Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Feb 14, 2011: MachinimaMondays special guest speaker: Goat Firethorn

I am happy to post the Q & A session with Goat Firethorn, on MachinimaMondays.


Ever wondered about PC hardware? Which graphic card, processor, soundcard, memory, harddrives, ram ..... should you get to run SL smoothly?
How to spend your money wisely?
Please take note that Goat is not a machinimatographer, but his excellent knowledge about hardware has made quite an impression.

Here is the chat:

Chantal Harvey: this MachinimaMonday meeting will be in chat, not in voice
Kayden Oconnell: ok, thought it was pretty quiet.
Graycon Sonata: It feels so clinical...
Almo Schumann: We're just shy.
Chantal Harvey: i want to let you all know that this meeting is in chat, as it will be logged for the ones that cannot come today - so pls ask many questions, this entire session will be done as Q & A.

Goat Firethorn, the lovely fox avatar here, has agreed to share some of his excellent knowledge.

Goat: LOL everyone thinks it's a fox!
Ironically, it's a husky, but I get called a fox all the time.

Anyways - where should we start?
Chantal Harvey: could you introduce yourself?
Goat: I'm Goat, I've been working with computers for about 13 years, but I got into hardware around 4 years ago.
Actually I learned most from my father, who has been working with computers since the age of punchcards doing hardware work.

Graycon Sonata: so you actually assemble computers?
Goat: yes, I do - I have ... quite a few and some parts laying around

Kayden Oconnell: was hoping for some information on what to look for when buying a new system, processor, memory, graphics.
Goat: I'm going to have to say that I can't come up with PC's right now, and here's my explanation:
Right now, the motherboard and CPU industry is at a standstill, due to the release cycle, and Intel having a recall on the P67 chipsets, which essentially makes buying ANY new motherboard a rip-off.
In april, the new chipsets come in, then P67 comes, but until then, all you can do is buy things that are soon to be outdated.

Graycon Sonata: so just to open the field up to you was wondering if you which hd would you recommend for storage as an external?

Starshine (ormand.lionheart): why does SLI not work anymore?

Graycon Sonata: and are you a fan of a single taro or duel taro?

Goat: actually, if you don't mind I'll answer the second first
SLI does work, but it requires code to be written for it in the application. SL, had SLI support at the start, but it got phased out as the code progressed , it's actually still on the Nvidia webpage as SLI compatable

Goat: I like the HD question lol
Actually, I myself don't own any SSD's, and their quite pricy, so what I did buy was an awesome hdd that I reccomend 100%
Graycon Sonata: which one?
Goat: It was actually really really cheap, $ 40.00, and it outpaces some of the $ 130+ Velociraptors, as well as ALL of the Caviar blacks. It's a Samsung F4 320GB, note that the F4 2TB is NOT near as fast, and is actually extemely slow.
Graycon Sonata: I have 320 GB and find with recording I am filling it up fast due to files size,
and existing fies so therefore I was wondering about externals and your views on single vs duel gig storage.
Goat: yes, I'd say for recording in HD, I'd go with a drive assigned to just that.
Starshine (ormand.lionheart): well u definitely need 7200 rpm to capture .
Goat: yes, but actually RPM on an HDD has a lot less impact than you think. For example, the velociraptor is 10,000 RPM, yet it gets beat by my drive @ 7200.

Goat: that's a link to a comparison I ran across drives.
Starshine (ormand.lionheart): yes but I cant capture with a gren drive, wont keep up
LaPiscean Liberty: bus speed probley plays into that
Goat: yes, of course, they're all factors, I'd reccomend probably a Samsung F3 1TB, or a caviar Black 1TB if you like Western Digital, they both do extremely well - around 115 mb/s read
Ken Alphaville: i agree
Talia Sunsong (taliasunsong): Do people find the 1 TB break faster?
Jewle Rae: every single terrabyte drive I have purchased for video has failed. I personally won't recommend them to anyone for that reason. Also fragmentation comes faster when using terrabyte drives.
Chantal Harvey: i have 4 drives, 2 terrabit each, and they work fab
LaPiscean Liberty: an array of smaller drives seems like it would save more data if a drive went down
Graycon Sonata: then you prefer half taro to full on and piny them?
Goat: I personally haven't had any issues with them, but since you are doing heavy video editing, I'd probably go western digital, if anything happens, you have a 5 year waranty to back you up.
Ken Alphaville: same happened to me till i stuck with western D.
Starshine (ormand.lionheart): SEAGET had issues last year
Graycon Sonata: nice ans we have that here.
Jewle Rae: So happy for you Chantal. Believe me if I had any luck with them I would have stuck with them. OTOH copying takes so much longer.
Petlove Petshop: i just returned a seagate - wasn't working properly
Ken Alphaville: oh man seagate ...
Ken Alphaville: runnnnn ....
Jewle Rae: II've had both Seagate and WD.
Goat: I personally haven't used seagate in awhile, I stick with Samsung and WD usually

