Fisheye & Spherical Collection: Supported Render Engines

Maya Scene Source – fisheye image / rendered with Domemaster3D

So you want to dive into creating fulldome content? Get ready for a wild and weird experience. You’re going to need a camera with a fisheye lens. Call it what you like: fisheye, fulldome, or domemaster… They all refer to the same thing.

Below is a collection of the many different softwares which support fisheye.

A Note for VR Animators
3D Animation: Fisheye Lens Shaders (Plugins)
3D Animation: Render Engines with Built-in Fisheye
Compositing Software
Automatic Projection Conversion
Dome Mapping Software
Realtime Performance Options
VJ App Plugins
Virtual Dome Playback
Video Game Engine: Fisheye Options
Academic Research
Astronomy Software for Planetariums
— 360 Video & Panoramic Photo Stitching
Presenting in the Dome
Pseudo Fisheye Lens Shaders (Plugins)
Hacks for Faking Fisheye (After Effects)
Photography: Fisheye Lens Research
When All Else Fails… Hemicube Camera
Hacky Solution… Mirror Ball Camera

Updated with the latest fulldome & VR software on January 13, 2020

A Note for VR Animators

While my focus here is to collect software which renders fisheye, I have also kept my eye on software which supports spherical rendering. I’m not as thorough in this respect, but you will see a fair amount of mentions to spherical and I hope this helps out the VR crowd. Know that the terms Spherical, Equirectangular, and LatLong refer to the EXACT same thing.

Maya Scene Source – spherical monoscopic image / rendered with Domemaster3D

Maya Scene Source – spherical stereoscopic image (over-under) / rendered with Domemaster3D

3D Animation:
Fisheye Lens Shaders (Plugins)

A render engine that offers a built-in fisheye is a recent expectation and it’s quickly becoming the standard. But there are plugins which can add a fisheye lens shader into a render engine that doesn’t have it built-in yet. Within the fulldome industry, Domemaster3D is a popular choice.

— Requires use of Mental Ray (also supports V-Ray and Arnold)
— Supports: Maya, 3DS Max, Softimage
— Installer includes both the monoscopic and stereoscopic fisheye lens shaders. Also includes monoscopic and stereoscopic spherical lens shaders.
— The wiki page provides an excellent explanation of the many included tools. Also this fulldome 3d introduction article is very helpful in understanding how to create stereoscopic content for a dome.
— Be aware of the grey blurry line fix and the Maya physical sky fix.
— Original source: DomeAFL & Roberto Ziche & Andrew Hazelden

Cinema 4D – (supporting prior to R19)
— Blendy 360 Cam – monoscopic and stereoscopic – supports: spherical (monoscopic and stereoscopic), fisheye, cubemap, cylindrical, little planet
— WFCam4D – supports fisheye and spherical
— DomeCam – supports fisheye
— GreyScaleGorilla Camera – supports fisheye
CV-VR Cam – supports spherical (monoscopic and stereoscopic)

— DomeMaster – supports fisheye
— Houdini Fisheye Camera – supports fisheye
Houdini Stereo Spherical Panorama Camera – supports spherical

— Liberty3D UberCam / more info – supports fisheye and spherical

— Oblique FX Obq_Shaders (fisheye support using Obq_AngularCamera / very unique shader of interest: Obq_KettleUVStereoLens)
— Oblique FX Obq_Shaders ports available for Maya, Softimage, Cinema4D, Houdini

The Good Old Fisheye Camera – supports fisheye for Blender Internal
DomeCam – supports fisheye for Blender Internal (but requires Hugin for stitching the hemicube renders)

Mental Ray
LatLong lens shader – supports: Maya, 3DS Max, Softimage, Mental Ray Standalone – supports spherical
CubeMap – supports spherical

3D Animation:
Render Engines with Built-in Fisheye

These render engines have fisheye support built into their framework. Most offer it within the camera attributes.

