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Second Life 2.0 Shadows

SL 2.0 shadows

Last year, Hamlet blogged about how to enable shadows in the SL Release Candidate  viewer and I was so sad I couldn’t get my PC to do it! I waited almost a year before splurging on a new PC with a better graphics card and more memory so I could turn on shadows, finally.

The picture above is my very first snapshot with shadows enabled that looked halfway decent.

I read tutorials about it, I asked my friends, everyone gave me different advice. Use Kirsten, Use Rainbow, Use Emerald, blah blah. I downloaded Kirsten, but it made my avatar’s eyes turn Orange and also I didn’t like the UI at all (why was it tinted green?). I haven’t ever used a 3rd party viewer before so it threw me off a lot, so I ran back to the Second Life 2.0 viewer and tried again.

SL 2.0 shadows

(unprocessed photo straight from SL; adjusting the sun/moon position creates different shadows, just like IRL)

While shadows is still not perfect (eyes are invisible so you have to wear prim eyes), I just love it so much. I hope SL is listening! I want my eyes to rez and for alphas to rez better, pretty please?

SL 2.0 shadows

I’m still getting the hang of it but I really like what I’ve seen so far. Since I really suck at Photoshop, I could never have done shadows like these on my own.

SL 2.0 shadows

Read this if you want shadows (all you need to know):

Dynamic Shadows Added to SL Release Candidate As “Experimental” Feature

SL 2.0 Beta still running too slowly on your Mac? No worries!

I found these two blog posts very helpful. I didn’t do everything that Gwyneth Llewelyn suggested in her blog post, but it might help some of you guys!

How I turned my shadows on:

Ctrl+Alt+Q to bring up the Develop menu on your SL 2.0 client
Scroll down to Rendering and make sure these things are checked:

  • -> Framebuffer Objects
  • -> Deferred Rendering
  • -> Global Illumination (optional)

Note: Make sure to that your Preferences -> Graphics is set to Ultra before attempting to turn on shadows.

I couldn’t take a snapshot with everything set on High (my screen turned black), so once shadows was enabled, I turned a few things that are not so important to low, like terrain, sky, trees, flexiprims… etc.

If you can’t enable shadows at all, maybe your graphics card is too old.

I am definitely open to suggestions, so if you’ve found a viewer or combination of settings that works, please share! 🙂

And because you guys always ask me when I don’t credit something, here’s what I’m wearing:

Boom – Infinity Bikini (Hisbiscus Lt Pink)
Exile – Gossip Girl (Champagne)
Hays Uriza – Natural Eyes (prim eyes)
eha – 7 Days in Sunny June White Flower top
Malt – Capri Lace Tights (Sugar)
LeLutka – Pow Pumps (Powder Blue)

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  1. nedeko

    Hey, that’s pretty cool this tutorial – just had a chat ingame cause I was wondering how this feature is getting to work..! I am curious about the shadows .. images looking quiet a bit more interesting and pro. Thanks.


  2. Lo

    OMG!!! I actually spent my whole morning messing around jumping from viewer to viewer … to get shadows to work proper.. 2.0 was OK, BUT the invisible eye thing was horrid !BUT omg TY for bringing up the prim eyes.. LOL I am so slow I wouldn’t have ever thought of it on my own!!! tytyty

    • Gogo

      Yw! I spent hours researching diff viewers and testing different settings. I just think it’s best for me to use official SL 2.0 cos it’s easier if I want to do tutorials.

  3. Annah Whitfield

    I can’t check Deferred Rendering! Didn’t we say the other day we have same graphics and all? I wanted to try shadows so badly 🙁

  4. Zoe

    I LOVE shadows! I’ve had them turned on in Emerald since I got my new computer in January.
    I wasn’t even aware it was a feature, until I fiddled around with the Emerald features in preferences.
    I swear, it was a real ‘it only happens in movies and books’ moment -my jaw dropped and I stared at the monitor for easily a minute trying to grasp how much better my world looked suddenly!
    Good on them for shadows in 2.0, but its still not going to sell me on using that viewer.

  5. tiashag

    Definitely only for picture taking….but still incredible…

  6. kitty

    i just turned this on and am so surprised that it works on my pc! thanks 🙂

  7. Arollyn

    Hey 😀 for the longest time I couldn’t get shadows to run, every time I would enable them my second life window would shut down. I was so disappointed because I have a brand new PC with a great card and It should work! Well I finally found the problem. I had the antistropic filtering at 16x. NOTE: shadows will NOT run with the filtering at 16x. It has to be 8x and below. Phew thank god I figured it out! Now shadows runs smoothly on both viewer 2 and the new emerald beta (which is a viewer 2)

    • I need shadows!

