CtrlAltStudio issues Oculus CV-1 update

CAS-logoOn July 18th, 2016, Strachan Ofarrel (Dave Rowe) released an updated Windows version of his CtrlAltStudio viewer. Version 1.2.6.43412 Alpha use Oculus Rift SDK 1.5.0 and so should support the Oculus CV1, DK2 and DK1.

The release has been made to provide a level of Oculus HMD support in Second Life and OpenSim following the Lab’s decision to withdraw their own project viewer support for the Rift, after significant issues were found with the July update to that viewer.

However, as Strachan states in his blog post on the release, the CtrlAltStudio Windows update is presented “as is”, and still utilises the Firestorm 4.6.9 code-base, which is itself running well behind current releases, and therefore lacks functionality users might otherwise be familiar with in more recent versions of the SL viewer. This means CtrlAltStudio doesn’t support recent HTTP updates, inventory improvements or the TLS 1.2 update (so the built-in web browser will not work with things like Marketplace transactions when using the built-in browser).

Stratchan also warns that it is unlikely that users will get the level of recommended frame rates for CV1 use (which is something the Lab were stating prior to the release of their update), although he notes – again as did the Lab – that the experience should be enough to get a feel for what user-generated VWs are like in immersive VR.

Windows CtrlAltStudio users should be able to install this version over the 1.2.5 Alpha and 1.2.4 Alpha versions if they have either already installed. Those with older versions of the viewer should carry out a clean install (and can always back up and restore their settings before / after doing so). Note that if you install over the top of a previous version you may need to press the “Reset” button next to the “UI depth” Display Output option.

To overcome issues of the viewer failing to recognise very high perfromance GPUs, CtrlAltStudio 1.2.6.43412 includes and Enable All GPU Features option to force enable all graphics settings (e.g. Basic Shaders, etc.)
To overcome issues of the viewer failing to recognise very high performance GPUs, CtrlAltStudio 1.2.6.43412 includes and Enable All GPU Features option to force enable all graphics settings (e.g. Basic Shaders, etc.)

The full set of updates in this release are given as:

  • Updated to Oculus Rift SDK 1.5.0 so that the viewer works with the Oculus runtimes supporting the CV1 as well as the DK2.
  • Fixed the “UI depth” display setting to work for both DK2s and CV1s.
  • Added an “FOV multiplier” display setting that decreases or increases the field of view with respect to the Rift-recommended value.
  • Added a “Pixel density” display setting that decreases or increases the number of pixels rendered in the process of calculating the Rift display output.
  • Removed the following display options which are no longer available in the Rift SDK: “Low persistence”, “Dynamic prediction”.
  • Fixed crash at start-up if Rift display output is enabled but no Rift is connected and turned on.
  • Updated the GPU table.
  • Added an “Enable All GPU Features” display setting that enables all graphics settings that may otherwise be limited if a new, high performance GPU is not listed in the GPU table.
  • Added a “Combine Xbox One triggers” joystick setting that combines the left and right trigger values of the Xbox One controller into a single value like the Xbox 360 controller outputs, thus letting the triggers be used to fly up and down.

It is worth noting that when in Riftlook mode, the cursor is only visible in the left eye. This is intended behaviour, allowing the cursor to hover over UI elements and in-world objects correctly without having to use additional and complex code to calculate what relative depth should be used to place the cursor in a stereo rendering.

Release 1.2.6.43412 also includes a new FOV Multiplier and Pixel Density display settings to adjust the displayed field of view and number of pixels rendered in the Rift images. Depending on your graphics card capabilities, these may provide improved visuals when adjusted upwards (at the cost of FPS). Reducing the settings will improve FPS. Both require a viewer restart after adjustment
Release 1.2.6.43412 also includes a new FOV Multiplier and Pixel Density display settings to adjust the displayed field of view and number of pixels rendered in the Rift images. Depending on your graphics card capabilities, these may provide improved visuals when adjusted upwards (at the cost of FPS). Reducing the settings will improve FPS. Both require a viewer restart after adjustment

Ai Austin has provided a blog post on his experiences in using this viewer, and I would recommend it for further reading, particularly in you are new to using the Rift with Second Life, as Ai provides point-by-point sets on getting started.

