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Layama converts your 3D scenes into ‘pseudo-VR’

Monday, March 16th, 2020 | Posted by Jim Thacker

Workflow in Layama, Motiva’s new tool for converting 3ds Max, Blender or Unreal Engine scenes into ‘pseudo-VR’ experiences that can be viewed in a web browser on any device.

Tools developer Motiva has released Layama, an interesting new tool that turns 3ds Max, Blender or Unreal Engine scenes into “pseudo-VR” experiences that can be explored on any desktop or mobile device.

The software is targeted at visualisation professionals who need a halfway house between static 360-degree panoramas and fully interactive – but hardware-intensive – virtual reality experiences.

(Full disclosure: it actually came out last month, but we didn’t manage to cover it at the time.)

From the creators of Datasmith and Colimo
Layama isn’t Motiva’s first foray into software development: the firm has released a number of inventive tools over the years, primarily for rendering and relighting.

Its best-known product – although, ironically one that fewer people know it developed – is Datasmith, the CAD-data-to-UE4 import toolkit acquired by Epic Games and now distributed free with Unreal Engine.

Turn existing 3D scenes into ‘pseudo-VR’ experiences that can be viewed in a web browser
Layama is also targeted at visualisation pros: particularly those whose clients want VR walkthroughs but don’t have powerful enough hardware or enough experience with VR controllers to view them successfully.

Users take a 3D scene and position view cameras at key points throughout it, as shown in the video above.

Layama then renders all of the camera views and assembles the output into a semi-interactive virtual tour that can be viewed in a standard web browser.

Viewers can use the mouse or keyboard to zoom or partially pan the camera view, or to teleport between the preset viewpoints. You can see how the navigation works by exploring the sample scenes.

The result isn’t as seamless as a fully interactive VR environment, but it doesn’t require a headset to view.

The tours also run on pretty much any mobile or desktop system: output is optimised for different device types and browsers, and Motiva says that smartphones up to seven years old will work.

Removes the need to prepare offline assets before use
Equally importantly, the base scene doesn’t require any preparation, beyond placing cameras.

According to Motiva, it isn’t necessary to reduce the poly count of geometry or the resolution of textures: usually the most time-consuming part of the process when rendering with game engines.

The only restriction seems to be that you can’t use screen-space effects like vignetting, although you can post-process the renders generated manually before Layama assembles them into a tour.

It’s a neat idea, so it will be interesting to see whether users are willing to trade the flexibility of a fully interactive VR experience for the ease with which a pseudo-VR scene can be created and viewed.

Pricing and system requirements
Layama is compatible with 3ds Max, plus the V-Ray and Corona render engines, and standard plugins like Forest Pack; Blender, using the Cycles or Eevee engines; and Unreal Engine.

It has an MSRP of €180 (around $200), although at the time of posting, it’s available at a launch discount.

Read more about Layama on Motiva’s website

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