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  • Environment editor

    Jeremy Linden

    To edit the sky and water, you must first open the Environment Editor. You can do this by selecting World > Environment Settings > Environment Editor.


    The Environment Editor

    The basic Environment Editor gives you control over your perceived time of day, cloud cover, water color, and water clarity:

    Time of Day: Sets the time of day as defined by the Day Cycle Editor. The default Day Cycle parallels a day/night cycle in the real world.

    Cloud Cover: Sets the amount of cloud cover visible in the sky. Move the slider left to reduce the number of clouds, and right to increase the number of clouds.

    Water Color: Sets the color of all water in the Region.

    Water Fog: Sets the amount of "fog" in the water, making it more opaque with simulated particulate matter.


    Introduction to atmospheric effects

    The Environment Editor gives you a fine degree of control over Second Life's sky and atmosphere. Imagine a strange alien planet with a purple sky, or a smoggy, overcast city! This guide will help you to understand the many controls at your disposal, and set you on the path to becoming a weather-controlling mad scientist.

    Note: In order to see all of the sky effects you will need OpenGL 2.0 or higher. If you have the latest drivers for your graphics card and still can not see certain atmospheric effects (such as clouds) try enabling Basic Shaders and Atmospheric Shaders in the Graphics tab of your Preferences menu.

    Get started with atmospheric effects

    To get started with atmospheric effects, make sure you have Basic Shaders and Atmospheric Shaders enabled. Then, check out the Environment Editor, Advanced Sky Editor, and Advanced Water Settings. Start tweaking sliders, and watch the spectacular results!

    As emphasized in the blog posts, you can help us make atmospheric effects better by reporting bugs with actionable details. To do this, use our Issue Tracker.

    The Advanced Sky Editor

    The Advanced Sky Editor contains detailed controls for modifying environmental effects. It is where you make visual changes to sky and atmosphere presets, also known as "keyframes" (see Day Cycle Editor for more about keyframes). It contains three tabs, each with a number of sliders for manipulating the sky's appearance. You may also save and load sky settings when you find a view you like.

    Opening the Advanced Sky Editor

    The Advanced Sky Editor is located in the Environment Editor:

    1. Go to World > Environment Settings > Environment Editor
    2. In the Environment Editor, click the Advanced Sky button

    Overview of Advanced Sky Editor Settings

    The Atmosphere Tab


    This tab controls elements of the atmosphere itself:

    Blue Horizon: Use the Red/Green/Blue (RGB) sliders to adjust the color of the sky. You can use the Intensity (I) slider to move all three RGB sliders in unison. In meteorological terms, this setting affects "atmospheric scattering", which is the scientific answer to the age-old question, "Why is the sky blue?"

    Blue Density: Blue Density affects the overall color saturation of your sky. If you move the Intensity (I) slider to the right, your colors will become brighter and more vibrant. If you move it all the way to the left, your colors will become duller, eventually fading to black and white. If you'd like to fine-tune your sky's color balance, you can control individual elements of saturation by using the Red/Green/Blue (RGB) sliders.

    Tip: Blue Horizon and Blue Density are particularly closely related. Imagine Blue Horizon as the base color for the sky, and Blue Density as the sky's color intensity and color balance effects. Try turning Haze Density to zero and playing with these settings for yourself to get a better feel for how they interact with each other.

    Haze Horizon: This setting affects the height of haze on the horizon. At higher settings, the haze will reach up into the sky and obscure the actual horizon. Haze on the horizon can help to accentuate the sun, and create a dusty, smoggy, or humid effect. This setting will not work if Haze Density is set to zero.

    Haze Density: Haze density affects the amount of haze you can see in the atmosphere. At lower settings, this can make for some great outdoor views in dusty or tropical environments, and at higher levels it can create a thick, vision-obscuring fog. If you set Haze Density to zero, the Haze Horizon setting will have no effect.

    Density Multiplier: The Density Multiplier can be used to affect the overall atmospheric density. At lower settings, it creates a feeling of "thin air", and at higher settings, it creates a very heavy, smoggy effect.

    Distance Multiplier: This setting affects your perceived distance within the atmosphere. To make everything look hazy and distant, move the slider to the right. If you want to completely remove the Sky Settings' effects from terrain and objects, set the slider to zero.

