You can get animated falling snow and twinkling lights from Google+’s AutoAwesome in your Second Life winter and holiday photos. The pictures that are picked don’t have to be from the real world – they can come from virtual worlds, game worlds, scans from old scrapbooks, even stills from movies- anywhere really.
Google Can Make Snow Fall and Lights Twinkle
For the holiday season, Google announced (on a Google+ post, of course) two new AutoAwesome features – falling snow and twinkling lights that they will add to our photos – for free! The way it works is you upload qualifying pictures to your Google+ library, and Google behind the scenes will turn them into animated gifs with either falling snow or twinkling lights. All you need to trigger the falling snow is that you have some snow in your picture. To trigger the twinkling lights, you just have to have some bright lights in your picture, like a Christmas tree.
And Here Are the Pix to Prove It!
I’m going to post a few samples here, but if you want more, visit the AutoAwesome community on Google+. Everybody proudly posts their pictures there, and there are lots of good tips too.
Here’s my first Auto-Awesome’d pic: a holiday family portrait in Second Life. Below it is a pic of some beautiful winter trees that caught my eye in my friend Willow Graysmark’s sim Serenity Sea.
Tips to Get Your Pix Auto-Awesome’d
Not all your pictures get picked by Google for AutoAwesome treatment. It seems to be the luck of the draw whether your favorite picture gets chosen. Just make sure there is lots of snow, or lots of lights in your pictures, and some of them are sure to get picked. Here are a few more tricks.
- Make Sure AutoAwesome Is Enabled. Log into Google+, then pick Home, then Settings. Near the bottom is the “AutoAwesome” toggle. Make sure it’s checked, next to the words: “Create awesome new images from photos in your library.”
- You don’t need to upload multiple pictures at a time. Some people misunderstand and think you have to upload multiple pictures to get it to work (this is true only of the sequencing effect of AutoAwesome. By uploading a single picture, you’ll know soon enough whether Google+ will awesome it or not. If you upload multiple pictures at a time, Google will pick just a few from your batch. But if your favorite doesn’t get picked, it’s easy enough to resubmit it later by itself and hope.
- Don’t try to “request” a picture. There is no way to request the AutoAwesome treatment other than just uploading qualifying photos into your Google+ library. Google will do its magic behind the scenes, and you will get a notice in Google+ when a photo is is ready. Don’t worry, your original is preserved. The AutoAwesome photo will have a little sparkling icon on it, and you can search your library for all AutoAwesome’d photos in the search window in your photo library.
- Keep your photos bright. It’s okay if the background is dark or night time, but the snow and the lights must be pretty bright. That seems to help a picture get picked for AutoAwesome.
- Don’t be impatient. Most of my pictures were selected within about 15 minutes. But one time I had to go to bed and wait until morning. Google does keep its own timetable.
- Upload web-sized photos. If you plan to share your AutoAwesome photos on the web (of course you do!) be sure to keep the photo you upload into Google+ medium-sized (less than 800 pixels or so across). Resizing the animated gifs that Google produces is tricky; it’s much easier to upload your photos in the size you plan to work with.
And Now for the Sparkle …
Here are a several photos of mine that were picked for the “twinkle” Auto Awesome. The first is Santa in a trial run over Chrismas Village. The second is me in my Rudolph garb underneath those same beautiful winter trees that caught my eye in Serenity Sea. Below that is a pic of Rudolph calming a buddy’s pre-Christmas jitters at my home in “The Bay Area” in Farhaven.
Creativity on AutoAwesome
To give you an idea how far you can go with AutoAwesome, Google Plus member Mark Traphagen while watching the movie White Christmas decided to snap a photo of the climactic scene when the general first sees snow on Christmas Eve. Sure enough, Google AutoAwesome’d it with gently falling snow. Awwwww, beautiful! You can see it here.
AutoAwesome is a wide-ranging feature that was introduced back in May. The Christmas falling snow and twinkling lights were just added this week. An early Christmas present!
Auto Awesome makes all kinds of animated gifs from your photos. For example, take a minimum of 5 shots that are similar in composition, similar static backgrounds and motion in the foreground, upload (or have auto-backup on) and Google will stitch the frames together into an animated image. So you can (and people do!) have sleds going down hills, dogs grabbing treats, and well, pretty much anything that moves. In real life, there are some limits since things more or less have to happen in order to take pictures of them (well, with the help of Photoshop). But in Second Life, we can build the world we want Google to animate. A scary thought. 🙂