Rendering Shadows: A Viewer Review

I am so pleased to have been invited to contribute to SL Blogger Support. It has been an amazing resource for me personally as a blogger and I am grateful for the chance to give back.

This post is not so much a tutorial, since as bloggers most of us know how to get shadows to render and behave in SL when we want to take photographs. One thing I have learned though, is that not all viewers are created equally and the look of shadows and reflections can vary quite a bit from viewer to viewer. So for those of you who are interested in getting down and dirty with some side-by-side viewer-shadow comparison, this video is for you. We will be taking a look at shadows in Firestorm, Black Dragon, and the Second Life Viewer.

I apologize ahead of time if my sound levels are a bit inconsistent…contributor’s nerves!  I also encourage you to view this video at full size in the browser window or at full screen.

http://www.screencast.com/t/dqcYX8U5t1Vk

UPDATE: 

Niran (the creator of the Black Dragon viewer) sent me a message to clarify some of the issues with the jagged shadows. A lot will depend on your graphics card, but you can try the following things to avoid pixellation of shadows in your photo. Thanks, Niran!

From Niran:

Black Dragon doesn’t come with everything maxed out. It can’t because it will set many main graphic options depending on your Graphics Card power.

Pixelated shadows only happen if you: don’t use Ambient Occlusion (and shadow softening) or if you set the shadow resolution below the default width x height (2048×2048) or if shadows are cast onto an object that has an alpha surface or if you use a high draw distance (higher draw distance means the same shadow resolution is mapped into a bigger area resulting in shadows sort of “zooming” and therefor becoming pixelated) or if you are using a really weird sun angle in combination with a very low sun height which will cast very long shadows (similar issue like the same shadow map resolution being cast into a bigger area) or a combination of any or all above.

You can easily counteract shadows becoming pixelated by preventing all of the above from happening and setting the shadow resolution higher and the draw distance lower.

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One Comment on “Rendering Shadows: A Viewer Review

  1. Correction: Black Dragon doesn’t come with everything maxed out. It can’t because it will set many main graphic options depending on your Graphics Card power.

    Pixelated shadows only happen if you: don’t use Ambient Occlusion (and shadow softening) or if you set the shadow resolution below the default width x height (2048×2048) or if shadows are cast onto an object that has an alpha surface or if you use a high draw distance (higher draw distance means the same shadow resolution is mapped into a bigger area resulting in shadows sort of “zooming” and therefor becoming pixelated) or if you are using a really weird sun angle in combination with a very low sun height which will cast very long shadows (similar issue like the same shadow map resolution being cast into a bigger area) or a combination of any or all above.

    You can easily counteract shadows becoming pixelated by preventing all of the above from happening and setting the shadow resolution higher and the draw distance lower.

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