Monday, March 22nd, 2021 Posted by Jim Thacker

Check out neat iOS camera mocap app VirtuCamera

Neat $5 iOS app VirtuCamera turns your iPhone or iPad into a virtual camera controller, making it possible to control a scene camera inside Maya or Blender in real time. Video recorded by user Glenn Melenhorst.

VFX artist and tools developer Pablo Javier Garcia Gonzalez has released a new Blender plugin for VirtuCamera, his iOS camera motion capture app.

The $5 app, which also works with Maya, lets artists use an iPhone or iPad to control the camera within their DCC software in real time, both for virtual production and to record camera paths for use offline.

Use your iPhone or iPad as a real-time virtual camera controller in Maya or Blender
VirtuCamera uses Apple’s ARKit augmented reality framework to turn an iOS device into a virtual camera controller, syncing with a 3D scene running in a user’s DCC software on a workstation over Wi-Fi.

The camera view is visible in both the software viewport on the workstation and on the iPhone or iPad itself.

As well as moving the mobile device with six degrees of freedom, on-screen slider controls enable users to adjust the scale of the camera movement, and the focal length of the camera.

It is also possible to lock camera motion to the ZX plane or the Y axis of the scene to only pan or only dolly the camera, and to adjust how much the app smooths the raw camera motion.

After rehearsing a virtual camera move, users can record the camera path as keyframe data for use offline.

Suitable for professional virtual production work
The app streams data at up to 60fps, but for professional work, the online FAQs recommend hiding or disable unnecessary lights and objects in a scene, and loading any Alembic animations as GPU caches.

The FAQs also recommend connecting over a 5G wireless network, and disabling any nearby devices that may be using Wi-Fi, like smart bulbs or thermostats.

In the comments to the YouTube video above, Iloura VFX supervisor Glenn Melenhorst, who tested VirtuCamera on a personal project, described the app as “very compelling”.

“Once I disabled my Avast [anti-virus system], it worked perfectly and was super easy to set up,” he wrote.

Other related apps for camera tracking and for use in Unreal Engine
VirtuCamera isn’t recommended as a replacement for camera tracking for visual effects work – the FAQs say that the quality probably won’t be good enough, except for fast tests.

However, Blender users can check out CamTrackAR, HitFilm’s iOS app, which exports 3D tracking data alongside video footage captured on an iPhone or iPad, and which is free to use with Blender.

Unreal Engine users looking for a similar virtual camera app can try Unreal Remote 2, Epic Games’ own free plugin, which enables artists to use an iPad Pro to control a virtual camera inside UE4.

Pricing and system requirements
VirtuCamera 1.4 is available for iOS 12.1+. It is compatible with the iPhone 6S+, iPad 2017+, and any iPad Pro: unlike some mocap apps, you don’t need a device with a TrueDepth sensor. It costs $4.99.

The connection plugins are compatible with Maya 2017+ and Blender 2.80+ running on Windows, macOS and Linux. Garcia says that he hopes to support other DCC applications in future.

Read more about VirtuCamera on the product website