How does having a hologram on your desktop sound?
Through the work of Rainmeter developer killall-q, you can easily place a holographic image of your choice on your desktop. The process is simple, straightforward, and can enliven any desktop. In this post, we take you through the process, every step of the way.
How Hologram Works
Hologram for Rainmeter renders 3D models — using the OBJ file type — as point clouds. Point clouds are transparent 3D objects created by placing points at distinct coordinates. The coordinates used are dictated by the face (underlying shape) vertices in a 3D object.
Higher quality models take longer to load into Hologram. Loading times can sway from seconds to hours. Before loading an object to Hologram, create a blank layout to experiment with the program. Open your Rainmeter settings by clicking on the Raindrop icon in your hidden icon drawer.
- To save your existing layout — In the Manage Rainmeter window, head to the Layouts tab. Save your current layout by naming it and clicking Save. To activate this layout again, click on the layout name and select Load.
- To create a blank layout — Check Save as empty layout and name your layout, e.g. Blank. Click Save. Then, click on the name of your blank layout and select Load.
What You’ll Need
First, you’ll need to download Rainmeter. The installation is simple, straightforward, and does not interfere with your computer’s performance. Next, download the Hologram skin. Rainmeter skins (.RMSKIN) are automatically installed into Rainmeter when run. Since 3D files are usually zipped when downloaded, you’ll need to extract these files before using them.
3D Models in OBJ Format
You will need OBJ files to begin working with Hologram. OBJ files are non-textured 3D objects which Hologram uses to create the point cloud. Thingiverse, an online depository for free 3D file formats, provides excellent models to use. Turbo Squid also provides excellent, although pricey, 3D models. NASA (National Association of Science and Technology) has a depository for 3D models of such spacecrafts as the Viking Lander and the ISS (International Space Station) as well.
3D Model Online Converter
With Meshlab you can display and convert most 3D files to a OBJ file. Meshlab also allows you “to decimate (reduce) or subdivide (increase) the vertices of models.” Often, downloaded 3D files will require hours to load into Hologram due to their complexity. Decimating the OBJ file will reduce the complexity of the figure, thereby reducing the render time in Hologram.
To decimate a model, open Meshlab. Load your model into the program under File, then Import Mesh. Once the file is loaded, select Filters. Then, select Remeshing, Simplification, and Reconstruction (all one entry). From this window, click on Quadric Edge Collapse Decimation to open its settings window.
The main setting to change is Target number of faces. The simplest method of reducing the complexity of the model, thereby reducing loading time, is to reduce the number of faces. Begin reducing this number by single denominations of the largest number place. For example, 50,000 to 40,000, then 30,000, and so on. Once changed, click Apply.
To save a model as a OBJ file, select File, then Export Mesh As. Beside Files of type, click on the drop-down menu and select Alias Wavefront Object.
Load Model Into Hologram
Position your object file within Hologram’s default model directory (
C:\Users\[PC Name]\Documents\Rainmeter\Skins\Hologram\@Resources\Models). This will allow you to change your holograms by file name. After you’ve placed your models into this directory, mouse over Hologram and click on the File entry.
Change the name of the model, in the above case pikachu, with the new model’s name. Name your model something simple in order to ease the process. Once you’ve entered the model name, press Enter on your keyboard.
The different options in this window will create the look of the point cloud.
- Estimated Load Time — The load time necessary to load your model. The sections separated by colons correspond to the hours, minutes, seconds, and milliseconds, respectively.
- Points — The amount of points your model will require. The more points, the higher the load time.
- Preload Points — This setting pre-loads your model so you don’t have to load the whole object again. If your pre-load points equals your points total, your object will load instantly the next time it’s entered into Hologram.
- Edge Interpolation — Renders shape edges as points. This settings will increase the load time of your image.
- Color — The hex color dictates the color of your points. To change, enter a different hex color parameter. FFFFFF is the hex code for white, 000000 is the hex code for black. W3Schools offers a free online resource to check hex colors.
- Rotation — Enabling this setting will allow y-axis rotation of your model. Remember to enable rotation after the still model has been loaded into Hologram. Keep in mind, the rotation feature requires constant CPU usage.
Only enact these settings one at a time. For example, load an image, then increasing edge interpolation, then enable rotation, etc. Once you’ve finished choosing your settings, click Load to load your model. Rainmeter will freeze while this process is in motion. Once the model is loaded, you can change the pitch, yaw, and rotation settings by mousing over your model. You can also scroll up on your mouse to make the model smaller, or down to make it bigger.
To disable the mouse-over function, right-click the model, select Settings, and check Click through. You can revert this settings by unchecking Click through in your Manage Rainmeter window.
If you want to interrupt the process, navigate to
C:\Users\[PC Name]\Documents\Rainmeter\Skins\Hologram\@Resources and delete the
Meters.inc file. You can also double-click the
ForceKill.bat file located in your @Resources folder to kill the process.
Here’s an example of the default Globe model that comes with Hologram, with the added rotation feature enabled:
Here’s an example of the Millennium Falcon, which took 12:47 to load:
Here’s a final example of Legend of Zelda’s Majora’s Mask, which only took 00:47 to load:
Here’s the same model, with the added rotation feature enabled:
Help Me, Hologram! You’re My Only Hope!
Hologram seems like the best method to use 3D models to enhance your desktop through Rainmeter. Keep in mind that this application, like most other Rainmeter skins, may contain bugs. Nevertheless, this Rainmeter skin is a great example of what Rainmeter is capable of. A special thanks to killall-q for this impressive Rainmeter creation.
Do you dig this Rainmeter skin? What are some of your favorites? Let us know in the comments below!