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WebVR Experiments

A collection of React VR & A-Frame experiments (potentially ReasonML & Elm in the future)

Hello World (ReactVR)

This is an experience report/guide to explore ReactVR. Keep in mind I had some basic knowledge in 3D-modeling as well as computer graphics beforehand. Please ping me on Twitter in case you have questions or I take things for granted you have a hard time wrapping your head around. I also highly recommend to read the full ReactVR docs. I did as well :)


To try out the examples run

# cd into/the/folder
yarn install
npm start
# open http://localhost:8081/vr/

Or check out the hosted live demo of HelloWorld v3 and live demo of Animation v2.

v1 - Basic Cube Rendering

screen shot cube

With this example I wanted to explore how to create my own geometries and render it within ReactVR. I evaluated a couple of tools and in the end decided to go with Blender. I'm still struggling with the interface a bit, but Blender is open source has all the advanced features I will probably need for the next couple of years.

In Blender I created a cube, removed the light and camera, added a material to color the cube's surfaces and exported the scene to the Wavefront .obj (geometry) and .mtl (material) format. Then learned that Three.js failed to render my simple cube properly as soon as I create a <Model source={{ obj: asset('cube.obj'), mtl: asset('cube.mtl') }} lit={true} /> due to some issues with the material definitions. What worked for me was to remove all the gimmick features from the material and reduce it to Diffuse & Specular lighting. I unchecked all other checkboxes for the material. This is not a Blender only issue, as I encountered similar issues once I gave other tools a try.

cube setup in blender

v2 - Tree (first custom component)

screen shot tree

The goal of this stage was to create a Tree component. I created two geometries (tree-crown, tree-trunk) and placed them in my HelloWorld component. After some positioning I was able to extract both into a Tree component. This allowed me to create a second one and place it next to the first one.

screen shot 2016-12-28 at 01 33 52

screen shot 2016-12-28 at 01 35 03

Tree component:

export default ({ style }) => (
  <View style={style}>
      source={{ obj: asset('tree-trunk.obj'), mtl: asset('tree-trunk.mtl') }}
      style={{ transform: [{scale: [0.6, 1, 0.6]}] }}
      source={{ obj: asset('tree-crown.obj'), mtl: asset('tree-crown.mtl') }}
      style={{ transform: [{translate: [0, 2.5, 0]}] }}

In addition to that I generated a plane geometry in Blender as floor element. For the sky I generated a blue gradient image and used it in a <Pano /> component.

Initially I planned to place the scenic camera approximately one meter above the ground, but discovered a bug with the <Scene /> component. My fallback was to position the floor as well as the trees -1 (meter) on the z-axis.

v3 - Forest

screen shot forest

Next up I wanted to have a more interesting scene as well as explore how I could generate it. I decided to create a forest. This was pretty much straight forward as I could create a Forest component which uses the Tree component multiple times. By adding some randomizers for positioning, height and scale, I ended up with what I envisioned.

Forest component:

export default ({ style }) => (
  <View style={style}>
    { => {
      const scale = randomScale();
      return (
            transform: [
              {scale: [scale, scale, scale]},
              {translate: [tree.x, randomHeight(), tree.y]},

Right now 100 trees are generated and the user is placed at the center of the forest. Trying it with 1000 trees, led to a laggy experience (MacBook 13", Chrome Canary). ReactVR 0.1.2 shipped with .obj fetch and parse caching. 1000 trees are still a smooth experience 🙌.

What bothered me a bit was that for each Tree a fetch request was fired. I was hoping that ReactVR would cache the geometry and material.

v4 - Animation (coming soon …)

Next up I'm going to write a guide about animations. There is already some code you can check out now:


A collection of React VR & A-Frame experiments




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