Please Stand By

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"There is nothing wrong with your television. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are now in control of the transmission. We control the horizontal and the vertical. We can deluge you with a thousands channels, or expand one single image to crystal clarity and beyond. We can shape your vision to anything our imagination can conceive. For the next hour, we will control all that you see and hear." - The Outer Limits

Okay, so it hasn’t been that bad. But the site has been experiencing some problems over the last day or so. No, there is nothing wrong with your browser and no there haven’t been griefers, hackers, leakers, or any other form of hooligan bringing down our site. I admit it, it’s my fault. While installing what would otherwise be considered a routine update to one of the programs I use to create www.blakopal.com, I ran into a glitch that is requiring me to re-publish the entire site. D’oh! With something in the neighborhood of 12,000 assets (as of this writing), the results are pretty much what you may have experienced. Some missing pages, some graphics that look broken or out of place, and some links that may not work. As always, we appreciate your support and your patience, I’ll have it all back to normal shortly.

Video from the Steam Santa Ball

Here’s a video I shot from the 3rd Annual Steam Santa Ball, held at Piermont Landing on the 18th of December, 2010. Hosted by Miss Breezy Carver (author of Virtually Classic Fashion), with music at the event provided by DJ Bats Enoch. And a special holiday appearance by Steam Santa and the Boiler Elf. I wish I could have gotten even better footage (smoother animation, fewer gray textures, etc), but it was a busy event (more than 60 avatars at a couple points there), and there were a number of additional technical considerations (ranging from drivers and bug-chasing to my still researching and learning how to optimize my settings at large events). All things considered, I’m pleased with what I was able to capture from a really terrific evening. You can click here to see a great series of photos taken by Miss Bookworm Heinrichs. Music is "Deep Inside (VIP Mix)" by Future Funk Squad. It’s an unreleased version, but you can get the original (and a bunch of other great tracks) on the album Audio Damage.

Viewer 2.4 Immersion Improvements

Here’s a video that shows some of the features in Second Life Viewer 2.4. Nice immersion improvements, like better support for custom sea levels on private regions and new preferences settings to let you customize how the Viewer works for you. The music is a track called "Cinder Core" by Tipper, from his excellent album Broken Soul Jamboree.

Visit The Vernian Sea in SL

FAQ: Buying Gifts

Short video explaining how to buy an item as a gift from BlakOpal vendors. Music: "Big Question Small Head" by Tipper. No, the song title isn’t any kind of insult to customers, it’s just a great song off of Tipper’s new album “Broken Soul Jamboree” that works nicely in the background. The avatar in the video is our shoppe model Opalnera Bolissima, an ‘alt’ account that we use for photoshoots. This will hopefully come in handy for new residents and people who are new to our shoppe.

FAQ: Making Purchases

Short video explaining how to make purchases from BlakOpal vendors, and how to open a package. Music: "Big Question Small Head" by Tipper. No, the song title isn’t any kind of insult to customers, it’s just a great song off of Tipper’s new album “Broken Soul Jamboree” that works nicely in the background. The avatar in the video is our shoppe model Opalnera Bolissima, an alt account that we use for photoshoots. I know this info may seem obvious for many SL veterans, but will hopefully come in handy for new residents and people who are new to our shoppe.

One Year On

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Hard to believe that the BlakOpal region and its lonely island of Reachra recently celebrated one year on the Second Life grid. In that time, BlakOpal and I have had a lot of fun playing with different ideas and trying to make it a great place to explore as well as serve as the backdrop for the Main Store. Click here to check out a gallery of pictures from the island’s earlier days, and then click here to take a look at a series of 32 pictures I snapped this afternoon.

The photographs not only reflect changes (and hopefully improvements) in the build, but in the Second Life Viewer as well. In the newer photographs, I opted to make use of the new (and still experimental) shadow support for the Mac viewer. Shadows have been around for a while on the PC side (tucked away in the debug settings for those daring residents with higher end nVidia graphics cards), but for Mac users with nVidia graphics they only arrived in the last month with the release of Viewer 2.3. As of this post there are still a few issues to fix (eyelashes don’t render properly, and there are some odd/unexpected issues with prims that use shiny/bumpiness), but overall I believe the effect of dynamic shadows is amazing. Take a look for yourself in the photos - other than adding a slight vignette effect to the shots in Photoshop, the images are as they came from the Viewer.

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Bundle Up For Winter!

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For a little fun, we’ve created a winter-themed mini-shop called Bundle Up. It features our winter clothes, holiday items, and seasonal freebies all in one spot, and helps us to add a bit more to our lovely little island of Reachra. As gifts, we’re offering our winter scarf and gloves as well as this beautiful sculpted holiday gnome (see below). Bundle Up is located just down the street from our Main Store, but you can click here to visit the shop directly.

