More VR Fun: Rendering Real 3D for VR

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I have experimented a little with trying to create 3D images that actually look 3D.  Years ago, I did the Stereo “Magic Eye” thing.

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(this is supposed to be a woman reading a book on a couch)

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About a decade ago, I also attempted my own red-cyan anaglyph (which doesn’t look that good).

So with Oculus Go, I discovered I could make my own 3D images with true left and right eye separation. The question is how?

Suffice it to say it took a lot of experimenting, but I finally created a 3D image that actually looks 3D when viewed in an Oculus, and you can download it here.

To view it, download the full 6000×3000 image to your computer, connect your Oculus Go to the PC using a USB cable. Put on Oculus to “allow” access to from the PC.  Open up VR-Headset Drive, internal shared storage, and “Pictures” folder, and drop the beachside3D image into this folder.  Put on the headset, open the “Gallery”, then “On this device”, then select the beachside3D image, then click on the 2D projection in the corner, and change it to 3D 180 projection. The result is a beautiful 3D image seen at the top of this post.

Yeah I know it’s complicated to view.  Just as complicated to make.

 

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Creating the Image

These instructions are for Poser, but you should be able to figure it out with DAZ Studio or any other 3D Rendering software.

First, you need a 3D set with a decent amount of complexity and depth.  Then a subject matter that is positioned front and center. You want to use “Dolly Camera” with focal length 25mm (a wide angle lens) and Roll (z-axis spin) at 0.

Render however you want, but do not use depth of field, everything must be in focus. In this example I rendered 1280×720 resolution.  If you make it bigger, you will have to adjust the dimensions of the black field accordingly.  Once rendered, this is going to be your “right eye” image.  Save it as a png file.  To make the left eye, take the “yaw” angle (x-axis spin) and subtract 5 degrees, then adjust the x-axis camera position to re-center the main subject, and render again.  Save it separately.

Oculus Go’s 3D 180 view assumes that the left eye and right eye information contains full 180 degree spherical view.  Most 3D rendering programs like Poser and Daz Studio, do not have a way to do this natively, so you have to do multiple renders and stitch them together with panorama maker software like Hugin, but that is outside of the scope of this tutorial, as that takes hours maybe days to create and still might turn out wrong.  We’re just making a view master style image.

Since the left, right, up and down views of the 180 degree view don’t exist, we are just going to frame our image in a square black window.  Basically we are projecting our image and the black frame onto a spherical wall. If we make the frame too big, the image part will look too small, if we make the frame too small the image will look distorted.

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After experimenting, I found a 1280×720 picture in a 3000×3000 black frame is a fair compromise. So we take the two png files and use our photo editing software to create a 3000×3000 black image with our picture centered in the middle. Once I have the two 3000×3000 pixel images, I combine them into a single 6000×3000 image, with the “left” image on the left, and “right” on the right.

If you don’t have an Oculus Go or some other VR, you can try using your eyes to combine the two images into one to see the basic effect.

Now that I have the basic formula down, I might try making more of these later. Let’s just say I have about a dozen failed experiments to get this one right.

 

Updating Ariane: Poser vs DAZ Studio Again

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Over the past month, I have been debating on updating Ariane for her next game. The above was an early draft which I am NOT going to use as I will explain.

Like many in the 3D People Rendering Community, I am still torn between the Poser vs Daz Studio rift, which I previously catalogued here, and here.

The last high quality DAZ figure with full Poser support was Victoria 4, which is now over a decade old.  Ancient by tech standards, and still widely supported with new clothes hair and accessories, because such things still sell well.

But Victoria 4 still has some flaws that make it less desirable to use…boat5
I picked this Victoria 4 image to point out the main flaws: 1.) The armpits are way too high up the arm. 2.) the hip to thigh bend looks unnatural, as does the thigh to shin bend.  Finally, 3.) while there are literally hundreds of skin textures available, most do not support the latest renderers like DAZ’s iRay and Poser’s Superfly.

