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Friday, December 07, 2007

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Miriel Enfield

I hate the way Windlight makes avatars look.

Wait, that's not quite try. What I hate is that I can't use local lights on my avatar the way I used to. The avatar mesh, no matter what you do with the sliders, isn't terrible detailed and just doesn't look all that great, with the cheeks and nose being particularly troublesome. So for shooting product photos, I'd point a bunch of lights at myself, which essentially made my avatar full bright and allowed my skin to do the job of shading my face, something it did (IMO) in a much more aesthetically pleasing way than the polygons.

With the lighting changes in Windlight, this doesn't work, and I'm not sure a workaround exists. (God knows I've been looking for one.) The shadows are quite difficult to get rid of, strong lights will bleach out subtle details in a skin, and the one method I have found of removing environmental shadows also desaturates everything horribly.

I'm still trying to find a way to replicate the full bright avatar effect in Windlight, but it's increasingly looking like that technique simply isn't possible under the new lighting system. And I'm not real happy about that.

I love Windlight's lighting for just wandering around. But for studio photography, it's just horrible.

Christophe Hugo

Hi Miriel - Have you tried to attach to your avatar a transparent object you create (e.g., a simple sphere) that is lit? Once the invisible sphere is attached to you (e.g., to your chin or another part of your face), you can then move it around your av's face by editing it.

I find this a very effective way of creating the exact shading I want on my caricavatars... but it also works for "normal" av :)

Cheers,

Christophe Hugo

Torley

Oooh mo' WindLight! BTW, it's actually "WindLight" with an InterCapped "L". But beyond that fine detail — just wanted to say thanx A LOT for the feedback, Kit, Miriel, Christophe, and for posting about it here, Hamlet. I've run 'cross the blogosphere looking for WL discussions to bring back to Team WindLight because it's very, very important that we listen, respond, engage, etc. I'm humbled by both the sheer praise and insightful criticisms we've received in copious amounts.

It's true the "main viewer" looks very "flat" by comparison; in WindLight, you can go to Preferences > Graphics tab, check "Custom" and disable Atmospheric Shaders and that will make things look more "flat" again. (The whole point of having those shaders on, tho, is more realistic environmental modeling. Making avatar meshes "full bright" like prims can be is a feature request we're aware of.)

How WindLight illuminates your avatar is severely dependent on the custom settings that you use. Very harsh AKA "bleach bypass" looks are perfectly suitable for a Three Kings-like look, while more soft, misty tones are better conductive to the language of romance movies.(Cinematic references help.)

Generally, it's not so meaningful to say "WindLight makes my avatar look awful"; it's more relevant to point out the specific settings that do, or describe in further detail. Caliah Lyon has a great blog post re: optimizing.

So, a big part of this — in addition to us fixing aesthetic and other bugs that are less subjective that we do consider "teh suck" — is definitely going to be "getting used to the changes over time" and "mastering WindLight's controls to get the look you want". I'll elaborate that further details about what this means, and what's going to happen next are on our WindLight info-page, particularly this section. Anyone and everyone interested in or using WindLight should see that page, and I'll (yes, I'm accountable here) will keep updating it to reflect latest project status.

Torley

Again, thanks graciously for taking the time to try WindLight and I hope we'll be able to keep bettering it to your liking, or at the very least, helping you get the results you want with the tools already provided... WindLight is ongoing, influx, and changing. Pastrami Linden & Team WindLight will keep posting updates to the Official Linden Blog too as we address problems and improve atmospheric rendering with an "ear on the virtual street" to your concerns!

(Context for anyone not familiar: I work for Linden Lab and am Product Manager for Project: WindLight. And gosh, I had to break this comment into 2 parts not because it's "epic" but because I was flagged as spam!)

Cyn Vandeverre

I have seen several personal blogs which cover "how to make your avatar look better" under WindLight. I haven't bothered, because it's not important to me at present, as I can't use WindLight (crashes my MacPro, yes, I've Jira'd it.)

Ann Otoole

So Torley are you saying the Windlight team is not planning to address this problem? the issue is not the wonderful controls. the problem is one person can only control what one person sees. theres a massive problem with expecting everyone to have avatar appearance friendly environments. the fact your team now appears to be blowing this massive defect off is an indication you are ignoring your customers.

the real problem isn't the windlight environment. the basic and only one and one only male or female avatar obj model is severely flawed and simply fails to render well with the windlight environment. will the windlight tean now be given the task of uploading a fixed avatar model into sl for all of us to inherit? will the sl client be coded to render at a higher resolution to massively increase the polygons for avatar meshes?

See windlight is great with other game environments that do not have user generated content quantity issues so those games are fully optimized to provide realistic high resolution meshes. sl's resolution has been going in the opposite direction to try to improve frame rates.

tough problem but a carefully worded response that clearly tells millions of customers they do not know what they are talking about and LL doesn't care was really the wrong way to respond. some of us have tried hundreds of combinations with the environment to adapt to the poor lighting on avatars problem in windlight. it doesn't matter. the environment is only good for skies and water. everything else in secondlife is damaged by windlight in various ways due to more reasons than just low resolution on meshes that the client forces down. however if the avatar meshes were fixed to get rid of the craggy big polygons and the misaligned ploys in certain places that cause texture tearing then at least we would not hav the ill effects at the magnitude we currently do.

Miriel Enfield

Christophe: yes, I have. I've tried taking pictures with no lighting, with little lighting, and with complicated lighting rigs. I've used all white lights, all lightly tinted lights, or a combination thereof.

Torley: I have read Caliah's page, and I have experimented extensively on my own. I will continue experimenting, and may yet find something, but this is looking increasingly like it is _not_ an issue of being unable to find the right settings. It appears simply that Windlight is _unable_ to do something the regular client can, and which I have relied on. Even turning shaders off doesn't help.

