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PSVR Price Announced 

playstation-vr-featured-image-gdc-2016

During GDC 2016, Sony finally unveiled the retail price point of the PlayStation VR headset at $399, coming October 2016. All PSVR owners will receive The Playroom VR for free as a download. Sony also announced an exclusive Star Wars: Battlefront experience developed by DICE.

The Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are priced at $599 and $799, respectively, and require powerful gaming PCs to get the full advantage out of them each. Combined, the entry price could easily rise to $1,500. The PSVR is designed to be not only cheaper, but less powerful as well, as it’s targeted at capturing the general audience instead of focusing on the enthusiast consumers.

Source: PSVR Price Announced 

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Virtual-Reality Movies: Get Ready for the VR Revolution – WSJ

WHETHER YOU’RE AN avid cinephile or you haven’t been to a movie theater since enduring “Attack of the Clones,” one thing is certain: Over the next few years, virtual reality will completely reboot your relationship to the moving image. That’s because the once-geeks-only technology, known as VR for short, is becoming shockingly good at making you feel as though you’re in the midst of the action—cycling through the air with E.T. or spinning atop an alp with an excitable Fraulein Maria—rather than observing from afar.

We hear your objections: “There’s absolutely no way I’m going to wear one of those dorky-looking headsets. I won’t even be caught dead in 3-D glasses.” Even if you acknowledge that the motion-tracking technology VR systems employ is pretty cool, allowing users to look freely around a 360-degree environment, you’re perfectly content with real reality, thank you very much.

Source: Virtual-Reality Movies: Get Ready for the VR Revolution – WSJ

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What Hollywood doesn’t understand about virtual reality

As a screenwriter, I’ll frequently find myself at a meeting with a Hollywood executive who keenly lets me in on a secret: Virtual reality is “the future” of scripted entertainment. While there is little doubt that the old ways for television and movies are changing — shows are getting shorter for YouTube or longer for Netflix — I wonder if the executives extolling the virtues of VR have actually strapped on a pair of goggles and taken a good, hard look at this future they champion. Because from what I see, quality scripted VR entertainment is still science fiction.

There’s been no shortage of attempts from very talented people to create quality scripted entertainment for virtual reality headsets. Sundance’s New Frontier program has been a major cheerleader. In the past two years, it has debuted VR content that ranges from whimsical comedy to date-rape drama to wacky ’80s-inspired sci-fi. This year’s most polished piece of “scripted entertainment” as we might traditionally know it, Defrost, starring Carl Weathers, tells the story of a patient awakening from a 30-year cryogenic freeze. I watched as my friends took turns behind the eyes of this character, craning their necks around the room trying to make sure they weren’t missing any content hidden in their 360-degree virtual space.

Source: What Hollywood doesn’t understand about virtual reality

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Virtual reality movie theaters are now a thing | VentureBeat | Media | by Paul Sawers

 

As a screenwriter, I’ll frequently find myself at a meeting with a Hollywood executive who keenly lets me in on a secret: Virtual reality is “the future” of scripted entertainment. While there is little doubt that the old ways for television and movies are changing — shows are getting shorter for YouTube or longer for Netflix — I wonder if the executives extolling the virtues of VR have actually strapped on a pair of goggles and taken a good, hard look at this future they champion. Because from what I see, quality scripted VR entertainment is still science fiction.

There’s been no shortage of attempts from very talented people to create quality scripted entertainment for virtual reality headsets. Sundance’s New Frontier program has been a major cheerleader. In the past two years, it has debuted VR content that ranges from whimsical comedy to date-rape drama to wacky ’80s-inspired sci-fi. This year’s most polished piece of “scripted entertainment” as we might traditionally know it, Defrost, starring Carl Weathers, tells the story of a patient awakening from a 30-year cryogenic freeze. I watched as my friends took turns behind the eyes of this character, craning their necks around the room trying to make sure they weren’t missing any content hidden in their 360-degree virtual space.

Source: Virtual reality movie theaters are now a thing | VentureBeat | Media | by Paul Sawers

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GoPro made a crazy 16-camera rig for Google Jump | The Verge

GoPro may have announced a quadcopter and a purpose-built rig for filming VR yesterday, but the action camera giant apparently wasn’t done. Now, GoPro announced that it has built a completely separate rig with Google. It’s a 360-degree, 16-camera array, and it’s the first one specially made for filming 3D VR content for Google’s new “Jump” VR ecosystem.