    Max Altitude: Adjusts the altitude calculations Second Life makes when it is computing atmospheric lighting. At later times of day, it can be useful for calculating how "deep" a sunset appears, while at noon it can be used to achieve proper brightness values.

    The Lighting Tab


    This tab controls the sun, ambient lighting, and the stars:

    Sun/Moon Color: This setting affects the color of the light your sun and moon produce. Keep in mind that the color of your sunlight/moonlight will affect the color of your sky! To change Sun/Moon Color, use the Red/Green/Blue (RGB) sliders, or use the Intensity (I) slider to move all three RGB sliders at once.

    Sun and Moon Position: The Sun and Moon Position setting affects the vertical position of the sun and moon, from sunrise (0.0) through noon (0.25), sunset (0.5), midnight (0.75) and back to sunrise (1.0). Note that this setting is different than Time of Day in the Basic Environment Editor. The Time of Day setting shifts through your WindLight keyframes (see The Day Cycle Editor), while the Sun and Moon Position setting only affects the physical location of the sun and moon.

    East Angle: The East Angle affects the horizontal position of the sun/moon, and is similar to azimuth. At settings of 0.0 and 1.0, the sun will rise in the East and set in the West. The settings in between define the entire circle of the horizon; at a setting of 0.5, the sun will rise in the West and set in the East, at a setting of 0.25 the sun will rise in the South and set in the North, etc.

    Sun Glow: There are two settings under Sun Glow: Size defines the size of the sun, and Focus adjusts how much the sun blurs over the sky. At very high settings, Focus can cause the sun to completely wash out a portion of the sky with brilliant light, and at zero, it will cause the sun (but not the light it casts) to disappear from the sky.

    Ambient: This controls the color and intensity of ambient light in the atmosphere. This is used for simulating how the light from the sun is scattered by the atmosphere and other objects once it hits the Earth. You can create a very bright sun, and a relatively dark world (think of a sunset!) with an Ambient setting of zero, but if you want to simulate mid-day illumination while the the sun was low in the sky, you need to increase the Ambient setting.

    Scene Gamma: This control functions similarly to the Gamma setting in the Graphics Hardware Settings (formerly Adv. Graphics) tab. It adjusts your screen's distribution of light and dark output. Lower settings will cause everything to appear dim, while higher settings may make the scene look gray and "washed out". Scene Gamma is more precise than the older Gamma in that it only affects your rendered view of the SL world- not the menus and rest of your computer's screen.

    Star Brightness: Star Brightness defines how visible the stars are in the sky. If you play with this slider while the sun is up, you can see stars in the middle of the day!

    The Clouds Tab


    This tab gives you control over the clouds in the sky:

    Cloud Color: This affects the color of your clouds, if you have any. Use the individual Red/Green/Blue sliders to change the color, or the Intensity (I) slider to drag all three at once.

    Cloud XY/Density: Use the X and Y sliders to change the horizontal position of all clouds in the sky. The D slider affects the overall density of the individual clouds; at low settings you will see thin, wispy clouds, and at higher settings you will see thicker, more solid clouds.

    Cloud Coverage: As the name implies, this control sets the amount of cloud coverage. At zero, there isn't a cloud in the sky, but at higher settings, you can get a completely overcast effect.

    Cloud Scale: This setting affects the perceived altitude of the clouds... if you slide the control to the right, it will make the clouds appear to be higher in the sky.

    Cloud Detail (XY/Density): These settings affect the detail imagery of your clouds. The X and Y sliders shift its horizontal position, and the D slider controls how puffy and/or fractured your clouds look.

    Cloud Scroll X and Cloud Scroll Y: These sliders affect the direction and speed at which the clouds float in the sky. You may also check the Lock checkbox to prevent clouds from moving on the selected axis.

    Draw Classic Clouds: Check this box to enable rendering of Second Life's classic clouds in addition to WindLight's clouds.