— Create immersive previz renderings of scenes in fisheye, spherical, cylindrical, and cubic formats.
— Supports: Maya, Softimage
— Documentation

— Built-in fisheye and spherical for Cycles Render Engine
— Check out the Blendertarium forum
— Blender branch: Spherical Stereoscopic

— Supports: 3DS Max, Cinema 4D, Maya, Rhino, SketchUp, Softimage
Built-in fisheye, spherical, and stereoscopic spherical
Guide to Virtual Reality

Cinema 4D
Built-in fisheye, spherical, cubic-cross, cubic-3×2, cubic string
— Support added in R19

— Supports: 3DS Max, Maya
— Built-in fisheye and spherical

— Supports: Maya, Softimage, Houdini, Katana
Built-in fisheye and spherical
Creating an VR Camera Node (Maya)
VR Camera / source code

Maxwell Render
— Supports: 3DS Max, Cinema 4D, Houdini, LightWave, Maya, Modo, Rhino, SketchUp, Softimage
— CAD toolsets: ArchiCAD, Bonzai3d, Form·Z, MicroStation, SolidWorks, Revit
Built-in stereoscopic fisheye and stereoscopic spherical
Webinar: tips for the new stereo VR lens
PanoView Tool

FurryBall RT
— Supports: Maya, Cinema 4D, 3DS Max
Built-in spherical

Built-in fisheye and spherical

Built-in fisheye and spherical

Clarisse iFX
— Built-in fisheye and spherical

— Fisheye supported but needs a custom lens shader (none publicly available)
Built-in spherical
— Experimental support for stereoscopic spherical
— Any RenderMan compliant renderer supported (PRMan, 3Delight, Gorilla Render)

— Fisheye supported but needs a custom lens shader (none publicly available)
Built-in spherical

Redshift 3D
— Built-in fisheye, spherical, and stereoscopic spherical

Built-in fisheye and spherical

— Built-in fisheye and spherical

3DS Max
Built-in spherical: Panorama Exporter

Mandelbulb: 3D fractals
Mandelbulb 3D – built-in fisheye and spherical
Mandelbulber – built-in fisheye and spherical

Unknown Support of Fisheye in the following Render Engines:
— Vue – built-in spherical
— Modo – built-in spherical
— Corona Renderer – built-in spherical
— Indigo Renderer – built-in spherical
— Iray
— Fabric Engine
— FluidRay
— KeyShot
— Thea Render

Compositing Software

Being able to composite your render layers, with fisheye in mind, can be quite tricky. And there isn’t much built-in support for the fulldome production workflow. But there are a wide variety of plugins which add fisheye functionality.

Adobe After Effects CC 2018 and later
VR Converter effect
— Supports fisheye, spherical (equirectangular 2:1), spherical (equirectangular 16:9), cube map, cube map Facebook, cube map Pano2VR, cube map GearVR, sphere

Adobe After Effects CS3, CS4, CS5, CS6
— If you need to convert 360 video to fisheye so it can be watched in a dome, then After Effects can do the trick just using built-in effects. Yet this technique has no ability to adjust the camera angle and you cannot change the FOV accurately. It’s just a very basic conversion. If you need more refined control, there are plugins listed below which support the CS series of After Effects.

Adobe Premiere Pro CC
— Supports spherical (equirectangular)

Navegar Fulldome
— After Effects plugin
— Also includes an immersive camera After Effects and Cinema 4D.
— Supports fisheye and spherical
— Supports conversion of: Azimuthal Equidistant (Fisheye), Aitoff, Hammer-Aitoff, Gnomonic (Standard), Stereographic, Ortographic, Vertical perspective, Cylindrical equidistant, Panoramic equidistant, Spherical Mirror, Sinusoidal, Hemicube, TOAST
Documentation / workflow tutorial 1 & workflow tutorial 2

Nuke / Cara VR Plugin
— Supports fisheye and spherical (monoscopic and stereoscopic)

