I’m hearing more and more that 2017 will be the big year for VR. With that in mind, I’ve launched the latest Domemaster3D version 2.2.2 release in time for the New Year’s celebrations.
The Domemaster3D toolset is a popular plugin that creates panoramic 360° renderings that are used in planetariums and in the pre-rendered cinematic 360VR field.
What’s New in Domemaster3D?
There are now 46 shelf items in the Maya based Domemaster3D shelf. That’s quite a few tools to choose from!
I took the time on this update to re-write the Domemaster3D provided DomeViewer, StarGlobe, Galaxy Creator, and DomeText tools so they now work with Maya 2017’s new workspace control UI mode. This means the previous “dockable” style windows are back in action and work better than ever in Maya 2017.
DomeViewer Goes Stereo 3D
The DomeViewer tool has a collection of new stereoscopic 360VR features to improve your desktop based media playback experience.
You can now load your 360° Side by Side Stereo, Over Under Stereo, and Stereo Image Pair media into the DomeViewer UI. When combined with the DomeViewer’s already astounding ability to display 23 different image projections you have a very capable VR media viewer that can be accessed from inside of Maya.
The DomeViewer’s stereo modes work equally well on macOS, Windows, and Linux. The stereo system also ties into Maya’s native stereo viewport features so you can take advantage of support for stereo 3D capable monitors, or you could even go with the always affordable option of just grabbing a pair of classic anaglyph red/cyan 3D glasses and getting down to work.
A handy feature of the DomeViewer tool is that you can load in still images, image sequences, or movie files. The image and image sequence modes support all of the high bit-depth HDRI formats that Maya can display in the viewport window like EXR media. DomeViewer relies on Maya’s movie node to load in video files so the supported formats and playback performance varies on each platform.
The DomeViewer program also supports the new “Facebook Vertical Strip Cubemap” format. This makes it possible to display panoramic 360° imagery that you might have downloaded from Facebook 360 that is encoded in the newest Facebook image projection format. I’m not 100% sure but I think I am the first person to create a 3rd party viewer that supports this new Facebook 360VR format.
The Facebook Vertical Strip Cubemap faces are all flipped horizontally and positioned in the format:
|top (Rotated 180°)|
|bottom (Rotated 180°)|
Loading Gear VR Stereo Imagery in the DomeViewer
An especially nice feature of the DomeViewer tool is that it has full cross-platform support and works on every OS that can run Maya. This means you now have a media viewer option that can work equally well on Windows, macOS, and Linux for displaying formats like Gear VR/Octane Render ORBX/V-Ray Render formatted stereo cubic imagery.
This cross-platform support is something of a rarity in the current VR industry as many companies are taking a “Windows” only approach. I see this as a negative thing that serves to limit 3D artists’ freedom and ability to choose the exact hardware and operating systems they want to use.
If you want to load a Gear VR stereoscopic 360° “Horizontal Strip Cubemap” in the DomeViewer tool you would use the following settings:
Panorama Format: Gear VR Cube
Media Type: Still Image
Stereo Format: Side by Side Stereo
Stereo Display: Full Color Anaglyph
Image Name: (Select your panoramic image)
Note: If your graphics card has a limited amount of VRAM video memory (like a laptop grade mobile GPU) you might need to scale the Gear VR cubic panorama down slightly in a photo editing program in advance from the default 18,432 pixel frame width. This is only required if the Gear VR stereo image shows up as a flat un-textured grey surface in the Maya viewport.
Domemaster3D Interactive Viewport
In my previous blog post on Domemaster3D I mentioned that mental ray 3.14 added an interactive viewport rendering mode that is available in Maya 2016 and 2017. I’ve added a Domemaster3D Viewport IPR shelf tool in the version 2.2.2 release that takes advantage of this mental ray feature.
The IPR Viewport tool creates a new torn off “persp” viewport window using your active camera view. This window has the mental ray 3.14 based interactive viewport rendering mode active which provides an efficient and responsive way to preview the camera framing in a 360 degree panoramic scene with a mental ray lens shader active.
If you need to switch the active camera view in the floating IPR Viewport window, the easiest thing to do is to use the “View > Cycle Through Cameras” menu item. Then you can re-enable the mental ray mode again in the viewport’s “Renderer” menu.
When the IPR Viewport window is created it is set to use the same aspect ratio as your final rendered imagery. The viewport is created using your current Maya “Test Resolution” setting in the Maya Render View window, and then auto-sized down to fit on your monitor if the IPR Viewport window would be larger than your entire Maya window resolution.
A Smarter Domemaster3D Installer
The Domemaster3D installer is now more intelligent than previous releases.
What this means is that the installer program will automatically check for the existence of each of the supported Domemaster3D compatible renderers on your system. If the installer finds a compatible renderer/CG package then it will pre-select those checkboxes in the Domemaster3D “Select Components” installer screen.
V-Ray 3.4 for 3ds Max 2014-2017 Lens Shaders
A new collection of Domemaster3D for V-Ray 3.4 lens shaders is available in the Domemaster3D installer that work with 3ds Max 2014 – 2017. This means V-Ray users now have a copy of the Domemaster3D lens shaders available for every supported version of 3ds Max.
These updated lens shaders have several unique features added by Roberto Ziche to the latest V-Ray for 3ds Max Domemaster3D source code. There are new controls for automatic zenith and nadir stereoscopic pole correction, and a “hemi-rect” partial equirectangular rendering mode that creates a cropped LatLong Stereo output.