“As we proceeded down a hallway in the VR movie, we clicked on a door that brought us into another room, which contained on the far wall a bank of iMacs. As we ‘walked’ across the room, we clicked on each of the iMacs, which brought up a window containing a standard QuickTime movie describing different aspects of the facility.”

 

 

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July 20
VR Toolbox Ships latest VR Worx
Integrated tools for QuickTime VR creation

By Tim Wilson
Man About Town™
[email protected]

QuickTime VR movies are easy to play with, and anything but easy to create. VR Toolbox has been producing a variety of tools to make the task less burdensome and, at Macworld, began shipping the latest version of its integration of those products, VR Worx. 

"I can say unequivocally that there is no better way to create QuickTime VR movies with any other application, on any platform," said Walter Neals, VR Toolbox's vice president. "We created these products so that designers can spend more time designing and less time wrestling their material into shape. By putting all of our tools together in one place, we make it even easier."

Neals pointed out to me a number of features that are unique to VR Worx, most notably the ease of integrating live video into QTVR. "Even Apple's software for creating QuickTime VR movies is restricted to using still images as objects, unless you want to get really complicated," Neals said. "We make it easy, simply by treating live video as an object like any other. Clicking on a hotspot might take you to another QuickTime VR, or it might open up a regular QuickTime movie that plays within the QuickTime VR."

The project he used to show me an example of what he was talking about is one that he's working on for Apple, a full-blown QTVR layout of their new conference facility. (Although Neals didn't say so, it strikes me as a measure of Apple's interest in VR Worx that they hired Neal to do the job, rather than handling it inhouse.)

As we proceeded down a hallway in the VR movie, we clicked on a door that brought us into another room, which contained on the far wall a bank of iMacs. As we "walked" across the room, we clicked on each of the iMacs, which brought up a window containing a standard QuickTime movie describing different aspects of the facility.

It was certainly interesting to me to imagine what might happen if some of the behaviors within those movies were scripted, and indeed a number of behaviors beyond the basics of VR control are built into the Worx toolset, such as the ability to add URLs as placeholder objects within a scene.

Here are some more of the features included in the VR Toolbox product line, which includes PanoWorx, ObjectWorx, and SceneWorx:

  • Perform all work in "Project Documents" that saves all settings associated with the project, including source and generated imagery. Thus there is only a single file to manage as opposed to dozens of files. Project documents are also fully cross platform.
  • Easy to use "tabbed" interface steps the user through the creation process via "progressive disclosure". You must finish all steps of the current task before proceeding to the next.
  • Support for "Stationery Templates," which record all customized settings in a template file which can easily be used as the starting point for subsequent projects.
  • Interactive media creation: most settings and attributes can be interactively modified and the results instantly (or near instantly) viewed. Allows and encourages the user to experiment with a variety of settings to achieve the best possible results.
  • Default settings for name, copyright and description text annotations, which are embedded in the movie. Thus all movies you create can have your own copyright notice attached without you even thinking about it.
  • User definable export file types for QTVR movies (Mac only).
  • User definable scratch disk volume.
  • User definable start-up behavior.

Here are the features that are only included in VR Worx:

  • Multiple document environment. Open and work on panorama, object and scene document simultaneously.
  • Share data between project documents via clipboard or drag and drop.
  • Panorama Module
  • Resizable project windows.
  • Acquired images may be reordered on PC as well as Mac.
  • Improved transparent overlay mode when adjusting stitched images.
  • Manual image correction mode for compensation for distortion in source images. Once "dialed in," actual settings may be saved in stationery templates resulting in significantly faster stitching.
  • Application of any QuickTime single source filter during panoramic rendering. This includes color balance, sharpening and many more.
  • Addition of an "effects" panel for modifying and adjusting the generated object.
  • Crop: allows you to crop source images when generating the final movie
  • Center: allows you to define an alternate center for the source images
  • De-wobble: allows you to compensate for object "wobbling" that occurs when not perfectly centered on a turntable.
  • Sound: Assign sounds to multiple views of the object, even on PC.
  • Matte: basic "blue screening" tool
  • Add "placeholder" nodes to a scene. Placeholders can be Panorama projects, Object projects, URLs or generic media.
  • Zoomability added to hot spot editor in "Node Browser"
  • Easily redefine your initial node from the "Playback" panel eliminating the need to recompose a scene.

The VR Worx offers the entire suite of tools. Suggested retail is $299.99, with a variety of upgrade options for current VR Toolbox users. For details, contact VR Toolbox at http://www.vrtoolbox.com.

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