OpenMovieVR: First ambiVR movie!

OpenMovieVR: First ambiVR movie!

More goodies are coming to OpenMovieVR!  ambiVR “Caminandes LLamigos” will be the first open movie ever with a movie event based environment change. This will switch your VR environment based on certain key scenes in the movie, a technology we like to call ambiVR (a term coined by none other than Ton Roosendaal) . In case you purchased the OpenCamcorder (which allows you to play your own movies), you can switch to any movie environment anytime once the camcorder is plugged in. So you have an even greater variety of scenes to watch your own movies in! We are planning to bring this to all the movies we already have in our app, and of course to all future open movies too.  Let it snow Caminandes takes place in a snowy environment. So of course we had to add a little bit of real-time snow to the scene, right? But don’t worry, it will stop when you play one of your own movies. :) Recenter Scene One common feature request was the ability to recenter the scene, in case you find a different chair rotation more comfortable and don’t want to constantly turn your neck in order to see the screen. You can find the recenter button within the player controls below the TV screen once a movie is playing.  So we hope you enjoy OMVR 2.1! In the meantime we continue to work on more content. There’s a lot on our todo list: BigBuckBunny, Sintel, Elephants Dream, etc…... read more
VRAIS Tools

VRAIS Tools

Even though we didn’t find the time recently to put as much love into our free VR viewer VRAIS as we would like to, we still use it in our daily VR workflow. It’s one of our main tools to quickly view and test our VR renderings internally. Once we need to collaborate with others, for instance when we need to have clients commenting on our renderings, we use revizapp.com, an interactive VR review tool from our colleagues Mikavaa. But that’s a different story… :) Point is, we wrote a Blender addon to make our lives easier: it’s a tool that helps you setup your scene for either equirectangular or for cubemap rendering, and, most importantly, let’s you create the cubemap stripe from inside Blender and upload the final result to vrais.io – including title, description and convergence. Installation To install the vrais tools, simply download the vrais_tools.py script to your computer and install it as a Blender Addon from your User Preferences: https://github.com/blendfx/blender/blob/master/vrais_tools.py The VRAIS Tools will appear in the Render section of the Properties editor in Blender. In order to be able to upload to vrais.io you first need to copy your private API key from your Account Settings on vrais.io. You find the Account Settings in the upper right corner when you’re logged in. That opens up the settings menu, where you’ll see a long and weird looking combination of letters. That’s your private API key. Then, back in Blender, open up the Addon Preferences and paste the key there. Usage This addon assumes that you use it from within your active scene. This is especially... read more
OpenMovieVR 2.0

OpenMovieVR 2.0

We just published Open Movie VR 2.0 for Google Cardboard: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.blendfx.omvr! What started as an experiment, as a virtual reality app playground, quickly became much bigger than we ever thought. We expected to get maybe a few hundred users, mainly from the Blender community, who might want to visit some of the sets from the open movies in VR. But soon we noticed that we got more and more users that never heard of Blender or the open movies at all. And apparently they loved it! Soon after we released the app for the Samsung Gear VR, we got tens of thousands of new users, meanwhile over 125.000. Awesome! We got a lot of positive feedback: Quotes “My favorite part is just how great the rooms look. Wish Netflix and Hulu could do something this polished, then I’d use those apps more. Keep up the work and excited for future videos.” Outstanding Details! So much love and work has gone into this. I can not wait for more content. Amazing graphics and don’t forget to look around! INCREDIBLE! Next level stuff! Can’t wait for more! Wish there were more movies. LOVE how the landscapes change! Please make more!!!!! Unexpected costs However, the unexpected success totally blew up our streaming costs. Because judging from the number of times people were downloading or streaming the four movies that we have online, they must have been watching them definitely more than once. And because we cannot stream Youtube in VR (for technical reasons), we had to stream from our own servers, and that started to actually cost some money. So we decided... read more

Cubemap Support is here!

Good news! In collaboration with our colleagues from Mikavaa we brought cube map support to VRAIS! Why is that interesting? Well, you can save almost a third of the rendertime. When you render equirectangular, a lot of samples are waisted on the poles. Basically, the closer you get to the poles, the more samples per pixel you get effectively, because of the way the image is being mapped to a sphere in any VR app. When you render a cubemap you don’t have that problem, each one of the six sides of the cube is being sampled consistently. Cubemap addon Natively you cannot render cubemaps in Blender. However, thanks to Dalai Felinto, there is an addon that will allow you to do just that. Here’s how to make it work: Set your Scene Dimensions to a square format. We found that for the best quality/performance ratio a scene size of 1280×1280 pixels is ideal. enable the Cube Map checkbox in the Render panel Enable stereo views for your scene. Set your camera to perspective. Set field of view to 90 degrees Enable spherical stereo rendering In the Stereoscopy Panel choose Off-Axis (default) and set convergence plane as needed. We also recommend using Pole Merging, which is available in current development builds. The defaults of 60° to 75° should be fine for starters. But you can also just leave it off, no worries. Enter a valid output path If you press render now, the add-on will create six copies of your scene in the background, while adjusting your main camera and rotating it accordingly. Then it will render out 12... read more
OpenMovieVR

