VRAIS tutorial
Learn how to render with Blender
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Rendering stereoscopic panoramas with Blender

We love Blender.
It's a great 3D program, and even open source. We use it for our daily work in the office to create 3D environments, renderings and FX. Especially the integrated pathtracer Cycles is a really nice renderer. Since a few months it is possible to create stereoscopic panoramic renderings with it. Here's how:

The right Blender version

Rendering stereoscopic panoramas in Blender is a bit special. Make sure you use at least Blender 2.78, which has a very important camera parameter: "Spherical Stereo". This is essential to make stereoscopic VR panorams work.

Setup

Technically it doesn't take much to render out stereoscopic panoramas. Just a shitload of render time and patience. ;) In Blender you need to configure your scene like this:

  • Render dimension: 2048x1024 for starters, and for final rendering 4096x2048 (just type in 200% in the render percentage).
  • In the Render Layers Panel, enable "Views"
  • Set your camera to Panoramic. Choose "Equirectangular" from the dropdown menu
  • Enable "spherical stereo"

Convergence

For best experience use "Off-Axis". You will need to set the convergence plane. That's the point in space where your eyes will converge. It is usually good to set the convergence plane to the main subject of your scene, because that is where looking at will be the most comfortable. In theory you could also use "Parallel". But Off-Axis will give you better results and is needed for VRAIS.

Samples

When you are rendering for VR you should avoid render noise wherever you can. Think of the VR headset as a magnifying glass, which it actually is. If you have a bit of noise that might be tolerable in a „normal“ render, it will still look horrible in VR. Noise can totally kill the stereoscopic effect. So, if you can’t afford the long render times, rather disable GI altogether and render using AO and just direct samples. It will be a lot quicker and can still look good.

Saving your renders

Blender will render two images, left and right eye, and keep them in the buffer. If you want to see your renders better in the preview window, disable stereo view in the header. Press F3 to save your image. In the dialogue, choose the file format you want (for upload it has to be JPG though, but you can convert the file later too). Set Views Format to Stereo3D. Choose „Top-Bottom“ as Stereo Mode.

VRAIS Tools

If you work with Blender you can use an addon we wrote. You can find more information about it here: http://blendfx.com/vrais-tools. Basically what it does is to setup your scene for a correct VR rendering. Even better, it let's you upload your rendering to VRAIS directly from within Blender.

Video Tutorial

VRAIS is available on the Play Store and the Apple App Store.