GoPro’s new camera array slots right into that ecosystem, and will let people easily create VR content for everything from YouTube to Google Cardboard. Basically, GoPro and Google want VR filmmakers all the hassle of hacking together DIY rigs made of duct tape and 3D-printed parts.

There’s no doubt that GoPro is an industry leader when it comes to hardware, but by releasing a Jump rig the company is able to strengthen its software side without needing to do much of its own development (it also acquired Kolor, a VR software company, earlier this year). The cameras will automatically be synced using the software Google has created for Jump, the footage will be optimized, and thanks to that cohesion users will apparently also get better battery life — something that’s still a major sticking point for GoPro users.

According to GoPro, the new product will only be available to Google’s YouTube content creators for six months through what’s being called an “early access program.” Much like the rig announced at the Code Conference yesterday, it will eventually be available to the public, but there’s no set price yet.

via GoPro made a crazy 16-camera rig for Google Jump | The Verge.

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Oculus to Ship Virtual Reality Headsets in Early 2016 – NYTimes.com

Early next year, consumers will finally be able to buy the Oculus virtual reality headgear that so impressed Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook that he spent $2 billion to buy the company.

Oculus VR announced on Wednesday that it would begin shipping its flagship Rift headset in the first quarter of 2016. Pre-orders will be accepted during the holidays. The company declined to release the sales price or technical details of the Rift, which has been available in a rough version for software developers for several years. The device will need to be used with a personal computer, which will handle the bulk of the computing necessary to create the illusion of another world that users can explore when wearing the headset.

The 2016 release date is a bit later than both Palmer Luckey, the founder of Oculus, and Facebook had hoped for.

In March, Mr. Luckey said that “Everything is going horribly right,” referring to an earlier pledge he had made to sell the device in 2015 unless things went “horribly wrong.” Later that month, Facebook’s vice president of engineering, Mike Schroepfer, demonstrated a new virtual reality game at Facebook’s developer conference and said that people would be able to play it on a Rift this year.

But the technology used in the Oculus device, from sophisticated motion tracking to the computer processing required to display vivid three-dimensional images in real time, has proved challenging to create. Virtual reality has been a dream of the computer industry for decades, but early versions tended to cause motion sickness in viewers or offer a poor simulation of the real world.

via Oculus to Ship Virtual Reality Headsets in Early 2016 – NYTimes.com.

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Virtual Reality Is Just as Good as Being There … Or Is It? | Re/code

With Oculus finally, officially joining the VR-hardware cacophony and announcing a launch window for the Oculus Rift, all eyes are on what content will make non-geeks actually want one of these things.

One contender for that content will be sports. At an event in San Francisco last night, NextVR executive chairman Brad Allen spoke on a panel about sports applications for VR and loaned attendees a Samsung Gear VR to sample the company’s work.

The demo was a reel of short video clips, recorded in 180 or 360 degrees so that viewers could turn to see more of the scene. It included clips from Nascar, soccer and ice hockey, three sports I almost never watch.

Even as a non-fan of those sports and a serial VR demo-er, though, I was surprised to find I wanted to keep watching after the demo was over. In particular, the hockey portion of the demo let me follow the puck around the rink as if I had an excellent, centrally-located seat, and following the action was noticeably different from watching on TV.

“You actually feel like you’re there,” Allen said on the panel, which was hosted by sports news aggregator Chat Sports.

But wait. If the experience is good enough to trump watching on TV, and I have a better simulated seat at home than I could afford at a real hockey game, why leave the house?

via Virtual Reality Is Just as Good as Being There … Or Is It? | Re/code.

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Virtual reality is for watching things. HoloLens is for making them | The Verge

At a SXSW panel in March, Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey weighed in on the HoloLens, an augmented reality headset that Microsoft revealed in January. Unsurprisingly, he was more excited about virtual reality tech like the Oculus Rift. The reason? There were better things to do in VR. “Nobody has ever proven a killer application for augmented reality. Most proposed [augmented reality] killer apps, it’s not that they’re not cool, they’re just kind of boring,” he said. “It’s things like assisting you with how to use a tool or telling you where you’re walking or where do I go, the best restaurant nearby. We’re not excited by those things as much.”

