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20 Free Resources To Help You Create An Interactive VR Project

June 15, 2021
20 Free Resources To Help You Create An Interactive VR Project
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Creating an interactive Virtual Reality (VR) project from scratch is much easier than you think. Especially because nowadays there are no coding skills required to do so. Additionally, there are more quality free resources available today than ever before to help you hit the ground running with your new VR project.

To save you time and put you right ahead of the pack we created this resource guide with only the best free resources available in the Virtual Reality world today.

Please still be aware that even though something is free, it might not automatically mean that you can use it for your purposes. Our advice is to always check licensing rights (especially for commercial use) and attribution regulations.

Step 1: Idea generation

If you want to get started with VR and VRdirect but have no idea what kind of experience you want to create in the first place, you can always get some inspiration from existing projects and content. The following two resources offer you an enormous collection of material that you can work through to generate the perfect idea for your Virtual Reality approach.

Virtual Reality has great potential to be used profitably in all industries. VRdirect enables business scenarios ranging from virtual tours to training & education, marketing & sales and product visualization. Explore our VR showroom and learn how you can leverage Virtual Reality for various use cases in your business.

If you want to take it one step further and want to see what is possible in terms of 360° video, you can use the Youtube and Facebook search to find 360° video content and watch them for free in your browser.

For Facebook, just add “360” to your search term – if you are looking for 360° skydiving videos for example just search for “Skydiving 360” and you will find multiple 360° videos.

On Youtube, the search for 360° content works even better. Input your search term and afterwards use the “Filter”-tab of the Youtube search to display 360° videos. You can also apply multiple filters in order to, for example, show videos with the most views first.

Please note that these 360° videos are not interactive experiences but merely nice 360° videos that users consume passively.

Step 2: Wireframing and Storyboard

Every great Virtual Reality experience starts off first with a plan of action, even if that plan is rudimentary and minimalist at first. All you need to get started is a simple storyboard (physical paper or digital paper, it makes no difference) to act as the foundation that the rest of your VR world will be built upon.

Adobe XD CC is a free wireframing program that is usually used by Web- or App-Designers that want to visualize their user experience and create a prototype. Although you will only need it to create a roadmap that shows the possible paths your user can take through your experience, a resource like Adobe XD CC can be really helpful for that. It is available for both Mac and Windows.

After you’re done sketching your user experience it’s now time to create your storyboard. A storyboard is a shot-by-shot visual plan that shows what a film will look like before the film is shot. Working with a storyboard is very important so you don’t miss out on any important shots when filming your footage. If you are producing your Virtual Reality project for someone else, you should definitely consult your client about the storyboard first before you start producing.

If you’ve never worked with storyboards and don’t know how to make one, head to the ACMI website for a free crash course

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Step 3: Footage and content

You should now have a clear idea of what kind of story you want to tell and what media and content you need for that. For Virtual Reality projects, the basis will always be 360° photo or video content or something that was rendered out in 3D.

360° Photo or Video Content:

Most of the time, 360° photo or video content will be the foundation of your interactive VR project. You don’t need complex 3D footage or models to create stunning interactive 360° experiences with VRdirect. Although we always recommend a dedicated 360° camera, there are some free apps out there that can help you to get started or even to draft up a demo. Here you will find our guide to filming your own 360° footage.

The Street View App lets you create 360° photos directly with your smartphone – for free and without any additional hardware. Just open the app on your iOS or Android device and click on “Create” and take a series of photos. The photos are taken automatically and once you’re done, the app does all the stitching work for you. After the stitching is done, the 360° photo will be automatically saved to your smartphone and can then be integrated into your Virtual Reality project.

iOS: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/google-street-view/id904418768

Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.street&hl=en

Stiching Software
If you already have a 360° camera, the stiching often comes with it for free, e.g. the THETA stiching app (for Ricoh Theta cameras) or the Insta360 Pro STITCHER (for Insta cameras).

Editing 360° Content:

If you have 360° content that you downloaded from a stock footage platform or created with your own 360° camera, you can directly import it into your VRdirect project. Although, sometimes you will have to edit the footage before using it, for example in order to trim your shots to the correct length or to enhance the colors of your shots.