The DAZ Studio solution is really easy: switch to G3 and G8 based figures (there are no G4 to G7 figures because: “reasons”) which DAZ is more than happy to sell you. Most of my fellow Dating Sim/Visual Novel makers have made the switch fairly successfully.

The Poser solution is not so easy. There are advanced models natively available to Poser, namely Dawn and Dusk by Hivewire3D, Paul and Pauline by Smith Micro that come with Poser 11.1, and Project Evolution by Erogenesis that is even more advanced than G8 as far as versatility goes.

The problem is that there is not a lot of support for these figures. Dawn has a fair amount, and Project Evolution may eventually, especially since it has backward compatibility with V4. But the majority of the support for new figures is not surprisingly for G3 and G8.

It is possible to convert G3 and G8 figures to be used in Poser, instructions can be found here.  But because it is not supported natively, you have to convert every accessory the same way, and that could get time consuming, and the resulting Poser figures are memory hogs.  I briefly considered creating a new Ariane based on Karen 7.

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Attempts to make a Dawn version of Ariane

My initial idea was to try and make an “Ariane” using the Dawn figure. While the Dawn figure on the right has a more realistic body shape and curves, I could never get the face right. No matter what I did, the V4 face on the left is better looking and more realistic.

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The truth is I ran into many of the same issues when I converted V3 Ariane to V4 Ariane, but ultimately V4 Ariane was a major improvement.

This time, I am sticking with V4. The three problems with V4 mentioned above can be addressed by new products: 1.) The shoulders and other model issues can be fixed with “Perfect V4” by XandM,  2.) The bending problems can be fixed with products like “Overhaul for V4” by ironman13.  I used these products extensively to create the graphics update of Date Ariane.

The rendering skins can be updated with a python script “D3D Perfect Skin SSS Lite” which will change a basic skin texture to simulate SSS effects in the Superfly renderer, and as a side bonus, the Superfly renderer renders even faster. (The only flaw is that it shows solid white skin in superfly preview mode, switch to firefly preview mode to see what the textures look like, then switch back to superfly mode before rendering.)

There is still the issue of the body shape looking better in Dawn than V4.  I solved that by using the rarely used Muscle Pack for V4. I originally got the muscle pack to make Wendy the Weightlifter look stronger, but adding a “toned” shape to Ariane at about 40%, I can give her the athletic curves I was looking for.

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Now to create some new content with this improved Ariane…

Creative Mood Swings

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Sorry I have not written in a while or posted anything.  The truth is I am having one of my creative mood swings, which is something I have been having for a couple of decades now.

For most of June and July, I was in creative mode working on the graphics update (see last post) and a thread for “Rachel and Ariane”.  As per usual, I started losing interest in creating and now I have swung into gaming mode, where all I want to do is enjoy other people’s games.  At some point in the future, I will get tired of playing and want more creative control, and will suddenly want to create again. It WILL happen eventually.

So to answer everyone’s question, I have no idea when the next game will be out, or when the android versions with the new graphics will be out.

The Android Copyright Problem

The biggest complaint is that people can’t download the android version directly to their android devices.  The reason is that Google has a strict copyright on APK files.  My file server that I rent from GoDaddy protects Google’s copyright. If it detects an apk file being downloaded by an Android device, it kills the download, hence the reason you can’t download the game directly.  I tried using a Google file server, but they stopped it in other ways.

So the only way to get the APK file for Android is to download it to a non-android device like a Windows computer or a mac, or a Chromebook, and then move it to the android device via USB cable or microSD card.  Sorry this is difficult.

The INTP Personality

I have an INTP personality. This is our greatest strength: We are good at stuff and know stuff. We find something that interests us, and we study the hell out of it until we become experts. We find a skill that we enjoy doing, and we master that skill.

This is our greatest weakness: When outside forces develop expectations for these interests and skills, our desire to improve to meet expectations goes right out the window.

I mention this, because I am having an INTP style dilemma.

To make a really successful indie gaming enterprise, I need to set up a Patreon, and find ways to release these games on Google Play Store and/or Steam, and I need to get them properly translated, because for some reason I have huge followings in Germany and Brazil. To do it properly turns it into a part time job.

