Machinima Artists Guild

Moderators: Cisko, Larkworthy Antfarm, Celestial Elf, Asil, Natascha Randt

This discussion is for people who are using the Second Life official viewers for their machinima. 

With the Lab having implemented server-side baking for avatar skins (see Project Sunshine) requiring we all start using viewers that support the new code, I'm curious to know how you are finding the grid  in terms of machinima-making? 

For myself, I've found that I cannot get more than 5-to-15 fps IF I try to use the new Advanced Lighting Model and/or Ambient Occlusion. If I turn off all the eye-candy in the shading section, I get 50-60 FPS, even when I pull my draw distance out to 512.  However, if I have ALL the eye candy turned on and take my draw distance to 64, my average FPS is about 5.  Clearly, that's impossible for machinima. 

I'm also seeing a tremendous amount of texture thrashing on all of the SL V3 viewers.  Its getting worse with each update of the viewer.  [For me, this isn't tied to a HUD, I get the same awful texture responsiveness if my avatar is wearing nothing but some clothing textures.]

I'm testing on a SIM that has PLENTY of resources available, averaging 12 ms of spare time, giving 45 fps and .999 time dilation.  The simulator is working great under this new code, all the performance issues are client-side.

Currently, I have the nVidia cards set up to allow the application to control all the settings.  [I've tried the reverse and no joy, so am focusing on tweaking just the viewer.]

If you're using the SL viewer and have a good experience of it, how do you have your Graphics preferences set? Please weigh in!


Here's my current Client settings:

Viewer: Second Life 3.6.3 (279564) Aug  6 2013 00:25:49 (Second Life Release)

Advanced > Set Windows Size: using 720p [that's 1280 x 720 (16:9 HDTV)]


DEBUG Adjustments

(These are tweaked from Torley's recommended settings.)

  • BackgroundYieldTime = 0 (default is 400)
  • CameraDoFResScale = 0.3 (default is 0.7)
  • Disregard96DefaultDrawDistance = TRUE (In the Kirsten you could take your draw-distance down to 16, which was great for extreme close-ups.  I can't find the debug setting for that in the current DeBug settings wiki page.]
  • rendervolumeLODFactor = 6.00 (SL default is 1.25, thus sculpties don't load)
  • RenderTextureMemoryMultiple = 4.0 (Default is 1.0)
  • windlightUseAtmosShaders = TRUE (Turning on helps with the bug that stops large prims from rendering, default is FALSE)
  • WLSkyDetail = 128 (default is 64)



I made these adjustments to my Viewer PREFERENCES.  [They worked great when I was able to use the Kirsten viewer, however, that's now too depreciated to work in the new SL.]

General tab

  • Name tags = Off
  • Away timeout = never

Graphics tab

Begin with Quality and speed = Ultra.

[Click Advanced button]

  • Shaders: UNcheck Ambient Occlusion & Depth of Field, all others are checked.
  • Shadows: None
  • Water Reflections: Minimal
  • Avatar Physics: Low
  • Draw distance = 320
  • Particle count = 256
  • Max number of NON-avatar imposters = 1 (I'll adjust this depending on how many avatars I am doing close-ups of)
  • Post process quality = High
  • Mesh detail: Objects = High
  • Mesh detail: Flexiprims = High
  • Mesh detail: Trees = Low
  • Mesh detail: Avatars = High
  • Mesh detail: Terrain = High
  • Mesh detail: Sky = Low
  • Avatar Rendering: All checked ON (Avatar imposers, Hardware Skinning, Avatar cloth)
  • Terrain Detail: High

[Click (Advanced) Hardware button.]

  • Filtering: Check Anisotropic Filtering
  • Antialiasing = 4x (default is 2x)
  • Enable OpenGL Vertex Buffewr objects = checked
  • Enabled Texture Compression = UNchecked
  • Texture Memory = 512
  • Fog Distance Ratio = 4

Sound & Media tab

  • Mute Streaming music, Media, and Voice Chat unless needed.

