Stereoscopic Rendering in nDisplay

Options for making nDisplay render stereoscopic images.

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If you need to render stereoscopic views of the virtual Unreal Engine world on your display screens or projection devices, you can use nDisplay to generate the images for both the left and right eyes. There are two main approaches you can use to accomplish this: stereoscopic rendering, and monoscopic rendering with a stereo offset.

Stereoscopic Rendering

In stereoscopic rendering, each nDisplay cluster node generates the images for both the left and right eyes, and encodes the output images using your choice of standard formats for stereoscopic images. In this case, you are responsible for setting up your graphics card, display driver, or hardware to interpret the stereo images produced by nDisplay and route them appropriately.

Activating Stereoscopic Rendering

To activate stereoscopic rendering:

  1. In your configuration file, you'll need to define the inter-ocular distance between the left and right eye. To do this, add the eye_dist setting to your camera configuration section. Set the value to the distance you want between the left and right eyes, in meters.

    For example:

    [camera] id=camera_static loc="X=0.Y=0,Z=1.7" tracker_id=VRPNTracking tracker_ch=0 eye_dist=0.068

    If you need to flip the left and right eyes for the images to show up correctly on your display hardware, you can also include eye_swap=true.

  2. Before you launch your nDisplay network from the nDisplay Launcher application, select one of the stereoscopic rendering modes from the Render mode setting.

    Render mode setting

    For details on the available settings, see the Stereoscopic Rendering Formats section below.

Stereoscopic Rendering Formats

nDisplay can render stereoscopic images in any of the following standard formats.

Render mode

Description

Frame sequential

This mode produces sequential stereo pairs for each frame of the engine's main loop. For example, it first renders the left eye for frame 1, then the right eye for frame 1, then the left eye for frame 2, then the right eye for frame 2, then the left eye for frame 3, and so on. In most cases, this option requires a GPU with specialized support for stereoscopic rendering.

This format is known in OpenGL as a quad buffer.

Side by side

In this mode, the image produced for each frame of the engine's main loop is divided in two. The left half of the image contains the view from the position of the left eye, and the right half of the image contains the view from the position of the right eye. This mode has two advantages. First, it may produce higher frame rates because the rendering time is shorter for each image. Second, you can use it with any GPU. On the other hand, the disadvantage is that the images are of lower quality.

Top-bottom

This mode is almost the same as the Side by side option described above. The only difference is that the image for each frame is divided in half horizontally instead of vertically. The top half of the image shows the view from the left eye, and the bottom half of the image shows the view from the right eye.

Monoscopic Rendering with Stereo Offset

In this approach, you have one viewport render a monoscopic view of the scene from the point of view of the left eye, and another viewport render a different monoscopic view of the scene from the point of view of the right eye. These viewports can be on the same computer, or on different computers entirely.

To make this work, you need to have two different camera sections set up in your configuration file: one for the left eye, and one for the right eye.

  • Set up both sections with the same value for the eye_dist setting, which sets the desired inter-ocular distance for the stereoscopic rendering.

  • Set up each section with a different value for the force_offset setting: -1 for the left eye and 1 for the right eye. This setting offsets the viewpoint for the render from the camera position by an amount equal to half the inter-ocular distance.

  • You'll also need to make sure that each camera section is being rendered by a different viewport.

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