SLife Hacks: Moving Pictures

Do you like to film? If so, resident SLHacker Serendipidy just sent us some tips. Thanks, Seren!


SLife Hacks: Moving Pictures
by Serendipidy Haven
serenapril122016This one’s for all you budding Spielbergs, Tarantinos and Bigelows out there who find themselves frustrated by the problems posed by SL when capturing even the simplest sequences for your future Oscar-winning production.

Before I go further, I’ll admit this is a quick and dirty hack that’s only really suited to the simplest of scenarios – your mileage may vary considerably – but, on the plus side, it’s free, easy, and could make your productivity far less fraught.

The big problem with capturing video of what’s going on in SL is the juggling act that machinima makers have to perform in order to operate their screen capture application of choice, whilst simultaneously navigating an avatar inworld and, at the same time, control the camera to get dynamic, fluid movement and perspective into that crucial take. Traditionally, the favoured solution is a 3D mouse, like the Space Navigator, but it’s not exactly cheap, can be a pain to install and set up, and if you’re going to do it right, you’ll need your other hand controlling your normal mouse at the same time – great results, but probably only for the experts.

Alternatively, you can open two instances of the viewer and drive yourself mad trying to control both, whilst your computer goes into meltdown as it struggles to cope with the pressure!

There are, of course, inworld systems that you can find on Marketplace, that allow you to take control of both camera and avatar and set up the perfect shot – again, these can be pricey, a fiddle to set up and might not work at all if you can’t build or run scripts on location.

So, what do you do if you want to create an awe-inspiring tracking shot that zooms in from a distance as your avatar walks shiftily through the wastelands of a post-apocalyptic landscape; and you want to do it completely, within budget and without a crew of hundreds helping out in the background?

Simple…

  • ​Call up the Developer menu (CTRL+ALT+Q in Firestorm / Me> Preferences, Advanced tab, and check “Show Developer Menu” in the SL Viewer)
  • Navigate to the Recorder option – You now have options to record your avatar’s movement and play it back at will
  • Select ‘Start record’ and then walk your avatar through your apocalyptic wasteland, selecting ‘Stop record’, at the end of your sequence
  • You can now use the playback options to have your avatar repeat their journey as many times as you wish, whilst you control the camera to get the perfect shot.
As I mentioned, this isn’t always the most reliable tool – try to avoid any obstacles and stick to short sequences, if possible, or you may find yourself flying unexpectedly through the air! It is however a useful and quick means for grabbing footage on the fly for later editing into your masterpiece, without all the hassle of additional equipment and a nervous breakdown!

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