GIMP is a free software for photo editing. With the open source image editor, you are able to use a wide range of photo editing tools. By adjusting the contrast, color saturation, brightness or other parameters, you can make your 360° photos look more professional.

While 360° photo content can be edited with many free image editing tools, this is not the case for 360° video and it’s not too easy to find a good solution even for basic editing such as trimming.

If you are only looking for basic editing options, V360 – which is available for free on iOS and Android – is exactly the app you need. V360 is an app that lets you edit 360° videos directly on your mobile phone. Basically, it allows you to trim and sort your 360° footage very quickly to get a somewhat rough cut and save the final product to your smartphone. It is definitely a great resource to get you started, but some 360° videos might require further editing.

3D Animations and Models:

Although you don’t need any fancy looking 3D-animations to create a stunning and interactive VR experience, some people still want to use them or even have to. With 3D-animation, computer graphics are used to give the impression of objects moving and being in a three-dimensional space.

At the same time, using 3D models of rooms or halls can give you just the look you’re searching for when taking 360° photos yourself is not an option.

Blender is a free and open-source 3D creation software. If you don’t have access to 360° footage or need parts of your experience to be created in 3D, blender is an ideal way to get started and create your first 3D models. There are thousands of tutorials online that can help you create exactly the 3D models that you need.

Other software tools might offer more advanced features for creating 3D models, but if you’ve never used a 3D modeling tool, you can probably do everything you need to do without the more advanced ones. Also, other and more advanced software tools aren’t free most of the time.

Blender is more than suited to create your very first 3D models for your VR experience and we would definitely recommend taking a look at it. Sure – it might take you some time to really get started, but that’s the case for almost any software.

Mixamo is an Adobe tool for 3D character creation and animation. It contains a free library of rigged and animated characters that can easily be imported to your 3D software (e.g. Blender). Using this tool is completely free – all you need is an Adobe ID. A Creative Cloud subscription is not required. If you ask us, Mixamo is a great way to work with pre-designed characters and animations.

Please note, however, that the current version of VRdirect Studio does not allow insertion of 3D objects. You’ll have to render them out as MP4, PNG or JPEG or integrate them directly into the background, which you’ll then be able to import as a video or an image.

Sketchfab allows creators to buy and sell 3D, AR and VR content – although, a large part of their onine library contains completely free 3D models. Offering mainly objects and characters, Sketchfab should be your go-to resource if you’re looking for free 3D models to get started with. All of the models can be downloaded as an .fbx file that can be imported to your 3D software (e.g. Blender) – where it can be rendered out for use in VRdirect Studio.

Just like Sketchfab, Turbosquid offers a library with 3D models, but focuses on full rooms and 3D-modelled places next to characters. A lot of models are available for free and can be downloaded as an .fbx file that can be rendered in any 3D software before importing it to VRdirect Studio. If you want to know more about the VRdirect Studio schedule a free demo with us.

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Step 4: 2D-Elements and Graphics

If you have the main content like 360° footage or 3D-animations set up you can now think about 2D-content, like videos, photos or graphics, that you would like to include in your VR project. Some of the main use cases for these interactive objects are to trigger connections, start a video, or play a sound. Icons and PNG graphics often represent those.

A great place to get access to such icons that you can freely use in your projects is iconmonstr.com. The website hosts over 4237+ free icons that you can download as .png graphics in your preferred resolution and color or as .ai to use it as a vector graphic. The license of iconmonstr.com grants you every right you need to have: use the downloaded icons in non-commercial and commercial projects, services or products without attribution in any media.

After you’ve downloaded your .png icon you can just import it to VRdirect Studio and use it for your interactive elements.

If you are not happy with everything iconmonstr.com has to offer, you have some other choices for sure. One of our preferred ones is definitely freepik.com. They offer millions of vector graphics, icons, and illustrations. But that’s not all; if you want to use stock photos in your VR project as well, freepik.com has over a million of them – free to use in commercial or personal projects. Just make sure to take a close look at the license which tends to differ between different media files. Some are free to use with attribution, while for others you need to attribute the author.
Another website that provides fantastic free-to-use icons and graphics is Flaticon. All these assets can be downloaded as PNG or SVG files and usually come in different colors, so you can choose which suits your VR project best. Please be aware though that a small attribution of the creator is required in most cases. Another thing to pay attention to is the look & style of assets when using different icon sets in order to keep the consistency within your project.

