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bluemonkey

Oculus Rift - walkthrough - advice please

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We've been doing some interior renders and walkthrough movies for a client for a number of years and they now want to start looking at doing similar stuff using oculus rift or similar for interiors. I'd like to keep using FormZ as my modeller but obviously need to end up producing something in unity?

 

Are any of you guys currently working this way? 

Can you recommend any forums/websites/books?

Is unity the only answer or are there alternatives?

Best workflow working with unity - what intermediate software would you recommend?

 

All advice would be greatly appreciated - currently finding info a bit thin on the ground. Other peoples workflows are always interesting to see.

 

Thanks.

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not using unity, but maybe this could be interesting for you. i'm using lightwave for rendering my FZ projects. a few days ago a third party developer released a very interesting plugin which basically makes any LW scene an immersive render environment. maybe interesting for you? the FZ - LW connection is quite well working, FZ always had excellent LWO output.

 

http://www.liberty3d.com/store/tools/liberty3d-tools/ubercam/

 

cheers

 

markus

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Working in Oculus Rift is a whole different kettle to Unity but check out this page (and the embedded videos) for a look at some emerging technologies.

 

https://www.thefoundry.co.uk/about-us/news-awards/the-future-of-vr/

 

As for Unity itself, Packtpub released a useful guide last year - https://www.packtpub.com/hardware-and-creative/building-architectural-walkthrough-using-unity-video

 

But I think it's also worth keeping an eye on Autodesk Stingray which is soon to be released. The great thing with Stingray is that it's going to be bundled with Maya LT for $30 a month. Really looks like a promising technology for interactive archviz walk-through's.

 

http://www.autodesk.com/products/stingray/overview

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Thanks for the tips guys - will investigate further and report back.

 

I personally don't think unity is the answer (although it currently seems to be the only option) - Unity does seem like a sledgehammer to crack a walnut. I'd love to see a more straightforward workflow for architects/designers etc. to create immersive experiences.

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For what it's worth, I've had some success saving out from FormZ as .dae, then using Autodesk's free .fbx converter to get into Unity w/textures somewhat intact. I haven't taken it much beyond that yet.

 

Unity 5 is pretty new, and a lot of the tutorials out there are for older versions, so that's a bit of a challenge too.

 

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..."sledgehammer to crack a walnut"

 

For architectural designing purposes, having a transparent background right in the modeling window would tidily open up the walnut for wholesome extraction of the meat…  With lower outdoor lighting, or interior lighting conditions- One can use physical laser lines in the physical space to control the warp and align the modeling window- The camera view is displayed by same or other ap, in a window underneath the modeling window. (For mid day sun, the same physical setup can be saved and rerun in the sun).

 

http://plslaser.com/products/continuous-line-lasers

post-57-0-94600900-1439029177_thumb.jpeg

 

My expectation is that this approach with mixed tooling and eventually with tuned up product support, will eventually improve actual building with physical materials. Especially for organic structure and the potentials of large extrusion materials on building sites.

 

This is almost possible, except that…  One needs a modeling software which provides a transparent background.   ~Bo

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Thanks for your advice folks - thought I'd just give you an update.

 

I tried out Stingray and while it's nice to use and the rendering is good it doesn't support the latest version of oculus (.7) and this won't be resolved until stingray 1.1 is released (sometime soon!)

 

So I ended up using unity free - which is great. It's quite tricky to get started however there are loads of tutorials out there.

 

Rich's workflow using .dae works quite well. Then either use fbx converter as suggested or use maya/mayLT to convert to .fbx

 

The hardest part for me has lighting and texturing - the methods seem so different to using FMZ.

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In the mean time any top tips on 'meshing' objects before exporting them. I've had a couple of problems with some objects and can't figure what Maya/Unity would prefer.

 

Also - autodesk - please can we have .fbx export sometime soon and an improvement of UV mapping would be great.

 

Otherwise - Thanks for a great forum - all you guys are great!

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Hi Bluemonkey,

 

Great, good to hear that your process is working fairly well.  Does choosing the option to Triangulate All Faces help with the translation?  Also, if you are using the current version of formZ, and you have Smooth objects in your file, does choosing the new High Quality Smoothing option help?

 

And FBX is a format we are working on for the future.  ;)

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Thanks. I'm currently using v7 so it exports textures. Will probably upgrade to 8.5 in the next week or so.

 

I was wondering - is a better way of meshing and optimising my geometry before export - any advice or tutorials?

