Introduction

Watch your videos in virtual reality with Simple VR Video Player, an easy to use video player with full motion controller support. Simple VR Video Player can play your saved video files with full 2D/180°/360° and 3D/SBS/OU support.

MAIN FEATURES

  • 2D/180°/360° Videos
  • 3D Side By Side(SBS)/Over Under(OU) Video Support
  • 180° Fisheye
  • Motion Controls with HTC Vive
  • Adjustable Brightness/Contrast/Color/Gamma/Hue Settings
  • Full Tilt/Distance/Height Controls
  • Scalable Super Sampling Resolution
  • "Super Enhanced" Mode For Sharper Image Fidelity
  • Saveable 180/360 Settings Unique For Each Video
  • Virtual Play/Pause/Stop Buttons
  • 3D Menus & File Navigation
  • Haptic Feedback
  • One-Handed Controls
  • Curved Screens
  • Multiple decoding engines including Media Foundation and DirectShow
  • Environments
  • Mouse Control for those without Motion Controllers

The software was designed specifically for the HTC Vive with a "motion controls first" design philosophy. Unlike other VR video players, our interface is can be used keyboard and mouse free so you can be completely immersed in VR without having to take off your headset to reach for obscure keyboard shortcuts.

Getting Started

The video player uses a simple laser pointer to interact with the interface. Simply point, click, and drag. To view the Play/Pause controls, point your laser towards the screen. If you point away, the interface will automatically hide after a few seconds.


Simple player controls

The interface was designed to require only one controller to work. You can activate either controller by pressing the trigger button.

Tip: You can hide your controllers at any time by pushing the grip buttons.
Tip: As a shortcut, you can skip forward or backward by clicking the right or left side of the touchpad. You can play/pause by pressing on the center of touchpad.

Screen Position, Size, & Distance

You can click and drag the screen with your pointer to move it to any location space.

To resize your screen, drag the resize control (green arrows located near the top right corner). To adjust the distance, click the distance control near the bottom center of the screen and move your controller closer or further away from you.


Drag forward or back to control distance

All adjustments will display the actual length in meters. Screen size is measured diagonally across the scren.

Main Menu

You can open or close the Main Menu at any time by pushing the top menu button located on your Vive controller or by clicking on the Menu button in the user interface.

Tip: Use the trackpad as a mouse wheel to scroll up and down the menus

File Navigation

The video player has a built in file explorer that is rendered completely in 3D space. Just click on the File icon in the Main Menu to list all the files in your home directory. To go back a directory, click on the ".." button at the top of the file list.


User your trackpad to scroll up and down

Note: The player can't currently play Blu-rays or 3D Blu-rays off disc. Blu-rays are DRM'd and encrypted that requires licensing rights to decode.

Home Directory

By default, the home directory is your C:\Users\[username]\Videos directory. After navigating to different location, you can change your default starting directory at any time by clicking on the "Save Home" button at the top of the file list.

Directory Shortcuts

There are directory shortcut buttons for commonly used directory locations such as Downloads, Drives, and User at the top of the files list.

Options

The options section allows you to customize various settings such as image brightness, saturation, gamma, contrast, and hue.

Saving Default Settings

You can save the default Options settings by clicking on the "Save Default" button. It will remember these settings next time the app loads.

How to Play 3D/180°/360° Videos

To play 3D videos, your video must be formatted in one of two common formats: Side-By-Side (SBS) or Over Under (OU) (also known as Top Bottom) It's easy to recognize these videos once you play them. A SBS will have two images displayed left and right to each other (one for each eye). An OU video will have an image on top and bottom of each other. To activate 3D, just click on the respective 3D SBS or 3D OU buttons located below the Play buttons.

To play a 180° or 360° video, just push the corresponding buttons below the Play button. This will open up a new separate menu to specifically customize your 180/360 viewing experience.

Note: The video player doesn't support 3D MKV files. They need to be re-encoded to SBS or OU.

Adjusting 180/360 Settings

You can adjust the Tilt, Distance, and Height of your 180/360 videos. You may experience some distortion when adjusting these settings so you should find what settings work best for you since every video uses different camera lenses and hardware.


Adjust your 180/360 settings and save!

Saving Individual 180° or 360° Video Settings

You can make adjustments to the settings and save them individually for each video. Just click the "Save Video Settings" button in the 180/360 menu and the next time the video loads, it will reload the settings again. It will also save your Options settings for brightness, contrast, gamma, etc that are unique for each video. It will also remember if the video was in 180/360 or SBS/OU.

Note: The file settings are saved in a .cfg file located in C:\Users\[username]\AppData\LocalLow\SimpleVR\Simple VR Video Player

Environments

Simple VR Video Player has built in environments you can select from the Main Menu. The selected backgrounds were chosen as a minimal set of simple backrops to be included with the software including a standard Black backdrop. We want to extend the available Environments for future releases and possibly support SteamVR environments.

Advanced Features

Even though Simple VR Video Player was designed to be an easy and simple to use application for normal users, under the hood, there is a tremendous amount of advanced features you can explore and experiment with, especially for power users with high-end computers.

