nand Nerd . info - Depth Snapshot to Sculpt
Credit goes to Kolor Fall for the idea behind this one. He had used zbrush to create 3d portraits using a similar method as I do here. Within Second Life a snapshot can be taken which stores the depth of items in the scene as a colour scale. This could be used for selectively blurring a backdrop to simulate a shallower depth of field. In our case we're using this depth data and turning it into a sculpt to give a 3d effect to the photo when displayed in-world.
Depth snapshot on the left is uploaded to this page. The sculpt produced is textured with the image in the middle producing the sculpted snapshot on the right.
Your milage may vary and depending on the result of a few tests I may add some control to the process. Kolor also brought up the idea of using this to vacuum pack objects in SL, turning them into a single sculpt. While this would not be a very detailed model of the object it wraps the sculpt around it might be sufficent for a couple of simple cases.
Hit the snapshot button (it's on the bottom panel, under the File menu or by keystroke Ctrl-Shift-S for Windows users) and a window will show up with various options.
First off you'll want to send the snapshot to your hard drive as opposed to uploading or emailling it. Next you need to select "Depth" from the drop-down menu. Also on this window you can select your resolution, format and such.
Save your Depth Map somewhere on your system that you can easily get to for the next step. Now you'll want to take the same snapshot again but choose ... from the drop-down menu. This will need to be from the exact same vantage point and hopefully nothing in the scene has moved, otherwise the snapshot and the depth map won't line up. This can be uploaded directly to your inventory to save you uploading it later but I prefer to take it to the hard drive at this point.
With the depth map on your hard drive and the snapshot taken of the same scene either in your inventory or also on your hard drive you can now upload the depth map to this webpage and hit the Upload button.
All going well you should see a sculpt map when the page reloads (the square image that looks like an explosion in a paint factory). Save this file to your hard drive, naming it something useful, and then upload it to Second Life in lossless format.
Optionally you can use the Emerald client to preview the sculpt by uploading it as a temporary, this is a handy feature as it saves you L$10 and cuts down on wasted asset server space. If you're not using Emerald you can always give it a quick preview using the upload preview by choosing sculpted from the drop-down but this is limited as you cannot change the sculpt mapping or see it with the snapshot texture.
Now you'll need to rez a fresh prim and then, in the edit window under object tab, turn it into a sculpt from the object type drop-down menu. Drag the sculpt map you've just uploaded from your inventory onto the object tab's sculpt map preview. From the sculpt mapping drop-down choose plane type and then pop over to the texture tab and drop the snapshot texture on your sculpted surface.
Voila, you've made your own sculpted snapshot. Play around with the scale of your object to get the same aspect ratio as your snapshot and the z-scale for the exaggeration of the effect. You can also play with the shiny setting to further accent the sculpt.
For a more advanced/detailed sculpt you can use a graphics application to chop up your depth map into several pieces and display each on seperate sculpted prims.
While the results from quick tests using the above method were good I wanted to push the idea a little further. Here are a few ideas for how you can improve your sculpted snapshots.
Slice up the depth snapshot in photoshop (or similar) and turn each into a sculpt. This improves the level of detail you can achieve at the cost of extra upload fees and extra prims. When I did a quick test this worked out nicely except for a couple of gaps where the edge of one sculpt didn't have the same depth as the next one. Perhaps some careful attention to where you slice the depth map is required (you don't need to cut it in halves, you could cut depending on locations of detail in the snapshot).
On the subject of photoshop, you could add some detail by drawing it in using grey pens. Remember that with only a 32x32 grid of sculpt points the detail that gets transferred to your sculpt is not going to be immense. Where this does come in handy though is where a prim with alpha texture is used the depth of that surface isn't recorded. Using the third option in the snapshot drop-down, "surface", would give you the shape of these missing items and you just need to trace them into your depth map, use a dropper to pick a nearby colour (for the depth) and filling the selection. This method worked well when I took a snapshot of a beach with some palm trees, the palm branches where alpha textured and as a result were missing from the depth snapshot.
And in photoshop you could also trace some background clutter and fill it black to flatten it out, leaving just your foreground (such as an avatar in a portrait) to be in 3d.Likewise, you could change the brightness/contrast to adjust where the detail in the depth snapshot is.
Using the above method to select a specific foreground item, such as a waterfall, you could add a second sculpt over the existing 3d snapshot with an animated texture (with some transparency) to really bring the scene to life. Also, a few well placed lights or particle effects might enhance and liven a sculpted snapshot.