Hi folks — my name is Alex Duncan, and I work on the engineering team here at Looking Glass Factory. I've been a casual Blender user for many years, so it's exciting for me to talk into how you can create holographic renders in Blender 2.8 and 2.9!
We've been interested in Blender as a tool to use in Looking Glass for a long time now — we even made a beta add-on for Blender 2.79. Now, with Looking Glass Portrait's Standalone mode combined with the major advances to Blender beginning with Blender 2.8, we're excited to unlock even more possibilities with this tool!
You can create high quality renders and load them onto your Looking Glass Portrait to have a 3D art piece on your bookshelf. You can mail your friend a holographic playlist of your 3D creations. You can even create a gallery exhibit of your artwork and have attendees see your work as 3D holograms!
We're so excited with the creations of Blender artists like Dedouze, Mar, and yasmini.gif have already started creating, and we can wait to see what else comes from this tool!
1. Importing the Tool
The first step is importing the tool — head on over to our GitHub repository to download the release, which is a zip file containing the necessary Python scripts. You'll also need to install a dynamic library for some special Looking Glass functionality — there are downloads available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.
With those two files downloaded, you're ready to get them working in Blender! Go to Edit → Preferences and select "Add-Ons".
Press the install button, navigate to the location of the zipped folder, and select it!
You'll see there's a parameter, when you select the plugin, for "Path to libHoloPlayCore." This is where you'll need to put the path to the dynamic library you downloaded if it hasn't been automatically set correctly.
And with that, you're ready to get working!
2. Create a HoloPlay Camera Setup
The next step is to create a HoloPlay camera setup. To do so, select LKG in the Sidebar and click "Create Render Setup."
You should see a box-y camera frustum appear in your scene. We call this the HoloPlay Capture box. This box represents the space of Looking Glass — anything inside of it will be captured by the multi-view setup. Feel free to translate, rotate, and scale this box to get your scene framed in an ideal fashion.
With your camera all set up, you can now render out an image sequence that can be visualized in Looking Glass Portrait!
A good way to get a sense of how your content is going to be framed before you export your render, however, is the live view. To open this, go back to the configuration panel and select "Open LKG Window." Drag this window onto your Looking Glass Portrait's display, and then, in the configuration panel, select "Start/Stop Live View." Finally, you'll need to full screen that window. To do so, open the Window dropdown, right click the "Toggle Window Fullscreen" option, and change the shortcut to whatever you prefer — I've chosen Alt + F11. Then, select the window on your Looking Glass Portrait and execute the short cut.
You should now see your scene in 3D on your Looking Glass display! You can use this view to frame your content in an ideal fashion before creating your render.
3. Render for Looking Glass Portrait Display
Once you're happy with how your content is framed, go ahead and render out your image sequence. With the image rendered, you'll want to save it somewhere on your hard drive.
To view your rendered image via Blender on your Looking Glass Portrait, close your live view window and open a new Looking Glass window via the configuration panel. Drag the window over to your Looking Glass display. Then, under "LKG image to view" on the configuration panel, select any of the image set that was just generated by your render. Select "Start/Stop Live View" and fullscreen the window on your Looking Glass using your shortcut, and you'll see your beautifully rendered 3D image appear!
You can also open and view this image in HoloPlay Studio, where you can adjust it to your heart's content and send it to your Looking Glass Portrait's storage to be played back in standalone mode! Simply open HoloPlay Studio, navigate to the rendered image sequence, and load it in. You're ready now to create an amazing playlist of content rendered from Blender!
Any functionality you want to add? Think the tool could work better? That's great because our Blender plugin is open source! Feel free to head over to the GitHub repository to open an issue or edit the plugin yourself and submit a pull request.
Special thanks to Gottfried Hofmann for his hard work putting this plugin together, Dalai Felinto for his support on the project, and John Gillessen for the beautiful, and beautifully simple, sample model!