Super Sampling Resolution (SSAA)

Super sampling is a brute force rendering technique that greatly improves image quality in virtual reality headsets. It works by rendering the 3D scene an X percentage higher than the physical resolution of the display and then resizing/downsampling the image back to your display. This results in an expensive form of high quality anti-aliasing that delivers a cleaner looking rendered image. The downside is that it requires a tremendous amount of GPU power since at 200% super sampling, you're effectively rendering at four times the amount of pixels compared to your device's standard resolution.


Super sampling difference
Tip: If you've already modified your super sampling settings in your SteamVR .cfg settings, it will have a multiplying effect on the app's settings. So if you're already set at 1.4, the in-app setting will show as 100% in the menu but will actually render at 140%.

Super Enhanced Mode

Simple VR Video Player is excited to introduce Super Enhanced Mode! Sharpen your video and drastically improve image fidelity by enabling "Super Enhance" in the options. The Super Enhance technique utilizes an intelligent sharpening algorithm to enhance contrast and details while maintaining image quality.

This feature when combined with high Super Sampling effectively upscales, sharpens, and downscales the video for greatly improved clarity especially on virtual reality headsets.


Super Enhanced Mode Before/After

Once you see the difference, you'll never want to go back to your old player again!

Anti-Aliasing (MSAA)

By default, 2x MSAA is enabled in the Options. You can increase this value to reduce edge pixelation aka "jaggies". MSAA does require a lot of GPU power so it's recommended to lower this value if it's affecting performance.

Tip: If you are already Super Sampling (SSAA) at a high percentage, try turning off Anti-Aliasing (MSAA) to GREATLY improve performance.

Watch Your Frames Per Second (FPS)

It is crucial to maintain at least 90 FPS in your virtual reality headset. There is an FPS counter on the bottom right corner of the options that you should monitor at all times when making changes to your quality settings. If your frame rate ever drops to the 45 FPS threshold, that means your headset is running in something called "reprojection" mode. This occurs when your VR headset detects that your computer can no longer maintain 90 FPS and forcibly cuts your frame rate in half while introducing ghosting effects to simulate 90 FPS motion.

Video Decoding Engines

What can it play?

The most common question is, "Can it play _____ files?" Video decoding is a complicated topic that most end users shouldn't have to spend too much time trying to understand. They just want their videos to work. The general rule of thumb is, if your standard Windows Media Player can play your video files, then Simple VR Video Player can play it too. If your system can't play the videos, then there are ways to figure out which decoders and codecs you need in order to play them. Thankfully, a lot of advancements with open source decoding projects such as ffmpeg, ffdshow, LAV, and VLC has helped wide spread adoption of codecs and formats that aren't supported out of the box by standard operating systems.

To offer the most compatibility, Simple VR Video Player supports four separate video backends for decoding that you can choose from:

Microsoft Media Foundation (Windows 8 / 10) (Default)

The standard decoder that comes included with Windows. Media Foundation is an DX11 hardware accelerated decoder for highly optimized video decoding. It supports numerous formats and codecs out of the box including AVC (H.264) and limited HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding, H.265) on supported hardware. By default, Simple VR Video Player uses Media Foundation since it offers the most complete solution to play most videos. Only limitation is that it's Microsoft's proprietary black box that isn't very open to third party codecs.

DirectShow

DirectShow is Microsoft's older media library that is still used by the most advanced video playing software today. Even though DirectShow is older than Media Foundation, it is considered the most flexible engine for advanced users because it allows for third party decoders, splitters, and filters to be applied in its rendering pipeline. This opens the door for the highly advanced open source decoders such as LAV which supports the latest cutting edge codecs such as HEVC (H.265) and numerous other formats such as HLS streaming. It also allows something called "splitters" which take multi-track video files (such as .mkv) and feeds the video decoder with specific video/audio tracks and subtitles that you can configure.

LibVLC

LibVLC is an free open source project that was started decades ago and is now a complete media library with an ambitious goal to decode every modern codec in use today. LibVLC relies completely on its own internal plugins to handle all decoding without outside dependencies. That means it can work on any operating system such as MacOS, Linux, and Windows which is why it's front-end app, VLC Media Player, is so widely adopted today across multiple platforms. Only downside is that VLC's main goal is compatibility across platforms so it's not the fastest decoder out there. Plus it doesn't support plugins outside of its own framework such as DirectShow filters.

PopMovie

PopMovie is a custom third party cross platform video rendering plugin that supports many common codecs. If you have any issues with the other engines then you should give this a shot.

Changing Video Decoding Engines

You can change the video decoding engine by clicking on the bottom triangle under the Options menu. This will unlock the super advanced settings where you can choose the engine (note, Media Foundation isn't available as an option for Windows 7 users when using the app since it uses specific functions only found in Windows 8+). Once selected, you need to restart the app by clicking the RESTART button. The changes will be saved next time the app is launched.


Change Video Decoding Engine Under Options

Which Decoder Should I Use?