Skybox Studio
— After Effects plugin
— Supports spherical, and mirror ball, fisheye, cubic (Facebook, Pano2VR, NVIDIA)
Tutorial: Motion Tracking and Object Replacement with 360 Footage
Tutorial: Mocha Pro 5 compatibility

Skybox 360/VR Tools
SkyBox Post FX
SkyBox Post FX 2
SkyBox 360/VR Transitions
SkyBox 360/VR Transitions 2
— Plugins for After Effects and Premiere Pro
— 360 seamless effects: blur, denoise, glow, sharpen, fractal noise, digital glitch, chromatic aberrations, color gradient
— 360 transition effects: mobius zoom, random blocks, gradient wipe, iris wipe, light rays, chroma leaks, light leaks, spherical blur.
— Supports spherical (monoscopic and stereoscopic)
Tutorial: SkyBox Post FX
Tutorial: Skybox 360/VR Tools / Documentation

SkyBox VR Player
— Includes plugins for After Effects, Premiere Pro, and SpeedGrade which automatically creates a bridge to easily view media in a VR headset
— Two modes available = 360 Mode: View your creation in 360° space (Spherical) in your Rift / Workspace Mode: Work in After Effects or Premiere Pro. Great for tweaking things while wearing your Rift.
— Supports spherical (monoscopic and stereoscopic)

— After Effects plugin
— Supports spherical, fisheye, super fisheye, rectilinear, super wide-angle zoom, mirror ball, and parabolic lens-mirror projection formats
Overview video

— After Effects 3D template
— Supports fisheye and spherical
Documentation / video tutorial / workshop

Full Dome Master to Flat Screen
— After Effects plugin
— Supports fisheye

Domemaster Fusion Macros
— Collection of custom macros for Fusion
— Supports fisheye and spherical
— Includes a camera rig that works with Fusion’s native 3D animation system
— Supports conversion of: Angular2CubicFaces, Angular2Equirectangular, Cubemap3x22CubicFaces, CubicFaces2Cubemap3x2, CubicFaces2GearVRMono, CubicFaces2GearVRStereo, CubicFaces2HorizontalCross, CubicFaces2HorizontalStrip, CubicFaces2HorizontalTee, CubicFaces2MrCube1Map, CubicFaces2VerticalCross, CubicFaces2VerticalStrip, CubicFaces2VerticalTee, CubicRenderer3D, Domemaster2Equirectangular, Equirectangular2Angular, Equirectangular2CubicFaces, Equirectangular2Domemaster180, Equirectangular2InverseAngular, Equirectangular2InverseDomemaster180, EquirectangularStereo2GearVRStereo, FisheyeMask, GearVRMono2CubicFaces, GearVRStereo2CubicFaces, HorizontalCross2CubicFaces, HorizontalStrip2CubicFaces, HorizontalTee2CubicFaces, MayaBackgroundGradient, MayaBackgroundGradientCubicFaces, MayaBackgroundGradientEquirectangular, MRCube1HorizontalStrip2CubicFaces, Offset, StereoAnaglyphHalfColorMerge, StereoAnaglyphMerge, StereoOverUnderExtract, StereoOverUnderMerge, StereoSideBySideExtract, StereoSideBySideMerge, UVAngular2EquirectangularGradientMap, UVDomemaster2EquirectangularGradientMap, UVEquirectangular2AngularGradientMap, UVEquirectangular2DomemasterGradientMap, UVGradientMap, UVPassFromRGBImage, VerticalCross2CubicFaces, VerticalStrip2CubicFaces, VerticalTee2CubicFaces

