PlayblastVR for Softimage - Panoramic Hardware Rendering


Version 1.4 - 2016-11-11
by Andrew Hazelden

Twitter: @AndrewHazelden
Email: andrew@andrewhazelden.com
Web: www.andrewhazelden.com
Google+: plus.google.com/+AndrewHazelden/

PlayblastVR Rendering Space Station scene created by Illusive Studios

Table of Contents

Support

If you have a support question for PlayblastVR you can contact the author via email: andrew@andrewhazelden.com

Overview

PlayblastVR is a new renderer for Softimage that creates hardware rendered panoramic 360 degree images using OpenGL. The PlayblastVR renderer allows you to create immersive previz renderings of Softimage scenes in LatLong, fulldome, cylindrical, and cubic panorama formats.

PlayblastVR supports panoramic rendering output directly to YouTube 360 and Facebook 360 format movies with automatic metadata embedding and to Google Photosphere spherical panoramas.

PlayblastVR can render Softimage scene elements such as animated polygon and NURBS geometry, lights, ICE, hair and fur, cloth sims, and procedurally generated shading networks.

After a PlayblastVR panoramic batch sequence rendering is complete it can be sent to an Oculus Rift or viewed using a video playback tool like DJV Viewer, Adobe SpeedGrade, Amateras Dome Player, Assimilate Scratch and Scratch Player, Kolor Eyes, GoPro VR Player, Whirligig, VLC, VLCwarp Player, QuickTime Player, RV, Live View Rift, and the Softimage Flipbook.

PlayblastVR previz renderings will save you time and money because hardware based panoramic renderings make better use of the artist’s time. Using PlayblastVR will also free up your render nodes from having to use a slower software based production renderer to output your animation test renderings into a panoramic format.

Installing PlayblastVR

Addon Install

PlayblastVR is distributed as a Softimage based "Addon" module, and as a manual install option of the expanded Addon folder contents.

Step 1. Install the PlayblastVR for Softimage Addon Resources

Plugin Manager

You can easily install the included Addon/PlayblastVR.xsiaddon file on a Windows system using the regular Softimage Addon installation technique, and the scripts, tools, icons, and toolbars will be set up.

Step 2. Install the Command Map File

If you use the .xsiaddon install method, you will also need to copy the Command Map file named "Addon/Command Map/Custom Script Commands_{6BCADE59-5FB4-11D2-8D78-00A0C982A75A}.DSDynamicCommandMap" to the installed PlayblastVR Addon path of:

C:\Users\<User Account>\Autodesk\Softimage_<Version>\Addons\PlayblastVR\Application\CommandMaps\Custom Script Commands_{6BCADE59-5FB4-11D2-8D78-00A0C982A75A}.DSDynamicCommandMap

Then you can restart Softimage and this will set up the PlayblastVR for Softimage toolbar button actions.

Step 3. Install Your Viewer Tool of Choice

If you want to use the PanoView toolbar item to quickly review your renderings, you should install one or several of the following panoramic image / media viewing tools:

Note: It is a good idea to install the GoPro VR Player viewer as a minimum. If you use the Automagic LatLong toolbar button, GoPro VR Player is the default LatLong media viewing tool. If you use the Automagic Fulldome toolbar button then Whirligig is the default Angular Fisheye/Domemaster 180 degree media viewing tool.

PlayblastVR Toolbar

PlayblastVR comes with a custom toolbar that can be viewed using either the text or thumbnail icon modes to match your working style. You can open up the PlayblastVR toolbar in Softimage using the View > Toolbars > PlayblastVR menu item.

Open the Toolbar

This is what the PlayblastVR toolbar looks like in the default thumbnail icon mode:

PlayblastVR Toolbar

If you right click on the toolbar and select "Text Only" the PlayblastVR toolbar will look like this:

PlayblastVR Toolbar in Text Mode

Here is a summary of the PlayblastVR toolbar buttons that are used to simplify and automate common functions:

PlayblastVR Menu

PlayblastVR has its own menu section that is available in the Rendering menu set.

You can use this menu to access common functions like opening up the PlayblastVR temporary output directory, launching a batch render, changing the panoramic format, changing the viewer tool, or opening up the PlayblastVR Help documentation.

PlayblastVR Menu

Known Issues

Rendered File Names

PlayblastVR uses the following filename prefix and output directory for new panoramic renderings:

[XSI Project]\Composites\<Scene>_<Camera_<Pass>.#.ext

Rendering With Transparency

If you want your PlayblastVR renderings to have a transparent background with an alpha channel, then you need to set the "PlayblastVRCameraRig" camera's viewport background color to black. This will make sure you will get an alpha channel in your rendered output.

If the background color in the viewport is set to grey you will get a solid alpha channel with no transparency.

Viewport Background Color

Wireframe Visibility

To improve the clarity of your wireframes renderings when using the "Bounding Box", "Wireframe", or "Hidden Line Removed" rendering styles in PlayblastVR, you might want to change the PlayblastVR camera view to use a grey background viewport color, or a custom "scene color" setting to make the wireframes more visible.

Supported Panoramic Projections

PlayblastVR for Softimage has support for outputting imagery to the following panoramic formats:

Angular Fisheye:
Angular 360

Domemaster 180°:
Domemaster

LatLong:
LatLong

Horizontal Cross:
Horizontal Cross

Horizontal Strip:
Horizontal Strip

Horizontal Tee:
Horizontal Tee

Cubemap 3x2:
Cubemap 3x2

Facebook Cubemap 3x2:
Facebook Cubemap 3x2

mental ray cube1:
mental ray cube1

Vertical Cross:
Vertical Cross

Vertical Strip:
Vertical Cross

Vertical Tee:
Vertical Cross

Gear VR Mono:
Gear VR Mono