Gnome-tastic

Depth-Of-Field in Mesh Project Viewer

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Recent builds of the Mesh Project Viewer beta have been including another surprise for users with nVidia GPU’s (well, the 9xxx series and above). Depth-Of-Field! You may have seen pictures like the one above in blogs and on the internet before, but those involved someone working on the SL snapshot after they took it... but now it’s happening in real-time in the viewer!

Admittedly, it may not be something you use every day, and it is still VERY MUCH in an early beta stage. But it’s definitely got a certain wow factor, and made exploring the beta grid a lot of fun.

For those who head over to see for themselves, first make sure to download the latest Mesh Project Viewer. While you’re checking it out, there are three Debug settings to play with that give you some control on how the feature works... CameraCoC, CameraFNumber, and CameraFocalLength. For more info and details, you can check out the SL WIKI!

OpenSource Obscure has put together a great clip showing the new feature in action, check it out below

Super-charge your SL Viewer with Draw Distance Slider and About Land/Advanced Sky buttons!

Tutorial guiding through the process of adding controls for Draw Distance, About Land, and Advanced Sky to SL Viewer 2.x. Has also been tested with Snowglobe 2,x and Kirsten's S20 Viewers.

XML file can be downloaded here

This tutorial is done on Mac OS, but it works on other operating systems! Windows users, place the XML file in the skins\default\xui\en subdirectory from where you have your Viewer installed.

XML code based on tips and tricks from residents Opensource Obscure and Hitomi Tiponi (based on an original idea by Avi Arrow). Shot on location in Second Life at Caledon Oxbridge Village. Music: "The Alienist" by Random Rab.

FREE Boots Upgrade!

After extensive testing and tinkering, we've upgraded several pairs of boots to make use of Viewer 2.x’s Alpha Layer technology. Using the avatar Alpha Layer, we can make awesome boots that don’t need invisi-prim scripts, and look great on any surface (no more alpha glitch issues when walking on certain textured surfaces or flying over water). The video below explains alpha layers in our new boots.



You can get your upgraded boots FREE using the terminal at our Main Store, located just inside the entrance (additional terminals are at the back of the store). Touch the terminal, and select your boots from the list.

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Which boots have been upgraded?

Laced Boots For Men
Laced Boots For Ladies
Laced Spike-Heel Boots For Ladies
Riveted Low Boots
Rogue Lady Pirate Boots
Sculpted Riding Boots

(Sculpted Riding Boots were re-textured/re-sculpted as well)

What if some of my boots/shoes aren't on the list?


That means they did not use invisi-prim scripts, and did not need an upgrade.

What if I got my boots from the SL Marketplace/XStreet?


Please send a notecard to TriloByte Zanzibar and he'll be happy to assist as soon as possible.

What if I have trouble using the Redelivery Terminal?


Please send a notecard to TriloByte Zanzibar and he'll be happy to assist as soon as possible.

FAQ Boots with Alpha Layers in Viewer 2

Short video explaining the difference between boots using alpha layers in SL Viewer 2.x versus invisi-prims in older viewers. Please note, we’ve recently updated most of our boots to take advantage of Viewer 2.x’s alpha layer feature, and get rid of the invisi-prims and invisi-prim scripts. Better boots, less lag.

Music: "Three Views Of A Secret" by Kryptic Minds.

Improve Sculpty Performance

A quick tutorial explaining how to improve sculpty performance in Second Life. This tutorial applies to all versions of the Second Life as well as other third party viewers.

Please note, if your computer has Intel integrated graphics or you are using a netbook, DO NOT make changes to the default settings.

Music: "Throbbin' The Light" by Quade.

Videos and Tutorials

Over the summer, one of the things I got started with was creating a BlakOpal Designs channel on Youtube. The intention was that we would produce short clips showing some of our outfits in motion. Sometimes the sign in a vendor or the still pictures in a notecard or on a web site just aren’t enough, and this would give shoppers a way to get a better idea of how the outfit looks in-world. Beyond that, we hoped to be able to put together some short tutorials and demonstrations, with the goal of sharing tips and tricks we’ve picked up along the way.

The plan was that I’d post blog entries here when new tutorial videos were added, but I’ve been slacking. But now that I’ve gotten the site redesigned and updated, it’s time to start getting caught up. Over the next several blog posts you can expect to see links and video embeds on the tutorials we’ve already made available, and moving forward I hope to keep things up-to-date.