An interesting broader note in Ai’s post is with regards to using the HTC Vive with CtrlAltStudio – a questions which has been raised a a couple of “Meet the Lindens” sessions. In this regards, Ai:

Some users have reported that the CtrlAltViewer set to use the Oculus Rift works with the HTC Vive using LibreVR/Revive. This is a compatibility layer between the Oculus SDK and OpenVR. It allows you to play Oculus games on your HTC Vive.

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CtrlAltStudio updates to Oculus SDK 0.6

CAS-logoOn Saturday, October 3rd, the Oculus Rift supporting CtrlAltStudio viewer updated on Windows to version 1.2.5.43397.

The release sees the viewer reach parity with the Oculus SDK 0.6. However, it is not at this point being regarded as a “formal” release, as David Rowe, the viewer’s developer, notes that it requires additional user testing.

David lists the other changes of note with the release as being:

  • The viewer works in both direct and extended Rift display modes
    • If using extended mode you no longer need to drag the viewer onto the Rift’s screen before toggling into Riftlook view
    • If you switch between direct and extended Rift display modes, you’ll need to restart the Oculus Configuration Utility and the Oculus VR Runtime Service.
  • Advanced Lighting Model no longer needs to be enabled in order for Riftlook to work
  • The hardware cursor used in previous versions has been replaced with a basic cross hair software cursor. It may not look pretty but it should still work as before
  • There’s a new “Mirror Rift display to desktop” option in Preferences > Graphics > Display Output
  • The scale of the UI depth Display Output option has been altered to work with the updated Rift rendering
  • A “Mirror Rift display to desktop” Display Output option has been added
  • The following Display Output options, which are no longer available in the Rift SDK,have been removed from the viewer: Timewarp, Timewarp waits, V sync, and Pixel overdrive
  • If you install over the top of a previous version you’ll probably want to press the “Reset” button for the “UI depth” Display Output option.
The 1.2.5.43397 updates sees the removal of the Timewarp, Timewarp waits, V sync, and Pixel overdrive from Preferences > Graphics > Display Output, and the addition of a new Mirror Rift display to desktop option
The 1.2.5.43397 updates sees the removal of the Timewarp, Timewarp waits, V sync, and Pixel overdrive from Preferences > Graphics > Display Output, and the addition of a new Mirror Rift display to desktop option

As always, for a full list of changes and updates, please refer to the release notes.

David also goes on to note:

I can achieve a pretty smooth 75 FPS experience on the Rift if the scene’s not too complex, though only if I have my main monitor set to 120Hz. If I set it to 60Hz I only get a somewhat juddery 65 FPS on the Rift. I haven’t looked into this yet and am keen to hear how other people get on. Note: You can use Ctrl+Shift+1 to display a statistics window in Riftlook.

The release doesn’t see the viewer updates to a more recent Firestorm code base than 4.6.9, and there is no corresponding Mac release at this time.

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CtrlAltStudio provides Oculus SDK 0.4.4 support and Mac build

CAS-logoOn December 4th, Oculus VR released the latest software version for the Oculus Rift, version 0.4.4. A beta release, it includes an number of bug fixes and improvements, while retaining  experimental support for Linux.

As a result of this update, Strachan Ofarrel (aka Dave Rowe in the physical world) released an updated version of the Alpha version of his CtrlAltStudio viewer on Friday, December 12th. Version 1.2.2.41224 Alpha 5 brings with it not only support for the SDK update but also, courtesy of Mac viewer developer Cinder Roxley, a Mac build as well.

As usual with the Alpha version of the viewer, this release is installed into its own directory / folder, and so can be installed alongside the current release version of the CtrlAltStudio Viewer. A clean install is not required if you have been running previous alpha versions.

Core updates in this release comprise:

  • Updated to Rift SDK 0.4.4. This fixes the overdone vignette (fading to black) around the Rift barrel image’ edges edges.
  • Updated position of notification messages and script dialogue boxes so that they’re visible and usable in Riftlook.
  • Modified Start+Back key behaviour on Xbox controller if Rift display is configured: if you’re not in Riftlook then you enter Riftlook the same as before; however if you’re already in Riftlook then it zeros sensors the same as Ctrl+Spacebar (instead of exiting Riftlook). To exit Riftlook with the Xbox controller, press the yellow ‘Y’ button.
  • Updates for Mac OSX build.

