I’ve written a set of stereoscopic tools for Blender, a free 3D modeling and animation application.
While Blender is very powerful, it currently has no built-in ability to render stereoscopic images. Since I have a background in software development, I’ve written my own tools to create stereoscopic animated music videos in Blender. All of the code can be downloaded here:
Here’s the documentation:
- Part 1: A Blender Overview
- Part 2: Installing Blender and Its Stereoscopic Tools
- Part 3: Your First Stereoscopic Animation
- Part 4: Digging Into the Animation Template
- Part 5: BISE and Stereoscopic Images Inside Blender
- Part 6: Running a Render Farm
Here’s an overview of most of the tools. A few of them are not stereoscopic-related, but they’re useful in combination with the other tools:
- Simple Carnival Stereoscopic Camera: This add-on allows Blender users to render stereoscopic (3D) images. This is a heavily modified version of Sebastian Schneider’s Stereoscopic Camera, version 1.6.8. Among its improvements:
- Renders stereo images 1/3 faster (fixes a bug where a center image was always being rendered in the original add-on).
- Provides real-time side-by-side 3D viewing of animations and images. (You will need to freeview the results or use something like the Pocket 3Dvu to view things in 3D. It’s also recommended to use the Simple Carnival 3D Animation Template blend file and download the Windows-only “Create SBS View” script for AutoHotKey to automate creating the SBS view.)
- Splits out stereo images to separate _LEFT and _RIGHT directories for further processing.
- Provides the ability to automatically layer stereoscopic scenes on top of each other, so you can easily combine stereoscopic Cycles and Blender Internal (BI) scenes in one shot. Alternately, you can use different stereo camera separation (interaxial) distances for each scene (i.e. ‘multirigging’).
- Provides the ability to import stereoscopic images or video into a 3D scene (i.e. you can have flat planes with stereoscopic images inside of a 3D scene — it’s basically “3D inside of 3D”).
- Provides the ability to use a static stereoscopic background to speed up rendering times.
- Simple Carnival Clean Screen Layouts: When you create a new window by shift+clicking the window splitter in Blender, it will create a new screen layout, which is designated by a . and three digit extension. Over time, a project file may accumulate dozens of extraneous screen layouts. (This will happen when you use the 3D SBS view feature.) This script will delete any layouts that have a .### extension. You can find the “Clean Screen Layouts” option in the Info panel under the Window menu option.
- Simple Carnival Import Imageseq as Plane: This add-on imports an image sequence and creates a plane with the appropriate aspect ratio. The first image in the sequence is mapped to the plane. Only works in Cycles and is intended for use with BISE (Blender Image Sequence Editor). This add-on is not strictly stereoscopic-related, but it does support the Simple Carnival Stereoscopic Camera’s ability to display stereoscopic images or stereoscopic video on a plane within a Blender Cycles scene.
- BISE: Windows desktop application. BISE stands for Blender Image Sequence Editor. This is a tool for creating a Blender image sequence (with transparency) from individual PNG files. It’s intended to be used with the Simple Carnival Import Imageseq As Plane Blender add-on.
This tool is basically a workaround for the fact that Blender requires an image sequence to have an image for every single frame. It’s also a workaround for the fact that Cycles does not recognize PNG alpha transparency without making separate alpha images and doing a lot of manual tweaking in the material compositor. BISE provides the ability to take a set of images and decide which frame the image should change.
- Blender Render Farm: Windows AutoIt script. I found Blender’s built-in render farm to be limited and buggy, so I wrote my own. This code is currently optimized for my specific render farm setup as well as my own stereoscopic workflow and computer configurations. It will create separate left and right videos based on the Simple Carnival Animation Template/Simple Carnival Stereoscopic Camera setup. You can render on just one computer or on a render farm. (I use it to render to seven computers simultaneously.) If you’re comfortable with scripting, it should be relatively straightforward to read the comments and change things to work on your system.
- Simple Carnival Select Children and Parent: Add-on that has nothing to do with 3D, but works around what I consider to be an annoying Blender usability issue. If you have a hierarchy of objects and want to select the entire hierarchy, here’s the typical sequence of events you need to follow in Blender:
- Click on the parent object in the Outliner
- Hover over the 3D View, press Shift+G, select “Children”. (The parent object will become unselected.)
- Re-select the parent object in the Outliner (hold down shift while doing so)
This script dispenses with the annoying behavior of the parent object becoming unselected and then having to reselect it. Also, it dispenses with having to be over a particular window when performing these options.
- Simple Carnival 3D Animation Template: A .blend file template for using the Simple Carnival Stereoscopic Camera and related software.