Microsoft’s demos aren’t, in fact, nearly as overwhelming as something like Oculus’ short film Lost. You can play around with art or architecture, but you’re rarely transported to another world. A Skype home maintenance demo admittedly sounds a little on the mundane side. But being boring is exactly what could help HoloLens succeed — and potentially enter the mainstream in a way that virtual reality can’t.

Judging from its performance at last week’s Microsoft Build conference, the HoloLens still isn’t exactly user-friendly. It’s got a limited range of controls and, in its latest iteration, a narrow field of view that makes it hard to see large objects. But every single demo I tried was interactive, even if it was as small as tapping to drop an origami ball. At a panel, Microsoft pulled in a medical researcher and a member of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to talk about building apps for their work. The message was clear: HoloLens is as much a productivity tool as your PC or tablet.

via Virtual reality is for watching things. HoloLens is for making them | The Verge.

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3 virtual reality products will dominate our living rooms by this time next year – Business Insider

It’s crazy but true: Virtual reality will be a real thing in people’s homes by this time next year.

A couple of months after Sony and Valve/HTC announced release windows for their virtual reality headsets, Facebook-owned Oculus on Wednesday announced the first consumer version of the long-awaited Rift headset will begin shipping early next year, with pre-orders beginning as early as this year.

With this announcement, here’s the rundown of VR headset launches:

Valve and HTC’s Vive headset will arrive later this year.
Sony’s Morpheus headset for PlayStation 4 will arrive in the first half of next year.
Oculus Rift headset will start shipping in “Q1 2016.”
Each of these headsets has its own strengths.

Let’s look at each one in more detail.

via 3 virtual reality products will dominate our living rooms by this time next year – Business Insider.

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Seeing and believing: Virtual reality set to conquer living rooms

Anyone, anywhere would be able to strap on a headset in their living room and be able to experience events anywhere in the world — or outside of it — as if they were really there.Virtual reality VR technology was long seen as the next big thing.

But real reality always seemed to get in the way.For years, it was the costly and bulky equipment; More recently, the sparse investment in software because of a lack of consumer-ready headgear.

Now, that could change.Oculus, the VR business bought for $2 billion by Facebook Inc last year, said this week it would start shipping a consumer version of its Rift headset in early 2016, raising hopes that investment in VR software will finally take off.

“I have been waiting for virtual reality since I was a little boy 30 years ago,” said Ben Schachter, an analyst at Macquarie Securities in New York.

“Our view is that things are radically different this time.”

About 2.7 million VR headsets, including versions aimed at app and content developers, could be sold in 2015, according to technology consultancy KZero.

via Seeing and believing: Virtual reality set to conquer living rooms.

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A face-to-face demo of Facebook’s Teleportation virtual reality app | VentureBeat | Social | by Dean Takahashi

I tried out Facebook’s new Teleportation app at the company’s F8 event today. It was both a hands-on and face-on demo, as the 360-degree video app makes use of the social networking giant’s Oculus VR virtual reality technology.

I had to wait to get my demo because Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, got to the area just before I did. (And the picture above proves it.)

The app was running on the Samsung Gear VR virtual reality headset, which uses Oculus technology to view virtual reality apps via a Samsung Galaxy Note smartphone.

When it was my turn, I strapped on the headset like a pair of ski goggles and looked around. And around. And around.

The demo took me to a live video of the central plaza inside Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif. I was face to face with a DJ who was evidently blasting music during the lunch hour. I couldn’t hear that music, but I was free to look around in any direction. It was, indeed, as if I had teleported over to the campus. The video images were fuzzy, but they were clear enough to be able to see people and recognize faces.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Zuckerberg is getting a lot out of his $2 billion acquisition of Oculus VR just yet. This is just a glimpse of where VR — and livestreaming — can go in the future. But it’s not a bad start.

via A face-to-face demo of Facebook’s Teleportation virtual reality app | VentureBeat | Social | by Dean Takahashi.

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Magic Leap Claims This Kickass Reality-Bending Raygun Game Is Real

Remember Magic Leap, the elusive Google-funded company promising to make virtual objects look like they exist in the real world? The one whose technology we’ve never actually seen? The secretive startup just released this incredible video filled with robots, retro rayguns, and a holodeck-like user interface.

