Saturday, February 2, 2008

Improve Your Visual Experience: Local Lights

Written 1 February 2008

Improve Your Visual Experience: Local Lights

Although she didn’t realize it for a while, Sweetie is my taskmaster.

I will build a chair. She will say, “Wouldn’t it be neat if it was all steampunky and smoked and clanked and made sparks?” and I will make it all steampunky and smoky and clanky.

One day Sweetie looked at an expanse of Pele’s sand and said, “We should make a cave.” And so I excavated a great space under the water and covered it with a huge prim and made some cavern textures and lined it with rocks and showed it to Sweetie.

She took one look at it and went into a builder’s trance, which means she liked it.

I made a dozen or more changes at her suggestion, every one of which made it a better place.

But what really makes it special are the lighting effects Sweetie put in place.

In addition to light from the sun and moon, objects in second light can emit visible light—but it won’t be visible unless Local Lights is enabled in Preferences (CTRL-P). Even then you won’t see local lighting in daytime, but as the sun goes down they will show, and at the Midnight setting they can be spectacular.

To make an object emit light, you only need to put a checkmark by Light in the Features tab in the Edit Menu. You can then set the color, using the same color picker you use when apply colors to a prim, and parameters for the intensity of the light, its radius, and its falloff (how quickly intensity drops with distance. But this is not a tips blog (our tips blog is here), so I won’t describe how to craft a light. My purpose here is to let you know that if you don’t have local lights enabled, you’re missing something.

With local lights enabled you’ll be able to see the effects of the face lights worn by many avatars, the light cast by lamps and streetlights, and Sweetie’s subtle lights in the Pele Caverns, where the subterranean experience is enhanced by spooky green-yellow lighting.

Swim around in the caverns with midnight set and local lights enabled and you’ll see Sweetie’s lighting in all its glory—but watch out for the squid, who has been in a bad mood lately and will ink you if you swim near him.

You can also go here to see how local lights work in my land lamp (my name for what is really a small streetlight), and here in the Pele Gardens to see how Sweetie’s lighting has enhanced the visual appeal of a cherry tree, and here and here to see how lighting can improve walkways.

Note: Local lights aren’t visible from a distance; you must venture within their radius to see them.

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