Virtus Products

Virtus WalkThrough, VR and 3D Website Builder.

theatre masks

A quick and easy modeling program can be invaluable to a scenic designer. Virtus fits the bill.

Virtus products have long been a very important tool in our work. If you check various pages at this site you will see examples of Virtus applications used to design traditional scenery, to create VRML scenic models, in rendering scenic designs in true stereoscopic 3-D, and as a major component of our real-time, VR stage productions.

The big advantage that Virtus products give stage designers, is the ability to create scenic models very quickly. The learning curve is very easy and new users will be making basic models minutes after launching the application the first time. The tools are straightforward and the interface is very intuitive. Models are created in plan and elevation views familiar to designers and the resulting 3-D model appears on the fly in a "WalkThrough" window. Once a designer becomes acclimated, a reasonably detailed model can be constructed in 2-3 hours.

One reason for this is the easy way that Virtus handles textures. Any PICT file can serve as a texture and textures can be applied with a click of the mouse. Manipulating the scale and tile patterns of textures is a snap.

The big selling point of Virtus applications has always been their ability to do real-time walkthroughs. This unique feature is impressive and has been vital to our experiments in VR/scenery. Walkthroughs are also very useful in film pre-production for planning camera movements. However, the average designer may not have much use for it. In order to achieve smooth walkthroughs, models must be limited in the number and complexity of shapes and textures. Using transparent and translucent textures also slow the walkthroughs. But walkthroughs are not vital to rendering traditional scenic designs and in that case a designer can use shapes, textures, transparencies and translucencies lavishly.

The downside.

In order to optimize real-time walkthroughs, lighting effects are limited. Directional lighting systems in any color can be simulated with ease and surfaces will react properly to colored light. Unfortunately, objects do not cast shadows and spotlighting effects are not available.

Virtus WalkThrough Pro

screen shot This is the flagship of the Virtus line. This fully featured program boasts the best control over lighting, easiest access to textures and fully editable shapes. It can create VRML models for publishing models on the web and has other bells and whistles such as stereoscopic output.

Virtus VR

This low-cost version of Virtus (under $100) is good for those on a tight budget or those that donŐt need highly detailed models. Instead of drawing tools, VR, uses pre-defined shapes that are dragged onto the plan or elevation. Extensive libraries help this system quite a bit. This makes for very fast models, but less fine control. Lighting is also limited to a preset look.

Virtus 3-D Website Builder

screen shot This application bears a great resemblance to Virtus VR except that it is designed for output to VRML. This is one of the most effortless VRML authoring programs. This is particularly valuable to Mac owners as the first and still one of the few VRML apps for Mac. If you have a VRML plug-in for your browser check out some VRML stage designs here.

Virtus products are available for Mac and Windows. Files can be transferred between applications and between platforms. Visit the Virtus web site where you can see all the latest developments and download demos of all their applications.

Mark Reaney

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