BlenderXR is an open source project initiated by MARUI-PlugIn to develop a VR/AR user interface for Blender. MARUI-PlugIn has developed MARUI – a plugin for Autodesk Maya that allows you to create 3D design in VR/AR. Their plugin has already helped many Maya users to increase their productivity. Now they are contributing a VR/AR user interface as a free Blender plugin.
The free Blender plugin, which supports HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Windows MR and Fove headsets, was released in beta at the start of October, and has just received its first major update.
Place, edit and review assets within Blender in virtual reality
MARUI-Plugin has been developing a commercial Maya version of the software for some time now: the current release is version 3. The new Blender edition isn’t as fully featured, but the premise is the same: it creates an in-headset graphical representation of the controllers, and the Blender actions mapped to them.
Users can then use the controllers to perform a range of basic editing operations on a Blender scene, moving and transforming objects and assigning materials within virtual reality.
As with similar third-party plugins and the VR functionality built into tools like Unreal Engine, Unity and Modo, it’s probably best suited for layout and look dev rather than tasks that need fine manipulation. However, there are a couple of nice features for asset review, including a measurement tool and a widget based on Blender’s Grease Pencil toolset, which can be used for annotating scenes.
This free blender plugin project is open-source and donation-funded, with MARUI-Plugin posting a detailed breakdown of its earnings and the time spent developing new features on its website.
Availability and system requirements
Binaries of BlenderXR are available for Blender 2.8 (in alpha at the time of posting) running on Windows and Linux. The HTC Vive is the only headset supported on Linux; all four are supported on Windows.
Of the Blender project, MARUI-PlugIn CEO Max said, “XR user interfaces are the next logical step for 3D design work. Imagine seeing your work right there in front of you while you’re working on it. We’re happy we can allow artists to continue to use their favorite 3D software with these new technologies that are beginning to revolutionize creative workflows. But so far, only Maya users were able to experience the advantages of working in VR. With BlenderXR we can offer this new way of creating 3DCG to everyone for free.”