One of my hobbies is photography. So as I begin dabbling in VR, I find myself quite curious about 360 photos. A 360 photo is the “bare minimum” of a VR experience.
What is a 360 photo?
A 360 photo goes by many names, but each describes a photograph that completely surrounds the camera. It shows what is in front – in back – off to the sides – and above and below. ALL of it. You can look all around, and everywhere you look has been captured in the photo.
About a week ago, I got my first set of VR goggles. Nothing fancy – it’s the Samsung Gear VR. I explored some of the demos. (great fun!) Some of what I explored was WebVR, which just became available on Gear VR (without the use of “experimental browsers”) a couple of weeks ago – albeit with a “deprecated API”. (which means, an old obsolete version.) Then I took a crack at a tool called A-Frame.
A-Frame makes WebVR easy. Easy peasy. It reminds me of X3DOM – it’s a “declarative language”, so it drives a lot like HTML5. All of the things you declare when you’re using A-Frame get added to the “DOM” (Document Object Model), so everything in your “world” can be accessed and manipulated just like you would the elements on a plain, old-fashioned web page. Which, really, makes a lot of things easy. Easy peasy.
I was a little concerned about the optics in my first VR goggles, given that I wear glasses.
I’d heard that you can’t fit your glasses into the headset – and it’s true – you gotta take your glasses off, to put the headset on.
Now, my glasses are pretty pedestrian – not too powerful, and only correct for near-sightedness. I certainly have to wear them to drive. But I do take them off for photography – so I can press the viewfinder right against myself.
Given this phrase in the Wikipedia definition of COLLADA files – “… for exchanging digital assets among various graphics software applications …” – it should come as no surprise that I found the COLLADA format the most effective for exchanging digital assets between Blender and three.js
One running gag on this blog is my repeated attempts at getting the content in my old VRML files on the open web and rendering in a browser again – and this time, without the use of plugins.
I’ve tried importing old VRML directly into three.js – with somewhat less than satisfactory results. I’ve discovered that those old file load nicely into Blender – and I’ve tried any number of way of exporting them from Blender again, with the hopes of loading those formats into three.js.
They do say that everything is best in moderation, including moderation itself – perhaps the same applies to being a tool agnostic.
“Tool Agnostic” is a cool, but relatively obscure, term that describes an approach to technology free from prejudice. I just Googled “tool agnostic” definition, and didn’t really wind up with anything. So, that to me smacks of an opportunity to post one and get this party rolling.
Let’s start with the term “agnostic” itself. From Mirriam-Webster, the #2 definition stands without restricting itself to the subject of religion or God:
So how then to bring those old VRML files back into the fold? I have many old VRML “worlds” that I wrote for Cosmo Player back in the ’90s. It would be great if I could open those old files in one of the new technologies.
VRML stands for “Virtual Reality Modeling Language”. According to Wikipedia, VRML “is a standard file format for representing 3-dimensional (3D) interactive vector graphics, designed particularly with the World Wide Web in mind. It has been superseded by X3D.”
In a lot of ways, setting up a Minecraft Realm is easier than setting up a website. When you sign up for a website, you have to find a company, get in touch with the company, make payment, get login information, access your server, stuff like that. With Minecraft, it’s a complete and utter no-brainer. The Minecraft program overtly drags you through the entire process.
Minecraft Realms are so easy it’d make your head spin, and so useful and fun that if you’re even remotely considering it – it’s worth the bother.