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Cut Mesh Prims by Changing Your Camera Angle


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Yes, simply changing your camera angle and distance can save you prims/Land Impact -- and money, since you pay for those prims every time you pay tier or rent.

When I first came to Second Life I noticed that everything was huge compared to my avi -- rooms and stores were cavernous. Doors were twice as tall as I was.  Doorknobs came up to my shoulder. And I was 6 feet tall!

And after a bit I realized why this was -- rooms and doorways built to scale would trap the camera behind them.  This is because --  unlike most other video games -- the Second Life camera default is angled high and at quite a distance from the avi.  Hamlet Au published this image from Resident Evil on his blog here.

images-8.jpeg

This is from Penny Patton, quoted on Inara Pey's blog here.

Camera placement is important. In the videogame industry this is common wisdom. Game developers spent decades experimenting, improving and pretty much perfecting the art of camera placement in 3D videogames.

 

Unfortunately, the SL camera does not take advantage of any of that experience. As a result, the camera sits way over your avatar’s head, angled down. Not very immersive or engaging. More like you’re watching a character from afar rather than interacting with the world through them.

 

This has also affected how we build. It’s common knowledge that avatars are generally oversized, often close to 7 or 8′ tall, some pushing almost 9′. And yet, the environments we build and explore are larger still, often fully double scale compared to real life. 5m high ceilings instead of the more typical 2.59, 20x20m rooms instead of 10x10m or 5x5m rooms. We need to build so much larger to compensate for SL’s camera.

Screen Shot 2013-06-20 at 3.19.07 PM.png

Above left, Penny shows the SL Default camera position; on the right, the "Over the Shoulder" position.  I keep my camera even closer to me, it just feels more immersive and natural.

So everyone built around the high trailing camera -- rooms were built huge, so furniture was built huge, so avis were made huge (though they still usually looked too small for their surroundings).  And for most people this was no problem. Just make everything big so the camera would not get trapped.

However, we are now in the Age of Mesh, and prims/ Land Impact is dramatically affected by the size of objects.  You can cut a lot of prims / Land Impact just by shrinking your furnishings or house a bit. Or better yet, when you buy these things, buy them to scale to begin with.  And when things are smaller and take fewer prims, that means you can do with less land, and less land means less tier.


The fix is easy -- just adjust your default camera angle and distance so it is closer to you and not so high up. Instantly, your camera is not bumping into things anymore. Plus it just feels so much more natural, more like Real Life.

The future of Second Life is for things to be created to scale. Making everything huge to accomodate a dysfunctional camera angle just doesn't make sense when it costs so much in Land Impact.

Here are some instructions for adjusting your camera angle to a more natural position -- you can play with the numbers a bit to suit your preferences, but this is a good starting point:

Follow the instuctions below:
1. Go into the Advanced menu at the top of your window (if it does not show, do Control > Alt (or Option) D ).
2. Open Debug Settings at the bottom. Type in: CameraOffsetRearView
3. Then enter these numbers:
X: -2.000
Y: -0.400 (Make positive for a left shoulder view or keep 0.000 for a centred view.)
Z: -0.200



Instructions with pictures can be found on Ciaran Laval's blog here.


Also, Penny Patton has a free HUD you can wear to adjust your camera angle:  https://marketplace.secondlife.com/p/Camera-Control-HUD/164404?page=1


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Of course the silver bullet solution is for everybody to use mouselook more often and cut out camera clipping pretty much altogether.  I play many online games and going into mouselook or first person view (fpv) is quite natural to me and an environment I'm happy to move and look around in.  

The difference in SL as opposed to many other online games is that it is not a restricted environment in terms of view distance and movement.  This generally leads people to want to look at places in the mid to far distance rather than move their avatar nearer or they prefer to pan their camera around their immediate environment because it's quicker than turning and gives a wider scope of view than a fpv.

I wish that SL would support TrackIR, which I have been using for some time now and really improves the fpv experience and is the most immersive way of looking around your environment.  From what I hear LL are happy to have it incorporated into the code, but as usual are not prepared to do it themselves so it would have to be done by a resident...again.  Then again how hard a job would it be for LL or a TPV to mod the camera to have your own pre-defined snap to camera positions at the press of a button?  

 

P.S. When I read the title of your post I thought that you had come up with some revolutionary building tool or cheat :smileywink:

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Pamela Galli wrote:

 

 

 
 Plus it just feels so much more natural, more like Real Life.

 

More scale wars...not everyone wants SL to be RL. I understand Penny's POV completely as she has detailed it in many posts. I agree with parts of it however SL's appeal is that it can be anything you want it to be and something I happen to enjoy about SL. If I want RL, I turn my chair.

Camera adjusters have been around for some time.

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For those with mesh homes and furniture, and a limited budget, the game has changed. When such a simple change -- moving your camera a little closer to your avi -- can mean homes and furnishings no longer have to be huge, there are very significant prim savings to be had.