OpenMovieVR

Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to watch Cosmos Laundromat together with Victor, sitting on Frank’s island and watch the sunset? Or go to the “Oude Kerk”, one of the locations from Project Mango, and watch Tears of Steel there? Well, now you can do that! You just need a Google Cardboard and a smartphone (only Android for now, iOS coming later). We put together an App to watch three of the Blender Institute’s Open Movies in VR. But why?! Isn’t that totally pointless? Yes! It is! But still, it’s fun, at least we think so. Mobile VR Also, we wanted to put together a showcase for what we can do with mobile VR. Because currently that’s really our focus here at BlendFX. The Oculus and Vive etc. are certainly super cool, but the entrance barrier for the average user is quite high, whereas mobile VR doesn’t take you more than just a Google Cardboard and your smartphone. However, smartphones are still quite limited when it comes to graphics, especially if you want to do stereo, where the scene has to be rendered twice, one for each eye, with an acceptable framerate. So instead we render everything in Blender, using the spherical stereo option to create stereoscopic panorama spheres which we then import to Unity. That way we get the best visual quality possible without sacrificing too much performance. And because Unity is a game engine we have full control over the scene and can add a bit of extra 3D content that fits into the pre-rendered panorama. We did already some experiments with our first VR app... read more
VRAIS – VR Awesome in Space

VRAIS – VR Awesome in Space

We are happy to finally provide the first update of our VR viewing and sharing app VRAIS. We introduced the first version 2 weeks ago at the Blender Conference 2015 in Amsterdam. Now we fixed many bugs and added a few new features such as drag and drop, a new GUI in VR mode and a couple of other improvements. Get it now on the playstore! Hopefully soon we’ll have the App Store version too. Here’s our talk from the Blender Conference Wait, what exactly is VRAIS? Since a couple of months we are producing VR content by rendering stereoscopic equirectangular images with Blender and Cycles. These images can be viewed with VR headsets such as the Oculus Rift or even better and more affordable the Google Cardboard (well, you still need a decent smartphone for that). We are using Blender to create these renderings. What we were missing in our pipeline though was a decent image viewer to quickly check our renderings. But since we couldn’t find a good crossplattform, easy to use VR viewing app we decided to build our own. And once we decided to do that, we thought: why not go and make it also a VR gallery where people can share there VR artwork? And because we love Blender, we named it after a famous line from one of the Blender Institute open movies Tears of Steel: „I just want to be awesome in space“: VRAIS – VR Awesome in Space!   Here’s what it does VRAIS is two things: A tool for you to view and check your own VR creations, but also to share... read more
Leipzig Summer of Code

Leipzig Summer of Code

I guess every Blender user has the dream of having his own developer sitting right next to him to code everything you want. During one of the recent „Blender Beers“, the more or less regular meet-ups of the slow but steadily growing Blender user group here in Leipzig, we decided to just make that happen. So we put together some money and hired Julian Severin Eisel, who also worked for the Blender Institute already, for 4 days to come to Leipzig and work on some workflow enhancements. In the end it was four studios from Leipzig that contributed and raised the money: blendFX, Mikavaa, Mathias Eimann and Knick Design. The Goals Of course there is only so much you can do in 4 days. So on Monday we had a meeting to discuss what we would like Severin to work on. We showed him some of the problems we have in Blender, what we would like to have improved, and how certain worklows look like in other software. Kay Dombrowsky from trickkiste.tv gave Severin a short demo of his Blackmagic’s DaVinci Resolve color grading station. It was good to also talk about some bigger topics, like for example how an improved undo-system might look like, or how you could implemented parametric mesh modeling in Blender. Hearing a developer’s opinion about that was very interesting. Not everything a user would like to have is also feasible. And because Severin’s current development focus is UI and user interaction in Blender we settled for 2 projects: Better node interaction and Custom wireframe colors.     Visual improvements of the node editor We knew... read more
Everest Trash Collector

Everest Trash Collector

Last month (March 2015) till today we worked on an app called “Everest Trash Collector”. It’s a 2D runner game for iPhone and Android (and also tablets).       More infos on the project page: LINK For the main part we used Unity3D. It’s a great tool and it was a nice challenge to combine 2D graphics from Hiroaki Ando with a 3D World (from a fix side perspective). For many elements, especially the level design and preparing images to create polygon colliders, we used Blender, which is just great and works very well in combination with Unity3D. We also uses the BakeTool to create all 64x64px vertices color maps in about 20 seconds. This app was created in collaboration with Thirdpole, blechfisch and Mikavaa. This app uses music from www.playonloop.com... read more

Interview with RenderStreet about Blendertraining

One of the things we do at blendFX is software training. Simeon and Falk have been giving company courses for the realtime mastering software ORAD, and I am producing DVDs, online courses and company training for our favorite 3D software Blender. Recently RenderStreet, one of the biggest commercial render farms for Blender, interviewed me about my training products and 3d courses as well as blendFX. Read the full interview here:... read more

The importance of Open Movies

Project Gooseberry We at blendFX think Project Gooseberry is one of the most important things happening to Blender right now. At this moment there is one day left to collect enough funding so that the crowdfunding campaign can be extended to hopefully meet its goal in 20 days from now. That’s why we want to take the chance and tell you why we think that supporting Gooseberry is the best thing you can do right now to make Blender a future proof kick-ass 3D production tool. Development vs. Testing Reading the various forums nowadays it seems that a lot of people question the Blender Foundation’s Open Movie strategy of Blender development. And it’s true, at first it seems as if it would be better to spend all the money on developers completely instead of funding a bunch of studios and artists. But the truth is, code and features have to be tested. Thoroughly. And in production. Look at how well people test the release candidates of new Blender versions. Not well at all! There are always several weeks where people can test the nightly builds and the release candidates. But even then, it’s far too often that once the final version is out, suddenly there is all kinds of new bugs showing up in the bug-tracker that can often only be found when you use Blender in production. Just opening Blender and clicking a few buttons and checking if the default cube renders is not an appropriate test. Only when you really use the bleeding edge versions of Blender in an actual production you’ll be able to find these nasty... read more

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