Oh, and the company claims this is a real game that real Magic Leap employees are actually playing around the office today.

Honestly, it’s pretty hard to take the company at its word that this is entirely real and not just an artist’s interpretation of what the technology will be. (I’ve asked the company to clarify.) Last I’d heard—take this with a grain of salt—Magic Leap hadn’t yet miniaturized the tech to the point where you could actually wear a full-color display on your head, much less roam around a room, grab rayguns and shoot up a room.

But that doesn’t make this video any less cool. And I did indeed see experiences not too far behind this when I used Microsoft’s Hololens for the first time a couple months ago.

Wouldn’t you like to pick up one of Dr. Grordbot’s Infalliable Aether Oscillators? I sure would.

via Magic Leap Claims This Kickass Reality-Bending Raygun Game Is Real.

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The future of interactive cinematic VR is coming, and fast | VentureBeat | Media | by Daniel Terdiman

AUSTIN, Texas — I’m staring out over the edge of a cliff, the great rushing Colorado River visible far below. The vista in front of me is stunning, with Southwestern hues of orange and red bursting from the rock faces. But it’s almost totally still. There’s no movement at all.

Although it’s beautiful, crystal clear, and obviously live-action video, I’m confused by that stillness. Then I tilt my head to look down and far to my right. There, just in time, I see two sprinting men leap off the edge of the cliff and soar for a few seconds before their parachutes open.

Had I not turned my head, I’d have missed them. But that was the point. The Oculus VR headset I had strapped on recognized the movement, and now I was looking at what I would have seen if I had actually been physically looking down into that Utah canyon: the two BASE jumpers disappearing into the gorge.

This was a demo of Jaunt VR’s technology — an end-to-end system now available to VR content producers that starts with a 360-degree stereoscopic video camera; continues through video encoding, editing, and post production; and ends with live-action footage filling 360 degrees of a user’s field of vision. Palo Alto, California-based Jaunt is now distributing content for Oculus, Samsung Gear VR, Mac, PC, and a number of cardboard VR systems.

Virtual reality systems are among the most exciting technologies on the horizon right now. With Oculus VR, Sony’s Morpheus, Microsoft’s Hololens, Magic Leap, and Samsung Gear VR, to name a few, storytellers are facing a dizzying array of platforms to choose from, even as consumers will soon be selecting their system(s) of choice. That means we’re on the edge of an all-new kind of storytelling, and the VR platform companies and content creators are in the earliest stages of trying to figure out how to come up with the kinds of compelling stories that will do the technology justice.

Filmmakers’ excitement about producing content for VR was on full display at the Sundance Film Festivalin January. There, attendees were treated to a number of the latest VR cinematic experiences.

Still, whether it’s live-action VR, computer-generated VR, or a combination of the two, we are, as Wolfgang Bergmann, CEO of the German TV network ARTE Deutschland,  put it at South by Southwest (SXSW) on Saturday, “at the beginning of the beginning of the beginning [in VR storytelling]. It’s like silent movie part two.”

 

via The future of interactive cinematic VR is coming, and fast | VentureBeat | Media | by Daniel Terdiman.

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Otoy reveals free rendering software for super-fast virtual reality and ‘holographic cinema’ | VentureBeat | Gadgets | by Dean Takahashi

Otoy has released its OctaneVR virtual reality rendering software for virtual reality, augmented reality, and holographic cinema. And it’s available for free for commercial use.

These are new kinds of art forms for animators and game creators, and it requires new rendering tools. Otoy’s OctaneVR helps artists on any budget create hyper-realistic, movie-like experiences. The software is a subset of Otoy’s high-end OctaneRender VFX, a paid product.

OctaneVR lets artists on any budget create hyper-realistic cinematic experiences for VR and AR using a free, feature-complete version of OTOY’s acclaimed OctaneRender VFX software.

Chief executive Jules Urbach made the announcement at the Nvidia GPUTech conference in San Jose, Calif., today. “We saw what was possible here, and we said we just have to do this,” he said after the presentation.

Otoy is all about providing cloud-based production tools so that artists, movie makers, and game creators can create awesome computer-generated images, films, or games.

