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FilterCam Tutorial: Making Your Own Filters

So by now you’ve probably figured out that if it’s a Saturday, there will be a workshop at Rouge.  This past weekend was no exception.  Codie shared with the gathered avatars how to create your own custom filters and masks for use with the MechanizedLife FilterCam HUD.  After the jump, you’ll find my recap of the workshop, and, as always, don’t hesitate to contact us in-world if you have more questions or would like a copy of the complete transcript.

(This information could be pretty useful, don’t you think, especially if you’re planning to enter the FilterCam Contest and winning a share of the L$40,000 in cash and prizes!)

Quick Start

So you already know that FilterCam is simple to use and is a great tool for taking amazing in-world snapshots with little to no post-processing required (maybe a quick crop, but that’s about it).  All you have to do is wear the HUD.  A long click (about a second is good) will trigger the menu from which you can choose one of the 65+ preset masks.  A short click will minimize the HUD so that you can reposition your camera and correctly frame your shot.  Click again quickly to maximize the HUD for use.  Now, just make sure you have marked the “Show HUD Objects In Snapshot” box on the Snapshot dialogue and you are ready to take phenomenal photos!

Do It Yourself

The preset filters and masks were created by Codie and Ryker Beck working in collaboration to create a broad range of frames, overlays, and effects that are suitable for just about every situation.  But, what if you want to create customized masks and filters? Go For It!

Codie designed the FilterCam to give you everything you need to use it right out of the box, so if you are satisfied with the selection of masks and filters, and there is quite a selection, you can stop reading now.  But, she also wanted to leave the door open for those of you who would like to expand and customize your options.  She wanted FilterCam to be a tool for channeling your creativity and talent.  So let’s talk, now, about how to channel your skills directly into the inner workings of the FilterCam HUD so that you can create your own, unique filters and masks.

How To

Let’s start at the very beginning (it’s a very good place to start). Do Re Me Fa …*trails off* Sorry, got lost in a showtune for a moment.  But, I digress.  First things first, FilterCam is special because it is more than just a single texture that overlays the screen.  Rather, it is a set of four prims, superimposed on your screen, to give you four times the customization power.  Each prim, or layer, can be individually manipulated to create the look you want.  You may choose to make each layer a different color, select glow and transparency settings or lay in a mask.

Definition break.   A FILTER is a layer that has been edited to adjust only color, glow and transparency settings.  A MASK is a layer that contains a semi-transparent texture, probably created in photoshop or other similar program, that has been uploaded to Second Life.

For each layer, you will use one of two chat commands to apply your customization: /5filter or /5mask.  /5 is the channel that the FilterCam scripting will listen to.  You can change the channel if you want, just see the product documentation for making that change. Here are the basics:

  • There are four layers total, numbered 0, 1, 2, and 3
  • There are four arguments, or parameters, that must be completed to create a Filter layer
  • There are two arguments that must be set to create a Mask layer
  • Each layer can be configured as both a Filter and a Mask ie. Applying color, glow and transparency settings to a layer that also contains a texture

Seems confusing, doesn’t it? I promise you it’s not.  Even I can do it and I’m the least geeky person you are likely to meet.  Let me show you just how easy it is. And let’s start by creating a Filter layer.

As I mentioned above, each layer is a prim and the four layers are stacked one on top of the other and they are numbered with 0 being the at the top (the layer closest to you) and 3 being the bottom layer.  Here’s a simple illustration of the layers:

For this example, I want to make the top layer red, with some transparency, but no glow.  Simple enough.  I just have to edit the layer’s parameters by writing a quick string of code.  Here we go:

  1. I need to begin by giving the command for altering the Filter properties, so the first thing I type on the line is /5filter
  2. Now I’m going to begin completing the arguments, or parameters, and the first thing I need to do is decide which layer (0, 1, 2 or 3) I want to work on.  In this case, I’m going to be customizing the first layer, so I leave a space and type in 0
  3. The next argument defines the color I want to use.  You can specify a color by typing in the English word for the color (red, green, blue, etc.) or I can use a vector (<1,0,0>, for example). I’m keeping this simple remember, so I’ll use the English word.  To complete the argument for color, I again leave a space and type the word red
  4. The third argument defines the amount of transparency, expressed as a percentage between 0 and 1.0.  I told you I was going to give this layer just a litte bit of transparency, so I will complete the transparency argument by leaving a space (are you starting to notice the pattern: “argument space argument space…”?) and typing 0.1
  5. The final argument sets the glow.  Again this is expressed as a percentage between 0 and 1.0.  I don’t want any glow, so I’m simply going to leave a space and type 0

