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KartaVR v2.4 Adds Mettle SkyBox Support

KartaVR v2.4 has been released and is available for download.

The KartaVR allow artists to create immersive 360° stereo composites. The immersive toolset is designed to work with Blackmagic Design’s Fusion compositing software. These macros are great for preparing pre-rendered 360° content for use in a fulldome theater, or for VR applications like media shown on an HMD (Head Mounted Display) like the Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR, HTC VIVE, OSVR, or Google Cardboard.

Update: The Domemaster Fusion Macros toolset is now called KartaVR for Fusion.

Here is a summary of the new features included in this update:

Mettle SkyBox Support

If you use Fusion along side of After Effects and the Mettle SkyBox Studio v2 plugin, you will be pleased to know that the KartaVR “Send Media to After Effects” script has been significantly updated. This script is now capable of automatically applying a SkyBox plugin effect preset to your 360° footage as soon as the media is sent from Fusion and loaded into a new After Effects composite.

The Fusion based “Edit Send Media to Preferences” dialog is where changes to the Mettle SkyBox plugin linking settings are made when you need to send media from Fusion to After Effects. This feature is accessed using the Scripts > KartaVR > Send Media to > Edit Send Media to Preferences menu item in Fusion.

The Edit Send Media to Preferences Window is used to customize the SkyBox Studio linking settings.

The Edit Send Media to Preferences window makes it easy to assign the “Mettle SkyBox Converter”, “Mettle SkyBox Project 2D”, “Mettle SkyBox Rotate Sphere”, “Mettle SkyBox Viewer” plugin effects presets to new footage, and has controls to customize the “Mettle Input”, and “Mettle Output” image projection settings.

It is also possible to apply a Dome Tilt rotation setting to the SkyBox based After Effects footage by opening up the “Edit PanoView Preferences” dialog in Fusion and enabling the “Dome Tilt” and “Dome Tilt Angle” controls. This is used to change the pitch orientation of the footage which allows you to rotate media upright.

Edit Send Media to Preferences Dialog

Send Media to Preferences Dialog

When you go to use the SkyBox Studio integration features in KartaVR you can use the following settings:

The “Mettle SkyBox” control allows you to apply a Mettle SkyBox Studio effect to your footage automatically when the media is sent to After Effects using the “Send Media to After Effects” script. You can choose one of the following options: “None”, “Mettle SkyBox Converter”, “Mettle SkyBox Project 2D”, “Mettle SkyBox Rotate Sphere”, “Mettle SkyBox Viewer”.

The “Mettle Input” control allows you to choose a Mettle SkyBox Converter input image projection for your footage when the media is sent to After Effects using the “Send Media to After Effects” script. You can choose one of the following options: “2D Source”, “Horizontal Cross Cube-map 4:3”, “Sphere-map”, “Equirectangular”, “Angular Fisheye (Fulldome)”, “Cube-map Facebook 3:2”, “Cube-map Pano2VR 3:2”, “Cube-map GearVR 6:1”, “Equirectangular 16:9”.

The “Mettle Output” control allows you to choose a Mettle SkyBox Converter output image projection for your footage when the media is sent to After Effects using the “Send Media to After Effects” script. You can choose one of the following options: “Horizontal Cross Cube-map 4:3”, “Sphere-map”, “Equirectangular”, “Angular Fisheye (Fulldome)”, “Cube-map Facebook 3:2”, “Cube-map Pano2VR 3:2”, “Cube-map GearVR 6:1”, “Equirectangular 16:9”.

360° Video Stitching Examples

Example Footage Webpage

There is a new KartaVR example footage webpage that provides paid customers with access to sample media and Fusion compositing files. These projects are used to demonstrate workflows for panoramic 360° video stitching in both mono 2D, and stereoscopic 3D outputs. There are also two examples that show how to create the popular “Tiny Planet” style image projection using Fusion.

This video shows the animated output of an equirectangular to “Tiny Planet” stereographic image projection conversion that was created using a UV pass based warping workflow in the KartaVR.

Improved PTGui BatchBuilder Integration

The KartaVR toolset has continued to improve the support for working with PTGui Pro’s “BatchBuilder” image sequence stitching feature.

BatchBuilder is able to deliver exceptionally high quality stitches of live action video footage using the same PTGui .pts project file you would stitch a single frame panorama with. This workflow is particularly useful in cases where you might have to blend camera rig footage easily that had auto-exposure enabled on the camera, or where there are large white balance and exposure differences between each of the views in your panoramic rig that would take a long time to fix manually with key-framed color correction nodes in Fusion.

