Topic: Direct3d vs Silverlight viewers

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RayRolfe (Over 1 year ago)
I'm currently under the impression the the new silverlight viewer sucks. The organization features look promising, but at the cost of the whole experience.

I'm wondering what other opinions might be?

Things I've noticed so far; My embedded synths have transferred from the good old Direct3d style, to the new silverlight style. This sucks, because they don't load with the page anymore. You have to manually click them to load. And then they just plain look bad. They look all clunky now. The silverlight style wrecks the seadragon zoom effect that I've come to love, and is what makes photosynth way cooler. Whats up with the point cloud looking like crap? Crap you can rotate in only 2 degrees? What happened to the free rotational doughnut?
Add to this, moving the control button function to "P" key is annoying.
And, finally, the new full screen only maximizes it within your browser, and not true full screen.
RayRolfe (Over 1 year ago)
It also kills the browsing experience of the site while exploring other synths. If you know what your doing, you click into direct3d and get into the full screen experience. (It looks stunning on a 52 inch HD, BTW)
But now when you are done and back out of full screen, there are no other synths waiting to be browsed. You have to back out another step to get into the listings, which then again are all defaulted to Silverlight style. Blah! Can't I just keep the Direct3d turned on while browsing, and not have to change into it everytime?

Really, perhaps unintentionally, but the silverlight style adds annoyances to the process of browsing the collections.
dariusmonsef (Over 1 year ago)
Thanks for the feedback Ray.  As mentioned in the blog post I wrote about the updates, we recognize that there were a couple tradeoffs we had to make right now in order to add in highlights and some great future features.  We're working hard on the performance issues with the current Silverlight viewer... but some of your concerns can be easily cleared up... so:

Silverlight Embed Play on Default
You can make an easy change to the embed code to set the synth to autoplay.  In the code you grab to post on your blog look for the "&delayLoad=true&slideShowPlaying=false" part.  If you want the synth to autoplay, swap true for false and vice versa... ie, "&delayLoad=false&slideShowPlaying=true"

You can still rotate around objects... we just needed to update the halo for two left and right arrows.  When you see those curved arrows you can click and drag around an object... we're working on getting the halo shape back.
dariusmonsef (Over 1 year ago)
How is the seadragon deep zoom not working well for you?  It should work just the same.

While I appreciate (and am jealous of) users with 52" HD screens... we recognize that the point cloud gets a bit less fine on larger screens.  We're working on these issues, and kept the D3D viewer online specifically for users who really wanted to browse the detailed point clouds in full screen.  Sorry you need to jump back from the D3D viewer to see related synths.

We're working towards sharing Photosynth with as many people as possible.  This means having a viewer that is easily usable by everyone.  Requiring the large D3D download to view a synth doesn't work well for most users.  Again, we know there was a trade off in performance to make the move to Silverlight... but we got some great new features and benefits by making the jump and we're working hard to catch up the performance issues.
Rockman87 (Over 1 year ago)
Ya, Right now I like the Direct3D better.  Everything loads faster and the pictures arn't so pixelated.  I don't have super fast internet... so the silverlight viewer takes awhile to sharpen up pictures... the Direct3D viewer is a lot faster especially when moving real fast through a synth!  I hope someday the silver light player exceeds the direct3D but for right now I don't use the Silverlight player.  It would be nice to add some settings for your account that says, always view in Direct3D or use the default Silverlight player.
Rockman87 (Over 1 year ago)
I have been exploring the Silverlight player and it is quite nice after it has some time to load all the pictures...  I am confident that you will get it working better than the direct3D in the future!
RayRolfe (Over 1 year ago)
Thanks for your responses. Dariusmonsef, I will try to make a youtube video of something to show how the silverlight is not as nice as D3D while zooming around. Perhaps it's subtle, and I am a visual artist, so maybe I see the detail, but I think anyone can see. It's just not nearly as smooth.

And I have to add more flaw to the list. When switching between 3d and 2d photo layout, the transition is gone! The transition was a useful (yet again subtle) visual clue to orientation.