The goal of OctaneVR is to create art at the same fidelity demanded by consumer VR and AR devices coming to market this year. OctaneVR will be released on Windows, OSX and Linux for free for an unspecified period of time. It supports apps that show scenes in full virtual reality, where you can turn around 360 degrees and see a virtual world.

Otoy’s new tools include the Orbx Media Player, which will work with the Samsung Galaxy Gear VR mobile headset, with support for Microsoft HoloLens and HTML5 WebVR coming in the fourth quarter of 2015.

“Virtual and augmented reality is enabling phenomenal new experiences in education, entertainment, and gaming, but we’re really only at the beginning of this movement,” said Urbach in a statement. “With OctaneVR we’re putting Otoy’s VR technology in the hands of everyone, at no cost, to see what incredible experiences can be created in this medium, once artists are limited only by their artistry and imagination.”

OctaneVR will be available for download on Otoy’s website in April. The Orbx Media Player application be updated on the Gear VR Store simultaneously.

Meanwhile, Otoy also announced an update to its other tools, Octane Render 3 and Octane Render Cloud services.

via Otoy reveals free rendering software for super-fast virtual reality and ‘holographic cinema’ | VentureBeat | Gadgets | by Dean Takahashi.

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The North Face brings virtual reality to retail – Digiday

There are adrenaline junkies that thrive in the outdoors. And then there are the rest of us couch potatoes, for whom walking two blocks seems like an accomplishment. It is this group that might rejoice at The North Face’s latest campaign, which transports customers to Yosemite National Park as they shop comfortably in the company’s retail stores.

The outdoor apparel company has collaborated with cinematic VR company Jaunt to give viewers an immersive tour of California’s Yosemite National Park and the Moab desert in Utah, where they can trek the landscapes and rock climb alongside athletes Cedar Wright and Sam Elias.

“Every brand wants to forge an emotional connection with its customers,” Eric Oliver, director of digital marketing at The North Face, told Digiday. “Our brand mission is to inspire a life of exploration, so we felt like this was a great way to enhance our storytelling, use technology and transport people to the outdoors.”

Using Google Cardboard, the experience places viewers in the great outdoors, with the ability to look around in any direction, recreating the experience of actually being there. The footage was shot with Jaunt’s proprietary 360 degree, stereoscopic 3D cameras and advanced 3D sound-field microphones. Camp4 Collective, a group of athletes and filmmakers, also worked on location with The North Face and Jaunt to produce the content.

The North Face VR experience debuts on March 16 at the SXSW Interactive conference in Austin, after which it will be will be available for download by the public on Google Play. It will also be rolled out across North Face’s Flagship stores in three cities: Chicago, New York and San Francisco.

Virtual reality is no mere passing fad; both brands and technology companies have invested significant resources. HBO fans have virtually scaled the icy Wall from “Game of Thrones.” Marriott has whisked people away for virtual tours of Hawaii and London. Lexus and Volvo have given its customers virtual test drives of its cars.

Technologically, Oculus Rift was the first mover, but Google Cardboard and the Samsung Gear VR followed suit with more affordable tech. Sony and HTC are also developing headsets in a space that is getting increasingly crowded, with Morpheus and Vive respectively in the works.

“The more people you can reach, the greater VR is going to be,” said Scott Broock, vp of content for Jaunt. “The entry of all these players is making it accessible, democratic and increasingly inexpensive.”

via The North Face brings virtual reality to retail – Digiday.

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NHL tests virtual reality live streaming to watch ‘from any seat’ | Puck Daddy – Yahoo Sports

AUSTIN, TX – Virtual reality is featured prominently at South By Southwest Sports this year, from using it to better train athletes with Oculus Rift to how it could transform the fan experience watching basketball, football and hockey at home.

Yes, hockey, the most problematic of televised sports. The live experience is unmatched – find even the most casual hockey fan, and they’ll tell you how the arena vibe totally blows away the product on TV.

The gap has closed a bit with the advent of high definition and the potential for 3-D. But just because you can follow the puck better doesn’t mean you feel like you’re at the game.

Which is where virtual reality comes in.

The NHL had its first successful test of a 360-degree virtual reality experience at its Stadium Series game between the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings last month, mounting cameras around the glass that filmed HD images in the round.