The more I think about doing all this work, the less interest I have in finishing the actual games. It becomes a distraction that hinders my interest in even making the games.

So content creation comes first.  No Patreon, no Play Store, it’s too much work I am not interested in doing.

My number one motivation is to make these games for myself. It’s my hobby, my way to relax, my way to express myself.  I enjoy playing them as much as I enjoy making them.

I could either share them the way I have been: posting them on a file server and letting people download them with no support and no promise that they will work on your devices, or I could not share and just enjoy them myself.

So I choose the easiest route that benefits the most people and keep doing what I have been doing.

Anyways, to prove I’m still working on stuff, here’s some art you haven’t seen yet.:

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Date Ariane Graphics Update

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I am releasing a graphics update for some versions of Date Ariane. Currently this is for the English and German PC, Mac, and Linux versions.  Portuguese and French PC/Mac versions are now updated as well.  Let me explain this update Q&A style:

What has been updated?

About 95% of the pictures have been updated, over 1100.

I don’t see much difference, what has changed?

Lets start with Ariane. I am using an improved V4 model that corrects the shoulders and makes them look more natural and realistic.  You can pretty much tell the difference between the old and the new by simply looking at the shoulders. Also a minor clothing change, Ariane’s underwear is dark grey instead of tie-dyed pink. I also give Ariane some fun expressions that she uses in certain circumstances.

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Lighting has changed, there are a lot fewer hard shadows. Also reflections on glass and surfaces is more realistic. Since most of Date Ariane takes place at night, windows should reflect the interior light. Different locations use different lighting and rendering. Backyard is partially rendered in “superfly”, bedroom uses IBL lighting.

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I also created a more realistic look for Rebecca. Still “petite”, but she no longer looks like she is starving.  Also she has got a “bush”, since at least one of my characters should have one.

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Ariane’s SUV is the one I used in the Rachel and Ariane pictures. She no longer is driving the cartoon car I have been using since 2004. Her car actually looks realistic. The convenience store actually sells food now.

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With all of these moves toward realism, how come the pictures still don’t look real?

Because realism is not the ultimate goal, beauty is.

Why only 95% of the pictures, why not 100%?

I am actually working on a 2.0 version of the game with pictures that are more than double the resolution. In order to save memory, I am rewriting the code to reduce the number of images the game needs, mostly eliminating the “ending” scenes you want to try and avoid anyways. I mostly finished the images for this HD version, and decided to reduce them down to the non-HD size and update the graphics, but the current 1.0 still needs the pictures I have eliminated in 2.0, so in those cases the old pictures are still there.

Don’t be surprised if you occasionally see the old Rebecca, or the old shoulders, or the old underwear. I’m pretty sure I eliminated the old car pics, but I might have missed one or two.

If you are working on new code, why not incorporate it into the game?

Because complex changes to the game will mess up the translated versions. When 2.0 is finally done it is likely the translations wont work on it. I am trying to figure out a way to fix this, but it is going to take some time. 2.0 is no where close to ready anyways.

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Besides graphics changes, are there any other changes to the game?

I eliminated a bug in the English and German versions that under the right circumstances would allow Ariane to drive downtown naked, but there is no code or pictures to support it so it crashed the game.  I also eliminated the trailer for “Something’s In The Air” on the translated versions.

By the way, thanks to translator Thorston Frei, the English and German versions are the same game, the only difference being the window title, the default language settings, and the help page. In both versions, you can go into settings and switch between English and German. Note that some lines in the German version will appear untranslated. Only about 97% of the lines have translation, and the ones that don’t will appear in English.

I eventually want the French and Portuguese versions to work this way, but for now their code is unchanged.

Why are there no graphics updates for the android versions?

There will be eventually. Despite my efforts to control jpg compression, the new versions are now bigger in size than before. The android version was already pushing the limits of max size for an app, so I need to do some further size reduction before I can make new android versions.  The 2.0 HD version will never work on android, but I want the updated pictures to be available in app form at some point.

