# Scale

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Real life measurements to Second Life? How would one convert?

Share what you know. :)

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InB4 a very large can of worms explodes and the flame war starts.

On a more serious note I'm of the belief that sl meters are the same as rl meters. Some people will try to tell you that sl meters are some how lesser than rl meters and that you have to use some magic formula to convert between them, but that sounds like a bunch of hand waving to me that does nothing but make things more complex. Some other people will try to tell you that sl meters aren't real and thus don't mean anything, but that just sounds like anarchy to me.

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First you have to remember SL is metric.  If you are using feet and inches for your perspective (like I do) an easy way to get your bearings is that 39 inches equal 1 meter.  The size of a meter is more or less arbitrary........an SL meter is larger than a real life meter when you take into consideration the terrain.  It's not very important really.  Most people will judge the size of anything in SL by how it measures to a human avatar.  The average human avatar is larger than the average human in real life.  As a general rule to get the proportions approxiately correct you need to build your furniture, houses and vehicles multiply the real life size by 125%.  That's just a guideline and won't hold true all the time........some objects just look too big at 125%.  The best way is to make it look right to you.........unless you are very short or very tall.  It will then look right to most everyone else.

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I don't know if it's just me or what, but all of this seems really off, everything on SL seems small, going by what you say. That could entirely be me though, I might be used to seeing things upscaled a bit.

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The other side of that is that, to me, most everything looks large.  My avatar measured against a prim is just about 5' 2" (close to my RL height).  I'm much shorter than almost everyone around me in a crowd.  I've heard different average heights quoted for males and females in SL ranging from 6' even for females to 6' 8" and for males 6' 6" to 7' 2".  I don't know which is true but I know most women are, at least, a third of a meter taller and males are giants by comparison.  It's nothing perspective and you get used to it.

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I like exterior walls to be 0.100 meters thick and interior walls are 0.050 meters thick.

A 14x14 meter room has a comfortable amount of space. First floor Ceiling heights of 4.2 - 6.0 meters offers plenty of camera space.

For stairs or steps, I've found 0.600 meters on the tread and 0.300 meters on the riser, provides a good general purpose step.

If a window looks like a door, it's probably too big.

Most appliances in rl are designed and constructed to fit through a 32-36 inch wide door frame or archway.

There is a Builders Tape Measure in your Inventory Library Folder, I've only used it as a guideline.

The scale should be larger, but only slightly. Every building is different.

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Thanks for the replies, it's helped.

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As a builder who has made quite a few sims full of realisticly-styled buildings, the compromise I have come up with is to build at 125% of real measured scale. (Also referred to as a 1:1.25 scale, meaning if something measures 1 meter in reality, you build it as 1.25 Meters inside SL.) At a 1:1.25 scale, most avatars can enter your buildings, use your stairways, walk through your halls, and sit comfortably on your furniture or in your vehicles.

A Meter is a Meter, inside SL or out. But if you build at an exact 1:1 scale, you have issues in SL because the virtual world doesn't always get viewed from a first person perspective (mouselook).

The default camera position is above and behind the avatar. That causes issues with percieved size. It also causes problems if you build with a realistic 8 foot ceiling height (2.43 Meters), because the camera ends up in the ceiling prims, or skimming along the floor of the level above the floor in the building that the avatar is actually standing in. So to accommodate that camera issue, you have to build with 4.5 to 5 Meter tall walls. The result is more like the older Victorian era buildings, which had 14 foot ceilings. 8 feet at a 125% scale is roughly 3 Meters in-world, while 14 feet is 5.3 Meters in-world at that 125% scale. You also need larger rooms, because you need deal with the camera being behind the avatar to see what they are doing, and not see the other side of a wall.

With the world built to accommodate non-mouselook camera positions and the perspective issues caused by viewing from above and behind, the avatar and furnishings look too small if accurately scaled. Add to this that for many years, the only easy way of measuring avatar height was with a scripted 'avatar ruler', that actually reported the eye height used for mouselook, and not the top of the head, and the result is avatars that are too tall, ranging from 7 to 8 feet in height, if accurately measured.

Personally, I have been trying recently to scale my own avatars more realisticly, using a scripted ruler that actually does report the height of the top of my head, even when that is a prim head on a furry avatar. But it isn't easy to do that, as most furniture is then too large, and often can't be scaled smaller. So I keep the "SL Normal" scaled versions of my avatar available and updated as well, for when realistic scale just doesn't work in this unrealistic world.