“It was wild. I could turn around as see a person sitting in back of me,” said NHL COO John Collins, who strapped on the goggles.

The test featured tech from NextVR and Samsung GALAXY Gear VR, which produced the “head-mounted displays” that streamed game footage hosted by a Los Angeles-based Cloud graphics company, OTOY. The footage could also be used on smart phones and tablets, as fans could navigate through the footage they’re streaming.

The 6K frame rate from OTOY was a ground-breaking success at the game, with plans to use a special light-field camera in the works for future tests.

It’s OTOY’s involvement that will be a game-changer: This footage wasn’t something from the archives – it was live streamed.

via NHL tests virtual reality live streaming to watch ‘from any seat’ | Puck Daddy – Yahoo Sports.

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Wild Virtual Reality Experience Puts You Right in the Audience at SNL 40 | Adweek

It remains mostly unclear what kinds of virtual reality experiences will be most compelling to people. But NBC, Samsung and director Chris Milk presented one VR experience at South by Southwest this weekend that everyone could agree was pretty cool—as it put the user right in the audience at Saturday Night Live’s recent 40th anniversary show.
Unfortunately, we don’t have any video to show you that even approximates the experience. But what happened was this: Milk recorded Jerry Seinfeld’s monologue with a VR camera mounted on top of Camera 1—the camera right in front of the SNL main stage. The VR camera recorded the entire studio in all directions for the entire monologue.
So, when you sit down for the VR experience—watching it on the Samsung Gear VR headset—it feels like you’re sitting on top of Camera 1. As Seinfeld calls out each comedian, you look around to watch them, just as you would if you were in the studio.
Some users had a bit of trouble getting the images in focus, but otherwise the experience was uncanny. Afterward, we caught up with Milk—a digital innovator whose work includes Arcade Fire’s The Wilderness Downtown video and Beck’s 360-degree “Sound and Vision” film—to ask him about this project.
“This was the first time I ever did a television show [in VR],” said Milk, who recently launched his own VR company, VRSE. “I don’t think this sort of construct works for other television shows. This is a moment in time that is recorded. The studio has this history, and the audience is all made up of previous cast members, and it really is a specially unique moment in time that should be recorded for historical purposes.”
“To be able to capture that moment in this format is a really incredible opportunity and will allow that show to live for years and decades to come in a way that really wasn’t possible before,” added Michael Scogin, vp of late night at NBC Entertainment Digital.
Milk, whose recent work has included a VR experience that took viewers inside the Dec. 13 rally against police brutality in New York City, admitted the SNL project might not seem revolutionary in its execution. But that’s part of building VR as a medium—springboarding off other mediums.
“VR is a completely new form of storytelling. And the language and form of storytelling needs to completely evolve into something new,” he said. “What we normally do at the beginning of mediums is just shoot the old mediums with the new technology. … It takes, typically, decades for any medium to figure out what its definitive model of storytelling is. The feature film was not created at the beginning of cinema.”
But the possibilities are nothing short of sci-fi, he added.
“Right now you’re sitting in a chair and you can look around,” he said. “But conceivably, decades from now, you could have a photorealistic world that could be rendered in real time, and the storytelling is being run off an [artificial intelligence] system that could accommodate anything that you were doing. It could feel like you’re running even if you’re not. And then you basically have The Matrix or Total Recall, if you so choose to enter it.”
SNL cast member Vanessa Bayer was also on hand for the press preview of the SNL 40 experience. “It’s really amazing that people will get to see it who weren’t in the audience,” she said.

via Wild Virtual Reality Experience Puts You Right in the Audience at SNL 40 | Adweek.

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Taking a virtual-reality tour of the spaceship from ‘Interstellar’ – CNET

AUSTIN, Texas — A curious white geodesic dome appeared in a dusty dirt lot near downtown Austin this week. From the outside the structure resembled a planetarium, which is fitting because on the inside something very spacey was going on.

The dome housed a virtual-reality experience for the Academy Award-winning film “Interstellar” during the South by Southwest festival, which kicked off on Friday bringing together technorati, filmmakers and musicians. In the dome, anyone could take a simulated 3D trip through the movie’s Endurance spaceship and experience the feeling of weightlessness.