Move & View tab

  • Single click on land = No action
  • Double click on land = No action
  • Re: Other Devices for JOYSTICK CONFIGURATION. I have not tested the Space Navigator yet on this new viewer. 


  • Uncheck When my friends log in or out


  • Maximum Bandwidth = 10000 kbps (When shooting with other avatars, I'll ask them to pull there usage down to 500kbps and go into wireframe if I'm doing long shots or zooming)
  • Software Updates: Change to DOWNLOAD AND INSTALL MANUALLY and UNcheck "Willing to update to release candidates) or at some point you will find yourself getting a forced install in the middle of a shoot)


  • Cache = 9984 MB
  • Cache location = Dedicated to a Solid State drive.
  • Check Allow Multiple Viewers
  • Check Show Grid Selection at Login
  • Check Show Advanced Menu
  • Check Show Developer Menu




Computer: CPU: Intel(R) Core(TM) i7 CPU         930  @ 2.80GHz (2806.4 MHz)
Memory: 12280 MB
OS Version: Microsoft Windows 7 64-bit Service Pack 1 (Build 7601)
Graphics Card Vendor: NVIDIA Corporation
Graphics Card: GeForce GTX 480/PCIe/SSE2
~ nVidia Driver Version 326.41
~ Windows Graphics Driver Version: 9.18.0013.2641
~ OpenGL Version: 4.3.0

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Only using the Linden viewer to put materials on products. I am having NO issues at all in Firestorm. Have made no changes to the way I film. My system is close to yours but less RAM and I have an HD6950 graphics card. Not sure how that compares. I film on Ultra with everything on but DOF (now happily finally working for me so I can use it if I want).  I have seen unusually low framerates now and then but that was the case before SSB.

Your draw distance seems awfully high. Turning that down when not needed may help. I use Ambient Occlusion. I have all your LOW settings on high. From what the FS people have said turning DOWN your bandwidth maybe the key. It apparently does the opposite of what we might expect. I just looked and mine is on 1750 :D

Just a comment. Sorry I can't be more helpful :D.

Wanted to update my comment above as needed to add materials to a build this morning so logged in with Linden viewer RIGHT AFTER exiting Firestorm.

My framerate with everything on except DOF and Ultra to the max in FS was 16 fps. My framerate in the official viewer (and I can see no differences -- everything still on ultra and I am inside a full sim surround so no multisim viewing coming into play) is fluxuating around 50fps. WOW!  There are some improvements there and I was very very surprised.

So thanks for leading me to experiment. I won't be switching viewers as FS has so many things I use hourly that I honestly don't feel I can do without --- but definitely good to know that things will be improving. I am on FS 4.4.0 -- not the last one which may be faster.

I got my alt on and did a test at another (same sim) location. The LL viewer was 55fps and the FS viewer 29 at exactly the same time. Hope this helps some.

Thanks, Chic.  I appreciate the testing. To your comment about my draw-distance, please know 320 is what I use for benchmarking because it allows me to include the main builds on both of my SIMs. If I'm doing beauty-shots, I don't want buildings winking in and out of existence.  However, pulling the draw distance down to 64 meters didn't improve my frame-rate much: at 320 I was seeing 2~7 FPS and when I went to 64, I was seeing 5~15 FPS. 


Regarding bandwidth, I have a fast Internet connection and monitor my router traffic.  SL rarely goes above 5,000, even when my rig is laboring, and I don't get much packet loss, so I don't think the issue is tied to problems with the data stream from SL or with me having the bandwidth setting in the client set high.




I did a bunch of experiments last night and here's what I discovered.  When I tweaked my RenderTextureMemoryMultiple up to 6 (default is 1.0), my framerate shot up to the 50s.  [If I toggled into wireframe, it shot up to the 90s!]  When I added additional avatars to the scene, it fell back into the teens.  [If I toggled into wireframe, it shot up to the 40s.]


