Custom Unity scenes

VR Sketch is written in Unity. In version 16.0 we added the ability to load your own Unity scene as the background of a SketchUp model. When viewing such a model inside VR Sketch, you get a superposition of the Unity scene and the actual SketchUp model. You can use this to render the background using the extra rendering quality of Unity's static scenes: advanced precomputed lighting, particle system effects, custom shaders, and so on. Within this static background, you can view and edit the usual SketchUp model.

Note that there are many limitations and complexities in this approach. Please read carefully at least the following section to decide if it is worth it in your case. We also did not test it extensively, so if at some point something does not work, try again to follow the instructions here more closely and report issues to

This document assumes that you are at least somewhat familiar with Unity.

Requirements and restrictions

  • You need to use the same version of Unity that VR Sketch uses, or at least a very close one. At the time of this writing we use Unity 2019.1.14f1. However, we upgrade from time to time; your background scenes will then need to be regenerated. They will likely fail to open in a version of VR Sketch that uses a mismatching Unity version.

  • The Unity scene needs to be generated twice: once for use on Windows (for PC VR), and once for use on Android (for Oculus Quest). If you only ever need one of these platforms then you can skip the other one. Otherwise, make sure you have installed both the Windows PC and the Android targets in Unity.

  • Your custom scene can use common Unity object types because they are already present in the base VR Sketch program. But it cannot include any custom script (.cs file), for example. The exact set of Unity objects that can or cannot be included is not clearly known. Particle systems work; custom shaders should work but are untested so far. Any 3rd-party Unity asset will not work if it relies on runtime code. Also, Terrain, Batching Static, and Light Probes objects do not work (see next point).

  • Internally, VR Sketch loads your scene in the following slightly convoluted way: it has already got many game objects around that are important, so it makes them all DontDestroyOnLoad, then loads your scene (non-additively to make sure the lightmap and other settings are applied), then reparents everything from your scene into one of the pre-existing DontDestroyOnLoad objects, the one that is moved and rotated and scaled by the user. This means that correctly-prepared precomputed lighting works, as described below, but for example Terrain and Light Probes objects are not supported because they cannot be rotated or rescaled at runtime.

Scene setup in Unity

Prepare your scene, e.g. by importing some external model or otherwise making it ready in Unity. Once that is done, follow the instructions here to configure it for VR Sketch.

Most or all the objects in your scene should have the following flags, as shown in the first few lines in the inspector (this can be easily achieved by putting all objects into a parent object and applying these settings on the parent, including all children):

[X] Object name           [-] Static
Tag [Untagged]    Layer [Default]

What is important there is the settings for Static. The Static must be partial, more precisely, when you click on the down arrow, you get this list:

[X] Lightmap Static
[ ] ...
[ ]  (several lines, not checked)
[ ] ...
[X] Reflection Probe Static

It's important that Lightmap Static is set, to get the precomputed lights, and that Batching Static is NOT set, otherwise we won't be able to move and rotate and rescale the scene in VR Sketch.

Include one main light, typically a directional light, with Mode: Mixed and Render Mode: Important. Add any number of additional lights with Mode: Baked. These ones will be included in the baked lightmaps but ignored by the rest of the runtime. The main light won't be reorientable at runtime when your scene is shown (the VR Sketch option to do that will be disabled).

The Lighting settings of your scene should be similar to the ones used normally in VR Sketch; it is untested what occurs if they are different. These are:

Realtime Lighting
    Realtime Global Illumination    [ ]    (off)

Mixed Lighting
    Baked Global Illumination       [X]    (checked)
    Lighting Mode                   [PC: Baked Indirect]
                                    [Quest: Subtractive]

The Lightmapping Settings can be anything you like for your scene. Build your lightmaps, tweak and repeat until you are happy with the result. (Note that I've got various problems using various settings. I have no clue about the details, but in case of troubles, try to make them closer to the ones in VR Sketch: Progressive CPU, Directional on PC and Non-Directional on Quest. Avoid Ambient Occlusion in the lightmapper on PC: the PC does its own runtime ambient occlusion. You can turn it on for Quest. Don't worry if the direct shadows look blocky in the editor in Android mode: VR Sketch uses its own smooth direct shadow logic.)

The scene can contain any number of Reflection Probe objects. These are important to get right, otherwise the color of dynamic walls or floors or ceilings will appear wrong. You can put none, but then all dynamic drawings will assume a plain white light color, instead of a color influenced by the nearby static scene. The Reflection Probes don't need to be super precise because most VR Sketch objects are not really reflective. (Doing e.g. mirrors wouldn't work too well with Reflection Probes anyway, because they would reflect the standard warehouse instead of whatever the user is making.)

The scene SHOULD NOT contain Light Probe Group objects. These ones are not correctly moved when we move and rotate and rescale the scene. The effect that you miss should "only" be that dynamic objects don't get any light at all from the additional baked lights. I think that the main directional light always works as expected with a mixture of static and dynamic objects, casting shadows from one to the other. So for example, if your main directional light doesn't reach most of the scene because it's a closed interior place, then the dynamic objects (the avatars and the dynamic SketchUp model) will mostly be in the shadows, and won't receive lights cast by additional baked lights. If this is a problem, consider making two directional lights: one with Mode: Baked only for the lightmapped baking, and one with Mode: Realtime with a culling mask that ignores a specific layer; and put all your static scene into that layer. (Choose the layer numbers 20-25, as VR Sketch doesn't use these numbers.)

