The World Through Bright Canopy

Strings - Cica Ghost
My first photo taken in the Firestorm viewer via Bright Canopy.

The long-awaited release of Bright Canopy happened last weekend, just as I embarked on a vacation without my computer. I was so anxious to try it, I attempted to log in on my Android phone but the signal was weak and the wi-fi was lo-fi at the campground, so no dice. Tonight was my first time logging into SecondLife via Bright Canopy on my web browser, and overall I was impressed.

I have a two-week free trial, which only required creation of an account with an email address – no credit card required! Of course, that will come later, after I’m addicted to the beautiful functionality of the streaming viewer. Due to some early issues affecting the service since launch, right now sessions are limited to one hour, and the streaming viewer will warn when you have one-minute left before you are automatically disconnected, so watch your time if you’re working on something important. Also, there may be a short wait for the network. I discovered when I tried to open the Firestorm viewer that there is an indicator on the screen to advise of the network status, and mine was yellow, meaning it would be available shortly. It didn’t take long, though, before the indicator turned green and I could stream a Firestorm viewer in Google Chrome for my first run with the service.

I suggest, if you use Firestorm, to save a backup of your settings to Dropbox or Google Drive for quick configuration of your viewer once you are logged in-world. On the Bright Canopy login screen, you’ll see at the top of the screen the words ‘Applications’ and ‘Files’. Click on ‘Files’, choose your cloud storage service, and allow Frame permission to manage your files. This is where you will save and access files you would normally save to your disc in the viewers themselves. I found that the streaming viewer had default settings and spent some of my hour reconfiguring everything to my preferences, but it occurred to me later that restoring settings should be possible if they are saved to the cloud. For information on saving and restoring settings, read here.

I logged in, and that was a new experience for me – it happened almost immediately, and everything rezzed into clear view at the same rate. I found that camming was a little different; the cursor doesn’t fix on a point on the screen but the view moves with the mouse movement. Also, I am used to hitting escape to return to my default rear view and that only caused my browser to leave full-screen view, so instead I have to move my avatar to snap back to rear view. Clicking ‘M’ didn’t put me in mouse-view either. It’s been so long that I’ve been doing that I don’t remember any other way to do it so that was a little annoying, but it’s minor. Everything else seemed to work just the way I’m used to, and after some initial tinkering and a side-stop I made my way to Cica Ghost’s latest installation, Strings, to try some photography.

Oh boy! That was like getting a brand new camera! First of all, I set the graphics to Ultra, turned on shadows, water reflections, avatar cloth, and walked around like it was nothing at all, just a walk in the park. I’ve never been able to do that with the viewer. I did experience a teensy bit of lag – the streaming viewer told me that my connection was slow – so I’m not sure if was a problem with my modem or internet service provider, or something on the server side, but it was negligible. I cammed around a bit, played with windlights and depth of field, and got one shot before the one minute warning told me it was time to go. Not wanting to hog bandwidth, I left SL so that someone else can experience the joy of Bright Canopy, and came straight here to share my first (and certainly not last) shot made with ease and tell you all about it. I almost have to relearn the phototools because they were doing things I’d never seen them do before – you know, what they are supposed to do. Photography is going to be a breeze with this service. I’m looking forward to seeing how much better my photos turn out in the near future.

At $17 a month I think this will be an acceptable expense to improve the quality of experiences in SL. I’m not sure how long the session limit will be in place, but hopefully soon they resolve the issues they’re having and will lift that restriction. There was previously a mention of a referral program that would allow you to sign up a friend and get free minutes for both, but that also has been suspended for the time being until the issues are resolved, so keep an eye out for that to return.

As an aside, I’ll mention that the timing is great for this, as I just had the first class of the fall session at Visionaire Institute in SL Photography. That’s a topic I’ll save for another time, as the classes progress, but to the point it’s going to really work in my favor as the instructors have warned we’ll be pushing graphic settings to the hilt and people will crash left and right – but not me if I’m using Bright Canopy! I gave it a shout-out to my classmates, so perhaps we’ll all be able to surprise our instructors with our new ability to ‘push it’ and ‘stick’ in-world. At any rate, it’s going to make the assignments a lot easier and more fun to do.

You should give it a try! www.brightcanopy.com

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