      Where do I adjust the filtering? THanks!

  8. Melissa Yeuxdoux

    Give Kirsten’s SL client a try; it fixes the problem of eyes vanishing when shadows (deferred rendering) are enabled. Thanks for the post and the lovely example images!

  9. Ann Otoole InSL

    Or you can short circuit the LL simple shadows that are a pain to turn on and use Kirstens viewer and leverage all the customizations that allow you to make the shadows look realistic. All without going to debug settings. And high resolution snapshot to disk works in Kirstens too.

    Just get used to also making short video clips to associate with your SLM listings. Otherwise the people with obsolete hardware might flag your listings because they swear you must be faking pics in poser because, after all, their SL certainly doesn’t look like that.

  10. samlowry hawks

    I have a recent iMac 27″ with ATI Radeon HD 4670. Had already tried the gwen tutorial as soon as she posted it, treid so many viewers i can’t remember all their name and always no shadows… Bouhhh:)) Use to make some machinimas ( and would really like to use steady plans with shadows on it. Thought i found the solution with your post but -> Deferred Rendering
    -> Global Illumination (optional) are stll grey for me… Perhaps you have any solutions: If you have , i promise you a huge kiss on your nose :))
    Sam :))))

    • five latte

      i have the same computer and the same problem 🙁

      • Mikey Batriani

        Unfortunately at this stage, deferred rendering is unable on Mac OS X machines with ATI Radeon graphics cards. Only Mac OS X machines with Nvidia graphics cards are able to enjoy the shadows.

        My understand is that it is constantly being tested but is quite far away.

        I have a Mac Pro with an ATI Radeon HD5870 and I am forced to hold the button down each time I attempt to turn shadows on.

        Solution? Install Windows using the Boot Camp Utility. Shadows work great under Windows on a Mac 🙂

        • Thaumata Strangelove

          I have the same card and computer and couldn’t see them before, but with the 2.7.1 build that just came out, they work just by turning them on in prefs. Give it a go!

  11. princessgirl Babii

    Hi Gogo, i have a blog in portuguese, where i do some photoshop tutorials for photographers in Second Life.

    can i take your tutorial and translate it to my language to post
    in my blog?


    have a nice day 🙂

    • Gogo

      Sure 🙂

  12. princessgirl Babii

    thank you very much Gogo 🙂

  13. Lashae Karsin

    It makes me so sad that I do not even have the option for checking deferred rendering or global illumination when using SL 2.0. I can see the words, but they are grayed out. My computer is only two years old; I’m wondering, however, if it has something to do with it crashing last year. Hopefully I will be able to purchase a new computer with an awesome graphics card in the near future! This feature really excites me. The photographs I have seen using shadows look so professional, and I would love to make my pictures look like that!

    • Piper Moonshadow

      Did you click Lighting & Shadows first? Once clicking that, all the grayed out options below it are no longer grayed out. For me, I don’t even see the option for deferred rendering, at all. It’s just not there.

  14. Credo

    Lashae Karsin,
    Did ya put LS in Ultra Graphics mode first?

    All Else,
    What version of Emerald doesn’t break with the ATI 6770 cards?
    Viewer 2 works great with mine, but I much prefer Emerald variants for the obvious building features.


  15. Credo

    Oops, typo, I mean to say ATI 5770 series.

  16. Credo

    When I say ‘break’:
    With the 5770 and Phoenix or Imprudence:
    1. There are Star artifacts in the clouds with atmospheric shaders.

    2. Any items in a sim with ‘glow’ enabled burn through any and all objects with an alpha channel…sometimes even causing the wrong ‘textures’ to be in the ‘foreground’. (This can be sorta fixed by using ‘fast alpha’)

    Viewer 2 looks great with this card, but I can’t try on complex textures (temp free uploading), and I really miss the cut/copy/paste stuff built into the Emerald object editor.


  17. Rikka

    in Sl viewer 2 I have so I can choose shadows , but everytime I try I crash . Even I tried to reduce everything ect.
    I guess I have to wait until i get a better graphic card.
    And when sometimes I can take a pic and save it…the hole picture is black @@…

  18. Rikka

    When i chose framebuffer objects I die lol

  19. Piper Moonshadow

    I got the shadows to work, thanks to this tutorial! However, I was lagging hard and experiencing the invisible eye thing. I set my draw distance all the way down, and I set terrain, sky, trees, etc, to low. No noticeable change. So I decided to uncheck Global Illumination for no reason other than to just see what happens, and yay!! Lag disappeared and my eyes came back! I’m a complete noob, so I have no idea what any of this means, but it worked!

    • Gogo

      Oh the eyes bug is already fixed several SL versions ago, thank goodness! 🙂

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