For most cases, Media Foundation works great out of the box. Anything Windows Media Player can play, Simple VR Video Player can play since it uses the same decoding engine built directly into Windows. For times when Media Foundation doesn't work, it's typically due to attempting to play large 4k 60fps HEVC (H.265) encoded videos. HEVC is the newest and most advanced codec out today. However, it requires tremendous computing power to decode. Only the latest version of Windows 10 supports it and it's very limited to specific hardware requirements. It also doesn't handle large 4k videos very well. If you attempt to play a HEVC video from your standard Windows Media Player, you might notice it stuttering and struggling to play back at all.

HEVC (H.265) w/ LAV Decoder

If you want to play HEVC videos, you should use the open source LAV decoder which handles HEVC much better than anything else right now. In order to use LAV, you need set your Video Engine to DirectShow within Simple VR Video Player. You also need to download a codec pack such as K-Lite Codec Pack. This is the easiest way to enable LAV which will automatically load on play if configured properly. Chances are, you have it installed already! You can determine if LAV is working by looking for the LAV system tray icon on the bottom right corner of Windows while a video is playing.

Even then, we recommend you have at least an Intel i7 4790 CPU and GeForce GTX 980 or higher if trying to decode 4k HEVC videos. If you're still encountering performance issues, you have three options:
1) Re-encode the video using a different codec (easiest)
2) Upgrade your computer
3) Blame your video content provider for not providing AVC (H.264) videos as an option to download.

Note: Trying to decode a 60fps 4k video encoded in a highly compressed codec in 3D space rendered on a 2160 x 1200 pixel display at 90 FPS isn't an easy task for most computers!

Video Troubleshooting Guide

Troubleshooting video playback issues can usually be resolved with a few simple steps.

1. Find Out the Video Codec

The first step to troubleshooting playback issues is to know the codecs used in your video (ie. AVC/h.264/x264, MPEG4 Part2, HEVC/h.265/x265). This will help determine why your particular video won't play properly. A common misconception is stating that a file extension such as ".mp4" will not play. File extensions such as .mp4 and .mkv are just video "containers" and can use different types of compression methods within these files.

To know the actual codec used in a video, I recommend using a MediaInfo tool to examine the video file such as
https://mediaarea.net/en/MediaInfo

2. Try Playing the Video in Standard Windows Media Player or Movies & TV App

The second step to diagnose playback issues is to play the video file in the standard Windows Movies & TV or Windows Media Player app that comes with Windows and see what happens. The built in video player in Windows uses the same video decoders (Media Foundation) that Simple VR Video Player uses by default.

To open, right clicking the video file in File Explorer, Open With..., and choose Movies & TV App or Windows Media Player.

If the video struggles playing or stutters, that means that your version of Windows doesn't support that codec out of the box or your computer just can't playback the video properly. This is especially the case with high resolution 4k HEVC videos.

3. Use DirectShow w/LAV

Simple VR Video Players supports multiple video decoding engines that you can configure in the app to maximize compatibility. One of the most popular video engines is DirectShow.

You can set Simple VR Video Player to use DirectShow as its rendering engine under Super Advanced Settings (see above).

Many modern media players such as Media Player Classic (MPC-HC) uses DirectShow as their video backend because it allows for advanced third-party decoders and splitters such as LAV and ffdshow to be used in its renderer.

LAV Filter is the best decoder for video out there now. It supports many more codecs than built into Windows and is faster than LibVLC. To use, first change the video engine in Simple VR Video Player to DirectShow and then download LAV from the internet and install it.

If you don't have it installed already, the easiest way to install LAV is through a "codec pack" such as K-Lite, Shark007, or Combined Community Codec Pack (CCCP).

LAV Filter is maintained and updated regularly adding new codec support and fixing issues very often.
https://github.com/Nevcairiel/LAVFilters/releases

Once installed, LAV will automatically start once you play a video with DirectShow enabled. You can see it working by seeing the LAV icons in the Windows systen tray on the bottom right corner of Windows.

4. Try LibVLC

LibVLC's main advantage is that it relies completely on its own internal plugins to handle all decoding without outside dependencies or codecs. That means it can be used in different operating systems which is why it's front-end app, VLC Media Player, is so widely adopted today across multiple platforms. Only downside is that VLC's main goal is compatibility across platforms so it's not the fastest decoder out there.

Known AC3 Audio Issues

There are known issues with videos containing AC3 audio (aka Dolby 5.1 surround sound). This is mostly due to licensing restrictions. Simple VR Video Player can't play Dolby audio out of the box unless your OS supports it since it requires licensing rights to decode. For example, if you try to play a video with AC3 audio in Windows 10 Media Player, it can't play the audio because Microsoft only licensed it for their Metro Store apps and browser/streaming apps such as Netflix. Microsoft dropped DVD/AC3 playback after Windows 7.

As a result, most users end up using third party filters such as LAV audio decoder with DirectShow.

Contact

You can contact us at support@simplevr.pro

* Thanks to to the Blender Foundations's Big Buck Bunny and Tears of Steel for their open source films used in our videos and screenshots. www.blender.org
* Thanks to VideoLAN for their open source LGPL licensed LibVLC library. http://www.videolan.org/

Contact

info@simplevr.pro

LOS ANGELES, CA