 

Thanks for all your help and I'll continue to report back any further breakthroughs or success I have.

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Hi Bluemonkey,

 

If you have Smooth geometry, you can use the Polygon Mesh tool.  But if you are using the current version, exporting as .OBJ and using the High Quality Smoothing option should give the best results.  (You can import OBJ files with All Triangles directly into Unity if you like.)

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Hi Bluemonkey,

 

Great, good to hear that your process is working fairly well.  Does choosing the option to Triangulate All Faces help with the translation?  Also, if you are using the current version of formZ, and you have Smooth objects in your file, does choosing the new High Quality Smoothing option help?

 

And FBX is a format we are working on for the future.   ;)

 

Good to here FBX is coming. I'm sure it's a pain providing support for both CAD and DCC workflows but it definitely seems that FBX has won the format war for interchange in the DCC realm (alongside Alembic for high end FX workflows). For me, the importance of FBX with regards to FormZ is that it provides powerful interchange to both offline and real-time rendering workflows (e.g. Maya/Modo as well Unity/Unreal Engine etc). Geometry interchange will be even better if you provide support for OpenSubDiv with your Catmull–Clark subdivsion surfaces too (that way subdivision models can be interchanged as low poly cages in a non destructive workflow - both to and from FormZ).

 

@Bluemonkey, with regards to high quality smoothing (in the DAE/OBJ export options). It's probably best avoided for workflows to Unity as the meshes will more than likely be too dense for a real time engine. If Unity/Oculus is an important priority for your clients you should probably get a license for Maya LT or Modo Indie as these will enable you to bake down normal maps based on high resolution meshes to low poly geometry. They both have excellent UV tools too. Modo Indie is an absolute steal - $10 a month, with minimal restrictions (4K render/baking resolution and 100k poly limit on OBJ/FBX interchange). Maya LT is $30 a month and less restrictive on OBJ/FBX poly limits but doesn't contain an integrated render engine.

 

Another consideration for working with Unity is a PBR (Physically Based Rendering) texturing workflow. The suite of tools available from Allegorithmic will be a real help here as they're optimised for real time rendering engines such as Unity. Yet again you'll need Modo Indie/Maya LT for the interchange of UV mapped assets but they make the process of texturing real time assets so much easier (great for working with offline renderers too, especially those based on physically based shaders such as those found in Modo Indie, Vray, Arnold etc). You can get their complete suite for $20 a month on an innovative rent to own scheme (16 rental payments to own, which you can stop and start at any point you choose without penalty)

 

https://www.allegorithmic.com/products/substance-live

 

FormZ is a great application but you will need specialist polygonal modeling tools to work fluently with real time rendering engines such as Unity. This isn't a criticism of FormZ it's just a matter of ensuring you have the right tools for the job at hand. The really great thing with real-time tools is they're incredibly good value so cost needn't be a barrier to deepening one's knowledge. 

Edited by jonmoore

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Thanks Jon,

 

I'm currently using MayaLT as part of my transfer process and will dig into this further. I realise not one bit of software will be the answer to everything and I'm just trying to find a workflow that works for me.

 

I prefer FmZ as my main modelling tool and I have other ongoing projects using it, however moving cad/3d projects from one bit of software to another has always been a struggle but it has got better over the years.

 

Thank you so much for your input and will post an update if I get any further breakthroughs incase it's of use to anyone else, or if anyone can point me towards shortcuts.

 

 

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Thanks Jon,

 

I'm currently using MayaLT as part of my transfer process and will dig into this further. I realise not one bit of software will be the answer to everything and I'm just trying to find a workflow that works for me.

 

I prefer FmZ as my main modelling tool and I have other ongoing projects using it, however moving cad/3d projects from one bit of software to another has always been a struggle but it has got better over the years.

 

Thank you so much for your input and will post an update if I get any further breakthroughs incase it's of use to anyone else, or if anyone can point me towards shortcuts.

 

There's an integrated baking render engine in Maya LT called Turtle. Many people miss this as it's not enabled by default (you enable it via the plugin manager). There's plenty of support material available from ADSK for Turtle. 

 

If you don't like the UV unwrapping tools in Maya (these were improved significantly in the 2015/2016 revisions). It's worth taking a look at 3d Coat. Whilst this is mainly known for it's sculpting/painting tools, it's UV unwrapping tools are it's hidden treasure, pure simplicity. Definitely worth downloading the demo if nothing else.

