3ds Max 2018 - MAXtoA Plugin - Part 4 - VR Camera

Login to Follow
  • Film & VFX
  • Games
  • Design Visualization
  • Rendering
  • Lighting and Rendering
  • Workflow
  • 3ds Max
  • Arnold
Skill Level
  • Intermediate
7 min

3ds Max 2018 - MAXtoA Plugin - Part 4 - VR Camera

Learn how to use MaxtoA (Arnold renderer) VR camera to render a scene in stereoscopic 360-degree left eye/right eye output. This can be very useful for immersive experiences, where a customer can take your design and explore it with a VR headset.


  • Recorded in: 3ds Max 2018
  • This tutorial is intended for use with 3ds Max version 2018 or higher.

Learning resources


?00:00:06 --> 00:00:13
In addition to its hefty arsenal, Arnold provides one more perk, a special camera for VR renderings.

00:00:13 --> 00:00:20
These can be useful to view on VR headsets, even the low-end solutions such as the Google Cardboard.

00:00:20 --> 00:00:31
The Arnold VR Camera makes it very easy to create stereoscopic 360-degree renders of your scenes without relying on special plugins or long procedures.

00:00:35 --> 00:00:42
Let's have a look. Open the scene named Room_VR.max. It's the same room you worked on in the last movie.

00:00:43 --> 00:00:49
The Arnold render settings are at their low defaults for now. We'll revisit those in a moment.

00:00:49 --> 00:00:56
At this point, there are a couple of Physical Cameras in the scene. You don't see them because their layer is set to Hidden.

00:00:56 --> 00:01:04
Make the layer visible and in fact, make it current so that the VR Camera you are about to create is also part of that layer.

00:01:05 --> 00:01:13
From the Create > Cameras panel, switch to the Arnold sub-category. You will find a sole button labeled VR Camera.

00:01:13 --> 00:01:21
It's a free camera type (non-targeted) that you place in a side view so that it's oriented horizontally.

00:01:23 --> 00:01:29
After that, you can use the Move tool to relocate it where you need it to be, usually in the center of the space.

00:01:30 --> 00:01:36
In the Modify panel, you can see the camera parameters, we'll come back to these in a moment.

00:01:36 --> 00:01:41
If you display the camera in a viewport, the effect is quite distorted.

00:01:41 --> 00:01:45
Don't let that bother you, the resulting render is quite different.

00:01:45 --> 00:01:53
The one thing you should look out for however is that the VR Camera does not have EV parameters like the Physical Camera does.

00:01:54 --> 00:01:57
If you're not careful, this can play some bad tricks on you.

00:01:58 --> 00:02:06
Chances are any test renders you have made prior to placing the VR camera involved a Physical Camera with specific EV values.

00:02:06 --> 00:02:12
In this case, the Physical Cameras in the scene are using EV values of 12.5

00:02:12 --> 00:02:17
However, press 8 to go to the Environment dialog.

00:02:17 --> 00:02:23
It states that if Physical Cameras are used in the scene, their EV values are used for rendering purposes.

00:02:24 --> 00:02:31
If not, other cameras would be using the EV value listed in this dialog, currently set to 6.

00:02:31 --> 00:02:38
A render of the VR Camera at this point would be very bright, so overexposed in fact that you can hardly see anything.

00:02:39 --> 00:02:48
So you want to make sure the global EV value in the environment dialog is equal or very close to the one you used on Physical Camera experiments.

00:02:48 --> 00:02:55
By setting the Global Exposure value to 12.5, the render now should look quite a bit more reasonable.

00:02:58 --> 00:03:00
We'll address rendering quality in a second.

00:03:01 --> 00:03:08
The VR camera renders a combination of left eye/right eye in a single image, set in a top/bottom configuration.

00:03:08 --> 00:03:11
This is the default configuration known as Over/Under.

00:03:12 --> 00:03:20
You can choose from different configuration such as side by side, or even render the left and right eye images as separate files.

00:03:21 --> 00:03:25
Your choice will depend on the application you are using to view the scene on your VR headset

00:03:26 --> 00:03:31
Personally, I use a simple Google Cardboard and an android smart phone.

00:03:32 --> 00:03:37
I use an application called VU Gallery (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.vustudio.vr.vugallery&hl=en) by a company named VU Studi

00:03:37 --> 00:03:45
This particular app can handle both Over/Under and Side by Side formats. I usually render side by side.

00:03:46 --> 00:03:54
The Eye Separation value controls the 3D effect. Too high a value can in fact work against you and make for a dizzy experience.

00:03:55 --> 00:04:05
Typically, it should be about 1/30th the distance to the focal plane but I have found that the default value of 2.559 works best in most circumstances.

00:04:05 --> 00:04:12
2.559 represents the accepted distance between the left and right human eyes, measured in inches.

00:04:12 --> 00:04:18
Before you crank up the render quality, consider also the image output format.

00:04:18 --> 00:04:29
Right now, the render is set to a 16:9 HD aspect ratio. For 360-degree renderings, you should use a 2:1 aspect ratio.

00:04:29 --> 00:04:40
In the Render Settings > Common tab, set the Output Size to Custom and the width to be twice as big as the height, such as 1024x512.

00:04:41 --> 00:04:47
The Image Aspect value should read 2 and the render is now "VR-ready".

00:04:47 --> 00:04:53
Keep in mind that for VR renderings, you will get much better results with high-resolution outputs.

00:04:54 --> 00:05:04
You'll need at least a 3k (3000x1500) pixel image to experience decent results. The higher the resolution, the better the experience.

00:05:04 --> 00:05:10
You obviously also need to increase the render quality, which in turn will increase render time.

00:05:10 --> 00:05:16
Be ready to render VR images overnight as they will take many hours to process.

00:05:16 --> 00:05:21
The image seen here and that has been made available to you is 4k (4096x2048) resolution,

00:05:21 --> 00:05:32
and the Render Settings were increased to use high Diffuse samples (10) and high Camera AA (8) with low to medium Specular and Transmission samples (3)

00:05:33 --> 00:05:41
It still took a little over 12 hours to render on a relatively fast machine, so keep that in mind before you hit that render button.

00:05:42 --> 00:05:50
Still, what you need to take from all this is the ease of use that lets you create such stereoscopic 360-degree renders.

00:05:50 --> 00:05:55
This can be a very powerful way to convey designs and ideas to colleagues and clients.

00:05:56 --> 00:06:03
This is especially true considering that the viewer doesn't need special or high-end equipment to get an immersive experience.

00:06:03 --> 00:06:11
They already have a smart phone… all they need is a google cardboard that they can pick up for a dollar or two off the internet.?
Posted By
  • 3ds Max
  • Arnold
  • Rendering
  • Lighting and Rendering
  • Workflow
To post a comment please login or register
| 3 years ago
Eager to expand your knowledge? Get answers and share your expertise at the 3ds Max Forums | http://autode.sk/3dsmaxforums
| 3 years ago
Eager to expand your knowledge? Get answers and share your expertise at the 3ds Max Forums
| 2 years ago
Love these videos. I took the Room_VR.jpg file from this data set and sent it to my phone to view in my goggles. All the elements looked like they were bent or wrapped around a corner. I used an iPhone versus Android as shown in this video so the app was different. I viewed it in four different apps and the result was the same. Pretty sure there is nothing wrong with the image since it was generated by this tutorial so wondering why else it looks warped. Is the app in the video the only one that works?