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Ceera Murakami wrote:

A Meter is a Meter, inside SL or out. But if you build at an exact 1:1 scale, you have issues in SL because the virtual world doesn't always get viewed from a first person perspective (mouselook).

It's so frustrating that this is even an issue. Third person camera in and of itself does not necessitate the huge environments the average SL user needs, it is specifically the poor camera placement Linden Lab chose.

Look at a third person videogame made in the past 10 years or so, chances are the camera, while still third person, is much lower and closer to your character than the SL camera is to your avatar. Most games opt for an "over the shoulder" perspective, a perspective that has been very warmly recieved because it provides all the advantages of both first and third person views.

I've explained how to achieve this camera view in SL in my article, "A Matter of Perspective", which also explains how the SL camera works in a bit more detail. I've been using these camera settings for years now and can say with complete authority that you can easily play in 1=1 scale environments if you use them and have a realistically sized avatar.

I also cover the entire scale issue in detail in "A Matter of Scale", explaining how the avatar size and camera placement issues of SL actually increase the cost of tier by about a factor of four. Remember, land in SL is a static size, if you want more you need to pay more. If your house is built to double scale then basic geometry reveals you need four times as much land for this large house to sit on. Also realize this costs LL money because it drives away potential land owners. No one ever wishes they had less land, only that they could afford more.

For those interested in scaling down their avatars, whatever your reasoning, I've put together an article explaining how to create an avatar shape, including an explanation of all the bugs and quirks in the appearance editor.

Scaling down means more than lowering your height slider, that just squashes you and makes you look like a hobbit. Also, did you realize that the official viewer's appearance editor shows incorrect height information? That's right, it's short by about six inches! If it says you're 6' tall, you're actually 6'6". You can confirm this by measuring your avatar with a prim. Hey, did you know that women's arm length is skewed so short that over about 6' tall women are forced to have short, gimpish arms?

I hope that cover's the op's question. The short, short version (pardon the pun) is that all land and prims are measured in metric. A 0.500 default cube is half a metre to a side. Land is measured in square metres. Even avatars are measured in metres, just the function for it is (like many other things in SL) broken.

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Peggy Paperdoll wrote:

First you have to remember SL is metric.  If you are using feet and inches for your perspective (like I do) an easy way to get your bearings is that 39 inches equal 1 meter.  The size of a meter is more or less arbitrary........an SL meter is larger than a real life meter when you take into consideration the terrain.  It's not very important really.

Hmm... I cannot keep my nose off from this subject, sorry.. :smileyfrustrated:

Officially imperial to metric are defined as:

1 inch = 0.0254 m (exactly)

1 foot = 0.3048 m (exactly)

From the above we get:

1 m = 39.37007874 inches

1 m = 3.280839895 feet

The size of the meter is not arbitrary in any way. It is exact, it is important. Meter is a meter everywhere - even in SL, it's the exact same meter we use in RL. Meter does not change its size "relative to something", not even in virtual world. Claiming something else is denying the fact. The claiming that SL meter is not the same as RL meter has led to lot of confusion among those who don't know the facts.

Everybody just listen to Penny Patton. She knows the matter of scale, and she explains everything you need to know about scale in SL with clarity and great detail.

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Coby Foden wrote:

The size of the meter is not arbitrary in any way. It is exact, it is important.
Meter is a meter everywhere - even in SL, it's the exact same meter we use in RL
.

That's not for you to decide, although I agree it would be very helpful if it was the case and where possible I use an SL meter as a RL meter. The meter is based on the earths circumference. SL is flat. Currently the meter is defined by complicated things like vacuums and speed of light.. We don't have vacuums or speed of light in SL. So a meter can be anything in SL.

You can't replicate RL on a screen and make it look realistic. You miss all sense of space, especially indoors. Ever photographed your living room? It looks a lot smaller in that picture than it really is. So to make up for that you need to adjust certain things. Even with your RL measurements avatar, I bet  a door 90 cm wide (which is pretty big) and 2.3 meters high looks rediculous. Ceilings 2,5 meters high? Even in mouselook that looks far too low. On top of that you need room to maneuvre. In RL a passage (either between walls or between furniture) can be less than a meter. Try that in SL...

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Kwakkelde Kwak wrote:
That's not for you to decide,

She didn't. LL did when they decided to use the metric system as the standard measurement system for SL.

