3D Realtime Simulation And Animation Programming With Ogre 3D Or Open GL As A Freelancer – What’s Coming Up In The Next Few Years?

Ogre Volume Textures

If you are doing 3d programming or animation with Ogre 3d, or in OpenGL as a freelancer you certainly noticed that things have changed in the industry in recent time.  Especially in the games industry projects grow bigger and bigger. Whole teams are specializing in 3d physics simulation, OpenGL shaders or 3d particle work.  As a freelance programmer or consultant you’re supposed to specialize more and more. A few years ago 3d freelance programming or animating was very different.  A small team of 15 to 30 people could produce a whole game and you could take over different tasks in different projects or even within the same project.
If you’re like me and your more of a generalist, this was much more entertaining than doing the same thing over and over again.

Sure, with an open source 3d engine like Ogre 3d you can still put together again with 10 to 15 people distributed around the world or even a known if you’re dedicated. This is absolutely great in my opinion – But you’d have to do the programming in your free time — and every one of us has just the same 24 hours a day and still needs to make some money and get some sleep.

Fortunately, other professional fields are opening up, so you have some more auctions as a 3d programmer or consultant than just working for the film or games industry!

The first one is augmented reality.
Augmented Reality Example by SamsungWhile is still in its infancy this field is evolving rapidly.  Smartphones are gaining more and more processing power and every single one of them has at least one camera.  What’s more, they are having better and better 3d graphic cards built in, and more and more apps combining 3d graphics with live camera footage to create video with augmented reality content added.  As a freelance programmer or 3d specialist this opens up wide opportunities. With open source 3d packages like ogre available on mobile systems we could easily adapt and transfer our real-time programming skills to those platforms.
Augmented reality in its self is so new, that not too many specialists are available, so you can involve yourself into many different tasks.  This makes things interesting again and there is also money to be made when augmented reality hits the market big-time.

Another very interesting thing is virtual reality.
While the programming is not too different from 3d realtime simulation games, the scale of virtual reality software is a very different one.  This kind of thing is hitting the automobile and airplane industry right now. Car manufacturers have more and more demand for real-time 3d-configurators on websites and on POS.
They are also moving away from the old-fashioned clay models when designing automobiles, trying to do all that with 3d graphics more an more. Being a 3d programmer working in those areas is sometimes like a dream come true, because these softwares are run on only the finest and most expensive hardware available today. This means no more worrying if those low end users comply with your least OpenGL specs.

So if you manage to be at least a bit flexible, these are still great times for freelance 3d programmers, 3d animators, 3d consultants and other specialists.  All we have to do is keep an open mind to new and interesting kinds of realtime 3d simulation and we’ll have plenty of fun and interesting work for many years to come.

What Is Ogre 3D ? The Basics About This Open Source Realtime 3D Graphics Programming Engine

LogoOGRE 3D stands for Object-Orientated Graphics Rendering Engine, and just like the name indicates, OGRE is a rendering engine that is free and developed as open-source.
It isn’t quite a game engine but a 3D graphics framework. Because of that, one particular game isn’t going to work better on it than another. It works with a number of APIs, such as OpenGL, as an abstraction layer. It is portable and versatile, so works on different APIs, even once configured on one. Just a few minor changes, if any, are needed to run on the different APIs, whether that is OpenGL or Direct3D etc.

There is no scripting, networking, sound, physics or integrated collision within Ogre 3D. It really is just a rendering engine. It simply works on the game’s graphics, but can be integrated with other programs, including Nvidia Physx and Havok, so real time simulation can easily be integrated into any project , if programmers want to do that. Here are some Code Snippets by Tuan Kuranes as an example.

Since it can run on D3D9 and D3D11 of Direct 3D and the various types of OpenGL, it supports many different platforms. It will work on different operating systems, whether you have Windows, Mac or Linux, and even on mobile systems like Android, iOS or Windows Phone 8. It makes it much easier for developers who have to develop it once, and all systems are taken care of with the engine.