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How to Make Ariane in Daz Studio

dazariane1I have had a few people ask about getting a 3D model for Ariane, so here’s how to do it.

Shopping List:

My folders are organized for Poser so they will not be in the same place as the default locations for these products. Use the search feature if you have to.

In the library, do a search for Victoria 4 and find the “Actor Victoria 4.2”. When you click to load, it will give you a dialog box, put a check on morphs++ to load those as well.

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Next, find MRL Ariana and load “AriBody1 INJ”and in the subfolder PoserDazMATs load “Ari_MAT”, in the sub-subfolder Ari_Lips load “AriLips01”, and under Ari_MakeUp, load “AriMU01”

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Next, find Andromeda and open “!AndromedaHead INJ” then under “PoserDazMats/And_Eyes” load “AndEyes07”  Note: Andromeda also comes with a bunch of custom expressions designed for the Andromeda head, I use these a lot.

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Next, do a search for reby and load “RebyGlam Victoria 4”

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On the right hand adjustment panel (your interface may vary) click where it says Victoria 4.2 and a menu will pop up, select Reby Glam Victoria 4, then on the library window (left side) find the “AprilRebyGlam” directory  and apply “2 M Black” and “1 handles off”

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Now, on the right side, you need to select “RebyGlamVictoria4 : neck” then in the Parameters menu select “custom fits” and raise “hairline” to 50%

That’s it, you are done. I have added other features like moles and realistic anatomy, but the above is close enough.

Rachel, by the way is just DMR Ella, though because this older texture does not have the latest settings, I have been using MRL Eris skin

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Now, on the parameters menu reselect Victoria 4.2, apply a pose then on the render menu, select “render” and soon you have a picture of Ariane.

Rachel and Ariane: An Experiment in Storytelling

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After finishing the Renpy version of Date Ariane back in July 2015, I have been tinkering with the idea of what would happen if Ariane (of Date Ariane fame) and Rachel (of Something’s In The Air fame) were to meet.

I made both games for my own entertainment, and I am glad they have been successful. So I started tinkering with Rachel and Ariane being the third part of the trilogy.  I’ve never tried writing a story like this, and so I’m not sure what I am doing, and kind of making things up as I go along.

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So far it is coming off as “official fanfic”. I struggle with the writing part, but I am really having a lot of fun doing the pictures part, which is why I keep going.

I released part one in October 2015, a piece at a time until the final part was released on Halloween, when the story was set.

It starts with a “meet cute” as all rom-coms do, in this case they show up to a Halloween party dressed the same.  As they get to talking they discover they are the same in a few other ways as well.

After Ariane finds out Rachel is a supermodel, Rachel takes Ariane home and tests her in a few ways. Ariane passes the tests, and they end up getting drunk together.

It ends with Ariane revealing her never before revealed job: game developer. Rachel, being a game addict herself, is intrigued and wants to get together again.

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Rachel Dates Ariane is set about two weeks later, or mid November, though there was over a year before I released it in November 2016.

It almost follows a typical “Date Ariane” date. Rachel comes over, and they play video games (tying back to the end of part 1) then they go out for dinner. This time to a pizza place they both like (Pizza Mia shows up in both games). Then back to Ariane’s and some naked hot tubbing.

Rachel then makes a (intentional?) move that results in the two of them in bed naked together.  Can two mostly heterosexual women find love? or is it doomed to “friendzone”? Is that necessarily a bad thing?

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I just released part 3: Rachel Takes Ariane’s Photo. I tried to make it more game like with choices to eventually turn it into a game, which I actually made, and found it repetitive as most of the choices end up in the same place.

So I just converted it to HTML and posted it all at once. It’s about 23 HTML pages total using simple links to the choices you pick.

It takes place still in November, with still autumn colors (which is part of the plot). The two key scenes for me are the “short cut” and Rachel setting up cameras.

I establish in the games that Ariane is a bit of a dare devil or “Action Girl”, but never get a good opportunity to demonstrate it. The short cut scene is Ariane demonstrating that part of her personality to Rachel, who being a science geek is not all that thrilled with that side of Ariane.