Your scene can contain non-static geometry objects. These ones are rendered like the rest of the dynamic geometry. That's useful notably to test what I described above, and to put some objects that show up with the same lighting conditions as the dynamic geometry that VR Sketch itself creates.

Your scene must contain colliders, otherwise the teleporting beam will pass through the floor and when using continuous walking you won't climb up or down steps nor slopes. If the scene is made by importing some external model into Unity, the Unity importing options typically contain a Create colliders option. For very geometrically complex scenes you might consider the standard approach used in gaming, which is to make colliders based on a simpler version of the model. Objects with colliders will be moved to layer number 18 by VR Sketch.

You need to use Color Space: Linear in Project settings -> Player -> Other settings. Otherwise, you'll build an asset that assumes the Gamma color space but is loaded in Linear by VR Sketch, making all colors completely washed out.

In summary:

  • Edit -> Project settings -> Player -> Other settings -> Color Space must be set to Linear.

  • The scene should contain only static geometry, dynamic geometry, colliders, baked lights, a single mixed directional light, and reflection probes. You should remove the rest, like any camera. The bundle called s contains this scene file.

  • The scene lightmaps should typically be baked, but the corresponding files are not included in the bundle by Unity for unknown reasons. Putting them in a separate bundle called t fixes this problem.

  • If you are using custom shaders, it is untested if Unity will include them in the s. If needed, put them in the t bundle too. If that doesn't work either, try to ALSO put them in a folder called Resources (but this is all untested).

  • Internally, VR Sketch loads your scene in the following slightly convoluted way: it has already got many game objects around that are important, so it makes them all DontDestroyOnLoad, then loads your scene (non-additively to make sure the lightmap and other settings are applied), then reparents everything from your scene into one of the pre-existing DontDestroyOnLoad objects, the one that is moved and rotated and scaled by the user. That approach should work as long as game objects you put in your scene are happy with being reparented in a mobile object; this is why Batching Static cannot be set and why Light Probes cannot be used.


To build:

  • This assumes you are using the same or a similar Unity version than the one we do for VR Sketch. See the current version number at the top of this page.

  • You need to have installed both the Windows PC and the Android targets in Unity. This is needed to produce the Oculus Quest versions as well as the PC versions of your scene.

  • Download the script VRSketchSceneBuilder.cs into a folder called Editor in your assets. This causes the menu VR Sketch to show up in the menu bar:

  • Click on your scene file in the Assets, and at the bottom of the inspector, pick an AssetBundle name (choose New... the first time) and call it simply s.

  • In the same directory, click on the folder with the same name as the scene file. (This is where the lightmap data is stored.) A similar AssetBundle entry should appear in the inspector; you need to click once on the folder itself, not open it. Put the AssetBundle name t.

  • Now with your scene opened, pick the VR Sketch menu, the only item. It makes and packages 2 files into a directory called Assets/VRSketchScene/. Look in the console for potential errors. (You can ignore the warnings cannot be included: LightingData.asset).

  • Switch to the other platform in File, Build Settings..., tweak and maybe rebuild your lightmap data, and finally pick the menu item again. It makes 2 more files in the same directory Assets/VRSketchScene/.

Set up your SketchUp model

The custom scene can't be enabled by default everywhere (for now): it is enabled for specific SketchUp models. When opening that file with VR Sketch, your custom scene will be loaded instead of the standard warehouse, and can't be turned off: as you move and rotate and scale the world, it moves and rotates and scales like the rest of the dynamic SketchUp model.

It is enabled by setting an attribute in the model. In SketchUp, with your model loaded, open the Ruby console and type:

Sketchup.active_model.set_attribute('Baroque_VRSketch_scene', 'directory', 'C:\Path\to\VRSketchScene')

The last argument is the path to the directory VRSketchScene on your machine, either an absolute path starting with C:\ or D:\ or something, or a path relative to the folder in which your .skp file is saved. It should be the name of a directory with the 4 files called {win64,android}_{s,t}.unitybundle.

The goal is that VR Sketch should load files in this directory when you start it locally, and that it should upload this data (with proper caching) to other people in collaborative-editing or in cloud-model-viewing mode.

By default, custom scenes are loaded at 1:1 scale and your starting position is SketchUp position (0, 0, 0). You can change that initial scale and location, though it is a bit hard to do without a specific UI. The easiest is to install the SketchUp extension Attribute Editor from Eneroth. Then pick Extensions, Attribute Editor, Current Model. You should see the block 'Baroque_VRSketch_scene' that you created with the above command, with the directory key. Click Add key on the next line, name it initial_position, click Point/Vector from Model, and click in the model on that position---it should be a point on the floor. To the question Convert point to array? answer No. Then click OK. You can click again on the line initial_position to change it at any time. Changing the initial scale is done as follows: click Add key, name it initial_scale, and type a number like 0.2 to have the initial scale be 1/5 (i.e. the custom scene along with the SketchUp model should be initially 5 times smaller than actual size). To know the actual scale, you can try to load it in VR, and scale down (grip button on both controllers) and look at the scale displayed in VR. Convert that to a single fractional number by doing the division manually. If unspecified, the initial_scale defaults to 1.