If you avoid mesh, then size doesn't affect prims, so nothing I have said is particularly relevant. Or if saving prims is not worth the bother of adjusting your camera, then stick with huge scale builds, whether mesh or not. 

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As I said, I agree with some parts. If someone has the disadvantages you state, sure it would be of benefit to them. What that has to do with SL being closer to RL is a different topic.

Anytime someone tries to limit the imagination of some for the benefit of others, I have a problem with it. While it may not be overly obvious here, the end game is the same.

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Suggesting a way to avoid getting your camera stuck behind walls limits someone's imagination? 

 

I am guessing you have not scaled mesh items up or down before and are not aware of how much difference in Land Impact it really makes.  Or maybe scaling limits imagination too? :-)

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Good post Pamela, and those of us who use Nirans Viewer are already used to his default camera angle which differs only slightly from yours and works equally well. I actually prefer his default lower Z angle of 0.100.

CameraOffsetRearView Nirans.JPG

When I return to the official LL viewer on occasions, I feel somewhat disoriented with its so high and distant camera angle and I must get around to altering it.

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Thank you Nyll -- just want to be clear that I did not think of any of this, just spreading the word as I see the significant benefits to keeping mesh items at a reasonable scale.  

 

I also prefer a lower angle as well as less distance. Perhaps a good bottom line is for everyone to experiment to find the one that suits him best, and not just accept the LL default as carved in stone. 

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Good post Pam and it is something that I have been considering recently after seeing a discussion about it somewhere else on the forums. I am not prepared to build only to RL scale unless there was a clear indication that the majority of users are using a more realistic camera angle. However I am about to release a new mesh build that is quite big and shrinking the overall build by 25% significantly reduces the LI. So I am considering putting 2 versions of the build in the box along with details on adjusting the camera angle. 

Something else I am considering is placing 2 versions of the build in the demo area, one with standard SL proportions and the other RL proportions. I would also place a large poster with instruction on how to change the camera angle and the difference in LI between the 2 versions. I figured if customers could actually see the 2 versions of the build stood next to each other, play about with their cameras and explore both builds and appreciate the LI saving then it may convert more people to the cause.

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Porky Gorky wrote:

Good post Pam and it is something that I have been considering recently after seeing a discussion about it somewhere else on the forums. I am not prepared to build only to RL scale unless there was a clear indication that the majority of users are using a more realistic camera angle. However I am about to release a new mesh build that is quite big and shrinking the overall build by 25% significantly reduces the LI. So I am considering putting 2 versions of the build in the box along with details on adjusting the camera angle. 

Something else I am considering is placing 2 versions of the build in the demo area, one with standard SL proportions and the other RL proportions. I would also place a large poster with instruction on how to change the camera angle and the difference in LI between the 2 versions. I figured if customers could actually see the 2 versions of the build stood next to each other, play about with their cameras and explore both builds and appreciate the LI saving then it may convert more people to the cause.

Porky that is exactly what I have done with my last house.  I have two sizes of house in the box, and the instructions say you can stretch it larger if you want. I include camera angle instructions with the house, and I have a sign with a notecard giver outside the house. I also sent the notecard to my group (not for the first time) before I released the house.  For the first couple of weeks after release I also kept the two sizes of house rezzed side by side, but I am hurting for prims on all sims so had to take it up.

 

Nevertheless, the only marketplace review I received was two stars -- because the bedrooms are "too small" -- when they are in fact plenty roomy. Why she bought without walking through is a mystery.

 

But I know that the future IS more realistic scale. There is just no point in wasting prims on needlessly gigantic builds when a simple camera adjustment makes it unnecessary.

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Pamela Galli wrote:


Porky Gorky wrote:

Good post Pam and it is something that I have been considering recently after seeing a discussion about it somewhere else on the forums. I am not prepared to build only to RL scale unless there was a clear indication that the majority of users are using a more realistic camera angle. However I am about to release a new mesh build that is quite big and shrinking the overall build by 25% significantly reduces the LI. So I am considering putting 2 versions of the build in the box along with details on adjusting the camera angle. 

Something else I am considering is placing 2 versions of the build in the demo area, one with standard SL proportions and the other RL proportions. I would also place a large poster with instruction on how to change the camera angle and the difference in LI between the 2 versions. I figured if customers could actually see the 2 versions of the build stood next to each other, play about with their cameras and explore both builds and appreciate the LI saving then it may convert more people to the cause.

Porky that is exactly what I have done with my last house.  I have two sizes of house in the box, and the instructions say you can stretch it larger if you want. I include camera angle instructions with the house, and I have a sign with a notecard giver outside the house. I also sent the notecard to my group (not for the first time) before I released the house.  For the first couple of weeks after release I also kept the two sizes of house rezzed side by side, but I am hurting for prims on all sims so had to take it up.

 

Nevertheless, the only marketplace review I received was two stars -- because the bedrooms are "too small" -- when they are in fact plenty roomy. Why she bought without walking through is a mystery.

