We explore the best vMix virtual sets on the market today, their pros and cons and how to build your own.
What are vMix virtual sets
vMix virtual sets allow you to overlay different elements on top of an image, giving the illusion of a 3D studio. The host of the show or guest speakers can then be dropped into the studio by using a green screen. Your imagination is the limit when it comes to virtual sets, but most commonly news studios or talkshow style sets are used.
Important to note: At its core, virtual sets in vMix are basic 2D pre-rendered images that are layered on top of each other, vMix does not support 3D rendering in the software itself (more on this later).
When elements are layered on top of each other it gives the illusion of a 3D image.
What do you need to use virtual sets?
Not much, virtual sets are available in the basic version of vMix, so you just need a copy of the software, a green screen and a camera.
- vMix Software (Basic and above)
- A green screen
- Camera input
vMix offers a range of pre-installed free sets to use.
What are my options?
You essentially have three options when it comes to virtual sets:
- Use the free sets supplied by vMix or download a third-party free set (limited in availability)
- Purchase a ready made set from a third-party site ($29-$200)
- Build a bespoke set yourself (or hire a freelance 3D graphic designer to do so)
Best free and paid options for vMix virtual sets
Unfortunately there aren’t many quality free sets available, the only ones we could find were available on vMix. But some ready made packages are reasonably priced (starting at $29 for a single camera shot). Though there are other options such as building your own set (see more on this below).
- vMix (Free)
vMix actually offers a range of free studio sets, these can be found by going to ‘Input’ -> ‘Virtual Sets’ in vMix itself. There are also a couple of free options on it’s website, Studio 115 and ‘Virtual Set 1’, but when we tried downloading them the link wasn’t working, to fix this right click on the button and click ‘copy link address’ then paste this as a URL in your browser. The options are limited, but they can be customized to include different background imagery and offer a great solution for trying out and testing virtual sets. You can also build your own set using the ‘Blank10’ template.
2. Virtual Set Works (Paid)
vMix also recommends the company Virtual Set Works as a third party solution. Virtual Set Works doesn’t currently offer any free versions on it’s website but offers a range of paid options, which can all be found under the category of ‘vMix’. When we checked the company was doing a 10% discount and most sets were priced at around $206.
3. Virtual Studio Sets (Paid)
This is another company which offers paid versions of vMix virtual sets. We thought the quality and design of the studios were a cut-above what we’d seen elsewhere and they also offer different package types, including single camera angle packs ($39), starter pack ($89) and multi-camera packs ($189), so should be able to cover all budgets.
3D Virtual Set (Paid)
3D Virtual Set offers a limited choice of vMix compatible studios, but starting at $29 they’re some of the cheapest ready made packs we could find. They also offer a range of studios geared towards sports channels, so they could be a good option if doing sport related productions.
Build a custom vMix virtual set
As mentioned earlier, vMix virtual studios are essentially layered images that give the illusion of a 3D studio, so ‘building’ a bespoke set is relatively straightforward.
Go into vMix and ‘Add Input’, then click ‘Virtual Sets’ and choose ‘Blank10‘. This allows you to layer up to 9 different layers on top of each other. Add different images to your studio by clicking ‘Add Input’, then ‘Image’, once you’ve added your different images you can then select what layer they should be assigned to. Here you can play around with the order and move your elements to create the look you want.
Layers are stacked on top of each other, layer 2 sits above layer 1 and so on, allowing you to overlay different image assets. Here we have three different layers, a background, a studio and a desk. Using the Blank10 template allows you to create any look you’d like.
You can create a studio out of just about any image. If you’re comfortable with using Photoshop, find an image you want to use and then cut out the different .png elements to use as layers for your studio. Important: Your images will need to be high resolution otherwise they’ll become pixelated when zooming in.
You can also create your own studio template, so you don’t have to keep using the Blank10 preset every time. Just navigate to your C:\Program Files (x86)\vMix\VirtualSets\ folder and then copy and paste the folder you would like to use. Then rename it to something else ‘i.e. Videstream Studio’. Now you can swap out all the generic image assets with your own image files.
Here you can see we’ve created our own preset template by copying a folder and editing the images / config file. ‘Videstream Example’ now appears in vMix virtual sets menu.
In order for the studio set to load properly, you will need to edit the ‘config’ file, this can be done by copying and pasting the config file onto your desktop and then edit it with the Notepad application (TextEdit for Mac Users). Then change the image file names to your new ones. Copy the updated config file back into your vMix root folder and now you have your own bespoke studio template ready to use.
By copying and pasting an existing folder in vMix templates, we can create our own preset. Add your image assets to the folder and then edit the config file so that it knows which images to load. In this example we changed ‘Screen1.png’ to ‘Vide1.png’. Now our logo loads everywhere Screen 1 previously loaded.
Therefore creating your own virtual set is quite easy, but you will need a layered rendered image of a studio in the first place to work with. Unfortunately there are limited free options, so most likely you’ll need to hire a freelancer or company to design and render some images for you.
Remember to think about how many camera angles you would like, for multi-camera productions you’ll need several images. Also give the designer a good idea of your concept and sketch out some ideas for them.
We found several 3D artists on Fiverr that were available for hire and reasonably priced:
- Vmix3d 5.0 (26 reviews)
- Husnainramzan69 4.9 (39 reviews)
- Work_in 4.8 (971 reviews)
- Bluedevil81 4.9 (62 reviews)
Virtual Set Works (mentioned above) also does a custom design service, which can be found here.
Creating a truly a 3D set
If you’re looking for something more advanced than just layered 2D images, i.e. you want dynamic camera movement, reflections and shadows with panning shots of the studio, then you will need to use some 3D software to achieve this. The most popular 3D modelling software is the Unreal Engine platform, but if you’re not familiar with how to use it, it’ll be necessary to hire a freelancer or company to build your studio for you.
vMix does not support 3D modelling in itself, but there are some third party companies out there that can be integrated with vMix’s software.
vSet 3D integrates with vMix allowing you build and design truly 3D studios.
Vset3D is a virtual set software, fully compatible with NewTek NDI TriCaster, VidBlasterX, Wirecast and vMix. Like the other virtual set companies, vSet3D offers off-the-self packs or a bespoke design service.
Limitations of vMix sets
The largest limitation is of course that vMix sets are not truly ‘3D’, so this means that only basic zoom-in, zoom-out camera shots can be achieved.
How to setup and use virtual sets
So now hopefully you’re either using the vMix free virtual studio, purchased one, created one or hired a freelancer to build you one, how do you actually go about adding the studio into vMix?
To add a virtual studio or background into vMix, go to ‘Add Input’ and select Virtual Studio from the list.
At the bottom left of the screen click ‘Add Input’ then choose ‘Virtual Set’ from the menu.
Here you’ll be presented with a list of free vMix studios as we mentioned earlier.
Once you’ve selected your virtual set you can customize it by adding different inputs or images, for example here on the vMix studio we’ve replaced the stock supplied skyline with a New York cityscape.
You don’t have to edit everything at the root folder, instead you select the studio you’d like to use and click ‘Add Input’, ‘Image’, once you’ve added an image you can then apply this to any layer you’d like. In this example we’d added a New York skyline as the backdrop.
To insert your host or talent into the set, first you’ll have to make sure they are positioned in front of a green screen.
Then go to camera input settings and select colour key, use the eyedropper tool to select the green screen, you can make changes and tweaks to the selection by adjusting the chroma key settings, or you can select from three different presets.
Once you have a camera input, enable the color key tool and select the green backdrop with your eye dropper tool
That’s the basics of a virtual set, with this you should be able to create a simple multi-camera or single camera show using a layered images as your studio.