The Definitive Guide to HoloBuilder: From zero to 3D-hero in a few simple steps

Even though HoloBuilder is being developed with a strong focus on usability and intuitiveness, as an absolute beginner you might feel a little overwhelmed by its large variety of features and functions.

This is why we have created an easy to understand beginner tutorial that enables you to create amazing 3D presentations from scratch, without any previous knowledge, in a few simple steps.

Have quick look at this introduction and try it yourself with a short interactive tutorial at the end of this entry.

We think the guide provides everything you need to enjoy the usage of HoloBuilder, but if there should be anything that you are missing or if there are any questions left open, we would love to hear them. So please do not hesitate to contact us, whatever your concern might be.

The Definitive Guide to HoloBuilder

HoloBuilder.com is a web platform that lets users create a set of 3D slides, or simply scenes, which can be thought of as equivalents to PowerPoint’s slides. This set of scenes— forming a HoloBuilder project — are thus a 3D presentation.

HoloBuilder supports 360° photospheres as well as custom 3D models and provides a wide variety of predefined 2D and 3D objects to insert in your 3D scenes. Thus, it should be incredibly easy for you to create great 360° and 3D content with HoloBuilder— there are absolutely no programming skills required!

Find below a list of the features presented in this guide – click on the corresponding heading to jump directly to the information you are looking for, or browse through the complete guide to get an overview of the full potential of HoloBuilder.

Creating your first HoloBuilder project – the basics
HoloBuilder from A to Z – The short version
Managing scenes
Adding further scenes
Orienting scenes
Changing photosphere/ AR marker
Calibrating photosphere
Adding 2D Text/ 3D text
Adding 2D/ 3D objects 
Manipulating 2D/3D objects
Animating 2D/ 3D objects
Adding an action to your 2D/ 3D objects
Interlinking scenes
HoloPlayer
Embedding & sharing your Holo
Upgrade your account

Get started!

Where can I find good photospheres?
Where can I find nice 3D models?
OK, please tell me, what the heck is OPC UA?

 

Creating your First HoloBuilder project

When first launching HoloBuilder, you are presented with a menu for creating a new project that lets you select the type of the initial scene format of your new HoloBuilder project.

By default, the initial view of the menu shows the three available scene types:

Drag and drop image files to upload

Figure 1: Drag and drop image files to upload

  • Virtual Reality Scenes: Add one or multiple 360° images to add these as scenes to your project. Click here for a short overview of common cameras to be used for capturing 360° images.
  • Sheets: Start your project by adding one or multiple sheets, e.g. floor plans or similar mappings of the location – Learn more.
  • Augmented Reality Scenes:
    • Without Marker‘ creates an empty 3D room;
    • Image Tracking‘ lets you add a two-dimensional image as a marker that will be placed as a plain object at the center of the room. All additional 3D objects are then placed in relation to this image; and
    • Object Tracking‘ lets you add a three-dimensional model (in terms of a .cloudfile).
  • Import Existing Project: Load another existing project to this project –  Learn more.

Further listed options are not available for creating a new project but only when editing an existing project:

  • Time Travel Scenes: Document progress of a location over time by adding further 360° images for some timeframes to a scene – Learn more.

 

In general, it is possible to simply drag and drop one or multiple 360° images directly onto the user interface, which will automatically add several scenes or sheets at once to your project.

 

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HoloBuilder from A to Z – The short Version

When uploading any 360° images or sheets to your project, you will be presented with the HoloBuilder editor as shown in figure 2 below. Start adding any further information, e.g. actions, or additional documentation, e.g. as multiple sheets or time travels, without limitations.

Overview of the HoloBuilder web editor

Figure 2: Overview of the HoloBuilder web editor.

In general, we can divide the editor into three areas: the project panel, the display, and the object panel.

  • The project panel helps you organize and add new scenes, sheets, and time travels.
  • The display shows the currently selected scene including all objects. You can manipulate the image with the action bar or interact with the added sheets and select the desired time travel.
  • The object panel provides a variety of predefined 2D & 3D objects, actions, and animations. Add custom objects and organize them, e.g. in groups.

Find below a list of HoloBuilder’s most important features and learn more about your possibilities! Get access to the right comprehensive tutorial answering you every question in detail here.

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Managing existing scenes & sheets

Image preview & properties in the HoloBuilder project panel

Figure 3: Image preview and properties in the Project Panel.

In the left-hand sidebar, the project panel, you can manage your project scenes, sheets, and time travels. Edit the properties and rearrange each scene, sheet, and time travel scene individually in the project panel.

Scene & sheet properties

Click on the name above the scene or sheet preview to open the scene/sheet properties:

  • Rename: Each added scene or sheet will automatically be named with the name of the image file of the sphere or sheet.  Add/change the name and description of the selected scene or sheet in the properties.
  • Add a time: The timestamp of a scene or sheet can be useful for documentation purposes. Also, the timestamp for scenes is essential for arranging time travel scenes. Make sure to set the year, month, day, as well as time.
Orienting Scenes

Each scene or time travel scene has a default orientation for the initial view depending on the placing of the camera during the capturing process. This will be the default view when first loading a project. When switching between different scenes, the orientation of the scene will be adjusted to the direction the previously viewed scenes was facing. This way it is possible to easily orient oneself in the virtual environment when ‘walking’ through.