Lastly, Pixabay is a great source for free photos, illustrations as well as videos and music. Here you can also find full-body shots of people that you can cut out in order to integrate them into your Virtual Reality project – for example as a staff member at the front desk with a speech bubble who greets users. Most of Pixabay’s assets are licensed for commercial use and require no attribution of the creator.

Step 5: Audio

Everything you need visually should now be ready and, in the best case scenario, already imported and implemented into your VRdirect project – your 360° or 3D content as well as your icons, photos or videos. The only thing that is missing from your perfect interactive VR experience now is music and sound effects. Audio can play a big role in a fully interactive experience and can give the user additional feedback (e.g. a “click” sound when clicking on a button).

Music:

In Virtual Reality projects, music is most commonly used as background music that is audible throughout the entire project. It’s not too easy to find good royalty free music that is free to use in a personal or commercial project, but as always there are exceptions.
One of them is Bensound. It is a royalty-free site with around 100 tracks ranging from cinematic to world music, acoustic, folk and other genres. You can use Bensound’s music licensed under the Creative Commons License in your multimedia project as long as you credit Bensound.com. Examples of proper way to credit them are: “Music: https://www.bensound.com/royalty-free-music or “Music: « Song Title » from Bensound.com”.

Sound effects:

Similarly to music, sound effects can make the difference between a good and a great Virtual Reality project. Whether you trigger them by timed events or add them to interactive objects, sound effects add realism to your project and make it even more immersive. Characters and objects that you use in your 360° videos are usually performing everyday actions, so it is important to reinforce these actions with the sounds that people are used to hearing. But where can you find sound effects that are free to use?

The answer might be simpler then you’d expect, but using YouTube’s search function to find royalty free sound effects works pretty well. Just search for your desired sound (e.g. “punch”) and add the term “sfx royalty free”.

You will find many videos including download links. Again: make sure to read the whole video description or visit the website of the creator (if one is declared) to make sure under what conditions the effect is free to use in your project.

FreeSFX offers a huge library of free sound effects and even some entire music tracks that you can use for your Virtual Reality experience. All you need is a free account – then you can download the needed tricks as MP3 files that can be directly imported to VRdirect Studio.

Editing:

Although you can directly import your sound effects or music to VRdirect Studio, you sometimes might have to edit it or cut it to the right duration. The same thing might also be true for the audio you recorded with your 360° camera or with your smartphone. For example, there might be some background noises you want to cut out or to enhance the audio level of your recordings.
And that’s exactly what Audacity is used for. It’s a free, open source, cross-platform audio editor and recorder that is very intuitive and easy-to-use. It is available for Windows, Mac and other platforms. With audacity, you can basically do everything you would ever need to do with your audio files. Again: there are thousands of tutorials available online for free that you can use to get started.

Step 6: Putting it all together & Publishing

So you’ve worked yourself all the way through and have got everything ready that you need to create an immersive interactive Virtual Reality project? Then it’s time to put it all together. And that’s where VRdirect Studio comes into play.

VRdirect Studio is a software that lets you create and publish your own professional interactive 360°/VR projects. VRdirect Studio is available for Windows and Mac. It is an easy-to-use drag & drop editor that lets you create interactive 360° projects within minutes. We have created a complete user guide on how to use our Studio so you can convince yourself:

Create an account and use the VRdirect Studio for free within our free trial period. During that time you may create and preview as many projects as you like and even publish a project for demo purposes.

And this is it. You have just created an interactive VR project that you can show to your audience, just by using free resources. Isn’t that amazing? We think so too. 

If you have any questions regarding your Virtual Reality projects, feel free to contact us anytime!

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About VRdirect

The VRdirect platform is the easiest solution to create and publish Virtual Reality projects. There are no expert skills needed. Moreover, Virtual Reality projects created with VRdirect can be published instantly via any VR enabled device, smartphone or web-browser and you can update them easily and in real-time.

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