There’s a red block floating in front of me and I’m using my hands to shave off the edges, slowly shaping…something. Behind me there’s a colorful sculpture of the words SculptrVR to give me an idea of what’s possible in this app after just a few minutes.
While Google’s Tilt Brush uses a painting system that instantly creates something eye-catching in VR, SculptrVR in the HTC Vive is made with something else in mind — the ability to bring something you made in VR into the real world. You’ll have to wait a few weeks for shipment of your 3D-printed creation, but the actual modeling of the 3D object could be designed in VR and sent off to the printer in a couple minutes, like the one at the top of this post.
I’ve been at the Silicon Valley Virtual Reality conference this week where I talked with Nathan Rowe, founder of the BoostVC-backed company, and tried out SculptrVR for the first time. Rowe answered my most pressing questions about the software, which is rougher around the edges than something like Tilt Brush, but offers a number of features that aren’t currently available in Google’s VR app.
According to Rowe, VR-ready PCs can be used to shape an object in SculptrVR for about an hour before approaching a limit to what can be displayed. This isn’t really an issue in Tilt Brush because the app limits the volume in which you can build and I’ve yet to see someone paint too many things in that space to reach a performance limit. SculptrVR, however, uses teleportation and a resizing mechanism to give the creator an unbounded volume in which to build, as well as the ability to see your work from a different size perspective at any moment. You could shape little details on a creation with the object sized super large, and then shrink it down for a preview of how it would look once it is printed in the real world.
ScupltrVR’s approach to shaping something in VR favors solid objects rather than whispy strokes and that means it is tuned to let creators model an object more quickly than with professional 3D modeling software or Google’s Tilt Brush. I left SVVR this week just wanting to drive home and download the $20 software to see what my family could make over the weekend. I’ll follow-up with how it goes getting something printed.
SculptrVR is far from the only creativity software coming to VR, but it does join Tilt Brush in being available at the launch of consumer PC-powered VR. The early availability of the software means there’s plenty of time for additions to be requested by users and for Rowe to keep developing it in new directions. One feature in the software, for example, allows the player to fire rockets at blocks as a way of shaping them in a playful way. More features like that could make the software fun like Minecraft or Modbox but as expressive as Tilt Brush.