OGRE 3D is very different to game engines …

Screenshot from OGRE Demos-Pack 'Fresnel Reflections and Refractions'

Screenshot from OGRE Demos-Pack 'Fresnel Reflections and Refractions

…like Unreal and Unity because it doesn’t have the world editors that are designed for scripters and map makers. However, there are different systems within the OGRE framework, like Python-OGRE. These have wrappers and libraries which are needed for a real game engine, integrated in the rendering engine. You will also find a range of features that help with daily graphic programming. Some of these features include animation and mesh loaders, scene-managers, material scripts, scene-graphs and shaders.
Freelance Programmers and Developers who need the ability to customize their game engine completely will find Ogre as beneficial. They can choose their libraries, the components used and much more. This was the whole point in the development of Ogre3D in the first place.

There are now many different genres and projects that use this platform, including virtual reality and augmented reality applications, classic gaming models and scientific simulations. For example Proun, Book of Unwritten Tales, GolfBlaster3D, Victory-Age of Racing and MotorM4X,

and especially:

A screenshot of 'Torchlight'

A screenshot of 'Torchlight'

Torchlight: A game that was developed by a number of veteran developers. The games developed by some of the team involved in Torchlight include Diablo I and II and Mythos. This game is the most successful out of those that use Ogre3D.

Good Folks and Family Farm: These family simulations offer lots of 3D fun.

Anomalous Medical: This application is a medical framework and developed around the human head. It is a model that will help people learn more about the anatomy of the head and is extremely detailed. Users will be able to move the head at all angles to really look at it and examine fully.

The Octane Realtime Renderer – Physically Based Rendering On The GPU


OTOY Software developed the real-time 3D Renderer Octane. It works exclusively on Graphics Processing Units (GPU), and is the first commercial one for this. The biggest benefit is that it will work in real-time, allowing you to modify your materials and lighting see your settings being rendered as you go along. You will see the changes happen in front of you to determine whether they work.

Screenshot of Octane

Screenshot of Octane

Instead of running on the traditional CPU engines, the software runs almost on GPU’s  with CUDA technology from Nvidia. This allows images are produced up to 50 times faster than those rendered on CPU engines. If you have more than one GPU, you could produce the images at an even faster rate.

The ray tracer runs purely on the GPU, not like most others, on the CPU.  Until now, most ray tracers on GPUs caused a lack in accuracy to ensure performance. On Octane Render, the accuracy is not affected according to OTOY, which claims the 10-50 times increase in speed compared to CPU ray tracers.

Octane Render includes:

  • Completely based on GPU
  • Interactive Renderings (See changed settings rendered almost instantly)
  • Materials and lighting are all physically based
  • A realistic camera model with real-time DOF
  • Spectral algorithms completely unbiased
  • Complex and SSS materials
  • Instancing

The real-time engine offers full control over all materials and prevents any guesswork. You will see your changes as they happen, and will determine whether it works for your needs. If you find that you need to make tweaks, you can do them immediately, too. There is no need to do everything and hope that it all will look perfect afterwards – You will see it almost at once.

There is also support for tone mapping and film material simulation with film stock-presets that are completely accurate. With tone mapping, you can produce rich images, and include effects like bloom and flares with the most updated version. Volumetric fogs and caustics are also available. If you opt for the Maya and Max plugins, you will have access to motion blur features.

Octane User Interface

Octane User Interface

Common scene formats are utilized, including Wavefont OBJ, allowing users to use various 3d modeling packages without the need for plugins. In addition, you can export in HDR if you need. With the different formats for files, various workflows and pipelines are easily can easily integrate Octane Render. Advancements are being considered, including importing Alembic animation files in the standalone version.

For those who need new graphics card, Geforce GTX580 or GTX570 are recommended by OTOY for Octane Render. They have the best value for money. For those who can spend a little more, Nvidia Kepler GPU’s are supported. You don’t need to invest in a multi-core CPU. The CPU isn’t used for rending with Octane.

You can buy Octane Render Standalone Edition v1.0 for just 199 Euros. If you are looking for a demo, there is one available for free to give you an idea. There is no animation with the standalone version yet, but you could invest in the Maya or 3DS Max versions which provide that feature.

