6DOF in your 360 VR images - Step 1 Depth Map creation

We've launched theViewer in 2016 and from the beginning we've decided to work with 360 photos and images because in our opinion this was when we started and still in 2020 is the best way to show / sell properties!

Even in VR i honestly think that 360 photo realistic render creates a way better immersion than a real time engine...

Don't get me wrong! real time engines are amazing and we are huuuuge fans of what Epic Games are doing but still .... 360 still image looks better.

However what is missing in 360 images is 6DOF ... well not anymore :) 

Now thanks to something that is called Depth map , or ZDepth map we can add a bit 6DOF into your VR tours.

It's not full 3D but as you can see in the tour bellow if you add a depth map to your images theViewer can make the transition in the web tour way smoother and in VR you will be able to move your head and experience 6DOF

OK so how do we do it?

Firs of all you need to generate a depth map file for every single panorama that should have the smooth transition effect like in the tour above made by Recent Spaces

Lets say you are using  Corona Renderer ...

You should open the Render Setup window and Render Elements tab  like on the screenshot bellow and add CGeometry_Zdepth too Render Elements section and in the bottom select Use Camera Environment Range ( we did quite a lot of test with different min and max values and we've discovered that the best effect is when you use camera environment range ) 

Now you can go back to the Scene tab and select Render only masks

Before you start rendering you should chose the right resolution for your image ... 

Here is the trick - higher resolution of a depth map is not making a difference ... so if you are using the power of 2 and your main image is 8192x8192 ( obviously for VR you should render stereo! ) or 4096x4096 like in my examples you can use 1024x1024 for the depth map.

Just make sure that you keep the same ratio and image type but the resolution can be way lower than the original image.

Ok now if you start rendering you should see something like on the screen bellow!

Rendering a depth map takes less than a minute so you don't have to worry about long rendering times.
When everything is ready you should get a file like this one bellow.

This is my depth map used in our development environment.

And here is the original panorama that will be used together with the depth map

Next step - Adding depth map in theViewer Editor

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