Then when we get to the the actual picture taking, Rachel is the one demonstrating her personality, talking about photography in a geeky way and having it go way over Ariane’s head. The photo session itself is very clinical and very professional, the way a supermodel likes it, and with the exception of one version of the photo shoot, no where near as sexy as the ones Ariane did in Date Ariane.

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Control of what happens to the photos is in the hands of the photographer, or the party that commissioned the photos in the first place. That means Ariane has no control.

The objective here is to add a little bit of conflict. Differences that could get bigger later.

I’m working on a part 4, which basically would be act 3 of a typical 3 act story: Things get worse before they get better. It’s tough to write characters I like struggling with stuff, so I am struggling writing it. I don’t know if it will be linear like parts 1 and 2, or whether there will be multiple versions based on choices like part 3.  Depends on what works best.

Even if you don’t like the writing, I think I did some great pictures here. The pictures are actually bigger than they display on the web page, parts 2 and 3 are 1960×1080. Just right click and view picture to see the full sized images.

The 3D Figure Community: Everybody Hates Daz3D

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As I reported a few months ago, the 3D graphics community consisted of a friendly rivalry between Poser users and DAZ Studio users, which did not really matter that much until the newest DAZ 3D released content dubbed Genesis 3 was incompatible with Poser and could only be used on DAZ Studio software.

In the few months since then much has happened. New versions of both programs, DAZ Studio 4.9 and Poser 11 were released, and then DAZ started something that has made everybody mad: encrypted content.  There is a lot to cover.

Beautiful Fake People

Let’s get to what this is all about, it is creating pictures of beautiful fake people. There is some commercial applications to this, like illustration, animation and game development, but it is also a growing hobby.

The best 3D models come from DAZ 3D and they can generate the most realistic pictures like the one above. Each new figure they have released has been more realistic than the last. You can usually tell Genesis 3 figures from their realistic hands like in the one above.

Except that the picture above is not Genesis 3. It’s not even DAZ 3D. In fact there is not a single figure or prop in the picture from DAZ 3D. It is the Dawn model from Hivewire3D, specifically Elisa character with enhanced realistic hands. It was rendered in Poser 11 Pro.

My point is that you do not need DAZ products and software to create incredible images.

Poser 11 Pro Review

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A Superfly Render (click for full size)

Back in November Smith Micro released Poser 11 and Poser 11 Pro.  It continues to be the best software for this kind of work. Poser 11 adds a physics renderer called Superfly which is comparable to IRay or LUX Renderer but the materials can be built in the materials room like the Firefly renderer. My own experiments have been mixed.  The biggest flaw in Superfly is that the results don’t come anywhere close to the preview, but the same thing can be said about IRay.

Among the other new features not found in DAZ Studio is “Subdivision surface morphing” which allows a better control of the face (or other parts) for the purposes of animation.  There is also a new tool for adaptable figure weighting making it much easier to create new figures, and an easier way to share new morphs.

Poser continues to add tools to support import export to Maya, Blender, and other 3rd party software making it more desirable for professionals.

That’s why it costs $400, but the cost is the reason most hobbyists are going to DAZ Studio instead.

DAZ Studio 4.9

Meanwhile, DAZ Studio has released a new version 4.9 which except for some minor improvements is basically 4.8 with “DAZ Connect“.

What is DAZ Connect? It enables searching for products, purchasing, and installation of DAZ3D content directly in DS, without ever leaving DAZ Studio. What it really is is a DRM system to encrypt future products.

This has the whole community up in arms, both Poser users and DAZ Studio users. DRM will restrict the use of content. Despite the fact that they are no longer compatible, people still move between DAZ Studio and Poser, adapting and creating content for both. DRM destroys that.  This last month DAZ released their first “freebie” for DAZ Studio users that is only available in DAZ Connect. This has become the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back for a lot of people.

If DAZ3D continues down this road, it could kill all compatibility between DAZ and other 3rd party software and 3rd party content resources.  Many people have attempted to make this point on the DAZ forums only to have their posts removed.