 

Unless FormZ gains UV unwrapping tools of it's own (and I'm not sure how much of a priority this is as UV unwrapping is a complex business and seems to go against the ethos of FormZ in terms if simple workflows) you're definitely going to need to master this in Maya LT (or suchlike). Game engines unfortunately are built around UV unwrapping workflows at the moment. There's hope that UV free workflows such as Ptex will catch on over time with real-time engines but this still hasn't gone beyond an Nvidia tech demo.

 

 

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Thanks Jon, will investigate Turtle and 3Dcoat.

 

I'm currently digging into the black arts of UV at the moment - I realise this is the key to getting the best results. It does seem very alien to my usual workflow though.

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Why is a walk-through important?  I can guess the goal is to experience the Architecture "as though you were there", right?  I have yet to experience a quality architectural VR walkthrough simulation, created by even by the most experienced experts...that completely eliminates nausea.  The reason in my experience is the motion that you get from "walking through" an architectural space with a VR headset on, its inherently disorienting.   In my view at the current time and with the current software options out there walthroughs are a pain and not really worth it.  You've got to deal with model and texture optimization, baking lighting, etc.  All very complex and delicate stuff which is extremely hardware limited.  I've got a DK2, FormZ, Maxwell, and Unity, and after a lot of experimentation I've come to that conclusion, that there may be a better bang for buck option. 

 

Quality rendered 3d stereoscopic still images, they're easy and impressive, delivering most of the same effect.  If you have Maxwell, V3.2 now has spherical stereoscopic rendering, and you can do this all right out of FormZ.  You can render out a camera to this lens type at high resolution.  Then if you have a DK2, download Whirligig software for viewing these images.  Place them into Whiligig's media folder, and launch the program on the DK2.  Select Barrel as the distortion method and the FOV to 360 degrees and you get a pretty impressive experience.   What's great is that you can launch 4 of these renders at night and go home and check them out in the morning, pause and restart the renderings, do mulilight renderings, etc...its all pretty pain free.  Textures and lighting are easy, and the model doesn't have to be tailor made for it.  If you are on GearVR then it'll be even easier to view these, as I understand it the consumer version is planning for viewing these types of images natively.

 

A major benefit is that you can do this out of FormZ at any level of the design, on the fly (schematic design, etc.).  Unless you plan on doing VR simulations as your main job, why not wait for improved software that does quality simulations painlessly, without all the technical foibles (baking, etc) that are required today?  

 

Paul Schuyler

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Hi Paul,

 

The short answer is - "it's what the client wants" - and my job is to find the easiest way to get the best results. 

 

They also want a certain level of interactivity and mixing media which is probably only possible going this route. The finished product will be a bit more than an architectural walkthru'.

 

I agree that there are already great other alternatives with easier workflows (I've dabbled with spherical/cubic panoramas in the past - though not stereoscopic ones - sounds very interesting and I'll have a look - thanks!)

 

This was just my call out for a bit of technical advice on workflows from other FMZ'ers and maybe share a bit of my journey incase it's of any use to anyone else. The art of getting your 3d models from one bit of software to another is always a challenge/compromise and I'm always interested to see other peoples workflows.

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The short answer is - "it's what the client wants" - and my job is to find the easiest way to get the best results. 

 

They also want a certain level of interactivity and mixing media which is probably only possible going this route. The finished product will be a bit more than an architectural walkthru'.

 

I agree that there are already great other alternatives with easier workflows (I've dabbled with spherical/cubic panoramas in the past - though not stereoscopic ones - sounds very interesting and I'll have a look - thanks!)

 

This was just my call out for a bit of technical advice on workflows from other FMZ'ers and maybe share a bit of my journey incase it's of any use to anyone else. The art of getting your 3d models from one bit of software to another is always a challenge/compromise and I'm always interested to see other peoples workflows.

 

For what it's worth I think you'll be rewarded in the long run for exploring the workflows required for uniting CAD workflows with real time rendering / game engines. Many of the things you learn will be redundant fairly quickly due to the shifting sand nature of emerging technologies but you'll be part of the journey. And the fact that you have a paying client willing to explore that journey eases the pain of that ever shifting path.

 

I'm not sure myself whether Unity/Oculus will be the dominant force in the architectural field once the technology matures but it will certainly be a platform that delivers great innovation. Gaming engineers have been specialists in immersion for a good number of years and the move to stereoscopic will be a natural progression.

 

I think the likes of Bentley/E-on are best placed to simplify the workflow for those working in fields such as architecture. Lumion is after all a gaming engine under the hood (albeit one with stabiliser wheels). ADSK are likely to push Stingray in this direction too as the average Revit user doesn't want to be bothered by even more complexity outside of their specialist field.

