SL Photography: The problem with SL image defaults.

Kultivate Contributor Myra Wildmist is back with another SL Photography Tip, this time she discusses what is wrong with SL image defaults:

Before I move on to portraiture and profile photos, it’s worth taking a look at the default sizes and aspect ratios of the images used throughout Second Life (SL). These have been gone over by others in numerous blogs and forum post, but I think it’s worth reviewing.

To its credit, SL allows you to associate an image with almost everything you’d want. You can put an image on your land, your profile, your profile picks, and lots of other things. That’s really nice and handy – a picture is worth a thousand words, and all of that.

To its discredit, most of the preset image sizes are non-standard, and people are often left to guess what the right size and aspect ratio is for these images.

I’ve listed these below for quick reference:

Note: This info was taken directly from the SL wiki which isn’t always kept current, but these seem accurate. It is also specific to the SL viewer; Firestorm appears to follow the specs established by the SL viewer, though.

  • Search > Classifieds thumbnail – ~3:2 (101×69 pixels)
  • Search > Classifieds expanded – ~4:3 (159×120 pixels)
  • Search > Classifieds expanded > More Info – native aspect ratio
  • Search > Destination Guide thumbnail – ~3:2 (101×69 pixels)
  • Search > Destination Guide expanded – ~4:3 (159×120 pixels)
  • Search > People – 1:1 (100×100 pixels)
  • Search > Places expanded ~4:3 (159×120 pixels)
  • Place Profile – ~3:2 (290×197 pixels)
  • About Land > Options tab – ~4:3 (195×150 pixels)
  • Profile > Picture – native aspect ratio; thumbnail cropped to 72×72 pixels; zoomed uncropped up to 300×300 pixels
  • Profile > Real world picture – native aspect ratio; thumbnail cropped to 45×45 pixels; zoomed uncropped up to 300×300 pixels
  • Profile > Picks thumbnail – 4:3 (60×45 pixels)
  • Profile > Pick expanded – 4:3 (320×240 pixels)

The distortion problem

As you look through the list, you’ll notice there’s a tilde next to most of the aspect ratios. Tildes mean about, so the About Land – Options (In Firestorm, this is World – Parcel Details – Options) tab image has an aspect ratio of about 4:3.

aboutland.png
About Land Options

If you’ve ever wondered why so many pictures you see in SL look stretched or distorted, that about is one clue to the problem – many of the default images in SL have non-standard sizes, so an image with a standard aspect ratio will look distorted.

Another issue is with the way images usually get into SL. When most people take a photo, they typically use the option to upload Save to Inventory. This gets the snapshot into your inventory, quickly, and allows to you pass the snapshot around to others so they don’t have to look at it outside of SL. It’s really super easy, but it sucks for photography.

snapshot.png
Use Your Custom Snapshot Options

You’re very constrained in your size options when you use the Save to Inventory option – you’re restricted to multiples of 128. Most people use the default option – 512×512. That’s an aspect ratio of 1:1. If you put that image in the About Land – Options, SL will stretch it to fit into the default size of 195 x 150 pixel, fitting your square photo (aspect ratio 1:1) into the oddball, rectangular-size of 195 x 150.

Fixing the distortion problem

To create an image that’s not distorted, you have to either take a custom-size photo – which is available under the Upload to Profile and Save to Disk options under Snapshot (Ctrl+Shift+S); or crop your photo to size in a photo editor after you save it to disk.

In the case of the About Land – Options tab, your image should be 195×150 pixels or some factor of that, such as 390×300 or 780×600.

Next post – Profile photos

Fortunately, a profile photo has an aspect ratio of 1:1. Next time, we’ll be talking about lenses, again, and probably take some profile photos.

One thought on “SL Photography: The problem with SL image defaults.

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