GearShift IconI’m a newcomer to the Gear VR headset, but it’s a really exciting and extremely immersive way to experience 360 panorama content. I quickly found that the stock Samsung 360 viewer app was pretty limited, but the ORBX player is much, much more exciting. For me, it’s the most exciting 360 media player on the Gear VR platform, and I am exploring ways to get my own work into this viewer.

Preparing panoramas for ORBX player use is – is, well, it’s fiddly. This is a stereo viewer with support for left-right panorama pairs, and the image format is a horizontal cubeface strip in PNG or JPG format.

For some reason (can anyone tell me WHY?) Gear VR viewers invert the scene, so, to avoid everything being mirrored in the end result, you need to invert your own content first to ensure it reads the right way around. The cubefaces must be arranged in the following order: front, back, up, down, right, left. In addition, the up cubeface must be rotated by 90 degrees and the down face by -90.

Sounds simple, huh? Just try it. Doing this to just one panorama is ‘a bit fiddly’. Doing this to a handful at once is a royal pain in the... well, that's why I made GearShift. This very simple utility takes regular cubefaces (JPEG format only, sorry), and flips, rotates and arranges them as needed, then generates the required double-length horizontal strip. If you're not working with stereo panoramas just uncheck the Stereo option and GearShift will automatically double up one set of cubefaces.

Download GearShift for Mac, Windows and Linux. (Linux untested, reports welcome)

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Preparation: use your preferred tool to generate JPEG cubeface files from a spherical panorama. These should use the single-letter cubeface naming convention: the front cubeface file name should end with f.jpg, the back end with b.jpg, and so on. The standard size for Gear VR use is 1536px. You may use larger sizes if you prefer, but it’s unlikely that you’ll see any difference in quality – just slightly longer load times. Avoid using lower-resolution cubefaces as the result will feel a bit soft.

Production: click the Generate button and select one of your cubeface files. If the Stereo option is checked pick from the LEFT set first, then pick one from the RIGHT set. GearShift will generate a single horizontal image suitable for ORBX playback and ask you to save it. The output format is JPEG; remember to use .jpg as the filename suffix.

I made this for myself, but of course anyone is free to use it if they want. If you like it, if you have any questions, or if you (heaven forbid) hit any bugs please feel free to leave a note. If you find a better tool or method let me know too!

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