It Looks Like The Oculus Rift Will Be A Game Changer – And Not Just In The 3D-Games Industry!

After taking a close look at the Oculus Rift and the status quo of it’s development in the last post (Read it here), it seems quite clear that once this product is out on the market virtual reality will soon be a household word in many industries – and in some of them it will ring out big changes. In this article, we will also take a look at possible downsides of the rift.

Oculus Rift

The Oculus Rift Virtual Reality Headset

It’s safe to say that the Oculus Rift is absolutely unique and it is even priced at a very competitive rate of $300. So it’s not only about the first really usable virtual reality headset – It is also the most affordable one! (Or it will be, that is).
So it is sure to trigger changes in the gaming industry and even outside the 3D games arena.
Given the right price and its fantastic performance the Rift is bound to make a huge impact. (Even the Telegraph says so.)
Technology will see new frontiers with this product as the low price for this piece of equipment is nothing as compared to what people are used to spending on similar gear that gives the same effects. The Rift can be used for other purposes as well than games – like a virtual movie theatre, for instance. It will be similar to or even better than watching a movie in a real cinema.

It has the power of changing trends completely. Other uses may include architecture, emergency response training, CAD, telepresence and phobia treatment etc.

Now Come On, What’s The Flip Side Of That Project ?

Oculus Rift Inside

a look at the inside of the Rift

While gamers are jubilant with the launch of the Oculus Rift there have been problems of a different nature. Many users have complained about feeling giddy and of bouts of nausea. Gamers became disoriented after using it for a while. But the headset is not to blame for it since it is more of a physical aspect in human beings.

The reason seems to be the variation in a user’s actual vision and the feeling inside the inner ear where the senses pertaining to balance are located.  For example, if you go on a roller coaster ride or are aboard a jet fighter you may feel sick. However, jet fighter pilots do not face the same problem of feeling nauseated since they fly their jets regularly. Hence it can be said that regular use of the Rift will make this problem go away.

The real disadvantage with the Oculus Rift is the amount it weighs when worn by a user. But at the same time the use of the Rift is so absorbing that you hardly notice the weight and may only felt it once your experience is over.  Since it is so immersing and takes up all your senses, you will feel fatigued much earlier than when using a monitor, on which you can play for a much longer time.  But honestly, who cares when it’s such a unique experience?

Conclusion

So what’s the conclusion? My personal opinion is: As virtual reality headsets become more popular, it can be combined with augmented reality to bring a new era similar to what Apple products or cell phones did in the last few years.  The Rift is a great way to provide simulation to content creators in all fields including movies, games and books.

The Oculus has already sold over 125,000 development kits and will be creating huge demand in the days to come.  As it seems now, virtual reality will bring a big change – and not only in gaming!

 

Developer Kit

Oculus Rift Developer Kit

 

 

Oculus Rift Virtual Reality Headset – Is It A New Dimension Of 3D Real Time Simulation? Here’s All The Known Facts So Far:

Oculus Rift Developer Kit

The Oculus Rift Developer Kit

The Oculus Rift has managed to create a lot of excitement in recent time. It was made by a company that was funded by a Kickstarter-Campaign and has become very popular with gamers pretty fast.

The Oculus Rift is essentially a virtual reality headset for gamers. Although there were many virtual gaming headsets in the past, this one is quite different. For starters it is not a mere screen replicator like other headsets. It actually takes over your vision and you have a completely different experience. Although there have been huge screens and awesome audio equipment available in the past nothing has ever come close to what the Rift has to offer. So let’s come to the question we’d all like to ask:

What Is It Like Experiencing The Oculus Rift ?

Oculus Demo

Oculus Demo Scene

The Rift takes you into a whole new virtual world where you have never been before. The most popular driving simulator will not be able to replicate what the Rift shows you – the most extraordinary experience any gamer would have. It does take a short time to get used to it and really start enjoying the experience.  But once you are attuned to it you feel as though it’s been a part of you for a long time.