As an example of the type of quality you can get using PTGui Batch Builder with Fusion Studio, here is an early morning winter panoramic scene of the West Dover Barrens in Nova Scotia, Canada.

The footage was filmed using a Peleng 8mm fisheye lens on a Sony A7Sii 360° video rig and recorded using an Atomos Ninja Flame 4K SSD video recorder.

The KartaVR were used to transcode each of the camera original QuickTime ProRes 422 HQ .mov footage files into numbered folder based TIFF LZW compressed image sequences for use in Batch Builder.

PTGui was used to prepare a single frame based .pts project file from the camera views. Then the Batch Builder feature was used from inside of PTGui to stitch the circular fisheye based image sequence footage into an equirectangular image projection.

After the stitching was completed, the KartaVR toolset was used to extract the stitched footage from the numbered folders back into a regular image sequence that was placed in a single folder.

A node based approach was used in Fusion to convert the equirectangular panorama into a flat bottom 90° FOV cubic face. This simplified the process of removing the tripod from the panorama using a paint node with a vector clone brush. The bottom tripod patched view was then converted back into an equirectangular image projection.

The final output from Fusion was a QuickTime ProRes 422 HQ movie.

This is a full frame view of the Sunny Winter Morning 360° footage.

Cross-Platform Affinity Support

Support for sending media from Fusion to Affinity Photo and Affinity Designer has been improved in this update.

With the commercial release of Affinity Photo and Affinity Designer on Windows, the KartaVR Affinity linking features now work equally well on both macOS and Windows. With the latest Affinity programs you are now able to transfer EXR format high dynamic range media from your active Fusion composite and continue to edit them in the Affinity software products.

As a tip, Affinity Photo has a really nice “Live Projection” editing mode that makes retouching equirectangular panoramas or creating sketches and drawing in 360° very intuitive. This is found in Affinity Photo under the Layer > Live Projection > Equirectangular Projection menu item.

Facebook 360 Support

This is a screenshot of the “FacebookVerticalStrip2Equirectangular” macro that is used to convert an image between the image projection formats.

Three new panoramic image conversion macros named FacebookVerticalStrip2CubicFaces, FacebookVerticalStrip2Equirectangular, and CubicFaces2FacebookVerticalStrip were added to the latest release. These nodes allow you to process imagery in the “Facebook 360” based “Facebook Vertical Strip” cubemap image projection. This format is used internally when viewing or downloading panoramic 360° photos on Facebook.

The FacebookVerticalStrip2Equirectangular macro node lets you convert a Facebook 360 downloaded cubic panoramic image back into the more common Equirectangular/Spherical/LatLong image projection.

A “Facebook Vertical Strip” panorama has all of the images flipped horizontally and the faces are oriented in the following order:

Top (Rotated 180°)
Bottom (Rotated 180°)

Generate Panoramic Blending Masks Script

The Generate Panoramic Blending Masks script is used to create a series of custom alpha masks. This masking data is used to help simplify the process of blending and stitch together footage multi-camera footage seamlessly in Fusion.

The script works by sending your currently selected loader and saver node based images to the enblend tool. A set of seamless blending mask images are then created which allows you to stitch together your multi-camera panoramic rig footage without the need for drawing manual B-Spline masks for each of the camera views.

This toolset could be used equally well for blending together panoramic 360° imagery, or for use in other seaming tasks like assembling together a large scale “mosaic” of images from aerial surveys or underwater maps, re-creating large murals, or for merging together high resolution scanned documents like maps and charts that are larger then a flatbed scanner’s platen.

Here is a mini summary tutorial on how the script is meant to be used:

Step 1. Select the loader or saver nodes you want to blend together.

Step 2. Run the “Script > KartaVR > Stitching > Generate Panoramic Blending Masks” menu item to open up the settings dialog for the blending controls.

Step 3. Adjust the settings to fit your current project’s needs. I like using the “Node Layout” Build Nodes Left option when creating masks for merge nodes. This makes the node positioning much more natural for the way I build a comp tree in Fusion where the masking nodes can fit comfortably next to the merge nodes in a horizontally building node graph.

Step 4. The new masks and the channel boolean nodes are generated and stored as comp elements in your clipboard which you can paste into any Fusion comp.

To use the newly generated masks, you connect the red colored output of the channel boolean nodes to the purple colored effect mask inputs on each of the merge nodes.