Domemaster Photoshop Actions Pack
— Collection of custom Photoshop actions
— Supports fisheye and spherical
— Supports conversion of: Inverse Angular Fisheye, Angular Fisheye to Equirectangular, Angular Fisheye to 2:1 Equirectangular, 180° Domemaster to 2:1 Equirectangular, Equirectangular to Angular Fisheye, 2:1 Equirectangular to Angular Fisheye, 2:1 Equirectangular to 180° Domemaster, 3×2 Cube Map to Cube Map, Vertical Cross to Cube Map, Horizontal Cross to Cube Map, Vertical Tee to Cube Map, Horizontal Tee to Cube Map, Vertical Strip to Cube Map, Horizontal Strip to Cube Map, Gear VR Mono to Cube Map, Cube Map to 3×2 Cube Map, Cube Map to Vertical Cross, Cube Map to Horizontal Cross, Cube Map to Vertical Tee, Cube Map to Horizontal Tee, Cube Map to Vertical Strip, Cube Map to Horizontal Strip, Cube Map to Gear VR Mono, Cube Map to New Cube Map, Cube Map Rotate X:+90 Degrees, Cube Map Rotate Y:+90 Degrees, Cube Map Rotate Z:+90 Degrees, Stereo Side by Side Extract, Stereo Over Under Extract

— Supports fisheye and spherical

Mocha VR
— Supports spherical

Super Cubic
— Collection of Photoshop filters
— Supports spherical

GoPro VR Plugins: VR Horizon & VR Reframe
— Premiere Pro Plugin
— Supports spherical

SUGARfx Revolve 360
— Plugin for Final Cut Pro X, Motion, After Effects, Premiere Pro
— Supports spherical

360VR Toolbox /// 360VR Express
— Plugin for Final Cut Pro, Motion, Premiere Pro, After Effects
— Can convert between fisheye and spherical

Canvas 360
— Plugin for After Effects
— Supports spherical

Liquid Cinema
— Supports spherical

Wonda VR
— Supports spherical
Software demo

— After Effects plugin
— Supports fisheye

Digistar Virtual Projector
— After Effects plugin
— Supports fisheye

Automatic Projection Conversion

Below are some options which are convert between various projections automatically. The options for keyframeable conversion are listed above in the Compositing Software section.

Flexify 2
— Photoshop plugin
— Supports fisheye, spherical, & wide array of projections / preview output modes

— A command line script that uses the open source Panotools library & MPRemap application to automate the process of converting image sequences between multiple panoramic formats.
— Supports conversion of: angular 2 cylindrical, angular 2 LatLong, dome 2 rectangular, LatLong 2 cubemap 3×2, LatLong 2 cubic, LatLong 2 cylindrical, LatLong 2 dome, LatLong 2 horizontal cross, LatLong 2 rectangular, LatLong 2 Mental Ray horizontal strip cube1, LatLong Stereo 2 GearVR stereo, LatLong 2 vertical cross

Realtime Conversion of Spherical to Fisheye
VR to Dome Convertermore info
Pano2Dome – openFrameworks App
Pano2Fishy – Quartz Composer patch

Warping Fisheye Video for a Spherical Mirror Dome Projection System
VLC Warp Movie Player
— Quicktime Warp Movie Player
Quartz Composer – warp mesh patch

NVIDIA Texture Tools
— Photoshop plugin
— Convert between different cubemap layout formats (GearVR, Octane Render, Vray Cubic 6:1 horizontal strip format)

libcube2cyl is a panoramic library for cubic to cylindrical projection conversion. Available in both C and C++.

Hemicube Stitching Software
PineappleWare Stitcher
Domemaster Stitcher

Environment Mapping Tools
— Supports conversion of: rectangular, mirror ball, fisheye, hemi fisheye, cubemap

Dome Mapping Software

Building a physical dome is one challenge, but mapping the dome to work with multiple video projectors is a whole different challenge. But using one computer for the dome projection enables all sort of amazing opportunities. All of the options below support the open source Syphon or Spout, which means that many VJ apps can easily be used (such as Resolume, VDMX, Modul8, Millumin, CoGe, etc.)