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They didn't..hehe this is part of that eternal rather annoying discussion....

A foot isn't a foot, it can be many sizes, so why is a meter so rigid?

A meter is something that can be measured inworld, in real world that is. So in SL that is 100% impossible so the meter can't be defined. They could have called it a LindenMeter to avoid confusion, but nobody has ever stated the meter we use in SL is a METRIC meter and even if that was the case.. again....there's no reference at all as I said so it's still not defined.

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"...LL did when they decided to use the metric system..."

If they had instead called it the "Linden Meter" (Lm) or the "Linden Yard" (Lyd), would it have made any difference to anything? I'm really not sure about that. Nobody seems to have problems with the Linded Dollar, but...?

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If you REALLY want to get into it, even the current scientific definition of a meter in RL (the distance traversed by light in vacuum in 1 ⁄ 299,792,458 of a second) is relative, since time itself speeds up and slows down in direct response to gravity.  The original definition of a meter, the length of a pendulum with a half-period of one second, was abandoned because gravity is not the same everywhere on Earth, which means the length of the pendulum will have to vary, depending on where you are.  The current definition suffers a very similar problem.  We just haven't come up with anything better yet.

Relativity is pesky.  Time and space are fluid.  There's no such thing as absolute space or absolute time.  Therefore, there is no such thing as absolute distance or absolute size.

If anyone doesn't believe me on this, by the way, all I can say is go take a physics class.  If you still don't believe me after that, it's likely because you failed the class, in which case it's doubtful that anything I might say in a forum post will make you get it.  If an entire semester's worth of information couldn't do it for you, a few words from me won't either.  What I can tell you is that if the above were not true, then the GPS in your cell phone wouldn't work, and neither would all kinds of other technologies we all use every day that directly depend upon the mathematics of relativity in order to function.

As for the SL "meter", everyone, it's just a unit.  It could have been called anything.  The fact that it happens to share the same name with a unit used in RL doesn't mean it has to be the same thing.

But whether it is or it isn't doesn't really matter.  That sort of accuracy simply isn't what artwork is for.  It's all about the feeling the imagery evokes.  If a build "feels right", then it's a successful build, no matter what its measurements.  If it feels wrong, then its a failure, even if its measurements happen to be 100% perfect.

What discussions like this one, and even semi-in-depth analyses like Penny's, tend to disregard, are the ways in which we as human beings process visual information, and the feelings triggered by that processing.

For starters, the way we interpret 2D imagery is very different from how we directly utilize the three-dimensional information that we take in directly from the real world.  The very notion that either should emulate the other with precision is a flawed premise.  This is something that every trained artist is taught, right from the start, and that every natural born artist intuits from birth, whether he or she is consciously aware of it in verbalized terms or not.

If you think about it, it's almost ridiculous that we even see any resemblance between 2D and 3D at all.  Lines on a piece of paper don't look anything like real world objects, but we interpret them as if they do, for some reason that nobody quite understands.  It's just a bizarre quirk of how our visual cortex is wired.  So, why should we ever expect measurements from one to correspond directly with measurements from the other?

I once attended a really great lecture on perception, during which the speaker, a vision scientist, mentioned that if aliens were to land tomorrow, they would be astounded that a human male can become sexually aroused by looking at a pane of glass.  "There's no woman there," they would say, "just a bunch of little dots of light.  What the hell is wrong with you, man?"

For an easy example of a key difference between our 2D and 3D perceptions, open up any comic book, and take a really good critical look at the character drawings.  To our eyes, the women are all amazingly beautiful, and the men are all incredibly well built, yet none of them actually have realistic proportions at all.  We interpret their gross disproportion as the epitome of beauty, the perfection of the human form, even though it's anything but.  This is because comic book characters tend to be drawn with what artists refer to as "idealized proportions" in 2D.  Realistic proportions, although beautiful to us in the three-dimensional real world, don't tend to look very good to us when depicted in just two dimensions.  As artists, we stretch bodies to the idealized, to make them "feel right".

The mathematical conversions between realistic proportions and idealized proportions are well known, and have been in practical use for centuries.  I won't bother explaining it all here.  There are plenty of good books on the subject, if anyone is interested.  I can also say that with this, just like with the physics example in the beginning, if you don't believe me, then I dare you to take an artistic anatomy class.  If you still don't believe me after that, then as much as I'm sorry that you don't get it, there's probably not much I can do about it.

