Making Eyes: controlling where your eyes look when photographing self-portraits

If you’ve ever tried to photograph a self-portrait in Second Life, you’ve probably encountered this problem: your avatar’s eyes just won’t look where you want them to look. You’ve found a killer pose, adjusted the lighting, and lined up your shot so that everything’s perfect – everything except the eyes! They’re either rolling into her skull, or dancing around like drunken party girls every time you move your mouse.

Here's an example: I want to model the new Suzana Pale 36 skin from LionSkins and I love how the Armidi Ginza hair looks with this skin, but how to keep the eyes from disappearing behind the bangs?

Professional SL photographers use a focus or gaze point to overcome this problem: models are asked to alt-click on a specific target, such as a coloured sphere, so that the direction their eyes are looking remains fixed. However, with self-portraits, this technique presents a problem. As soon as you alt-click on a gaze point, the camera instantly shifts to place that point at the centre of your screen. So now you’ve lost the original framing. But if you alt-click on your avie and use the mouse-drag technique to reframe your shot – zap! – there’s those shifty eyes again. A classic SL Catch-22!

So I've alt-clicked on a gaze point, and I think the eyes are good now - but the composition sucks!

Here's what I mean: I've alt-clicked on a gaze point, and I think the eyes are good now - except you can't see them anymore!

AMS PhotoStage and PhotoLite have some useful tools that will help solve this problem, allowing you to use gaze points effectively when doing self-portraits. Here’s how:

  1. Make sure your on-screen camera controls are open (View > Camera Controls)
  2. Rez a gaze point and position it where you want it. With the AMS PhotoStage and PhotoLite, this becomes a very easy process: once the gaze point is rezzed you simply use the Position Editor to place the gaze point precisely where you need it anywhere on the X Y Z axes.
  3. Compose your shot using the alt-click & drag technique to find the desired camera frame. This is just a preliminary framing, so be careful to note the camera position so you can return to it later.
  4. Cam or zoom out, find your gaze point and alt-click on it. You will lose the original camera frame of course – BUT, now your avie’s eyes will be fixed on the gaze point, and not bouncing around like ping pong balls.
  5. Use the on-screen Camera Controls and Keyboard Commands to reposition the camera on the model. I highly recommend using the Keyboard Commands for controlling the camera at this stage rather than relying on the on-screen Camera Controls alone. The Keyboard Commands tend to give you much more precise control over the camera’s pan, tilt, spin and zoom functions. The Zoom In (CTRL + 0) and Zoom Out (CTRL + 8 ) keystrokes are especially useful for framing close shots, since they allow you to move in much closer than the on-screen Camera Controls will permit. The Shift + Ctrl + Alt + arrow keys which pan the camera left, right, up and down are also extremely useful for self-portraiture. (I’ve listed the Keyboard Commands at the end of this post for any who may not be familiar with these highly useful tools.)
  6. If the direction of your avie’s gaze still needs adjusting, cam out again, adjust the position of the gaze point, and then reframe the camera. Once again, the AMS Position Editor greatly simplifies this procedure. You may need to go back and forth a few times to get things exactly the way you want. With practice and experience, you’ll soon learn how to place your gaze points accurately, then manipulate the keyboard and camera controls to get that perfect frame and beautiful eyes!

Voila - mission accomplished!

For more information on AMS products, please visit the AMS website, or stop by the AMS Demo Site or Metro Models store to try out the amazing PhotoStage and PhotoLite!

Camera Tools: Continue reading

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AMS announces exclusive poses from Persona

One of Second Life’s most talented pose-makers, Myllie Writer of Persona has created nine exclusive fashion poses for distribution only with Ananke Media Systems (AMS). The new Persona poses are included in PhotoStand, the powerful pose stand packaged with AMS PhotoStage, PhotoLite and PhotoTools Pro.

When combined with the PhotoStand’s existing poses, the new Persona poses now provide AMS customers with a total of 52 high quality poses, most only available in the AMS PhotoStand. That’s a L$2600 value – free with the purchase of all AMS products!

PhotoStand allows you to add your own poses and to navigate through them efficiently. The stand also provides precision rotation and alignment. Menu and chat controls make it easy to cycle through poses, and then adjust or fine-tune your model’s position without altering the camera angle.

You can check out the new Persona poses at the AMS Demo Site or the Metro Models store, where you can also purchase your own PhotoStage, PhotoLite or PhotoTools Pro and start taking your Second Life photography to a whole new level today!

Other Credits: Continue reading