LUMIPro lighting system for photography/machinima

I first got a LUMIPro in 2011, when creator Stefan Buscaylet gave it to attendees at the 2011 SLCC. I was impressed enough with its potential in Second Life for lighting models and actors that I wrote a review for examiner.com, but I didn’t have an immediate need for it and eventually forgot about it.

LUMIPro photo

The red, green, and blue balls provide three point lighting. The projector light is at top. All lights can be moved and disappear when you’re ready to shoot.

Until last week. That’s when the possibility arose of being hired to film a machinima in SL. I planned to make my usual light projector prims for lighting the set until I remembered the LUMIPro. My copy was five years old, but it might still work. To my amazement, when I opened the HUD, it automatically upgraded to the current 2016 version. Very nice. It turns out that owners get free upgrades for life, even owners like me who got theirs for free at a convention.

I’ve done a lot of lighting in community television and I have a Master’s in Broadcasting, so I have some lighting experience. The LUMIPro impresses me. It not only allows me to professionally light a model or talent, I can do it without rezzing any prims, which allows me to use it anywhere that photography or machinima is permitted, even if I don’t have rezzing or script rights. There are several components to the system:
• Three point lighting with presets of Butterfly, Rembrandt, Rim, and Split, but that can be configured in any way you need
• Projector lights with gobos
• Works with up to eight models
• Includes standard color gels
• Holds up to about 350 poses
• Can control model eye movement

After opening the LUMIPro HUD, you can give a set of lights to up to eight models. You can be one of the models. Each set of lights includes red, green, and blue balls that serve as three point lighting sources and one projector. You can move the lights around to adjust your lighting, change factors such as color, intensity, and fall-off. The gobo can be used to simulate effects such as light coming in through a window. When you’re ready to shoot, just click ALPHA on the HUD and the lights disappear.

If you have rezzing rights, you can rez additional projector lights.  You can also change the models’ poses and control their eye movements.

I highly recommend watching videos on the LUMIPro website lumipro.blogspot.com and on YouTube. If you’re like me and have disabled face lights in your viewer, you’ll have to enable them before LUMIPro will work. This caused me some frustration before I realized it. You can try a LUMIPro in SL by teleporting to maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Phenomenal/228/148/1501.

I’ve only been using if for a few days. If anything happens to change my so far very positive opinion of LUMIPro, I’ll update this review. I have not been compensated in any way for writing this, other than being given my original LUMIPro in 2011 as an SLCC attendee.

NVIDIA ShadowPlay for recording SL machinima

I’ve seen a lot of questions and some misinformation about whether NVIDIA’s ShadowPlay machinima recording tool can be used in Second Life.  The answer is that it does work in SL, but not in all versions of Windows

The problem is that under Windows, ShadowPlay only works with Aero mode enabled, but Aero only exists in Windows 7 and earlier. Microsoft removed it from Windows 8 and 10.  There are workarounds that I’ve seen posted on the Web, but I have not tested any of them.

The first thing you’ll notice when you run ShadowPlay is that Second Life and OpenSimulator are not in the list of games it supports.  This is because ShadowPlay only supports DirectX 9, 10, and 11, but SL and OpenSim are OpenGL.  You can still use it to record machinima in SL and OpenSim, but you’ll have to set ShadowPlay to “Allow desktop capture”, as shown in the following screenshot.

ShadowPlay Configuration

ShadowPlay Configuration – Enable desktop capture

With one exception, the other ShadowPlay options shown do not work in SL and OpenSim.  For me, this is the biggest reason why I don’t use ShadowPlay.  There’s no way to know whether recording has actually started or stopped when I expected.  Most of my shooting is at festivals where I’m constantly starting and stopping recording.  It would be all too easy with ShadowPlay to start recording but inadvertently to stop recording instead because there’s no way to know that the previous recording had not stopped.

The exception is a big one: if you enable the Camera Overlay, you webcam will turn on automatically every time you turn on ShadowPlay even though the overlay itself is not being displayed.   There’s a potential for invasion of privacy whenever your webcam is on and you’re not using it.

The other problem I had with ShadowPlay is that my pans and zooms weren’t as smooth as with the other two video capture tools I use, Dxtory and Blackmagic Intensity Pro.  It might not affect other people.  I shoot at the highest graphics quality I can get at 1080p resolution.  If you shoot at lesser quality levels or don’t need silky smooth zooms and pans, ShadowPlay may work well for you.  It should be good also for basic desktop video capture.

If you have Win 7, here’s how you can enable Aero:

  1. 1. Right click on your desktop
  2. 2. Select Personalize in the popup menu
  3. 3. Select one of the Aero themes

You may need to click Window Color and  hen Enable Transparency.

If you don’t see Aero Themes it’s possible that your video card doesn’t support it.  For troubleshooting, click the Start button and type “aero” in the box.  It will start a troubleshooter.

You can get more information about configuring ShadowPlay at www.howtogeek.com/259573/how-to-record-your-pc-gameplay-with-nvidia-shadowplay.