    Sky Presets

    Along the top of the Advanced Sky Editor window you'll find controls for creating, loading, saving, and deleting Sky Presets. Sky Presets are essentially snapshots of WindLight slider settings you can re-load later or use as keyframes in the Day Cycle Editor. To create a new preset, simply press the New button and name your preset. It will, by default, have the settings currently loaded in the WindLight sliders. To load a preset, simply pick it from the drop-down menu of Sky Presets. Deleting a preset is as easy as pressing the Delete button once it's loaded. Creating presets is useful both for re-loading your favorite settings and for creating day cycle animations using the Day Cycle Editor.

    The Day Cycle Editor


    Bring up the Day Cycle Editor by pressing the Day Cycle Editor button in the Advanced Sky Editor window. The Day Cycle Editor gives you control over the sky during Second Life's day/night cycle. This is the cycle that is used by the Basic Environment Editor's Time of Day slider.

    The Day Cycle Editor works by setting keyframes. These are nodes (represented by the gray blips on the time graph) that have associated sky presets. As the time of day progresses, the sky "animates" as it interpolates between these keyframes. This is useful for creating everything from photorealistic day/night cycles to strange alien environments.

    The yellow arrow above the timeline represents your current view, based on time of day. Click and drag it to see how your day will animate. You may add or delete keyframes by pressing the Add Key and Delete Key buttons to the right of the timeline.

    You can set the time position of a keyframe by either dragging it along the timeline, or by setting its value manually in the Key Frame Settings frame. Within the Key Frame Settings frame, you'll be able to associate the keyframe with its respective preset.

    Length of Cycle dictates the overall duration of a "day". Setting this to a low value (for instance, 2 min.) will mean your entire 24-hour timeline will animate in only two real minutes! Once you are satisfied with your timeline and keyframe cycle, use the Play and Stop buttons to preview the results. Remember- you can also move the yellow time-indicator arrow above the timeline to see the cycle animate interactively. Using the Use Estate Time button synchronizes your day length and time of day with the current Estate's day cycle.

    Once you are pleased with your day cycle, save and load it with the Save Test Day and Load Test Day buttons. Note that, for now, we only allow one day cycle.

    Advanced Water Settings

    The Advanced Water Settings window contains detailed controls for modifying water effects. Here you can modify water fog, reflection properties, refraction, and reflection normal maps.

    Opening Advanced Water Settings

    Advanced Water Settings is located in the Environment Editor:

    1. Go to World > Environment Settings > Environment Editor
    2. In the Environment Editor, click the Advanced Water button

    Overview of Advanced Water Settings

    The Settings Tab


    The Settings tab allows you to change several properties of your current Region's water:

    Water Fog Color: This changes the color of the particulate matter in your water, essentially defining the color of the water itself. If your water has no fog, it will appear crystal clear and colorless.

    Fog Density Exponent: Controls the density of your water fog; this setting defines how far you are able to see into the water.

    Underwater Fog Modifier: Controls how the fog density changes when you are underwater. Useful for for creating far-seeing views when underwater while keeping the surface fairly opaque. For example, at a setting of 0.25, the water fog is 1/4 as dense while underwater as it appears from above the surface.

    Reflection Wavelet Scale: Controls the scale of the three wavelets that make up the surface of the water.

    Fresnel Scale: Determines how much light is reflected at different angles; increasing this slider reduces visual reflection effects on the water's surface.

    Fresnel Offset: Determines how much total light is reflected; increasing this slider increases the amount of light reflected by the water's surface.

    Refract Scale Above: Controls the amount of visual refraction you can see from above the water's surface; this is the "wobbly" effect you can see when you look at an object that is underwater.

    Refract Scale Below: Controls the amount of visual refraction you can see from below the water's surface. This is the "wobbly" effect you can see when you look at an object that is above the water.

    Blur Multiplier: Controls how waves and reflections are mixed. Increasing this setting increases the amount of distortion you see in reflections as a result of wave activity.

    The Image Tab


    The Image tab allows you to alter the normal map used for determining wave and reflection behaviors; Second Life's wave effects are generated by superimposing a large normal map image over a smaller version of itself:

    Big Wave Direction: Controls the X and Y direction and speed of the large wave image.

    Little Wave Direction: Controls the X and Y direction and speed of the small wave image.

    Normal Map: Controls the normal map used for determining reflections and refractions. Any texture may be used for this setting- but true normal maps work best. Try snake skin, tiles, or any other normal map for some wacky effects!

    Edited by Jeremy Linden

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