Chantal Harvey: could there be a difference between European and American hardware?
Goat: usually no, european is about the same
Starshine (ormand.lionheart): Seagate 7200.11's - over 30% failure apparently.
Inquisitive Loon: Ive got an OLD Pentium 4, works fabulously with all my editing/filming software.
Inquisitive Loon: CPU cost 10.00 keyboar 1.00, mouse fift cents and the 20 inch monitor was free.
Inquisitive Loon: Id rather have Spielberg hired to work on my Pentium 4 than someone less talented with a 5,000,000 computer.

LaPiscean Liberty: large resolutions like full HD are very hard on graphic cards

Goat: Actually, let me recommend a really awesome company, and the only reason I reccomend them is because their support is something it sounds like you need.
I actually just recently purchased my first EVGA product, and it was amazing.
The reason I recommend this brand is really the quality of support
I've NEVER waited more than two minutes on a phone, and they are open 24/7
Chantal Harvey: evga, yes!!! i agree
Goat: so if you kill video cards like you say, and you plan going NVidia, that'd be an awesome company to go with, not to mention they support overvolting and overclocking. Best company I've ever seen.
That and NZXT, who also has great support program.

Starshine (ormand.lionheart): the problem is that is Mac only? - and from what I have heard Macs do not run Sl very well compared to PC
Goat: actually, on the contrary, Macs actually do a bit better
Starshine (ormand.lionheart): whose PC are you comparing too?
Jewle Rae: Macs handle SL better goat?
Starshine (ormand.lionheart): there is such an issue with tweaking it's hard to compare
Goat: ): nono - I wouldn't make that bold of a statement
Mac is generally not going to have as good quality parts, as with any prebuilt system, but yes, the OS itself handles OpenGL better
The reason is, Windows uses DirectX as it's main 3D API, Linux and Mac actually have a cleaner and more complete OpenGL API
Starshine (ormand.lionheart): also a musicion with Protools not happen with his Mac since the changeover to Intel chips - Protools Hardware now basically obsolete

Goat: If you've ever run SL on Linux, you KNOW you get a nice FPS boost
Starshine (ormand.lionheart): so the issue with Mac is not hardware but the viewer?
Goat: not really, It's the Operating system itself
Anything OpenGL based usually runs as good on OSX and Linux, if not better, than on windows
al Peretz: do you think linux is a good OS for machinima in SL?
Goat: Actually, it depends
linux is very complex when you get into it, but if you know linux, then yes, it'd be ideal since it has very low hardware requirements, and better threading
LaPiscean Liberty: I wish Windows had broadcaster like MAC does
LaPiscean Liberty: for live feed
Starshine (ormand.lionheart): so if I run a linux partition you suggest I will get hifgher fps?
al Peretz: I will try linux
al Peretz: whch version you recommend?
al Peretz: suse is good for that?
Goat: eh, yes, depending on the viewer, usually (You would need to install your proprietary drivers)
Like I said, linux isn't as easy as it sounds, but it's gotten much more friendly in recent years
Starshine (ormand.lionheart): is there a Linux "for Dummies"?
Goat: actually, there are several distributions made for converts from windows, but again, you have to see what your needs are
For example, Linux will not support as many programs, so that's something to look into
al Peretz: I used linux some years...Its easy to do a partition and hace 2 OS in one computer
Starshine (ormand.lionheart): well just a partition for filming and that 's it
Goat: Just be careful!
Starshine (ormand.lionheart): would be a nice option if there is a performance boost
al Peretz: I think film in linux and edit in windows
Petlove Petshop: can you do that al?
Goat yes you can, and actually that probably would work best, but like I said, things aren't so ideal as of right now
I run Mint Debian Linux, and there are a few things you have to do to get good FPS, etc

Jewle Rae: What about RAM and chip speed? what's your recommendation goat?
Goat: yeah, let's steer away from software, I don't want you to convert unless you wish to, I really beleive all OS's have their place
Jewle Rae: Anybody else finding their system running hotter after this last round of viewer updateas?
Goat: actually that would be an odd thing, but a good thing.

