Cut Mesh Prims by Changing Your Camera Angle!

Yes, simply changing your camera angle and distance can save you prims/Land Impact — and money, since you pay for those prims every time you pay tier or rent.

Let me start at the beginning. (And then I will tell you what prompted this post.)

When I first came to Second Life I noticed that everything was huge compared to my avi — rooms and stores were cavernous. Doors were twice as tall as I was.  Doorknobs came up to my shoulder. And I was 6 feet tall!

And after a bit I realized why this was — rooms and doorways built to scale would trap the camera behind them.  This is because —  unlike most other video games — the Second Life camera default is angled high and at quite a distance from the avi.  Hamlet Au published this image from Resident Evil on his blog here.

This is from Penny Patton, quoted on Inara Pey’s blog here.

Camera placement is important. In the videogame industry this is common wisdom. Game developers spent decades experimenting, improving and pretty much perfecting the art of camera placement in 3D videogames.

Unfortunately, the SL camera does not take advantage of any of that experience. As a result, the camera sits way over your avatar’s head, angled down. Not very immersive or engaging. More like you’re watching a character from afar rather than interacting with the world through them.

This has also affected how we build. It’s common knowledge that avatars are generally oversized, often close to 7 or 8′ tall, some pushing almost 9′. And yet, the environments we build and explore are larger still, often fully double scale compared to real life. 5m high ceilings instead of the more typical 2.59, 20x20m rooms instead of 10x10m or 5x5m rooms. We need to build so much larger to compensate for SL’s camera.

Above left, Penny shows the SL Default camera position; on the right, the “Over the Shoulder” position.  The SL default is like having a kite flying in the air behind you, and it keeps getting stuck in doors and walls. I keep my camera even closer to me, it just feels more immersive and natural.

So everyone built around the high trailing camera — rooms were built huge, so furniture was built huge, so avis were made huge (though they still usually looked too small for their surroundings).  And for most people this was no problem. Just make everything big so the camera would not get trapped.

However, we are now in the Age of Mesh, and prims/ Land Impact is dramatically affected by the size of objects.  You can cut a lot of prims / Land Impact just by shrinking your furnishings or house a bit. Or better yet, when you buy these things, buy them to scale to begin with.  And when things are smaller and take fewer prims, that means you can do with less land, and less land means less tier.

The fix is easy — just adjust your default camera angle and distance so it is closer to you and not so high up. Instantly, your camera is not bumping into things anymore. Plus it just feels so much more natural, more like Real Life.

The future of Second Life is for things to be created to scale. Making everything huge to accomodate a dysfunctional camera angle just doesn’t make sense when it costs so much in Land Impact.

Here are some instructions for adjusting your camera angle to a more natural position — you can play with the numbers a bit to suit your preferences, but this is a good starting point:

Follow the instuctions below:
1. Go into the Advanced menu at the top of your window (if it does not show, do Control > Alt (or Option) D ).
2. Open Debug Settings at the bottom. Type in: CameraOffsetRearView
3. Then enter these numbers:
X: -2.000
Y: -0.400 (Make positive for a left shoulder view or keep 0.000 for a centred view.)
Z: -0.200

Instructions with pictures can be found on Ciaran Laval’s blog here.

Also, Penny Patton has a free HUD you can wear to adjust your camera angle:

What prompted this post?

My brand new house, the San Marino (you can see pics in a previous post), has one review now.  The reviewer gave it two stars — she said it was beautiful — but the bedrooms were “too small”.  (Never mind that it can be seen inworld, never mind that it can be stretched larger, never mind that adjusting camera angle would solve the problem, never mind that I include camera angle instructions with the house!)

This is me standing in one of the “too small” bedrooms, with my camera close behind me:

Read a discussion about this post here:


5 thoughts on “Cut Mesh Prims by Changing Your Camera Angle!

  1. Nothing “rots my socks” more than paying to have a home available for viewing inworld and then receiving a nasty review from someone that didn't take the time to actually look at it before buying. Fortunately those kinds of reviews don't seem to effect sales. Your San Marino is beautiful & that will speak for itself.


  2. Thank you both, ladies 🙂 I knew I was going to have to sell this new “to scale” way of building, but I did hope people would check out the information about it and give it a chance. It really is the future of SL, if only because it will mean lower costs.


  3. Pam im a huge fan of all your work and bravo to u for cutting prim usage we all know how much they can cost!! I love your tips as well. and even if i cant purchase every single one of your builds i still come and check them out for future buys. smile keep up the lovely work. I will be a fan till sl ends!!


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