Capturing Virtual Worlds to Virtual Cinema : How To

We’ve just read once, twice, three times this most excellent tutorial / thought piece by D Coetzee, entitled “Capturing Virtual Worlds: A Method for Taking 360 Virtual Photos and Videos“.

The article gets into the dirty details of how we might transform a high-powered, highly interactive VR experience into a compact* file sharable with all our friends on a multitude of platforms (cardboard, mergeVR, oculus, webVR, etc)

Having spent a great deal of time figuring out these strategies ourselves, its good to see someone articulate the challenge, the process, and future development paths so well.

360 3d panorama thin strip stitching

Most accessible present-day solution: a script that renders thin vertical strips with a rotating stereo camera array, then stitches into the final panorama

Enjoy.

  • the term “compact” is used here liberally. A typical 5 minute VR experience might weigh in at 500MB for the download. Transforming this into a 120MB movie might be considered lightweight… for VR. Time to beef up your data plans, kiddies. And developers, say it with me now : algorithmic content :)

 

Unity 5 port complete

Well, the port to Unity 5 took a bit longer than expected. Then again, what port doesn’t? Overall, we’re very happy with the more robust namespace support in code, and the physically based shader model. It took quite some time to re-tool all our custom shaders into a PBR model, but once done, the results are spectacular, no pun intended.

R2-PBR-shaders

R2D2 with the new PBR in Unity5. We’re loving that blue-alloy metal look!

And, we finally solved the mascara issue with all our character models, which we created in Mixamo’s excellent Fuse product. For those techies / artists out there: the trick is to duplicate the existing Legacy/Diffuse-Bump shader for each character, keep the textures and normals, and set the shader model to “Standard / Specular / Fade” with a smoothness of 1.0. Do the same with the eyes, and you’ll have that beautiful “twinkle in the eyes” that all pseudo-living avatars should properly exhibit.

Luke finally drops the mascara and gets real eyebrows -- and a spark

Luke finally drops the mascara and gets real eyebrows — and a spark

In other news, our friends at Magic Leap released their first actual concept video. Just single-player for now, but fun stuff nonetheless.

That’s all for today.

Onward.