Random SL Photo discovery

Today I learned that the annoying stepped edge on shadows is all about an advanced setting.

I went into the Phototools menu in Firestorm today, playing around with posing a photo, and got very cranky with the way the shadows were rendering. I mean, really, look at this:

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Uggggh.  All those… raster-y stepped edges, and the shadows not meeting the object casting them.  Why does it do this? WHY DOES SL HATE ME???

I went through the pop-up text on Firestorm’s Phototools ‘Lights and Shadows Settings’ menu bit by bit by bit, and found this on FOV Cutoff:

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This determines the FOV cutoff at which the viewer will switch between ortho instead of perspective projection.  If you are getting shadows that are ‘jaggedy’ try adjusting this setting for improvement.  Also adjusting the XYZ values for the debug setting RenderShadowSplitExponent can be VERY helpful.

I played a bit with FOV Cutoff there, then went into the Advanced menu for the debug settings.  I dug up the RenderShadowSplitExponent setting and found that my X was 3.0… my Z was 2.0… and my Y was 65.0?!?
Resetting the Y to 5.0, I found that suddenly my shadows looked like this:

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Well that was easy, wasn’t it?

Figured that someone might find that helpful, so- enjoy!

Coming back to this one after a while, I notice that there’s something I learned that hasn’t gotten in here.  I talk about a specific set of numbers in the above post: ‘I dug up the RenderShadowSplitExponent setting and found that my X was 3.0… my Z was 2.0… and my Y was 65.0?!?  Resetting the Y to 5.0, I found…’
Further playing around with this has taught me that Y varies dramatically depending on what the angle of the sun/moon is in comparison to the shape you’re shining the light on.  Since the jagged edge is from transitioning not often enough from one type of perspective to another, sometime, you may find that a Y of 65 IS RIGHT (disclaimer: I haven’t found that yet).  I would say ‘play with the Y number, and see how it affects your shadows’.

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Public Service Announcement

So last night I noticed that I had installed 32-bit Firestorm on my 64-bit machine.  I just upgraded it this morning and I am finding a TON of improvement.
If you’re running a 64-bit system and running Firestorm, make sure you’re running the right version! Click on the ‘Help’ option at the top of the screen, and select ‘About Firestorm’.  That’ll bring up this information screen:

About Firestorm

the GREEN circle is around where that screen shows you what version you’re using (if you are using 32-bit, it does not say so! You’ll see the circled text if you are using the 64-bit version, which means you don’t need to upgrade).
The RED circle is around where your OS’s version is displayed.

I like that Firestorm gives you all this data in one place.  You should definitely upgrade if you’re on a 64-bit system: I’m noticing definite enhancements in the fluidity of things, even with graphics prefs up at Ultra.

The Long-Promised Depth of Field tutorial (Part 1 of ?)

OK, so for months and months now, I’ve kept threatening to do a tutorial on how to use Depth of Field.  People like the way I use it, apparently: I have to admit I’ve pulled off some stuff with it that I really can’t believe I did without using Photoshop.  All the pics in this tutorial were done using in-viewer post-processing.  I didn’t do anything outside of my viewer except for cropping them.

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First off, what IS depth of field?  I grabbed this pic as a good example for talking about what it is, and how it works. Continue reading