If you use Firestorm, it’s in the Quick Prefs window:

Max Complexity

In the pic above, you can see the Max Complexity Slider under the Max Bandwith slider.  You can set it to 0 (which will make pretty much everyone Jelly Dolls) or move it all the way up (which will make everyone render fully).

I went to a busy club last night just to test out how it worked and how people appeared.  With a setting of around 30,000, most people in the club were Jelly Dolls.  Interestingly, if they were Jelly Dolls, their animations appeared to be slow-motion (everyone was dancing at this club).  I moved up the slider to around 70K and more people rendered.  However, there were a few avatars (including the hostess at the venue) who did not render fully until I set the complexity to above 250K.

You can also see your own complexity.  Under the Advanced menu > Performance Tools > Show Avatar Complexity.  In the pic above, you can see that my complexity is 165,374.  Not great, but I was wearing a mesh head for some photos, which makes my complexity larger than usual.  The ‘rank listing’ has something to do with how distant from you others are, so your rank is always 1 (I think).  The green 229m^2 – not a clue what that means.

Also, when you tp somewhere, you may get a message telling you that people around you may not render you fully because of your avatar complexity.  I’m already seeing people who are annoyed about the complexity issue.  A lot of people are afraid it will harken back to the days when ARC/RW was used as a tool to berate and belittle noobs and others who were ‘causing’ lag.

While this is probably going to happen, I am happy about the new information and settings offered.  I have been paying attention to my own ARC/RW/ACI for some time now.  For example, I no longer wear any jewelry when I go to dance shows.  After doing some testing on my own, jewelry was often the culprit of my high complexity.  I don’t routinely run around in a mesh head that I know may cause others to lag.  And I have experience myself crashing when someone with an extremely high complexity renders.  This way, I can control not only my own complexity, but how the complexity of others affects (or doesn’t) my own SL experience.

I’m also hoping that clothing/jewelry designers will become more aware (as residents do) of how complexity affects things and design items with lower complexity – as most home decor/landscape designers are already doing.  Clothing/jewelry designers have not had to pay attention to it, because worn items don’t affect land impact/prim count the way that rezzed items do.  However, since a large portion of residents are in SL to be SEEN, not rendered as a colored body, supply and demand may change that.

For those of you who are dancers, there is a way to make certain people (like others in your troupe) ALWAYS render for you.  Simply click on their name or avatar and there should be a menu option to ‘always render’ so that they will show for you, regardless of your maximum complexity settings.  This should also work when you go to a dance show and want to make sure the performers render.  I believe I read that these settings will persist between log-ins for Firestorm, though not for the official viewer.

So for Firestorm users, you should be able to do this once and then have no worries when performing or going to a show. 😀

Quick Graphic Preferences

The other big item in the update is something I have been waiting for – the Quick Graphics Setting option.  When I perform in a dance show, I turn down my draw distance, change certain items to not render, turn off shadows, and a myriad of other things.  When I take photos, I bump up many settings so that I can take a very high-resolution picture.  When I go to a crowded shopping event, I turn many settings down low, so that I don’t lag out or crash before I’m done shopping.  Now I can create a quick graphics setting by doing all these things only once, and then loading that setting quickly whenever I need to.

quick graphics

See the little TV/monitor in the upper right corner?  If you click on it, it will open a window where you can choose one of your quick graphics settings or open the graphics window to create one.

I set up two different options last night – one for everything on ultra/high for taking pictures and one with settings lowered for crowded events.  So now, with just one click, I can be ready to go.

The graphics setting window looks like this:

Graphic Preferences Window

At the bottom, there are now buttons for saving, loading, and deleting your presets.  If you are using a preset, it will tell you which one you are using (or not) at the top of the window.

I can’t wait to try out these new options!

Second Life: Render Speed Tricks | Nalates’ Things & Stuff

Image Source:  facilitiesscheduling.wvu.edu
Image Source: facilitiesscheduling.wvu.edu

This blog post from Nalates Urriah gives some instructions on various settings you can tweak/change to try and improve your viewer’s performance, especially at events where are there are lots of avatars present.

I used to use the Ctrl+Alt+Shift+4 to derender avatars at busy events.  However, I found it that sometimes derendered other things that weren’t avatars (like certain machines at The Arcade).  I’m not sure why it does that, but I have since just derendered avatars using the radar tool in Firestorm.

Some interesting information, but tweak/change with care. 😀

Source: Second Life: Render Speed Tricks | Nalates’ Things & StuffNalates’ Things & Stuff

Viewer-Managed Marketplace migration commences July 23rd

If you have a store on Marketplace, the migration process is set to begin on July 23.

Inara Pey: Living in a Modem World

secondlifeComing by way of the Commerce blog, Linden Lab has announced that the Viewer-Managed Marketplace (VMM) capabilities are now released, and that automated migrations of SL Marketplace items is to commence on Thursday, July 23rd.

Migration will commence at 21:00 on July 23rd, and each weekday thereafter until all all stores on the Marketplace have been migrated.

The blog post lays out the core aspects of the migration process, which I’ve summarised below – but do still please read the official post:

  • All merchants will receive e-mail at the beginning of the migration process, and another once it has completed
  • Merchants with around 5K or more of listings will have their migration scheduled, and will receive an additional e-mail for the Lab providing them with advanced notice – see additional notes below
  • Migration will occur weekdays between 21:00 SLT in the evening and 09:00 SLT the following morning
  • A Merchant…

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