When creating a scene or adding time travel scenes, you can set a fixed orientation of the scene for when it is being opened. This helps to set a focus of an individual scene or a direction when creating a project. However, if a fixed orientation is set for a scene, the automated adaption of the previous scene’s direction, will be disabled.

Select the desired scene in the project panel. Rotate your scene to the right perspective, zoom in or out and click the camera icon  at the right border of the scene preview to set the orientation of the scene.

Rearrange

Rearrange the order of your added scenes, sheets, and time travel scenes by dragging and dropping each scene accordingly to its’ place. Click on the scene or sheet element you want to rearrange and hold while dragging it up and down in the list.

Drag a scene onto a sheet element in the list to assign it to this sheet. This will not add a waypoint for the scene to the sheet map in the display, simply arrange the scene to be subordinate to the sheet. To create a waypoint on the sheet, select the scene and click on the location on the sheet map.

Changing a scene/sheet

To exchange the image of an existing scene/sheet but keep the inserted objects, actions, and connections/waypoints, click on the two facing arrows next to the preview thumbnail. Browse your local drive to add another image. Any added objects will not be removed and stay at the given position in the scene. Waypoints placed on a sheet will be kept in their place.

Removing a scene/sheet

Use the icon at the right border of the scene/sheet preview to delete a scene or sheet. Note that, when deleting a time travel scene, you will delete the whole time travel of this scene including all time travel scenes if you delete the initial scene for this time travel. You can delete single time travel steps by selecting any other timestamp with the time travel menu and then clicking the recycling bin. Learn more about how to work with Time Travel here.

 

Hide () and expand () the scene overview at the upper right corner of the panel.

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Adding further scenes, sheets or time travels

To add a new scene to your HoloBuilder project, you need to click on the green plus button in the project panel. You can select any scene type to add to your project by selecting the corresponding tab in the popup as shown in figure 1.

Any newly added scenes, sheets or time travels will be directly visible in the project menu as shown below. Place new scene on a sheet by dragging and dropping it to the corresponding location in the sheet map. Learn more about adding time travels here and uploading additional sheets here.

Figure 4: Add new scenes, sheets or time travel scenes to a project with the project panel.

 

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Rotate Sphere

Adjust the calibration of your added scenes or time travel scenes and straighten out tilted images. Click the rotation icon rotateSphere located in the upper-right corner of the display to change to the ‘Rotate Sphere’ mode. Rotate the 360° images of the selected scene in three dimensions to get the right perspective by dragging the corresponding toggle switch as shwon in figure 5.

Learn more about how to properly calibrate your 360° images with HoloBuilder in the corresponding tutorial!

Figure 5: Three-dimensions for rotating the 360° image.

 

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Custom text & objects

2D/ 3D text

Select the tab ‘ Custom Text & Objects’ in the object panel’s register ( tab) to add 2D or 3D text (see also figure 6):

  • Click A2D to open the 2D text editor. 2-dimensional text always faces the camera. It can be arbitrarily styled in the provided rich text editor, including some predefined backgrounds etc. Select the 2D text and click once again A2D  to edit the text. Learn more on how to add 2D text directly into your scene here.
  • Click A3D to open the 3D text editor. 3-dimensional text can be styled according to the given style elements, such as font, color etc. They can be rotated, scaled, and moved anyway in a scene. It is currently not possible to edit 3D text after it has been inserted into the scene. Learn more about 3D text directly in your scenes here.
2D/ 3D objects

Select the tab ‘ Custom Text & Objects’ in the object panel’s register ( tab) to upload custom 2- and 3-dimensional object. Click the button to add a 2D object, e.g. an icon, or  to upload a 3D model:

  • 2D models are simply images that are inserted into the slide and always face the camera (in analogy to 2D text). 2D objects can be added as .jpg, .jpeg or .png file.
  • 3D models need to be available as .dae or .obj file. In case your models are not available in one of these formats, you can convert them using, e.g., the Open Asset Import Library. Always make sure to have all assets, such as the texture files, e.g. .mtl & .jpeg for .obj, included.

 

Figure 6: Select the object menu in the object panel on the right to add predefined 2D & 3D objects or text to your scene.

If you have no 3D models present on your computer you can use our predefined models (“Arrows”, “Shapes”, “Textured Shapes”, “Tools” and “Icons”) that are provided in the right-hand sidebar ( tab) as well. Click on the corresponding model category and drag & drop or simply click on the model you want to add to your scene.

Alternatively, you can make use of our integrated search box to find 3D models on the web. Since you have to first download these from external sites, they are not automatically added to your HoloBuilder project. However, you can directly drag & drop them from your browser’s download bar onto HoloBuilder’s “Add Object or Image” dialog box and they will be instantly added to your project. The correct file formats are preselected in our meta-search.

Learn more about adding 3D models to your HoloBuilder project with this comprehensive tutorial.

