Photos in Second Life can capture the beauty of the landscape, a moment in an activity or relationship, a favorite outfit, etc. Creating videos takes that a step further by telling a story, showing life in motion, capturing unexpected events, demonstrating an activity or skill, providing context to a themed event, presenting photos to show a sequence of events or panning and zooming to focus attention on something that might have been missed, and more, limited only by your imagination.
If videos can be so expressive, why do we not see more of them about Second Life? Part of the reason is that capturing a video is not as easy as taking a photo. For that, we only need to click Snapshot and Save in your viewer. The photos are then sometimes modified using an editing tool to crop the image, adjust brightness and contrast, add special effects, Even if it was easier to capture the video, presenting a quality production usually requires a fair bit of editing, both audio and visual.
Other factors that may dissuade people from creating videos include:
- You usually need to develop a kind of framework before you begin that gives you an idea of what it is you want to present. While a photo is something that can be seen all at once, a video is presented sequentially. It therefore needs to have a beginning and an end (although you might try telling a story backwards, or have many stories merge. In any case, it requires planning.
- What tools do you use to capture video and edit it?
- How do you clean the screen of all the controls?
- What about lag? Many people experience very poor performance, especially when moving.
- What do you do with your video when it is complete?
This article is intended to help you overcome these obstacles.
Windows 10 has direct support for capturing videos. Press the Windows key at the G key at the same time.
OBS Studio can be used on Windows, MacOS 10.11+, and Linux.
Yes, lag can be a major stumbling block to quality video recording. Use the Statistics window (Ctrl+Shift+1) to see detailed performance info.
There are three basic kinds of lag:
SL currently has a major issue with server side lag. This is most obvious when people tp into the region and everything simply stops. Depending on the script load of the incoming avatar, everything can be frozen for many seconds. This is unquestionably frustrating, but there is not much that can be done when recording video other than ensuring everyone’s script load is minimal.
Network lag can be a problem, but this does not occur very often unless you are using a WIFI or there is a problem at the SL data center.
Client lag is the most often type of lag encountered. We are looking for a reasonable frame rate, measured as FPS. This is the number of frames per second displayed on your monitor. Values below 10 FPS often result in choppy action. Values above 45 are really unnecessary because that is as fast as the simulator can go. Higher FPS will not result in a smoother video. Recording software should be set somewhere between 15 and 30 with 15 putting less strain on your computer, so try to do what you can to get your FPS at least as high as your recording rate.
Low FPS can be caused by many things, but is most often due to the video card (GPU) but sometimes the CPU, especially if it is overloaded.
For a comparison of video cards, see the following links:
What can you do to improve FPS with your current hardware? On Windows 10, switching to Game Mode may help. This reallocates resources and prevents Windows Update from interfering. Some other actions you can take include:
- Reduce Draw Distance – This will depend in part on the type of video you are creating. A landscape video may need to see many hundreds of meters. Videos focused in a small area such as a city, theater, or woods setting may only require 100 meters.
- Check the complexity of your cast avatars. Ideally, complexity should be under one hundred thousand, but have found some concert goers with complexity near one million! When you are not filming, you can set a limit to the complexity such as 350,000 or lower if that works better for you.
- Reduce the LOD setting. Despite what some creators tell you, high LOD settings put an unnecessary load on your video card, computer, and network. The idea for reduced LOD is to not have to download, insert into memory, and render things that you cannot see clearly. Some creators do not take the extra step necessary to downgrade an object gracefully. If they become a weird shape, you may wish to consider removing them from your scene. If you do not own the object, then temporarily derez it.
- Be sure you do not have too many windows open. For example, Chrome browser windows can consume many gigabytes of memory, especially when showing some advertisements or videos.
- Minimize your graphics settings. Unfortunately, some of the nicest video settings have the greatest impact on FPS. Shadows create a huge impact. Of course, you may not want to do this if you are doing a landscape. In that case, you may just need to do any camera movements more slowly or think of another way of doing transitions (e.g. taking shots from multiple positions and fading from one to another).
- Antialiasing does a fantastic job of smoothing “jaggies”, but can substantially impact the video performance of some video cards. This can be disabled in Preferences->Graphics->Hardware Settings.
- Max. particle count can cause issues with FPS especially if your CPU performance is close to
Windows 10 has a built in editing tool found in Photos. However, this tool seems to be primarily intended for basic use with still shots. Ideally, you want something that can overlay multiple videos and perform transitions between them. You may also want to support having multiple audio tracks to provide music over the entire video with dialog or sound effects from the video. To do this requires a more sophisticated tool.
There are many video editors on the market. Adobe Premiere Pro is an excellent choice and is very powerful. Premiere Rush is an alternative included with some Adobe subscriptions. If you do not have a subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud, you may want to consider Blender.
Blender is used by many in Second Life to create mesh models. It also contains a powerful video editor, but like the rest of Blender, does not work like most tools on the market. We recommend watching some videos on YouTube that discuss how to use it:
Save your video using the h.264 codec and upload it to YouTube.com.
Preparing Screen for Video Recording
The user interface and HUD controls are probably not desired in your video. Use the following key combinations to remove the controls from the screen and to make them reappear:
Ctrl-Alt-F1 Hides/Shows the entire SL user interface.
Shift-Alt-H Hides/Shows the HUD controls.