Here is an image that illustrates the above and shows you what my line of code looks like when completed correctly:

See? That wasn’t hard at all.  And guess what…creating a Mask layer is even easier!  Here’s what I want to do: create a mask layer with the black bars across the top and bottom that will give you the ultra-wide screen look as though you were in a cinema.  In fact, lo and behold, I have a semi-transparent texture in my inventory named Cinema that we can use just for this purpose.  What a coincidence!  And it’s even named “cinema”.  Perfect. (okay, so the cinema texture is actually already a part of the default presets your FilterCam comes with, but I just want to show you how simple it is to create the effect.)  Now, because I already told you a layer can be both a Filter AND a Mask, I’m going to work on the top layer again.  Here’s how:

  1. Start your code by telling FilterCam that you are creating a Mask, type /5mask
  2. Complete the first argument, its always going to be the layer number, in this case we want the top layer again, so we leave a space and type 0
  3. The only other argument we have to define is to tell FilterCam which texture to use, it needs to be the exact name of the texture, so when in doubt, just right click the texture in your inventory, open the properties box, and copy and paste the name into your line of code.  Remember to leave a space!  In this case, we type in cinema

That’s it.  Here’s the illustration and completed code:

Now you just repeat these steps, customizing each layer as either a Filter or a Mask or both, until you have achieved the desired effect.  You can simply layer four Filters.  You can layer four Masks. You can layer any combination of Filters and Masks, or you can go really crazy and create four layers that are both Filters AND Masks! Yikes! The endless possibilities! Excuse me a moment while I try to stop my mind from boggling.

Okay, I’m better now.

Dump It

You’ve customized each layer.  You’ve created the most awesometastic effect the grid has ever seen.  But do you really want to have to go through all of those steps the next time you want to take a snapshot with the same effect?  Of course not! Who has time for that? So what do you say we just dump it?

Yes, I’m serious! But, Aha! We’re going to dump it into your preset notecard so that the next time you open your preset menu, your carefully crafted and customized layers will be just a button click away.  This is easy, too.  So pay attention, we’re going to go fast!

  1. Type /5 dump
  2. Highlight the line of code that appears in your chat
  3. Do CTRL + C to copy the code
  4. Right click and edit your HUD
  5. Select the Contents tab
  6. Open the _preset notecard
  7. Type a unique name for your preset, max 12 letters, please
  8. Type the pipe symbol ( | ) No spaces before or after the pipe, ok?
  9. Do CTRL + V to paste the code you copied from chat
  10. Save and close the notecard (just make sure there are no empty lines in the notecard.  That would be a no no)
  11. Sit back while FilterCam resets

Want some visuals to illustrate the process? You got it.

Now your very own, custom, completely amazing set of layers, both Filters and Masks, has its own button on your preset menu.  You can create as many presets as your heart desires and your mind can imagine.  Theoretically, there is a limit to the number the script can hold, but you can create hundreds before you run out of memory.  If you think you’re getting close to the maximum, just check the chat dialogue when your FilterCam starts or resets.  It will tell you how much memory you have left.

That’s all.  I’m tired of typing.  So go take some pretty pictures and share them with the FilterCam group on Flickr.  And don’t forget, if you are creating your own textures to use as masks, enter them into the FilterCam Contest.  Codie’s got over L$40K that she’s dying to give away.  You could win a chunk of that and some great prizes!

Oh! I almost forgot my favorite part…Sharing!  My mom taught me to always share, so I love that the FilterCam allows you to share your presets with your friends!  You just have to copy/paste the line you want to share from the _filters notecard, and pass it to your friend via chat, IM, or a notecard and they can copy/paste the line into their own FilterCam.  How fantastic is that? Feels good to share, doesn’t it?  Just make sure if your preset contains a mask layer, that you also give your friend the corresponding texture so that FilterCam can pull it from their inventory.

I’m really off now.  Happy Filtering..and Masking!

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