— Automatically calibrate your projectors with a compatible webcam and process real-time stitching and blending of a Spout shared video stream
— Supports Spout

Blendy Dome VJ
— A realtime domemaster slicer designed for Fulldome VJing.
— Slice/warp up to 8 projectors in realtime
— Inputs accepted: fisheye and spherical
— Supports Syphon

— A tool developed for artists, VJ’s, set designers & VR creators to bring immersive experiences back into the real world. At the core it’s an arbitrary surface projection mapping tool.
Documentation / Software demo
— Slice/warp 6 projectors in realtime (unlimited with commercial license)
— Projection mapping modes: whole sphere, fulldome, box (cave), planar
— Inputs accepted: fisheye, spherical, cubic, planar
— Supports Syphon

— Multi-channel projection software designed for domes. Provides realtime warping and slicing for domemaster input.
Documentation / Presentation from IMERSA 2015: Intro to vDome
— Slice/warp unlimited projectors in realtime
— Inputs accepted: fisheye
— Supports Syphon

— A multi-projector modular mapping software primarily targeted toward fulldome mapping.
— Provided that the user creates a 3D model with UV mapping of the projection surface, Splash will take care of calibrating the videoprojectors (intrinsic and extrinsic parameters, blending and color), and feed them with the input video sources. Splash can handle multiple inputs, mapped on multiple 3D models, and has been tested with up to eight outputs on two graphic cards.
Documentation / codebase activity log / SAT info / author info
— Slice/warp up to 8 projectors in realtime (may support more)
— Inputs accepted: fisheye
— Supports Syphon

— A platform for realtime interactive animation on a dome. It manages both 2D and 3D content for projection onto a fulldome installation with multiple projectors.
— Slice/warp 4 projectors in realtime
— Inputs accepted: fisheye
— Supports Syphon

Realtime Performance Options

With the rise of fulldome, VJing, and creative coding as an artform… it was only a matter of time before the artists were knocking down the doors.

— Built-in fisheye and spherical
— Supports Spout and NDI

— Built-in fisheye (includes support for MirrorDome projection warping)
— Supports Syphon

Domemaster addon – fisheye addon
ofxEquiMap – spherical addon
Syphon plugin

Touch Designer
Dome camera rig / example of use – fisheye addon
Projection TOP – built-in to convert a cubemap to fisheye or spherical

Dome Pack – fisheye addon
Dome camera rig – fisheye addon
LatLong camera rig – tutorial for spherical support

Domemaster patch – fisheye addon
Syphon plugin

Domemaster template – fisheye addon
Planetarium library – fisheye addon (supports Syphon) – more info
Syphon plugin

— Built-in fisheye and spherical

VR-Plugin – explore Maya scenes in realtime stereo 3D (with a HMD)

— Media playback software – built-in fisheye and spherical

— Fulldome realtime music visualizer – built-in fisheye

— Fulldome realtime music visualizer – built-in fisheye
— Supports Syphon & Spout

— Javascript framework to build immersive experience for the web – supports spherical

VJ App Plugins

Plugins for VJ softwares which help you to convert footage for use in the dome

Fulldome VJ
— FreeFrame GL (FFGL) plugins
— Collection of effects and mixers which can be used in any software which utilizes FFGL plugins

360 VJ Pack
— Resolume plugins
— Realtime conversion of spherical to fisheye, rectilinear to fisheye, and fisheye adjustment

Virtual Dome Playback

If you don’t have access to a physical dome, then you can simulate your content on a virtual dome.

