I downloaded the newest emerald viewer yesterday, and started playing. I like playing, but you probably know that, especially if you’ve ever read my older blog thing. One of the features of Emerald is the ability to render shadows. Shadows!
It’s hard to believe how much difference a few shadows make to the way a scene looks, until you see it. You’ll get an idea from the images below, I’m sure, but it’s the dynamic nature of the shadows that adds the extra realism, I think.
It’s not flawless though. It’s a big drain on graphics card resources (at least for me, with an nVidia GTX260 on Linux). Interestingly, the resource drain appears to increase over time – it gets progressively slower, but it doesn’t appear to be a memory issue – as soon as I switch from ‘shadow’ to ‘normal’ rendering, the framerate recovers but the memory usage is unchanged (and it doesn’t appear to increase over time when ‘shadows’ are turned on, either).
It also has some issues with alpha (transparent) textures, and with producing screenshots.
With any luck, the images below should give an idea of what I see…
A 'Snapshot to disk', without shadows - my 'normal' view of things
A 'Snapshot to disk', with shadows enabled. The alpha textures, and the sky, have vanished.
A screenshot, with shadows enabled. Looks pretty good, but the framerate plummets. There are white artefacts around some objects, and antialiasing is disabled by force - as you can see better below
A better view of the white artefacts and jaggies (at the sides of the picture frame, for example). My eyes looks odd too.
You’ve realised by now, of course, that this was really just an excuse to publish four photos of me flashing my knickers, right?
This may all have sounded a little critical, but it’s not meant to. These innovations are the lifeblood of sl – and it’s both a good thing, and a bad one, that they’ve come from developers of a third party ‘unofficial’ viewer. A little more tweaking, and testing, and with luck it’ll be fast and stable enough to use full time. Sadly, for me it’ll remain an interesting feature but not one I can use full time. Yet.