 

The whole AR/VR thing is undoubtedly overly hyped at the moment but that's not to say it's not leading somewhere of value. Lucky you for having a client that's willing to invest in emerging technologies. It certainly beats having to invest the R&D time out of your own pocket. :)

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I've been doing real time stuff in LumenRT, now owned by Bentley, and it is pretty easy to work with and gives impressive results quickly if you have a great nVidia cuda-based graphics card. Currently they have a Revit and SketchUp export plugin. From LumenRT Studio you can then pre-script a real time animation or just start walking/flying. Once you've done that, you can save an executable file for Windows or Mac and have your logo burned into a corner. Clients absolutely love it. The compelling thing for small studios is the price is still decent for it. 

 

I'm interested in finding a workflow for Cardboard now. Stereoscopic panoramic environments that play on a phone are huge for clients because it's so easy to configure on the fly, there aren't wires hanging off your face, and it really feels like you're there (until you try to walk!). I think I've finally come up with something that'll work for this, because like other VR tech, this really is the wild west right now. I will hopefully have something I can share in the future about how to do this with a fairly uncomplicated workflow.

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FXPHD have released two excellent training courses this year that cover many aspects of VR workflows. Their courses aren't the cheapest (the best value option is $349 for three courses) but they do come with 6 month licenses (via VPN) to a host of high end DCC software packages including Maya, Modo, C4D, Nuke, V-Ray and Mari. Each course comes as a set of 10 lectures and you can view the first two lectures of all available courses for the first two weeks after you sign up - that way you're able to ensure you pick the most suitable courses to your needs.

 

These are the VR courses:

 

https://www.fxphd.com/fxphd/courseDetails.php?idCourse=490

 

https://www.fxphd.com/fxphd/courseDetails.php?idCourse=503

 

And this is a free 40 minute preview from the second of these courses.

 

https://www.fxphd.com/blog/vrl201/

 

I highly recommend FXPHD as they're a cut above the usual that's available via Lynda.com or Digital Tutors. It's more akin to enrolling at a local college and the tutors provide plenty of support via the forums too.

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I recently saw a demo of Google Cardboard that was incredible, especially for the price.  I've played with the Oculus, and even experienced a road racing demo on it.  In my experience Google Cardboard is everybit as good, yet drastically cheaper.  

 

As I understand it, to develop walkthroughs, we basically need to be able to have (2) simultaneous camera views, 3-4" apart.  That's really all it takes to trick the mind into seeing things in 3D.  Generating animations this way should be pretty easy with the appropriate camera setting, and enough time to let both videos generate.  However, doing LIVE walkthroughs this way is going to be really tough depending on the size of your scene, and the capability of your graphics card.  Interactive Shaded mode could likely be pulled off, but I doubt a polished rendered scene could be done this way in the near future.  We'll all need Titan level graphics cards and CUDA based rendering to see that leap, IMHO.

 

I'm really excited about this VR possibility.  

 

Tech - How hard would it be to implement a special camera option that automatically generates (2) views (3-4" apart) when rendering or animating?  

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I recently saw a demo of Google Cardboard that was incredible, especially for the price.  I've played with the Oculus, and even experienced a road racing demo on it.  In my experience Google Cardboard is everybit as good, yet drastically cheaper.  

 

I find the field of AR/VR very exciting and have had the pleasure of demoing most of the available technologies including Oculus, Google Cardboard, Hololens, and Gear VR.

 

As somebody else mentioned these are all frontier technologies and what we'll have access to in 5 years time when things begin to mature will be so much more refined. And I can see AR as being the more useful technology outside of entertainment once things settle.

 

My view on Cardboard is that it's a very clever update of the venerable View Master - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/View-Master- which incidentally is being re-released using Google Cardboard as it's enabling technology. Such fond memories of my 70's childhood!  :)

 

But I'm not sure that Cardboard will compete with the experiences offered by Oculus/Hololens etc. The science behind stereoscopic optics is nothing new (the View-Master was original released in 1939) but created a fully immersive world with high enough frame rates to avoid motion sickness or horrendous panoramic distortions from Go Pro camera rigs (in the case of 360 AR) is a whole different kettle.

 

Really exciting watching this stuff evolve though.

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Hi Justin,

 

Yes, we are investigating stereo viewing for the not too distant future.   ;)

 

Thanks all for the interesting discussion and opinions!

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