I think I will have to make a video comparing the two.
dariusmonsef (Over 1 year ago)
Thanks for taking the time to make a video, having detailed feedback helps us continue to build a better product.
Nathanael (Over 1 year ago)
Ray, another thing that I noticed the first night the silverlight viewer was released:

Embedded synths *are* true fullscreen. (Whereas on the main site they only fill the browser window).
This, I suspect, is due to the fact (completely out of Photosynth's hands) that Silverlight disables nearly all commands except for spacebar, arrow keys and perhaps one or two others so that Silverlight does not become highly used for phishing attacks or other security threats. Enabling true fullscreen with the Silverlight viewer on the main site where experienced users are accustomed to using their shortcut keys would have ignited even greater outrage and rejection of of the new viewer. (I'm still puzzled over the lack of scrollwheel support fullscreen in fullscreen Silverlight.)

Going forward, the only way around the limitations on fullscreen Silverlight control are in the hands of the Silverlight guys. Take it up with them, but they're pretty set in their decision.
solidimage70 (Over 1 year ago)
On a recent Synth have noticed that straight line objects are subject to much more distortion in Silverlight than Direct 3D. To me this is a definite disadvantage as am dealing with mechanical elements. Anyone else agree?
TonyErnst (Over 1 year ago)
solidimage70 - could you post a link to an example?  navigate to the specific image/zoom level where you see this, and then click the email button.  This will created a link that preserves the pose.  Thanks.
Nathanael (Over 1 year ago)

The Silverlight viewer has two quality modes: high and low (whereas the Direct3D viewer only had high). This affects the number of polygons used to construct the quads that the photos are projected onto. Essentially, the higher the number of polygons, the less risk of inaccuracies per misaligned vertices.

Use the [q] key to toggle between these two modes. I believe the default is currently set to low quality upon loading any new synth as that should give a slightly higher framerate (smoother movement) which is sorely needed in the Silverlight viewer. If I am wrong, I would love to be corrected.

As to how many polygons are used in high quality mode in the Silverlight viewer vs. the Direct3D viewer, I do not know as I don't have any software set up to capture that sort of information. I'd be interested in hearing from the viewer team on that, though.
douglas (Over 1 year ago)
  by default the Silverlight viewer uses the high polygon mode when it loads.  Each image you see on screen is made from 32 triangles in high quality and 18 in low quality (4x4x2 vs 3x3x2).  There may be some difference between the modes.  The real issue is that the Silverlight viewer is CPU only, rendering the PointCloud takes a number of CPU cycles and rendering the images also takes CPU cycles, if you use the 'p' key to toggle to pointcloud only or images only you will see the viewer run smoother than when both images+pointclouds are visible.

We are looking into how this can be improved in the future,  if you have been following the Silverlight3 beta release you will see they have added some support for true 3D perspective rendering which will allow the Silverlight viewer to look good even for straight lines once we can take advantage of it, vs the "fake" 3D we are using right now in the Silverlight viewer by using multiple triangles.

Nathanael (Over 1 year ago)
Thanks for the details, Mark. I was definitely all ears when the details of Silverlight 3 were announced at MIX09. Unfortunately I can't say that I have a firm grasp of how far the hardware acceleration actually extends. I can understand how the perspective 3D running on a video card will be good for speeding the quads up and freeing some CPU cycles but it seems that the Deep Zoom implementation of Seadragon as well as the point cloud are all going to still be calculated on the CPU, so I'm keeping my hopes for performance improvements reigned in pretty tight until I actually go hand's on with your SL3 build.

SolidImage70, apologies for hijacking your thread. Be sure to get the viewer team those links to where you were seeing the most problems. Just use the envelope icon to the right of the synth to get a link for your current location in the synth and paste here as necessary.
solidimage70 (Over 1 year ago)

This is the link to the start of the synth. Distortion occurs if you do a right or left sweep by moving the mouse pointer. But the sweep is lost if you move off to click the envelope to record the link for this.  This distortion (bent conn rod !) does not occur in direct 3D  viewer. 

I understand this is hardware related and my video card is not the latest but this is a direct comparison between Direct 3D and Silverlight. Sorry for delay in replying - not unknown for oldies to "loose the thread" !