Frankly, I'm getting pretty annoyed by the comments that boil down to "you're doing it wrong, play with the settings/lighting/read Caliah's page." I've tried all that. And I'm find with the way avatars look while just wandering around, but I want to be able to turn it off when taking studio pictures. And I can't.

Miriel Enfield

Geez, I'm an idiot. I'd tried turning shaders off a few releases ago and it didn't seem to do anything. I tried it again today, just to confirm that it doesn't work... and lo and behold, the local lighting trick made my avatar full bright.

I'm going to go slink into a corner now.

Cyn Vandeverre

I'll be interested to try the "full bright" avatar, although "full bright" objects are a thorn in my side, as they look downright peculiar at "night." I've seen people with bits of their prim clothing on full bright, and they look like neon. Not to mention the trees left on full bright, which shine out across the sim as if they were nuclear-powered.

I hope the Windlight avatar full bright is not this obnoxious at night.

Nicholaz Beresford

I just noticed something interesting. On my office PC looking at the pictures in this article I preferred the old light.

However, at home on my Mac (with a much brighter and brilliant screen), the new light looks far more attractive to me.

Miriel Enfield

Cyn, you can't make an avatar full bright in quite the same way you can make prims full bright. With a prim, you tick the full bright box, and that's it. It stays full bright until the box is unticked. You can't do that with avatars, and (to the best of my knowledge) never could. What you _can_ do (in the regular client, and in Windlight with shaders off) is point local lights at your avatar to the point where the environmental shading vanishes. That's it. It's effectively "full bright" -- because all full bright means is that the object doesn't take any environmental shading -- but you're not going to see randomly glowing avatars wandering around in the way that you see poorly done full bright trees.

(And full bright objects can look fantastic -- if they're done properly.)

Cyn Vandeverre

Thanks Miriel, good to know!

Yeah, I figure full-bright is like gold leaf -- a little is great, in the right location.

Torley

@Ann Otoole: No, I didn't mean that. Please read the WindLight info-page in its entirety, because there are specific aesthetic issues which we acknowledge and either are currently working on, or hope to get to soon. I promise to keep updating it as we continue fixing stuff. :)

I agree WindLight exposes flaws in some older content, not unlike putting a spotlight close to a real human's face. As time goes on, I hope those will be improved to match. It's a continuous process of improvement.

@Miriel: Pardon that you're getting "annoyed"; I realize you already know these things (and I appreciate your experimentation) about WindLight, but many Residents don't yet, so I'm sharing that knowhow for a lot who aren't as experienced with content creation as you are.

Great to see the continued WindLight discussion!

Kit Meredith

Hi all!

First, Hamlet, thanks for the link! I think both your post and mine have generated some very good comments, I'm glad to see that Torley and the team are finding them useful in their work.

Torley, I just wanted to respond with a couple comments. I hope you're not lumping me in with the "teh suck" people - I have had both _very positive_ and _somewhat negative_ reactions to the various facets of WindLight. I don't know if they've accurately conveyed over in my postings, but I wanted to point it out.

Now, to the specific comments. First, this is a totally selfish thing, but do you know what causes the polygons sprouting out of the head that I posted on my blog? It just seems so peculiar, was hoping you'd seen it before.

Second, I have to agree with others that it's not totally satisfying to just be told "you can tweak the settings until you look good again." For one, I haven't been able to find settings that get me all the way back to the "old look." And two, I know it's completely vain to say this, but I want to be able to look good to _others_ too, and I can't tweak their settings for them. Is there thought of making the default WindLight settings more avie-friendly in the final release?

Finally, I appreciate that you see one of the key features of WindLight as being "more realistic environmental modeling," as you put it. But please keep in mind that it is exactly the "un-realisticness" (for lack of a better word) of Second Life that draws a lot of us in - specifically, the fact that we can create avatars who look good no matter what we may look like in RL. So, not all of us may _want_ a more "realistic" Second Life.

Anyway, please don't take these as being negative. I still think WindLight is a great improvement, and am in awe every time the sun sets. As a very smart man likes to say, "YAYZERAMA!!!"

Torley

@Kit: I sure didn't lump! Your time trying out WindLight and blogging about it too are really appreciated. Especially since WindLight is still a "First Look", which is definitely receptive to ongoing improvement. It's very important that I'm here and not just listening, but responding and carrying your valuable feedback back to Team WindLight. = )

Re: those "polygons sprouting", Nicholaz (in your comments) linked to what appears to be the known bug on our Issue Tracker. Bao Linden was working on it last I checked yesterday, so we may have a resolution soon. I hope so.

Re: tweaking settings, there are several good-to-knows here in addition to what I shared earlier:

  • YES, we're going to adjust the default day cycle AND other under-the-hood parameters which should help with "avie-friendly"-ness. I enthusiastically acknowledge how important this is.
  • Qarl Linden wanted me to let you and everyone know, "the primary difference between old lighting and new lighting is the level of ambient lighting. residents can easily revert to the softer lighting by raising the ambient light. :)". You may want to lower Scene Gamma a little, too; I'll add that info to our FAQ as well.
  • I'll also emphasize that WindLight, as seen through my settings, can indeed make things very unrealistic if you so choose.

Nostalgic, I remember when we got the first round of shader water (then called "ripple water") and some people freaked out, saying it made the terrain look like crap. WindLight somewhat helps with that, but it did take time to get used to.

One of the most important things to remember is that when WindLight makes it into the main viewer, sky & water settings will be share-able inventory; we'll hopefully both have (1) good Linden defaults and (2) facilitate a plethora of Resident-created choices to see Second Life as they prefer to.

YAYZERAMA!!!! to you too! =^_^=

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