Actually, I'll try and stick to hardware here, but one last note on software is that it can affect performance a lot, especially drivers. As for the question on clock speeds, that's one thing that is very misleading, as are all numbers with computers. What I find is that a lot of people tend to compare numbers with computers readily, and in actuality, it isn't so easy. For example, really cool fact:
Ever wondered why your harddrive shows less space than it says on the box?
Petlove Petshop: isn't because of its own operating system needs?
Goat: it's actually because manufacturers round using MiB, instead of real MB, MiB = Mebibytes, MB = Megabytes
Matthew Kidomen: Isn't part used in formating as well.
Goat: yes, part is formatting, but a small part.
Matthew Kidomen: how much effect does the hard drive have on video capture
Goat: basically, what happened is that the hardware industry decided to go on 1000 = increment
Goat: and software says 1024
for example 1024kb = 1Mb
hardware makers rounded, saying 1000 instead
Goat: that's why a drive shows quite a bit less
Chantal Harvey: i liked matthews question a lot
( how much effect does the hard drive have on video capture )
Goat: actually a lot
from what I understand video capture records to the harddrive, so having a good write speed is important
Jewle Rae: Hard drive speed and fragmentation have major impact on video capture.

Matthew Kidomen: I think some one was talking about SSD drives not long ago?
Chantal Harvey: ssd is a good idea?
Goat: I would think any fast 7200 would do good, and actually SSD migt not be so good
Chantal Harvey: oh why not?
Goat: the reason I say it may not is size, and issues with writing. SSD's are expensive for their size, and from what i understand, video eats size.
Matthew Kidomen: but ususally I record in short burst, no extended video
Goat: as well, SSD's use a LOT more maintenence than you think, and they have limits
LaPiscean Liberty: and pricey
Matthew Kidomen: so could I get a smaller SSD and shoot then transfer it to my sata drive
Starshine (ormand.lionheart): an SSD apparently more apppriate for program nstalls and OS
Goat: actually one of the very important things a lot of people don't get about SSD's is they require things that harddrives do not first off
SSD's require you to turn off indexing, Paging, and anything that reads and writes a ton
The reason is that SSD's wear faster
They actually wear, just like RAM. They are made of RAM chips, by wear I mean, they begin giving errors
Starshine (ormand.lionheart): you can only write to a specic place a number of times and then it's done
Goat: yup, which is why it isn't good for a lot of reads and writes
Matthew Kidomen: the paper runs thin
LaPiscean Liberty: more like flashing a bios chip seems like
Goat: eh, not really - Flashing a BIOS is just dangerous
RAM actually is essentially what an SSD is made of Flash chips, NAND that is lined in rows
LaPiscean Liberty: yes but arnt you burning to chip rather then optic ewriting
Matthew Kidomen: yes, but are we talking months or years of use?
Goat: years - definitely.
Starshine (ormand.lionheart): not if u start capturing to it
Goat: but where a harddrive keeps spinning for awhile, an SSD will die eventually
Matthew Kidomen: well 3 years on an SSD would be enough. Tech changes so fast
Starshine (ormand.lionheart): since an OS loads in RAm it's not using the SSd much
Goat: and yes, the reason they tell you to turn off Paging on it
If you paged to an SSD, you'd eat it alive, paging is basically where you use part of a harddrive as slow RAM
Starshine (ormand.lionheart): Q anyone else using a Ramdisk?
Goat: for example if you use a lot of system RAM, you begin paging things to your hdd, which in the case of an SSD would literally mean tons of reads and writes per second, which eats it alive
LaPiscean Liberty: Q how much cache on a drive is good and should it be used
Goat: cache, as in the cache on a drive does have an impact on drive speed, but it really depends, and it's always used, you can't turn it off
But on high performance drives it can be different
It's also relative to size, it's basically like a buffer - when you go to write to the hdd, it sends it to the HDD, and a stack builds in cache
LaPiscean Liberty: so that it may read and write at same time
Starshine (ormand.lionheart): Q- hardware to optimise particle performance re" fps
Starshine (ormand.lionheart): a 580 GTX and overclocked cpu?
That's a bit overkill, I do fine with my 460
Matthew Kidomen: haha, never too much power. Give me power, power, POWER!!!

