Aug 30, 2015

VRLA 2015 Recap: Put a Dent in the Universe

A woman experiencing Mind Ride at VRLA.
Video storytellers need to be playing more video games. At VRLA in Los Angeles this weekend, more than two thousand gamers, developers, entrepreneurs and storytellers packed in the LA Convention Center for some 360-degree brain food. The combination of gaming + storytelling+ architecture+ theatre + choreography was a key theme in many of the sessions as new head-mounted screens, inputs, haptics and hand controllers will place more and more viewers inside the story.
  • Room Scale VR. As I experienced the HTV Vive headset for the first time, it struck me how close we are to being able to walk around live or recorded video inside our stories.
    Otherworld Nimbus Knights on the Vive
     The Vive enables "room scale VR" where you can walk around the room and interact with a 3D environment.  I found the Vive display and interactivity even more compelling than my Oculus DK2. Other World VR created a game called "Nimbus Knights". With a wand that also turned into a log when you needed it, the game allowed you to move from plateau to plateau moving troops to different battles. 
  • The Odyssey. Got my first look at Google Jump's 3D. Impressive depth. The GoPro rig with 16 genlocked cameras shoots cylindrical video where the top and bottom of the video are blended in post production with the surrounding scenery. Some content creators were skeptical initially with how the nadir and zenith would mesh but once I saw the video, I understood. The 3D is very compelling even in Cardboard. Jump is said to capture the equivalent of five, 4K TVs playing all at once. 
  • Two Bit Circus tethered Samsung Gear VRs together for a simultaneous viewing experience. 
Patrick Meegan of Jaunt
You Don't Operate Your CameraJaunt VR's Patrick Meegan gave an incredible Master class on the architecture of time in VR. "VR is like architecture," he told a standing room only crowd. "You don't  'operate' the camera," referring to the fact that the viewer is the camera operator with the ability to pan and tilt the screen just by turning their head. He also took a deep dive into positional audio. 3D is not just for video as in VR, audio also has depth. When you turn your head, the audio should turn as well just like in real life. Jaunt is using Tetra mics. For video, Meegan says Jaunt is using a variety of proprietary software but also Adobe Premiere, After Effects, Unity and Nuke. He got a huge laugh when he crouched underneath the tripod demonstrating the best place for the director to view the scene so they would be hidden. We needed two more hours for him to answer all of our questions.
Tell a Veteran:
  • Honor Everywhere. We're collaborating with Jaunt VR on a project that allows terminally ill and aging Veterans to see their memorials in Washington, DC through a VR experience. Honor Everywhere debuts later this year and is looking for VR volunteers willing to take the experience to their local Veterans home.  Tell a Veteran. Some of the people we interviewed for the story have sadly already passed away
  • Crazy sick camera from Reliant Images. If you have a million dollars, it can be yours. 
    36 Camera rig from Reliant Images
  • XRez is doing some compelling CG VR experiences. I flew on the plane that the Wright Brothers built and traveled through other historical experiences. 
  • VRSE was showing "Catatonic", a horror movie where you are seated in a vibrating wheelchair and taken through an infirmary with zombies. It was well done from a production and storytelling standpoint, but I viewed it through a different filter. I've visited real infirmaries in undeveloped countries. Seeing people writhe in pain even though I knew it wasn't real was hard for me to stomach. Great production values, though. I just had a hang up about the content of the story. It made me sad more than scared. Perhaps that was the intent? 
    Catatonic Demo with Haptic Wheelchairs
  • Koncept VR is creating some great high res monoscopic (2D, 360) video and innovating in camera techniques. 
  • IM 360 live streamed the VMAs in VR. Bravo. 
  • Loved meeting other 360 video creators in our meetup Friday night. Best takeaway tip of the night was from Ryan Whitehead: use compressed air just below the GoPro lens to cool down hot Hero 4's. 

Cosmo Scharf, founder of VRLA said it best in his opening statements when he told the VR enthusiasts in the room. "Go put a dent in the Universe."
VR 360 Professionals Meetup at VRLA 2015