Architectural proportions also have principles of idealization.  The Parthenon is perhaps the best known RL example of of how a master architect can take full advantage of the ways in which human perception differs from reality. The lines of the Parthenon are all deliberately wrong.  None are actually straight.  But because the flaws are carefully arranged such as to precisely offset the inherent imperfections of human perception, we interpret straight lines when we look at the structure.  It "feels" like it's absolutely perfect, so much so that it's hard to take your eyes off it.  However, when you actually measure the thing, it's just all kinds of wacky.

As for architecture in games and virtual worlds, professional game artists understand how certain principles of design and perception affect the player's sense of immersion, as well as their emotional state.  Penny's "A Matter of Perspective" analysis, which focuses primarily on camera placement, isn't wrong, but it is very incomplete, in that it omits this vital part of the puzzle.  The need for high ceilings isn't just because of camera placement.  It's also because high ceilings tend to give the player a feeling of relaxation and control, whereas lower (realistic height) ceilings tend to trigger a sense of discomfort or danger.

I've written about this in great detail in other threads on this subject, if anyone cares to go searching through this forum, the old forum archive, and the old old forum archive.  I don't feel like repeating it all yet again right now.  Once again, I'll state that there are classes on this you can take, if anyone wants to learn more about it.  It's a fascinating subject.

To me, the fact that this topic comes up time and time again, is nothing more than a reminder that not everyone is a game artist.  That's OK; it's just part of what makes SL SL.   It makes it all the more important to point these principles out.

Questions like "How many 'meters' is a meter?" or "How do I recreate RL measurements in SL?" aren't very effective questions to be asking.  Even if they were answerable, they're beside the point.  Rather, what people should be asking are things like "What can I do to make my build 'feel' better, as if it's more realistic?" or "How can I make my build look its best and be as usable as possible?"  Those are part of a topic we can sink our teeth into, to the tremendous benefit of all.

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Chosen Few wrote:

Rather, what people should be asking are things like "What can I do to make my build 'feel' better, as if it's more realistic?" or "How can I make my build look its best and be as usable as possible?"  Those are part of a topic we can sink our teeth into, to the tremendous benefit of all.

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Chosen Few wrote:

If you REALLY want to get into it, even the current scientific definition of a meter in RL (the distance traversed by light in vacuum in 1 ⁄ 299,792,458 of a second) is relative, since time itself speeds up and slows down in direct response to gravity.  The original definition of a meter, the length of a pendulum with a half-period of one second, was abandoned because gravity is not the same everywhere on Earth, which means the length of the pendulum will have to vary, depending on where you are.  The current definition suffers a very similar problem.  We just haven't come up with anything better yet.

Relativity is pesky.  Time and space are fluid.  There's no such thing as absolute space or absolute time.  Therefore, there is no such thing as absolute distance or absolute size.

I didn't want to go there....yet:)

Rest of the post...well spoken.

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You're quite right, Coby.  A meter is a meter is a meter.  I take Peggy's "arbitrary" comment in a different sense.  SL is a virtual world, so there is no physical point of reference we can use to say how big anything is.  Linden Lab's choice of a "meter" as the standard is purely arbitrary.  We only know that some object is 10m wide because we take LL's word for it. They defined what a meter looks like in SL. They could have chosen the foot, the furlong, or the Angstrom.  In fact, we might have been better served if they had simply made up a unit of measure and called it the Blwerq.  That way, we wouldn't be making meaningless comparisons between our avatar heights and our RL heights.  All that really counts is how tall we are in comparison to other objects in SL.

ETA:  Hehe... Chosen posted his lovely analysis while I was typing this one slooooowly.  As usual, his is right on the mark. :smileywink:

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Chosen Few wrote:

As for the SL "meter", everyone, it's just a unit.  It could have been called anything.  The fact that it happens to share the same name with a unit used in RL doesn't mean it has to be the same thing.

But whether it is or it isn't doesn't really matter.  That sort of accuracy simply isn't what artwork is for.  It's all about the feeling the imagery evokes.  If a build "feels right", then it's a successful build, no matter what its measurements.  If it feels wrong, then its a failure, even if its measurements happen to be 100% perfect.

Chosen spoke many wise things here, as usual.