From this I make some suppositions:

  • The RenderTextureMemoryMultiple debug setting shows as being clamped to [0.0, 1.0] internally on the wiki page, but doesn't act that way when I change the setting.  The Lab capped the amount of memory the client could use a couple of years, due to driver issues (see VWR-10466).  Maybe they've relaxed this on the latest viewer, but haven't gotten around to updating the client's GUI or the wiki? [Or maybe the wiki notes aren't a hard cap, idk.]

    Henri Beauchamp (the developer of the CoolViewer) posted to Natates' blog about this, advising "the problem is that all the textures that are used by the viewer must also be stored in the normal (CPU) RAM, and in several places (as a raw texture, as a “LOD” texture, as a bound texture…), and the virtual address space (mappable contiguous memory) available to a 32bits application is limited to 3Gb (or 4Gb when the 32bits application runs on a 64bits OS). If you set your “texture RAM” setting to 512Mb, the viewer will typically use up to 1.2Gb for textures in the CPU RAM, and it also must find room for the objects data structures, the animations, the sounds, the UI elements structures, the inventory data, etc, etc, etc. ... Since mesh viewers have been out, the 3Gb memory limit is often reached in crowded sims, and while it would perfectly be possible to raise the 512Mb texture memory limit (which is just a constant in the viewer code) to take benefit of newer graphics cards, it would also cause the viewer to slam into the 3Gb address space wall and crash as a result."
  • Avatars wearing lots of high-rezz textures are throttling the client.  All it takes is one avatar wearing an outfit using dozens of 1024 textures to eat up all of the client's available texture memory. (See
    Mona Eberhardt insightful blog for the math.) Watching the frame rate shoot up when wire-frame is enabled makes texture size one of the smoking guns for me.
  • Server and client are not managing the texture cache effectively. The client appears to drop the texture from its cache as soon as it is out-of-view of the camera, so when I do a slow 360 degree rotation of the camera a couple of times, I watch the entire panorama go from grey to textured over and over again, even if the card's memory doesn't show as full.  [I can see the mis-match using the texture console.]


Texture loading has been a real issue for the Lab as long as SL has been around (visit this inactive JIRA for a taste).  After moving from UDP to HTTP protocols, I read somewhere (sorry, I can't find the announcement) that their latest strategy to address client-side lag is for the server (SIM) to stop sending the client images the avatar (camera) isn't "looking" at.  I suppose that's a good solution for average users, 'cause if you're in a hair shop, do you really want all 500 pictures of the styles you aren't looking at being beamed to your machine?  However, if that action displaces the texture, forcing the client to request the texture again (and again), every time you turn the avatar around, that's adding a lot of unnecessary bandwidth usage and is what is probably causing the client to request the same textures over and over. 


I'm finding this new protocol is really degrades the machinima experience.  Because of it, I'm doing a lot more static shots and not using dynamic follow-me shots the way I did; it takes too long for the textures to load, making the footage full of grey blotches where the textures should be.




Moving forward, I plan these activities:

  • I'm not sure if the Texture_Pipeline_Performance_Test is still active, but I might try it next week, if I have time.
  • I'll see if disabling HTTP improves performance.  [Disabling HTTP textures in the viewer forces regular texture downloads to shift back to the UDP service.]  If it does improve things, that will be unfortunate, as the HTTP protocol is preferred (and is the future of the viewer code).
  • Will test the TextureLoadFullRes (debug) setting.  Apparently setting this to TRUE can create issues.  [See Inara Pey's blog.]
  • Will drill into The Gamer's Graphics & Display Settings Guide and the nVidia forums for some settings to tweak on the settings for the cards themselves.

I'm really not having any problems as well I really don't know what to say as I have everything on high all ultimate and I went into a shop today to test it didn't even dropped any frames at all the only thing I had switched off with shadows I know they've recommended not to put it onto high on distance but with your building and you got a decent computer that shouldn't be the case how is it playing normal games ?



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