Virtual World Photography: Tips & Tricks

Virtual Photography tips and and tricksIn continuing my tutorial series, I’d like to take today to point out some useful tips and tricks for taking photographs on the Heritage Key and Rezzable grids! These are sure to help you in your quest to capture the perfect moment while visiting the ancient heritage sites within the realms of Virtual Experience, so take note!

Gearing Up to Take the Photo:

This is one thing that too many Virtual World photographers overlook, including myself when I first started out. An old friend of mine sat me down one day and explained the importance of snapshot resolution when it comes to VirtualWorld photography, and her very short and sweet advice was this: multiple your monitor screen resolution by three, and that is the resolution you should take your snapshots in.

The difference between your normal screen resolution and the higher resolution shots is DRASTIC. Higher screen resolutions result in less jagged edges (or more anti-aliasing) and just a smoother, cleaner image to work with. You’ll often hear photographers saying how much they HATE jagged edges (and Lord knows, we all do – they’re every photographers nightmare), and it is unfortunately a necessary evil to reckon with in Second Life. While multiplying your snapshot resolution by three will not eliminate them ENTIRELY, it will make them easier to work with, not to mention MUCH less noticeable.

Basically, if you don’t like the little “jagged edges” that appear on your photos after you take them, tripling, or at least doubling, your screen resolution will work wonders for your photographs. Keep in mind that your snapshot time will be slightly longer when taking higher resolution shots, however, trust me… you will be thankful for it.

Freeze Frame is the Second Life photographer’s best friend.

Let’s say you have the perfect snapshot in mind. Your scene is set. Everyone’s in position.

But you can’t seem to capture the snapshot without accidental movement, blinking, etc! How do we fix this? Why, we click the Freeze Frame button, of course! Freeze frame is the check box located at the very bottom of the list of five available checkboxes in the snapshot tool. If you see something you’d like to lock in place, check “freeze frame”! Essentially, by clicking the “freeze frame” check box, you will be giving yourself free range of a static, 3d scene that you may then use your camera to rotate around to find your perfect angle. Use of the freeze frame tool is vital to capturing avatar facial expression, prim movement and frozen avatars without too much hastle.

I would also recommend turning off “Auto Snapshots” while using freeze frame — this feature, when enabled with freeze frame, will cause some rather unnecessary frustration and confusion, not to mention it could make using your camera hugely annoying. Give it a try… you’ll see what I mean!

With all of that said, keep in mind that freeze frame will NOT effect the rotation of the sun or the moon or particle effects. These things will continue to move as usual even with Freeze Frame in use.

Zooming In Closer:

Press Ctrl+0 as often as you like to zoom in on an object/avatar
Press Ctrl+9 to reset your camera

By using Ctrl+0, you are essentially capable of filling your screen area with nothing but avatar flesh, should you so choose. This ability is great for taking face shots, close-ups of jewelry or other items being worn, among other things. Give it a try: press Ctrl+0 a few times on your keyboard, and watch yourself get closer to your avatar than ever before. But the usefulness of this trick doesn’t stop there!It is also handy in slightly changing perspective and depth of the snapshot. Try it out!You’ll see. But don’t forget to reset your camera when you’re done! Do this by pressing Ctrl+9.

Whew!That’s a lot of things to try! Using all of the techniques above, combined with a little post-processing in your favorite image editor, you will be able to get photos such as this from your virtual experience (shot taken in the upcoming Stonehenge Virtual VX!):

The important thing to remember when taking photos in Virtual World is to always look for the “right” angle. If something feels wrong to you, change it! Don’t take a photo in the hopes that you will be able to “fix it” later. While you can crop a photo until your heart’s content, the angle you take the photo at will never change. So take your time to find the right angle!

Essentially, the way you, the photographer, see your world is how the people you present your photos to will see it. Be creative. Never stop challenging yourself and above all, never stop looking for a different perspective. That next shot could be your masterpiece!

Tune in next week for the rule of thirds and compositing a photograph!