— Built-in fisheye and spherical

Amateras Dome Player
— Built-in fisheye and spherical

— Built-in fisheye
— Supports Syphon

Auto-Parasitic Light Calculation Tool
— Tool which simulates how projected light bounces off the dome and washes out the other side of the dome (also known as cross-bounce).
— Built-in fisheye

Navegar DomeView
— Built-in fisheye, cylindrical, spherical
— Able to import a custom 3D model of the planetarium

Domemaster3D DomeViewer
— Built-in fisheye, cylindrical, spherical, cubic (along with 12 other panoramic viewing modes)
— Available for Maya and Softimage

Inside Dome
— Built-in fisheye

DomeMod & DomeTester
— Built-in fisheye
DomeMod (web browser version) / source code

VR Headset Video Players
Whirligig – built-in fisheye (140°, 180°, 240°, 360°), spherical, cubic
GoPro VR Player (previous known of Kolor Eyes) – built-in spherical
Scratch Play / Scratch VR – built-in spherical, ASC CDL color-correction tools
Live View Rift – built-in fisheye, cylindrical, spherical
RV Player – built-in spherical (how-to enable it)
Total Cinema 360 – built-in spherical
VR Player – built-in fisheye, cylindrical, spherical, cubic, planar
RiftMax – built-in spherical
Virtual Desktop – built-in spherical
360VR Viewer – built-in spherical
VorpX – built-in spherical

VLC Media Player
VLC 360 – built-in spherical
VLCSyphon – includes a Syphon server
— Built-in fisheye and spherical (monoscopic and stereoscopic)

Video Game Engine: Fisheye Options

The bleeding edge of fulldome work is in adding an element of interaction. Here are a few pieces of software which support fisheye.

Blender: Game Engine
— Built-in fisheye / example of use
Built-in spherical
— Add-on: BlenderVR

Fulldome Camera For Unity – Supports Syphon, BlackSyphon, Spout, NDI
— Domemaster package
Data Dome Unity Toolkitmore info / documentation
Custom fisheye camera rig / more info
— Spherical rendering (not realtime): VR Panorama 360 Renderer, Spherical Image Cam, 360 Panorama Capture
Syphon plugin / Spout plugin

— Unity3D camera – supports fisheye
tutorial 1 & tutorial 2

Omnimap API
— Supports fisheye
— OpenGL, DirectX9, and DirectX10

— Video game capture
built-in spherical support (mono and stereo)

Unreal Engine
— No fisheye solution yet, but spherical rendering is supported (not realtime)
UE4 Stereo 360 Movie Export Plugin
DIY spherical rendering – requires the engine to be built from source code
Stereo Pano Exporter thread

SGCT – Simple Graphics Cluster Toolkit
— Cross-platform C++ library for developing OpenGL applications that are synchronized across a cluster of image generating computers.

Paul Bourke
— Interactive fulldome research

Fisheye Video Games
Fisheye Quake & PanQuake
Dome Breaker
Fulldome Space Shooter
Fulldome Bootcamp

The Witness
— Documentation on how to create a fisheye lens shader

Unknown Support of Fisheye in the following Game Engines:
— CryEngine
— Stingray Engine
— Source Engine
— Leadwerks Engine
— id Tech 4
— NeoAxis 3D Engine

Academic Research

A random assortment of interesting research papers and experimental research that I’ve stumbled across.

Projection from Spheres
— Various transformations and projections as they apply to computer graphics

Rendering Omni-directional Stereo Content (Google Cardboard Dev)
— Pseudocode examples of how to create a virtual ODS camera

Perceptually-Based Compensation of Light Pollution in Display Systems
— “When projecting onto a dome, the projected image is corrupted by indirect scattering (cross-bounce). Our techniques retains more of these dark details while maintaining a final observed image that is perceptually closer to the unpolluted original image.”

Panoramic Video from Unstructured Camera Arrays
— “We describe an algorithm for generating panoramic video from unstructured camera arrays. In this paper we extend the basic concept of local warping for parallax removal.”

The AlloSphere
— Research facility with a unique spherical theater
— Check out their open-source software, specifically Cosm

Fast Non-Linear Projections using Graphics Hardware
— Research paper with full source code available

Real-Time Spherical Panorama Image Stitching Using OpenCL
— Research paper about webcam stitching in realtime

Astronomy Software for Planetariums

DigitalSky, DarkMatter, Uniview, and Digistar are the main softwares used by large planetariums. WorldWide Telescope, Stellarium, Nightshade, and Starry Night Dome are often used by portable domes or those on a tight budget.