DAZ3D is currently saying that all their previous content will continue to be available as non-encrypted and they have no plans to make new content connect-only. They have also stated that all encrypted content will be released after 1 year as unencrypted. This has calmed some upset users, but there is a worry that they will change their minds in the future.  Why have it if you are not going to use it?

The problems with DRM in an open community

Meanwhile, Charles Taylor the lead programmer of Poser, let his opinion of DRM be known in an interview with Renderosity.

The problem with DRM is that it is indiscriminate. It doesn’t know a legitimate user from a pirate. All too frequently legitimate users are prevented from using the product they have a valid license to use. Also, every DRM system is eventually hacked, so the only piracy it truly prevents is casual piracy.

Yes, it prevents some piracy. Would these people have purchased the content any way? We may never know that answer.

Ultimately DRM is no more effective than a padlock. It will keep the honest people honest. Anyone with a big enough hammer will steal it any way. The question that remains is, “Do you make your customers deal with the padlock every time they want to use the content they paid for just to keep the honest ones honest?”

At this time, we at Poser have no intent to introduce DRM to content. We think our customers are already honest.

DRM has its place. I don’t think 3D content is one of those places. Especially given the myriad of available export options in most 3D programs. With a click of the mouse, Poser content can be exported to something like FBX. DRM is so easily broken, it’s going to prevent very little piracy. It’s not worth the trouble for the company, the vendors or the customers.

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NVIATWAS

Here is my own feeling on DRM in the 3D art community. I have been doing Poser since Poser 2 in the late 90’s. It takes a while to learn this hobby and get good at it. It can also be an expensive hobby.

Irregardless of what tools you use, there is a learning curve in this hobby that requires some practice. “Free” DAZ Studio has brought a lot of new people into this hobby and that is a good thing. New people are just getting their feet wet and are not interested in spending lots of money.

NVIATWAS is what we sometimes call new amateurs, it’s an anagram of “Naked Vicky In A Temple With A Sword” which is the biggest cliché in the field. But it is a phase everyone goes through until they get good.

It is at this amateur level where you desire as much free content as possible whether it is DRM protected freebies or stolen “warez” which is what DRM is designed to protect, you want it all.

I went through my NVIATWAS phase, too. The above pic is not mine, its actually good, my own are not. I’ve never actually downloaded/used stolen 3D models (mostly because when I was in this phase there wasn’t enough interest to share them). My thing was using screenshots from video games as backgrounds, examples which you can see on the Date Ariane Wiki. It may not be as bad as theft, but it is still passing off others art as my own.

Eventually, you get good and want to do something more commercial, maybe even potentially sell. I reached that point about 5 years ago when I decided using video game screenshots in Date Ariane was amateurish.

I wanted to start creating stuff I could sell and that required purchasing new content and paying attention to licenses to make sure renders of models could be used commercially. Every prop and figure and texture in the current downloadable versions of Date Ariane and Something’s In The Air, that I did not make myself, was legally purchased.

I didn’t need DRM to keep me honest, it was the desire to keep things legal that kept me honest. DRM would make things more difficult because in some cases I had to go in and change some textures and figures on some of my purchased models and props to fit my needs.

In summary, amateurs don’t care about DRM and its existence or non existence will not get them to buy more, while the professionals who actually do make a lot of purchases are actually harmed with DRM and are unlikely to buy DRM protected models.

So, in this community, DRM really has no place in it.

DAZ3D Buys RuntimeDNA

In the latest bit of drama, the largest 3D product website just bought out the third largest, Runtime DNA.  This has of course created a lot of mixed reactions, especially by the independent artists that broker products at RDNA. Some are happy for the change, thinking DAZ3D will bring in eyeballs and more sales.

Others, for reasons I explained above want no part of DAZ and are looking to move their products somewhere else. There does not seem to be a shortage of places: YUR Digital and CG Bytes seem to be advertising themselves to former RDNA artists, though Renderosity, Hivewire3D, and Content Paradise are better known.

Just more drama for the 3D Community to get over.