Maybe the concept of using a series of CAD pictures to create a synth is totally wrong anyway. 
Interested in your comments.
Nathanael (Over 1 year ago)
My quick reaction is just that those shiny CAD models need to be textured with a nonrepetitive texture as Photosynth analyses texture rather than shape or edges.
Nathanael (Over 1 year ago)
As a tangent, I highly reccomend tree trunks for the new Photosynth user to learn what makes a great point cloud. Quite fitting, I think. :)
solidimage70 (Over 1 year ago)
Yes - if you check my synth "Lisa's litter" it had the equivalent of a tree trunk and was 100% synthy.  The CAD pics are 0%!  Thanks for the hint.
auracle111 (Over 1 year ago)
one of my synths just outright does not work for me in the new viewer. only the first two photos will load and i can't click through to anything else. link:

the old viewer works beautifully on this one for me.

please, i love the d3d experience. don't get rid of it. as it stands, if you make the full switch i likely won't be makng any more photosynths.
TonyErnst (Over 1 year ago)
Auracle - I just tried your synth and it's working just fine for me with both the silverlight and D3D viewers.  Is it possible you had some connection problems when using the SL viewer?  I want to make sure there isnt something else going on here, so please try again and let me know if you're still seeing this issue.  You can reply back to this thread or just email me directly.  Thanks, Tony.
Marvin (Over 1 year ago)
Hi Auracle.
I added a comment to the synth.  Based on your "i can't click through", it sounds like you're trying to navigate only using the "quad neighbors".  The current version of the silverlight viewer doesn't always display all those neighbors (it's a bug we've just fixed).  Meanwhile, could you please try the little arrows on the bottom panel, repeatedly pressing "space", or trying to go to 2D mode?  If you still cannot find all 20 images, I'd like to hear about that.
auracle111 (Over 1 year ago)
tony, marvin, thank you for your prompt response and concern. it's much appreciated.

no connection issues for me in showing synths.

indeed, my largest concern with the silverlight viewer with regards to that particular synth was that the 'quad neighbours' aspect didn't work. 2d mode worked fine, pressing play worked fine. but to me, the photosynth experience *is* the ability to click through at will using the quad neighbours. hence my comment that it 'didn't work'. i loaded the synth up for a friend (unaware of the viewer change), and couldn't 'click through' to any other pictures. whereas previously my demostrations were natural, enjoyable, and impressive, this demostration of your technology was underwhelming.

auracle111 (Over 1 year ago)
i *really* love the d3d experience. i thoroughly applaud your development of it. high frame rate, easy quad neighbour action, smooth and natural feel. it is a marvelous piece of technology. and showing others a synth in that viewer always elicits a 'wow', for sure. to me, it is the ultimate synth experience.

yet i understand you need to reach as many people as possible to remain viable and appreciate that some growing pains in that direction are necessary. it must be challeging to rebuild a new viewer that will transparently work on as many platforms as possible. i understand that at first some watering down is necessary. i wonder though... is there any way to default the silverlight to a better frame rate? to mimic the feel of d3d's quad neighbours transistions? that alone for me would make the new experience much more palatable.
auracle111 (Over 1 year ago)
finally, thank you for the photosynth experience, watered down for other platforms or otherwise.
douglas (Over 1 year ago)
Hi auracle111,
  thanks for your feedback - in terms of getting a better framerate in the Silverlight viewer, what kind of computer do you have?  Is the framerate really bad?  One thing you can do is to press the 'p' key to turn off the pointcloud and show images only since that will reduce the amount of processing on the CPU per frame (although not ideal since the pointcloud is part of the photosynth experience).  We are actively working on improving the Silverlight viewer and hopefully it will be able to match the smoothness of the D3D viewer within a few more iterations of the Silverlight runtime.

auracle111 (Over 1 year ago)
my comp is strong enough to run the d3d viewer transparently, without hiccups. the lower frame rate i experience with the silverlight viewer is due to the viewer, not a lack of processing power.

per your question, i would not describe the framerate as 'bad', simply as lower than the d3d viewer. you must know what i mean though, mark. a direct comparison of the two viewers and the lower frame rate and more rigid transitions of the silverlight viewer are obvious.

ps. happy to give feedback. i love your product!