Chantal Harvey: yea but if you were to buy, today, wouldnt you buy a nvidia 580?
Goat: if I had the money, No. - the reason is kinda complex
Basically when they make a GPU, they make it using silicon on three layers
What they do to make it, is take a sliver of silicon, with SiO2, an insulator, on top of it, and use a laser to write the actual transistors to it
The reason things keep getting smaller is that they keep shortening the wavelength of the light
Currently, the 500 and 400 series are at 40nm = 40 nanometers
But later this year, a new GPU comes out from Nvidia at 28nm, with a new design
which is what I'd save up for - Kepler = 28nm, quarter 4 of 2011
Chantal Harvey: ahhhh - omg ty for that
Chantal Harvey: on the new nvidia: HERE

Matthew Kidomen: what about video ram
Matthew Kidomen: any suggestions for how much is over kill
Matthew Kidomen: or is it the more the better?
LaPiscean Liberty: water cooled fuel injected
Goat: SL actually can't use more than 512, but really it'd use...around 700 with everything in the background, etc. Yes, usually the more the better, but again it's not as important as you'd think
SL can only access 512mb of VRAM, at the most
Matthew Kidomen: (taking notes)
Starshine (ormand.lionheart): Nividia not ATi from what I have seen in forums
Starshine (ormand.lionheart): apparently ATI sues system memory n OpenGL games
Starshine (ormand.lionheart): at least it did
Goat: I actually prefer Nvidia in SL, simply because ATI has issues with OpenGL coding in the drivers, but they are getting better
Heh, I'm actually using 608mb VRAM right now
Matthew Kidomen: some folks love them which is ok, but I have had big battles with them.

Goat: really, I want to hit on something someone said earlier - and I almost missed it:
If you ever build a computer
Something I REALLY REALLY say to look at is Power supply
Matthew Kidomen: does it effect video capture speed and "smoothness" if you run two monitors?
Chantal Harvey: how much power supply?
Goat: well i depends on what you're doing
Jewle Rae: Now you're talking -- power supply is critical
Goat: and actually like I said, you can't really rely on the numbers they post
For example, yes, you can get cheap 1000w power supplies
Yet I've seen one shoot 3" flames which wasn't good
Brand is REALLY something to pay attention to with power supplies, as well as model.

There's actually a good list on several places, a forum I use regularly, go to this link

Really great thread, tells you a lot about power supplies.
Matthew Kidomen: video cards can draw a lot of juice
Goat: yes, and with a bad power supply, you can fry things.
You have got to keep in mind, power supply gives everything voltage.
So if you go cheap, anything else you buy can be fried instantly!

I actually got mine on sale, it's a corsair TX850, which really has been awesome.

Seasonic, Corsair, Silverstone, they all make great power supplies.
Matthew Kidomen: don't power supplies list the number of watts per rail at a certain voltage?
Goat: yes, as tested by them, which means they may have tested at 20C, and reported those, which is very misleading.
Matthew Kidomen: they wouldn't lie woult they?
Goat: no, but they sure are good at getting around it
Matthew Kidomen: hummm
Goat: that list really, anything tier 3 or above is fine, anything above would be for overclockers...
Which need a REALLY stable voltage

Anyways sorry I didn't get to answer everyone's questions
You guys are an awesome group

Chantal Harvey: we will have to have you back here, Goat

And he will be back in April, hopefully to talk about Kepler and other new developments in PC hardware.

Mr Firethorn, you rock!

Monday, February 14, 2011

MachinimaMondays Feb. 7, 2011

Our weekly machinima meetings are always different, it often depends on the people that come and the subjects they bring with them.

There are 2 meetings every monday: 2 pm and 7 pm. (SL-time, pacific time)

Often we show each other our new work, and sometimes even ask for feedback. We had guest speakers, machinima classes, a Q & A about lag, nifty discussions about copyright issues, we talked about branding and where to post films, we talked about edit, music and voice over talent, acting, animations, foley - and it seems like every week there are more and new subjects to discuss.

I think it is time to create some MM-blogs, as people are forever asking what we discussed at last weeks meeting.

Both MM meetings had one subject in common; the "wish-list" for a machinima viewer.

A few days before the meeting, Toxic Menges and myself had a meeting with Kim and Rhett Linden. Amongst many things we discussed the difference between the current Lindenlab and 3rd Party viewers.