Hints and Tips

Also, don’t forget that each set of release notes for the Alpha version of the viewer includes a set of hints and tips for getting the best results when using the viewer with the Rift.  These include tips from Strachan and also discoveries made by other users, and are being added to over time. They include, but are not limited to:

  • If you have good frame rates, including while turning, set your Rift display to 75Hz: Control Panel > Display > Screen Resolution > Advanced Settings > Monitor
  • If you’re experiencing judder while turning then try to try disabling one or more of the “Dynamic prediction” … “Pixel overdrive” Oculus Rift options, consider configuring your Rift display to 60Hz, and possibly try enabling triple buffering in your display driver
  • Setting your Rift to be your primary monitor may also reduce judder [Estelle Pienaar]
  • If you have a stereoscopic 3D system, you may need to disable stereoscopic 3D display in order to stop the Rift’s display rate being reduced from 75Hz to 60Hz. [Estelle Pienaar]
  • If you have an Nvidia graphics card, adding an entry for the viewer in the Nvidia Control Panel 3D Settings and setting the preferred refresh rate to unlimited may let your Rift run at 75Hz without needing to make it your primary monitor [Phoenix]
  • If using Windows 7 and you’re experiencing juddering, try turning off Windows 7’s Aero. [Phoenix]
With floating text you may want to adjust the distance the floating text fades at so that distant text is not so annoying in Riftlook - one of the tips from Strachan
With floating text you may want to adjust the distance the floating text fades at so that distant text is not so annoying in Riftlook – one of the tips from Strachan

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CtrlAltStudio provides Oculus SDK 0.4.3 support

CAS-logoOn October 24th, Oculus VR released the latest software version for their SDK. Among the many updates came support for Unity Free developers (Unity versions 4.5.5 and up), and experimental support for Linux.

As a result of the release, Strachan Ofarrel (aka Dave Rowe in the physical world), has updated the Windows Alpha version of his CtrlAltStudio. The new release, version 1.2.2.41214 Alpha 4, issued on november 2nd, 2014, provides SDK 0.4.3,  a number of additional Rift display options and some more general updates:

  • Rift display options:
    • Dynamic prediction: adjust prediction based on latency feedback
    • Timewarp: re-project scene during distortion rendering
    • Timewarp waits: wait until the last moment to do timewarp
    • V Sync: wait for and swap buffers at monitor vertical sync
    • Low persistence: display low persistence images
    • Pixel overdrive: over-drive brightness transitions to reduce artefacts
  • Updated GPU table now includes NIVIDIA GTX 970 and 980 GPUs
  • A fix for Riftlook mouse hover target and context menu locations for in-world objects
  • A fix for Rift positioning in third person orbit camera view.
The new Rift display options can be found in Preferneces > Graphics, and are enabled by default. No restart is required on disabling / enabling any of them
The new Rift display options can be found in Preferences > Graphics, and are enabled by default. No restart is required on disabling / enabling any of them

All of the Rift display options are enabled by default in the viewer, and no restart is required when disabling / enabling them, allowing for rapid-fire experimentation. In addition, and in relation to them, Strachan provides the following advice in the release notes and blog post accompanying the release:

The “Timewarp waits” option shouldn’t really be made visible to the user, but in my testing I found that it seemed to help to be able to turn it off if rendering at significantly less than the frame rate the DK2 is set at. The variability of the frame-to-frame timing in Second Life may well be why.

The optimum settings depend on what frame rate you’re achieving and your personal preferences and sensitivities to different display behaviour: if you’re achieving the ideal of 75Hz including while turning your head then the default of all options enabled is best; otherwise you will probably want to try disabling one or more, consider configuring your Rift display to 60Hz, and possibly try enabling triple buffering in your display driver.

As with the previous ALpha releases with DK2 support, this version will install into its own directory, allowing it to be used alongside the release version (although it will obviously over-write Alpha 1 or ALpha 2, if installed). Also note that with this release:

  • There is still no support for the Rift’s with direct mode
  • The Advanced Lighting Model option in Preferences > Graphics needs to be enabled
  • The Oculus 0.4.3 runtime is required.

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