Render Stereo Side-by-Side Images in Cinema 4D for a Cardboard Headset

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Instructor Rick Barrett

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Use C4D's Stereoscopic Rendering to turn your mobile device into a ViewMaster

Your Cardboard VR headset can be used to preview "ordinary" stereoscopic images too. In this quick tip, you'll learn how to render a scene as a merged side-by-side stereo image in Cinema 4D. You can open the image via your phone's gallery app and view it in stereo using your Cardboard headset.



- I've opened this stereo example scene from the Cinema 4D content browser in order to illustrate that your Cardboard VR headset is good for more than just virtual reality. You can actually use it to preview a stereo scene just as well if you don't need the camera viewpoint to change based on the viewer's orientation. Now this scene is already set up for stereo and, in fact, it's set up with the anaglyph viewport preview so if you stick on those old-fashioned red blue glasses you should be able to see some 3-D. We're gonna go and turn that off because it slows things down a little bit and we'll switch into the object manager and enable the camera and we just wanna make sure that the stereoscopic tab here, that the mode is set to symmetrical and that we have a 6.5 centimeter eye separation or whatever eye separation might be appropriate for your scene and viewer. Basically here we're just making sure that our stereo is set up correctly and it is. With that being the case, what we need to do is actually adjust our render settings so that we can output this in stereo. And by default, this scene is set up to output in anaglyph, again, those fancy red blue glasses from the 1950s. What we wanna do is switch this into the side-by-side mode and we want to output with a horizontal alignment. We're basically going to output an image with the left eye on the left and the right eye on the right and the Cardboard viewer and the lenses are limiting our eyes to view only the image that is on the appropriate side. We don't need to worry about mirroring either of these images on the left or the right, so we are good to go basically. Now we want to set an output resolution that's going to be appropriate for a cell phone and typically I think of a resolution like 1920 by 1080 would work pretty well. The one thing that you do want to consider is that because we're rendering stereo side-by-side were actually squeezing two complete frames into this output frame size and so it's a good idea to go ahead and set your pixel aspect to 0.5, otherwise things are going to actually get squished one way or the other. Now along those same lines if you wanna maintain a 16 by 9 framing you'll need to adjust either your width or your height, either doubling the width or halving the height which I'll do here by adding "/2" with the lock ratio option disabled so that we get an output size of 1920 by 540. You could output 1920 by 1080 and fill the screen on most cell phones but be aware that your frame size is not gonna be a 16 by 9 aspect ratio anymore it's gonna be more square. Finally I'm gonna go ahead and output just a single frame here, so I'm gonna set the frame range to current frame and that'll allow us to test out this process. We're gonna go ahead and enable saving and we're going to save this out to a JPEG file. I imagine png would also work depending on your phone, some other formats might work as well, I'm just gonna stick to JPEG because I know that all phones can work with a JPEG file. And I'm gonna go ahead and set a save path for this and we'll just call it "Stereo Flower" in fact. And now I'm gonna go ahead and render this out. Now the way Cinema 4D renders stereo images is that it will first render the entire image for the left eye and then it will render the entire image for the right eye. It refers to each eye as a stream, so the left eye is stream zero and the right eye is stream one. After it finishes rendering stream one, it's going to merge stream zero and stream one together into your side-by-side image. Now of course you do have the option, if it is necessary for your compositing pipeline, to output individual channels for each stream, however, in this case we're gonna go straight for preview on a phone so we are outputting the side-by-side images. You'll notice that as the image renders it looks like it's stretched horizontally but once it combines it actually combines to be the proper pixel aspect. Once the file's been fully rendered you're ready to put it on your cell phone but I do want to point out that the filename is a little bit different than you might be expecting from your save path. The stream merged text is actually prefixed before the filename that you specified and then of course the frame number is set as a suffix so look for stream merged_stereoflower and then 0157 was the frame that I happened to render. We can copy this onto the cell phone in the DCIM folder or whatever folder is used for photos on your phone and open it using your gallery or photos app. Now go ahead and put your cell phone into the Cardboard headset and you've basically turned your expensive cell phone into a Viewmaster. The image won't change as you reorient your body as it would with a 360 or VR image but you still get the great stereo effect and you're able to view it easily through the Cardboard headset and your phone. So please enjoy your Cardboard headset, enjoy viewing and sharing your 3-D creations in all of their stereoscopic glory. And if you enjoyed this quick tip, please like, share and visit for more great Cinema 4D tutorials and resources.
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