 

But I know that the future IS more realistic scale. There is just no point in wasting prims on needlessly gigantic builds when a simple camera adjustment makes it unnecessary.

Pam.  Does avatar height play a part in all this or just camera angles?

 

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I don't think avatar height would make much difference, unless the avi was taller than the doorways. But I think most builders know that some avis are 8ft tall and build with that in mind.  Its not the avi but having the equivalent of a kite flying behind you everywhere you go that makes things difficult to navigate.

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The last house I bought when I had land (I let land go in the summer because I log in much less) had a resizer. Neat! Of course I could delete the scripts after fitting it. It was from the Domineaux Effect. Mesh is providing more detailed and gorgeous homes. This really wellmade cottage was 140 LI before I started playing with it. 

I didn't have land when I first joined SL, so the prim count meant nothing for me. I just wanted to sit in a chair and let my feet touch the floor, or dance with a male avatar without the height of my head reach only up to his nipples. So I adjusted to average SL height and was really happy with that, but I knew I was way taller than in RL. To have someone imply that I had no idea about my height and would be shocked if I knew..... /me shakes her head and laugh a bit

Now that more and more creators make furniture that fits smaller and medium height avatars, it is much more easy to size down, and the LI is a welcome bonus. I have put the "height war" behind me. The maint goal I have in SL when I set up a home is that the parts shall fit my avatar. If the LI haven't rewarded smaller builds, i would not care about making myself smaller so I could use smaller builds and furniture. 

i think it is great that designers put so much hard work in to try to please both shorter and taller avatars. I just want to say thank you for offering several sized builds. It has to be even harder with animated furniture. The problems i run into when trying to fit a sofa with big size into a mesh house in smaller scale is really challenging. The sits is offset when the furniture is sized down. I still find that having a smaller scale build demands that I really notice how big the furniture is before shopping.

I think mesh is a valid reason for smaller scaling. Third Party viewers spoil users so much with their handy features, like switching camera placement by just  a click. Using the default LL viewer feels like a restraint jacket after running a Third Party viewer. Information about SL comes mostly from other residents, Third party viewers and blogs. That's really sad. 

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Most houses these days, except for very large ones, are built as one object*, so you don't even need a resizer (or a rezzer) -- you can just stretch it larger or smaller like any other object. 

Furniture with animation is indeed problematic. Some scripts allow you to adjust your avi position and will remember it. 

Note: If you are unable to stretch something smaller, it's because there are pieces already at their smallest allowable size; but there is a free script you can drop in that will enlarge those by 20%.  I had a customer use this script several times to get my latest mesh house down to 5 x 7m! 

 

*This is because linking rules changed.

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Pamela Galli wrote:

I also prefer a lower angle as well as less distance. Perhaps a good bottom line is for everyone to experiment to find the one that suits him best, and not just accept the LL default as carved in stone. 

I prefer lower camera angle too. It makes everything to look more natural. Two examples shots here, one with my preferred camera and the other viewer default.

Picture 1. My preferred view what I use always.

Debug setting: CameraOffsetRearView

X= -3.7000  Y=0.000  Z=0.000

The vertical lines remain pretty much vertical. The view is pleasing to the eye.

This view works very well for avatars around 1.80 meters (about 5 ft 11 in) tall.

Camera-view_My-preference.jpg

 

 

Picture 2. Viewer default view.

Debug setting: CameraOffsetRearView

X= -3.000  Y=0.000  Z=0.750

The vertical lines are not vertical due to the "view from the top of the tree" which makes this strange perspective. This staring towards the ground at an angle looks rather weird. The proportions of avatar are also hard to get right with this default view. I guess this is one reason why there are so many "grasshopper" long legged avatars about. It's really strange that this kind of view has been kept so long as the viewer's default view!

Camera-view_Viewer-default.jpg

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Pamela Galli wrote:

This is how close I keep my camera.  (I am standing in one of the bedrooms the marketplace reviewer said was too small -- not for me!)

 

Screen Shot 2013-06-22 at 2.31.24 PM.png


That is excellent view too. I like to keep my camera a bit further (to be able to see at all times that I'm properly dressed all over). :smileytongue:  :smileyvery-happy:

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I am so completely out of touch with what SL is like nowadays. 2005 to 2010 I had my finger on the pulse so to speak, but after I stopped working full time here in 2010 and got a proper job I just could never find the time to go out and explore and to get involved in SL. 3 years later and I have barely left my lands in that time other than quick visits to customers. Despite this out of touchness, I still keep plodding along selling content so my lack of SL knowledge has not affected business it would seem and I keep up to date on technical developments on the forums. I still spend about 30 to 40 hrs a week working on SL content but most of the time my avatars are sat idle as 95% of my design process is done outside of SL. That's not to say I don't allow myself recreation time, however because SL is work...when I finished work it never occurs to me to do something recreational in SL, I just shut my viewers and spend my play time somewhere else.

 

So to summarise that rather long winded answer to your simple question....Nope, Porky don't party much :smileyhappy:

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