Anyway, I'm afraid now that many will interpret this wrongly thinking: "Ah, we were right, scale in SL really does not matter. We knew it! Chosen even confirmed it."

I vision the following happening:

2.6 meters tall avatar will go happily building stuff which feels right for them. Cool! :smileyhappy:

1.5 meters tall avatar will go happily building stuff which feels right for them. Cool! :smileyhappy:

After a while 2.0 meters tall avatar comes to see their work.

He has this strange feeling that nothing is really right for him. Not so cool. :smileyfrustrated:

This time I do hope that I'm wrong in my vision.. :smileytongue:

/me sits in the lovely soft couch in SL pondering things. She has this nagging feeling that the couch is far too big for her.. :smileysurprised:

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Coby Foden wrote:

I vision the following happening:

2.6 meters tall avatar will go happily building stuff which feels right for them. Cool! :smileyhappy:

1.5 meters tall avatar will go happily building stuff which feels right for them. Cool! :smileyhappy:

After a while 2.0 meters tall avatar comes to see their work.

He has this strange feeling that nothing is really right for him. Not so cool. :smileyfrustrated:

Welcome to SL building 101...make your items mod so people can scale it to their surroundings:)

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Kwakkelde Kwak wrote:

Welcome to SL building 101...make your items mod so people can scale it to their surroundings:)

/me looks at Kwakkelde with unbelieving eyes (o.0) ...

... goes back sitting on the oversized couch which she cannot resize as the couch is not her property ... :smileysad:

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My spoon is too big! :matte-motes-shocked:

On a more serious note, the sparked discussion has been great, I appreciate the added insight. My original focus was to get the proportions right, but I now realize how redundant my question really was. When building things, size really doesn't matter, as you can always resize everything to your liking once finished.

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Coby Foden wrote:

I vision the following happening:

2.6 meters tall avatar will go happily building stuff which feels right for them. Cool! :smileyhappy:

1.5 meters tall avatar will go happily building stuff which feels right for them. Cool! :smileyhappy:

After a while 2.0 meters tall avatar comes to see their work.

He has this strange feeling that nothing is really right for him. Not so cool. :smileyfrustrated:

This time I do hope that I'm wrong in my vision.. :smileytongue:

This already happens frequently in SL. I can build to scale to my heart's content, because I do the environments I build in SL are larger, more detailed and more immersive than they otherwise would be. I can build the equivalent of a full sim build in only 1/4 of a sim.

But when I do I know I am losing potential visitors. People show up and can't fit through doors because their avatars are too tall, can't see because the ceilings are too low for their camera, etcetera. I find myself building at odds to trends LL has set with 2m tall avatars with poor camera placement. It's a trade-off I have to make by deciding whether I am building for myself, or building for everyone else.

In that way the current situation punishes those who want to make the most out of SL. Because to get the most out of the tools (the most detail, the most area to play in) you need to build to a much smaller scale than LL encourages.

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Coby Foden wrote:

Kwakkelde Kwak wrote:

Welcome to SL building 101...make your items mod so people can scale it to their surroundings:)

/me looks at Kwakkelde with unbelieving eyes (o.0) ...

... goes back sitting on the oversized couch which she cannot resize as the couch is not her property ... :smileysad:

That's very sad yes, but that probably means you don't fit the rest of the sim aswell.... At least it makes sense to me the couch fits its surroundings.....

Again this is in no way any indicator of a meter having to be a meter.... it just means the things in SL are out of proportion.

It will never happen that avatars will be human scale. In RL people will buy a big 4x4 to counterbalance their erm shortcomings or insecurities....in SL they make themselves bigger with a matching foot long plastic wiener...until someone else is even bigger then they make themselves ...well...bigger...oh and they buy that 10 meter long 4 meter wide 4x4 to match....

I said this before and I still haven't heard a single arguement making me change my mind. The biggest problem with SL is the fact is is completely built by residents...but that's also what makes SL SL and SL is a great place because of it.

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Orabelle wrote:

My spoon is too big! :matte-motes-shocked:

When building things, size really doesn't matter, as you can always resize everything to your liking once finished.

Glad to hear that you got some insight here Orabelle. Our discussion here was not in vain. :smileyhappy:

But, but... Orabelle, the size in building does matter. We cannot resize other people's stuff. I'm sitting right now in one public place. Evertyhing is oversized. Interested to come and try resizing the oversized couches here where I'm sitting? I'm drowning in these... :smileylol:

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