Blog | 360 Video and Virtual Reality Come to Virtual CRASH 4

With the November 25, 2017 auto-update, Virtual CRASH 4 users will be able to create 360 degree videos and Virtual Reality videos. Virtual CRASH 4 users will also have more video output options available and well as a new point cloud optimization feature to speed up rendering time. As always, these updates are provided to Virtual CRASH users for free!  

Video Size Options

Virtual CRASH 4 users will now have 12 size formats to chose from, allowing users to create high-resolution videos in 4K. This is very useful for 360 and VR videos, where the maximum resolution must be subdivided into parts so that the video may contain more visual information such as 360 degrees of data and VR split top/bottom split screen. The new video formats are seen below, and as usual, are accessed in the size option of the animation menu in the left-side control panel: 
 

360 degree and Virtual Reality Videos

Before discussing 360 degree and Virtual Reality videos, it is first useful to download two applications. First is a simple application which is used to convert avi files from Virtual CRASH to mpeg format. Click here to download the ffmpeg application. This app can be used to convert any avi file, 360/VR or standard video. This can be useful for reducing avi file size. Next click here to download the mmdi application. This will inject special metadata into your mp4 file to indicate that it is a 360 degree video file, or a 360+stereoscopic 3D file. This metadata is read by players like VLC 360 or Youtube and Vimeo to know that the file is to be displayed as a 360 video file. 

ffmpeg

After downloading, it’s easiest if you simply place the ffmpeg.exe file in a preferred directory that is easy to find. We made a new directory called C:\mpegs. Before using ffmpeg to convert your Virtual CRASH avi files to mp4 format, we’ll move our avi files we wish to convert to mp4 to our C:\mpegs directory. To use it, first launch the Windows command prompt. For Windows 10 this is shown below: 

Below we see the ffmpeg app sitting in C:\mepgs along with our Virtual CRASH 4 output file my360Video.avi. Now using the command prompt, we simply issue the command:

ffmpeg -i <avi file name> <mp4 file name> 

For example, in the video below, the command is:

“ffmpeg -i my360Video.avi my360Video.mp4” 
 

Next, launch the mmdi app. Open the mp4 file you just created. Next, select if the video is 360 or stereoscopic 360 (VR), the select a name for the new file with metadata. This is shown below:

Now you can play this video with VLC 360 or upload them to Youtube or Vimeo. On these sites, the Chrome web browser should play them back as 360 videos. You can also upload them directly to Facebook which will playback in 360. Below we see a 360/VR video playing from Vimeo. Using you mouse, you can rotate the view 360 degrees within the embedded player. 

Using VR Headsets

If you use an Oculus VR headset or Samsung Gear VR, simply rename the file ending in "_tb" to indicate that it is a top/bottom stereoscopic file. For example, “my360Video_tb.mp4”. For a Samsung Gear VR, the file could be uploaded to a cell phone and played directly from Gear VR’s Gallery browser. 

The Optimize Point Cloud Feature

Because the new larger video formats such as 4K can have much longer render times in direct light and skylight render methods, a new optimization feature has been included in the update which significantly speeds up the rendering process at the cost of some degradation in point cloud visual quality. To use the optimization feature, simply set the render method to either direct light or skylight. Then left-click the box next to “optimize point cloud”. As always, you should experiment to find the best combination of video size, supersamples, lighting, and optimization settings to discover what works best for your case.