It is only after wearing the Rift that you start feeling that you have never had a complete sensory experience before because it has always been an issue of limited vision.  When you wear the Rift you will have a completely amazing experience – that of a unique virtual world. It does away with the issue of the screen’s edge being visible which used to prevent users from enjoying the virtual world experience. With the Oculus Rift you will never see the screen’s edge again and you are fully in the virtual world!

This is the complete experience that you have been waiting for. The head movements are synchronized without a single flaw and the headset envelops you in the virtual world that you will love.

Integration Into Existing Game Engines

Many freelance programmers have wondered whether the new Oculus Rift can be adapted with an existing game engine or will new game engines have to be specially developed to suit the architecture of the headset? This is hard to figure out at the moment.  The technical side is seemingly not very difficult to do – It may take 2 weeks or less for it to be completed.

It is the content itself that can be tricky – since virtual reality is a new area for which content has not been developed before. For making new menus and interfaces especially suited to virtual reality, entire teams of programmers, game designers and artists would need to be formed. Hence it is not that simple.
With OGRE 3D, there have already been integration tests that seemed to work well without causing much hassle. So, the integration of the Oculus Rift does not seem to be a daunting task.

Read part 2 of the article here

How To Use E-on Vue To Create Content For Realtime 3D Engines

You certainly know that E-on Software has developed a range of 3D scenery generator software known as the Vue Series. It creates, animates and renders 3D environments, and is great for landscapes outdoors. Many visual effects studios use the series, including the creators of top movies like Pirates of the Caribbean and Indiana Jones.
But did you know that the Vue Series can also be used to create content for Realtime 3d Engines? With a few tricks you can greatly enhance your productivity. Here’s how.

Vue Landscape

A landscape rendered in Vue

The Vue renderer is high quality but does not offer real-time rendering. It uses a height-map editor and a sophisticated erosion tool  to help with the process. Any plants created also look highly realistic.

Almost any game engine in 3D can import the created skies, terrains and objects, which is highly beneficial for freelance game developers and programmers.

Vue Terrain Editor

Vue Terrain Editor Screenshot

Two major benefits to using this software is the quality and speed for creating terrain that looks realistic. In a game engine, making the terrain look real is difficult and time consuming normally, but Vue speeds up that process considerably. You can generate erosion flows that look real along with much more, and then easily create highly detailed textures for everything. Lightmap extraction is also possible, with masks created for editing more within Photoshop if required.

vue simple ecosystem with just palms

A simple ecosystem with just Palms

Height-maps are generated easily, which can then be imported straight into the 3D realtime engines.. However, you still want to use models for trees that are optimized for  game engines. Using those, you can then create a distribution map in Vue. Once you have them imported, place them around your terrain as necessary inside the realtime engine. The tools there will then allow you to place, remove and edit those trees, the terrain, and many more elements.

Vue Sky

Sky - Generated By Vue

Skydomes for game engines are also possible with Vue. Check out this video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aVXCQs3pVfg

You just need the RenderUp module and you can export the skies in high dynamic range (HDR) images.

Whichever version you get, you will have all the basic tools for exporting and importing. For those who regularly need to use those functions, the Exporter module is worth investing in. You can export from Vue to many other applications without sacrificing the high 3d quality. Detailed maps of terrains, sky-maps in HDRI and meshes with full textures can be transferred with ease.

Rocks, plants, skies, terrains, and so much more can be exported. The geometries of them are unwrapped automatically without distorting anything. All the texturing information and UV mapping is kept in one place. All this is possible with the Exporter module, along with adjusting the texture and geometry. You can export  skies as sky-boxes or sky-domes, and get everything in HDR format. All the basic animation of objects, including scale, motion, or orientation will also be exported in LightWave MOT/LWS or 3DS.

Depending on your chosen version, it can cost between $100 and $600 for the Vue series. This is affordable for most, especially when it comes to creating content for the real-time 3D engines. The cheapest version will still work with the Exporter module, too. CityEngine Vue, which costs $300 and is created by Vue + Procedural Inc., is available for those who oftentimes want to create cityscapes.