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Manipulate 2D/3D objects

Move, rotate and scale your added 2D and 3D objects to fit the AR or VR surroundings. Learn more about positioning, rotating and scaling your objects with this complete tutorial on ‘How to correctly Position, Rotate & Scale objects in HoloBuilder’.

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Animations

Select an object you have added to your slide and set it in motion. Switch to the animations menu in the right-hand sidebar ( tab). Choose either one of the predefined animations or create your own custom animation, which you can compose with the basic motion options “rotate”, “scale” and “position”.

Overview of the predefined animations HoloBuilder offers to get your 2D and 3D objects moving.

 

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Actions

Bind objects in your slide to certain actions also called commands. Add a command to an object by clicking the rightmost icon at the top of the right-hand sidebar (tab). Select the object that shall perform the action as soon as it’s clicked and choose a command from the list in the menu – e.g. opening a website or opening slides for building interactive tours.

The list of standard commands that can be used to enrich the AR and VR

 

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Interlinking Slides

One of the most important functionalities of HoloBuilder is the ability to interlink slides. This way it is possible to, e.g., create a virtual tour of your house or apartment by displaying the appropriate HoloBuilder slide when a virtual “door” is clicked. To realize this, add an appropriate object that should be clicked to change to the next slide in your tour, then select the “Commands” tab as described in the previous paragraph. To interlink your slides, choose the command “Open slide” and enter the number of the slide that will be opened next when clicking the chosen object. You can find this number in the slide list of the left-hand sidebar (see image below).

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HoloPlayer

After having edited your 3D presentation (or while you’re still at it), you can watch your project in player mode and have a preview of how it will look to the viewers. To change mode click the “play” icon in the right part of the top menu bar (the one above the actual editor).

While in player mode, you can switch back to editor mode by clicking the “edit” icon in the menu at the bottom of the player. Moreover, you can enable sensor usage if watching the 3D presentation on your mobile device (i.e., you move the orientation of the current slide by moving your device), fullscreen mode and stereo mode, which is intended for use with Google Cardboard. Share your project on social networks or embed it on your homepage.

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Embedding & Sharing Your 3D Presentation

To share your 3D presentation, simply click the share icon in the top menu bar and copy/paste the URL from there or directly select the social network you want to share it on. Alternatively, HoloBuilder projects can be embedded on arbitrary web pages. For this, change to the “Advanced” sharing options and copy/paste the provided “Embed Code” into the HTML source code of the embedding website (e.g., your personal website or blog). Click here for an example of an embedded HoloBuilder project. Adjust the settings of the player when embedding it to your personal preferences. Learn more about ‘How to Customize the HoloPlayer Layout for Sharing your Holo’ in a complete tutorial.

Left: Standard options for sharing #holo by social network or directly with URL. Right: Advanced sharing options for embedding your Holo into your website or distributing a custom fullscreen link.

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Upgrade your account

Go to HoloBuilder.com/premium and choose your personal premium plan to profit from more individuality and privacy according to your needs.

Upgrade your account from Starter  to ProBusiness or Business+. Take a look at the current additional advantages of each package:

    • Pro: Brand your Holos with your company name, protect them from being copied and share unlisted Holos with only selected viewers.
    • Business: You can not only brand your Holos but also remove the HoloBuilder Logo from the Player, share your Holos privately with exclusively selected members of your team on HoloBuilder and enjoy our priority support whenever you need it.

  • Business+: Enjoy all the advantages and special features of the two packages enlisted above and additionally profit from a 30 minute One-on-One live tutorial to get your answers to every question right away.

Each of the three upgrades extends the additional features enlisted by the previous packages.

Your upgrade package will come with a given number of Premium Holos holding the upgrade specific features. You can extend or decrease your monthly Premium Holo number according to your needs.

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Get Started!

Now it’s your turn! Take the following 360° photosphere by clicking the “Copy & Edit” button and saving the project as your own:

Download the 3D model of a palm tree:

CoconutTreeCoconut Tree

and put them together on HoloBuilder.com. Your result could look something like this but it is up to you to put all components together as you wish:

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Important answers to really get started!

Where can I find good photospheres?

For a start, we suggest searching Flickr and Google+ for “photosphere”. You can also try SphereShare.net.

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Where can I find nice 3D models?

For this, we definitely recommend the meta-search included in HoloBuilder, as the correct file formats are already preselected. You can also browse CGTraderSketchfab, and Clara.io.

Note: When searching for 3D models, please be aware that you need .obj or .dae files to upload to HoloBuilder.

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OK, please tell me, what the heck is OPC UA?

OPC UA is short for OPC Unified Architecture and according to Wikipedia it “is an industrial [machine-to-machine] communication protocol for interoperability developed by the OPC Foundation.” Hence, if you are just a normal end-user of HoloBuilder, it might not really be of relevance for you ;). To get an idea of what OPC UA does, please have a look at the following video.

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If any further questions remain, please don’t hesitate to write us! Or take a look at any other tutorial for further instructions.

Try HoloBuilder  for your 360° projects!