Openspace – supports Spout
Digistar – supports NDI
World Wide Telescope
Shira Universe
Starry Night Dome
Sky Explorer
Event Horizon

360 Video & Panoramic Photo Stitching

Multi-camera 360 video rigs require stitching all of the footage together. Panoramic photos too.

Autopano Video / Autopano
VideoStitch Vahana VR / PTgui
Mistika VR
Cara VR Plugin (Nuke)
Facebook Surround 360
Radeon Loom 360
Insta360 Pro Stitcher
Kodak Pixpro 360 Stitch
Mill Stitch

Presenting in the Dome

Giving a talk at a conference… in a dome? This will help.

Presenter360 – supports fisheye
Powerpoint Dome Template – supports fisheye

Pseudo Fisheye Lens Shaders (Plugins)

These Maya plugins distort the camera view into a circular shape, instead of capturing 180°. Not recommended if you want true scene immersion.

— JS_Fisheye / JS_PanoramicLinux & Mac
— Shaders_P
— MentalCore

Hacks for Faking Fisheye (After Effects)

Do you need to fake the distortion of a fisheye lens? There are a few built-in effects within After Effects which can do the job. But be aware that you cannot simply take any flat image and perfectly convert it to fisheye. That is impossible. But you can sometimes use these hacks to enhance the illusion and better warp the footage onto the dome. Most of these are variants of the ‘Spherize’ effect.


Photography: Fisheye Lens Research

This is by no means comprehensive, but instead meant to be a collection of interesting gems that I’ve stumbled across. This is NOT a list of suggested fisheye lenses to use for modern photography or video. I’m merely collecting interesting research and documentation of how fisheye lenses work.

The Fish List – fisheye lens catalogue
Fisheye optics explanation
Fisheye lens designs and their relative performance
Fisheye lens options for digital 4k projectors

Michel Thoby: Panorama Research
About the various fisheye projections of the photographic objective lenses
Creation and use of synthetic circular fisheye images
Introduction to the Least-Parallax Point (LPP) theory
Review of the Canon EF 8-15mm f4 Fisheye Zoom

More than 180 – by Warik Lawrance
Many fulldome producers adhere to the strong belief that only one type of lens should be used in a planetarium. That lens is a 180⁰ fisheye as it perfectly fits the shape of the dome and causes no distortion of the image. However, this is akin to a film producer or cinematographer only ever using a 50mm standard lens by reasoning that it perfectly fits what the human eye naturally sees. In reality, cinematographers use a wide variety and range of lens sizes to their stories because they are incredibly useful and powerful tools which assist the narrative. So what is the range of lens sizes that can work in the dome? What are the advantages and disadvantages of using different lens sizes? And how can they be used to the best effect?

History of fisheye lenses for photography
Nikon Fisheye – Nikkor: the full story from the origins to the present, with 9 prototypes including a 5.5 mm FoV 270°
Perimetar, Sphaerogon, Pleon: the definitive compendium about these super-wide fisheye lenses of the ’30s concieved by the firma Carl Zeiss Jena

Salvador-Dali-at-a-book-signing-by-Philippe-Halsman-1963Salvador Dali at a book signing, by Philippe Halsman, 1963

When All Else Fails… Hemicube Camera

Sometimes fisheye lens shaders don’t work in certain weird situations. Such as rendering certain types of particles, post render action, experimental shaders, and whatnot. In these cases you can fallback and create a hemicube multi-camera rig and then stitch the renders together into a fisheye.

Hacky Solution… Mirror Ball Camera

This is my least favorite option for rendering fisheye images. The idea is that you point the camera at a perfectly reflective sphere. So it requires that you have ray tracing turned on, and probably the amount of bounces raised. But the huge limitation is that your renders will not contain an alpha channel! And for me, that is simply unacceptable.