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Virtual, Mixed and Augmented Reality in The Workshop

The Workshop has a variety of tools and resources for creating content for and in Augmented, Mixed and Virtual Reality

Physical Location

Workshop logo red square.jpgThe Innovative Media department is located in The Workshop on the lower level of the James Branch Cabell Library.

804.827.3594
901 Park Avenue, Suite 078
library.vcu.edu/workshop

Oculus Rift in The Workshop

The Oculus Rift is available for in-house use to the VCU Community. If you need assistance beyond this guide, email theworkshop@vcu.edu or call 804.827.3594 to set up an appointment. 

Oculus Rift

Required for checkoutThe Oculus Rift can run on the Alienware PC in the Gaming Studio or the App Development PC in the workstation area.

  1. For Gaming Studio: Gaming Studio plaque, Alienware accessories, Oculus Rift case.
  2. For App Development station:  App Development PC and Oculus Rift case.

In the Oculus case you will find one Oculus headset, three Oculus sensors, two Oculus Touch handsets with 1 AA Battery each and two USB extenders for sensors (seldom needed).  If batteries get low, consult with service desk.

Connecting the Oculus Rift in the Gaming Studio or App Development station

Alienware PC and logging in

  1. Set Gaming Studio keyboard and mouse on table next to PC, plug in to top two USB ports in the back of the PC (the front USB ports often do not work).
  2. Turn on display with LG remote (be patient, it takes a minute).
  3. Boot up PC and after a minute, set HDMI switcher to Alienware (far right button).  If the PC desktop does not show on the monitor, you may need to make sure the monitor input is set to HDMI 1 using the monitor's remote control.
  4. This PC boots to a VCU authentication screen, leaving users to provide their own accounts for Oculus, Steam, Unity, etc..  If you don't have an account, ask a service desk worker to log in as Admin and all the programs will then launch automatically signed in to Innovative Media accounts. By doing this, you will have access to all Innovative Media's resources, including paid apps. 
  5. Occasionally, an update may be required to proceed. Whether it be an Oculus or gaming engine update, or a new graphics card driver, etc., you should be able to run the update if you have been logged in as Admin. If you hit a snag, perhaps by an unexpected account login request, please consult the service desk.

Attaching the Oculus Rift to the Alienware PC

  1. Attach two Oculus sensors from the case to two USB3 ports in the back of the PC. One sensor can sit on top of the PC and one sits nicely on the bracket behind the monitor so that the sensor peeks over the top of the screen. The room is not large enough for the third sensor.
  2. Plug the Oculus Rift headset into one USB3 port in the back of the PC and into the open HDMI slot in the SAME graphic card that the monitor is plugged into (the monitor is plugged into a Display Port using an HDMI to Display Port adapter).

App Development PC and logging in

  1. By default, the App Development station boots to a public profile, leaving users to provide their own accounts  for Oculus, Steam, Unity, etc.. If you don't have an account, ask a service desk worker to log in as Admin and all the programs will then launch automatically signed in to Innovative Media accounts. By doing this, you will have access to all Innovative Media's resources, including paid apps. 
  2. Occasionally, an update may be required to proceed. Whether it be an Oculus or gaming engine update, or a new graphics card driver, etc., you should be able to run the update if you have been logged in as Admin. If you hit a snag, perhaps by an unexpected account login request, please consult the service desk.

Attaching the Oculus Rift to the App Development PC

  1. Attach two Oculus sensors from the case to two USB3 ports in the back of the PC. One sensor can sit on top of the PC and the table surface to the right. A third sensor should not be necessary.
  2. Plug the Oculus Rift headset into a free USB3 port in the back of the PC and into an open HDMI slot in the graphic card in the back of the PC.

Room Setup and Oculus Library

Setting up your space

  1. Launch Oculus from the PC Desktop
  2. Click the gear icon and choose Settings.
  3. Click Devices on the left and then Configure Rift in the top right.
  4. Run Full Setup. Follow instructions.
  5. When you get to the part about mapping your environment, don't let your body block between the sensors and controllers.
  6. When instructed to Continue in Headset, the trick to getting a clear focus is to use a combination of the lens spacing slider on the lower right (when on) and moving the headset up and down until you find the sweet spot. Use the Velcro straps to keep it tight in the right position.

Oculus Library

  1.  At the end of the setup, you will be taken to a virtual tutorial on how to use the controllers. Since most of the apps have tutorials themselves, you can skip this by taking off the headset and hitting the Esc key on the PC keyboard.
  2. From there, you can either launch an app from the Oculus Library on the PC or put the headset back on and launch from the Home screen. NOTE: It often takes a few minutes for an app to close when you launch another one, and occasionally you will get a message alerting you that its taking too long, but just be patient and it will eventually close so the new app can open.

Tips

  1. Most of the apps have tutorials on how to use the buttons on the controllers. 
  2. For switching between left-handed and right-handed use, just tap the bottom of the two controllers together.
  3. When you take the headset off, the app will go to sleep, both in the headset and on the monitor.
  4. Occasionally, the Oculus software will require an update and will not work until it has completed. This may require staff attention.
  5. Some apps allow you to export your work to social media or on the local computer. The local location varies from app to app, but the first place to look is C:\Users\Logged-in-user-name\Documents\Name-of-app.

Steam

Accessing the Steam Library

  1. If you wish to use Steam with the Oculus Rift, go ahead and launch Steam from the desktop at this time. It will run a quick update, always does, then close the pop-up ad.
  2. Launch SteamVR from the View menu or by clicking the VR icon in the top right and wait for SteamVR to load (takes a minute). SteamVR should indicate in yellow that it has recognized the base stations, headset and controllers.
  3. Click the down arrow next to SteamVR and launch Run Room Setup. The room is small enough to use the Standing Room Only option. Follow instructions.
  4. When done, launch an app from the Steam Library on the PC and it will open in the headset. From in the headset, you can access the Steam Library too.
  5. To return to the Oculus Library, click the Oculus button on the right controller.

Unity

Importing projects

  1. If you wish to import a Unity project into the Rift, open Unity from the Desktop and open your project. It is recommended that you create your Unity project on the PCs D:\Saves drive to assure that it will always open on this system. Others have saved to the cloud with success, but some have had issues with saving to USB sticks that had nothing to do with version compatability.
  2. With your project open, go to the Unity Store and search for Oculus Integration (the OVRPlugin). Click Install.
  3. Downloading takes a little while, then you will see an option for importing into your project. Import All, which takes even longer.
  4. Once imported, drag the OVRCameraRig and OVRPlayerController plugins from the PreFab folder into your project menu. Now your project should be visible in the headset, but you will need to tweak the controls to get it to do exactly what you want. NOTE: Sometimes the OVRCamera conflicts with the Unity camera and you may need to move it to the top.