Notch is able to treat, animate, augment and export VR / 360 videos all in one tool with completely real-time editing and in-headset preview – an offering not available in any other package. Key to creating VR / 360 content is the ability to create your content using a VR headset, before rendering out to VR / 360 video.
There are various terms marketing terms that exist for VR / 360 Videos, but the two most common are:
360 Videos : Monoscopic videos that allow the user to look around, either in a desktop browser, Google Cardboard or a headset.
VR Videos : Stereoscopic videos, where a 360 view is rendered for each eye and composited (top & bottom) into a single video. These are much more immersive experiences on Cardboard or VR headsets.
The Notch workflow for both 360 and VR videos is the same. The only difference is that for stereoscopic rendering is enabled for VR Videos.
VR / 360 is enabled by a single additional node – the VR 360 Camera node. This camera can be placed anywhere in the scene, where it looks in all directions simultaneously with a spherical wrap.
How the VR 360 Camera works
It’s not necessary to know how the background process works, but for the curious…
The VR 360 Camera utilises cuboid multi-view rendering. For each eye, Notch renders the scene six times in the six directions of a cuboid view. The renders are then applied to a surrounding cube which seamlessly stitches the view back together, before being output to the 360 spherical map texture.
Step 1 – Creating in VR Headset
See Using Headset VR for details on how to create using a headset.
Step 2 – Setup the VR / 360 Camera
- Add the VR 360 Camera to your scene
- On the Root Node select the VR 360 Camera as your current camera.
- In VR 360 Camera:
- Move and rotate the camera to the vantage point you wish the user to see from (most likely to be the position of the VR Headset Camera you have used in creation)
- Set the Cube Face Resolution – which sets the resolution of the multiview render. For <= 4K output videos a value of 1024 will suffice.
- If you require stereoscopic (VR Video), check ‘Stereoscopic’ and tune the Interocular & Convergence Distances.
- Interocular distance : the distance between the left and right eye (in metres).
- Convergence distance : the point in the distance where the the direction/beam of the two eyes meet (in metres).
Tuning the interocular and convergence distance is critical to ensuring a comfortable and compelling 3D experience in VR Videos. You can read further about it in Understanding Comfortable Stereography – Affonso Beato
Step 3 – Previewing the VR / 360 video the headset (Optional)
It is possible to preview the output of the VR / 360 video in the headset before exporting. This is useful for checking resolution selection and Interocular & Convergence Distances.
- Set the resolution / aspect of the project, so your view is representative
- Go to Project -> Settings -> Rendering (tab)
- Set the Output Width and Height to your target resolution (3840×2160 is the lowest recommended resolution)
- Set the Output Resizing to Scale / Filter Output to Window
- Connect either your Oculus Rift or HTC Vive
- Select Devices, then choose the headset you’d like to use
- Click View -> Preview 360 on VR Headset
- Put on your headset and press play (Space Bar)
Step 4 – Export your VR / 360 video
Video specifications for 360 players are fairly strict and you need to research your target. YouTube 360 Specifications
To export to a VR 360 video:
- Ensure the Root Node’s current camera is your VR 360 Camera.
- File -> Export Video
- Select the filename, formats and resolution of the video in line with the required specifications and click OK.
Other uses of VR 360 Camera
The VR 360 Camera can be used as a source for POV mappings, either internally in Notch or with media servers that support spherical maps.