Friday, December 29, 2006

Tantum Agendum Parvulus Tempus

Oh, no! With the grid down for repair, I've been reading the SL newsletters and the like, and stumbled across the portfolio of Aimee Weber. Okay, so from what I gather she's really well known in SL, but I guess I don't get out of the sandbox often enough; it's the first time I'd heard of her.

Oh. My. God. From what she says on the page linked from the image above, she uses "baked textures" (i.e. the shadows are part of the textures themselves). That is absolutely phenomenal and I MUST LEARN HOW TO DO IT!

Once the grid comes back up, I have to visit the American Apparel store she built; apparently it swaps textures based on the time of day, so that it's lit up with floodlights at night (with shadows on the walls changing to reflect the changing light sources).

My guess is that she must reproduce her builds exactly in an external 3D application, texture and light them the way she wants them to look, then render at least a couple of passes for each wall/floor/cabinet/etc. (one for the base textures, with the furniture removed; and another one for the shadow maps with the furniture present), then combine the passes into a single image and apply them to the SL objects.

Although... in searching through the LSL Wiki for something else, I did run across this function, which includes a mouth-watering flag name: STATUS_CAST_SHADOWS"PREVIEW: If set, object casts shadows on other objects (if shadows are enabled)" Looks like it's time to try out the preview grid!

(As if I don't already have enough things on my SL "To Do" list, and RL Boyfriend isn't already feeling neglected as it is... If only I could get him sucked into SL too!)


Anonymous said...

Hi there, just saw this while searching through google and thought I might be able to help. Assuming you haven't yet looked into the baking process.

Simply put, you build your scene (as you know) inside another application. Then light it however you want. Then tell the program to generate that scene as normal, only at the same time, to run through all the textures and "bake" the lighting and shading onto them, actually into the textures themselves. So what you end up with is a scene that appears pre-rendered (high quality) but with realtime feedback.

The program you use to do this is pretty much upto you, my personal preference however would be Lightwave and a plugin called Microwave from Evasion There are tons of options available with baking being the simplest feature. So you could really go to town on things if you wanted to. Even going so far as to build very high detailed and transfer the detail from those onto very low polygon objects. Assuming second life can display normal maps, you're laughing. You could build some highly detailed city of Rome that looks almost photorealistic but runs nice and fast on nearly everyone's computers.

You can see some examples of whats possible on the link I gave above. Granted all together its pretty expensive, but its worth it. Just think what you could create. :)

One tip, when baking the lighting, look into using radiosity/global illumination. Since you only have to do that once, the time it takes to run that type of lighting doesn't matter. The results are breathtaking.

Good luck!

Johanna Hyacinth said...

Thank you for your advice, Anonymous, but I have indeed had fun with the texture-baking process. :)

Anonymous said...

That looks great! Nice one. :)