Coming Soon To Firestorm: Customized, Kickass Skies For Your Second Life
If you use Firestorm, the popular 3rd party viewer for Second Life, and enjoy shooting outdoor photos and machinima, you should connect with Stevie Davros. He’s creating what you’re looking at above: an alternative cloud system for use in Firestorm, which he plans to put on the Marketplace in March. The words “alternative cloud” don’t quite convey how vivid, jaw-dropping, and insanely cool these customized skies are, so you should watch that video and the one below: they totally transform the low-res, default skies of Second Life into something pretty profound.
“I have been a RL travel and landscape photog rather for decades,” Davros explains, “and skies are a fundamental part of what I photograph. In SL I was delighted with all the imagination and care taken in sim design and also the creativity on show, but was disappointed in how bland the skies looked compared to real life.” Firestorm developer Cinder Roxley added a feature that made it possible to swap the system skies with custom ones — and Davros’ photos and others made his system possible: “The TGA graphics files I have used are all extensively modified from numerous cloud photographs, some from my collection, some sourced from public internet weather images.”
His skies are not just taken from reality, however:
“The standard SL sky uses a TGA graphics file which is 512x512pixels and 263kb in size. Pretty low res, but it works. The largest I have created is 4096×4096 pixels and 67Mb in size, most however are 4096×4096 and 16.7Mb in size. The big files seem to have no performance impact, so I am unsure why a better default sky has not been introduced by the developers?” That’s a good question, because who cares how large the sky files are, if you download them beforehand, and they make your virtual world that much more awesome?
Emphasis on “your”, because, of course, only the user with Davros’ Firestorm feature can see these skies — which is just fine for photographic and machinima purposes.
“If you are just sitting indoors doing glam pics, like a lot of people enjoy doing, it will be of little interest,” as Davros puts it. “But for those who like to get out and about and explore SL beauty, it is for them. And yes, will make kickass machinima and photo blog imagery as this [above] shows.”
More on Davros’ skies when they’re available!