We use different viewers now for different purposes, forever switching between viewers - (I use 7 viewers!!!) cluttering our precious desktop space with icons, and wishing that all features a machinimatographer needs would be available in just one viewer.

I now use Kirstens viewer for depth of field, Firestorm for shadows, Dale's for anaglyph, Phoenix for windlights, V2 for media on a prim, the meshviewer for ...uhh mesh, Imprudence cos I just like it.

Our suggestion for a machinima-viewer was welcomed as a good idea, but not likely to happen. Rhett Linden asked us what our thoughts were on features we would need, and we agreed to do a survey amongst the MM members.

Here are suggestions that ppl came up with:

* Good shadows

* Good dof (*Depth of Field) - concurs with this point: https://jira.secondlife.com/browse/CTS-437?page=com.atlassian.jira.plugin.system.issuetabpanels%3Acomment-tabpanel&focusedCommentId=234791#comment-234791

* Auto screen size - in the pull down menu in Preferences>Graphics, the sizes are not really useful to machinima makers - 1280x720 would be a good option, as would 1080 x 1920, so we can film in HD easily. Full Screen was a great option in v1.23, but that has been removed in v2.xx and now you have to manually resize in order to be able to film at 1080

* Easy controls to hide things such as avas/clouds instead of being hidden in a massive hierarchy.

* Graphics properties button = accessible from the front pane of the viewer - without having to drill down into the menus

* Working AA when using shadows

* Easy windlight access

* Ability to derender all avas except your own/ones you specify

* Record camera moves to perform multiple passes of same scene - this is an experimental option in the viewer at the moment, or at least it was, and can be very useful for filming from multiple POV.

* Machinima tab - Kirsten viewer has a machinima tab http://www.kirstensviewer.com/Blog/134.html this is an xml tab that includes commonly used features. We did speak at the Machinima Mondays meeting about the ability to include things like zoomtime form the debug menu on that drop down - but it appears that that would involve delving under the hood of the viewer a bit more. Zoomtime is a GREAT tool for filmers and it's hidden deep in debug menu.

* More than one parcel media stream, not reliant on the shared media tech (I did point out that sub dividing media was a possibility here, and also that's more of a server point that viewer)

* Default animation improvements/different speeds - There was a call from Linden Lab to hire one of the inworld animation developers to get them to make a new default walk, any idea what happened with that? It would be great if we could control walking speed of not only our own but other avatars.

* Slow motion avatars for all not just your own - there is an option in the advanced menu that allows slow motion animation, but this only works for the avatar being controlled - it would be good if all avatars could be viewed in slow motion when that option was activated.

* Animation Editor in world similar to Unity 3D's Unity calls their editor a cutscene editor. Think of it like scripting out the scene and pressing play to run through it - I am not familiar with this myself, but it sounds not unlike the puppeteering system that was being looked at by the Lab a few years ago.

* It used to be a feature of the viewer that you could record vid directly from the client. I was on a Mac for my first two years in SL, and this feature never worked on mac clients, but some did use it successfully. Would be GREAT to have this back.

* What about having functions based on genre (like have option for film noir)?

* Making use of more than 3 meg bandwidth

* Bespoke viewer which would use cloud computers - negating lag (hopeful!)

* Sound aspect in the viewer that gave us more control? Broader range of Equalization as well as volume?

* Ability to change infinity view to sand or other terrain so that things dont always look like you are on an island.

* Proper asset sharing for windlight

* Full moon and phases of the moon - the Lab used to replace the moon texture for special occasions - this would be a huge crowd pleaser aside form machinima!

* Nimble for Windlight - would love to see Nimble implemented to give depth and extra weather effects to windlight.

In addition to the above which are more viewer specific, these also came up:

** An infohub for machinima

** Case studies for machinima in commercial projects - in the Enterprise/Commercial info part of the sl.com website.

** Inventory accessible to alts

The suggestions/wishes on the above list are a good showcase of what our machinima community is about. Toxic and I welcome Rhett - who joined MachinimaMondays group - to take ideas from that list and implement them in LL viewer 2. Lets make this world a better place for machinima....

Next meeting - February 14, 2011 - will have a guest speaker at the 7 pm session: Goat Firethorn will do a session on computer hardware.

Ever wondered what to buy for your money? Which graphic card, processor, how much ram, is there a difference in harddrives, - ---- please come to SL and join the MachinimaMondays group, or contact Toxic Menges, Phaylen Fairchild or Chantal Harvey for an invite.