An assistant helps fit festiver-goers with an Oculus Rift headset for the virtual reality experience.
Jack Dempsey, Invision for Paramount Home Media Distribution
“You’re taken through the very set we worked on, making the movie,” said actor Bill Irwin, who played the voice of the robot TARS in the film. “If you’ve dreamed of space travel and a NASA environment, the Interstellar virtual-reality experience is a chance to feel what it’s like. You won’t believe you’re just sitting still.”

Crowds of festivalgoers lined up to give the virtual-reality experience a try. As each person entered the dome, they were escorted to one of three comfy recliners.

“Welcome astronaut,” said one of the assistants — outfitting the person with an Oculus Rift virtual-reality headset and a pair of earphones.

Once the headset was on, the images displayed were seen through the eyes of an astronaut on board the spacecraft: a small chamber, different control dashboards, doorways to other rooms and windows with views of the cosmos. A voice echoed over the speaker telling the astronaut there wasn’t much time and to move quickly to the next room.

As the astronaut traveled, the voice warned to “prepare for zero gravity.” The astronaut could see the door to a walkway slide open and at the same time the real-world chair dropped a few inches and nothing but silence could be heard through the earphones. Pens, notebooks and other objects floated by. This full sensory experience made for a feeling of weightlessness.

Finally the astronaut arrived at the spaceship’s command station and the trip was complete.

via Taking a virtual-reality tour of the spaceship from ‘Interstellar’ – CNET.

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Facebook, Oculus And The Future Of Virtual Reality | TechCrunch

Imagine a scene:

You’re in your chair at home, the latest Oculus VR headset encircling your head, and you use its voice recognition feature to access Facebook.Facebook’s virtual reality newsfeed appears in front of you — a three-dimensional, horizontally-scrolling wall of cards. Each card contains a virtual experience, and much like the auto-playing videos in Facebook’s newsfeed today, each of them offers a few moments of the experience on a loop.The first card is from one friend, who uploaded a video filmed with a consumer-friendly VR camera featuring her three-year-old daughter and the family dog chasing each other in circles.

It’s cute… and not what you’re looking for.Instead of using a mouse or a finger-swipe to scroll through a flat, one-dimensional newsfeed, you lift your arm and make a swiping gesture to the left.The next experience in the queue is from your best friend, who uploaded a clip taken from his video-drone’s flight over Manhattan at dusk.

With the drone’s multiple cameras capturing three dimensional space and the VR editing software that came preinstalled on Apple’s latest desktop devices, you’re witnessing a virtual experience of the most awe-inspiring parts of its journey.You haven’t seen that friend in a few months and the flight over New York looks cool, so you go with it. You raise your arm and gesture forward with your hand.The Facebook feed slowly zooms in and suddenly, you have the sensation that you’re gliding high over lower Manhattan at its most beautiful hour.

To the left, the sun is already past the Western horizon, but darkness hasn’t overtaken dusk. In front of you, the LED lights of thousands of offices and homes are visible, glowing brightly through the windows into their hulking, sky-scraping frames.Your perspective moves steadily and smoothly over the southern edge of the Hudson River towards the buildings of the Financial District.As the drone’s flight climbs rising above the buildings, its perspective shifts and  you see the flow of cars and pedestrians, illuminated by the streetlights.

The whirring of the drone is loud—dominant but not overwhelming. The view is spectacular.After circling the Freedom Tower, it’s over.Your perspective zooms out again, and the next potential experience is on display.This one is a news story from Vice, whose VR coverage of the latest protests has been excellent.

You go with that.

via Facebook, Oculus And The Future Of Virtual Reality | TechCrunch.

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Smaug just melted the flesh off my bones in virtual reality | The Verge

Let’s get this out of the way up front: I’m a huge fan of all things Tolkien, so there was no way I wasn’t going to enjoy Thief in the Shadows. It’s a virtual reality experience that Epic Games built in partnership with Weta Digital, the New Zealand-based digital effects studio responsible for the fabulous digital creatures in Peter Jackson’s two Middle-earth film trilogies (among many other things).

Thief in the Shadows uses the Oculus Rift to put you in the hairy feet of Bilbo Baggins as he faces off against the massive dragon Smaug in a modified scene from The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. It’s a great choice of a scene to show off VR — after The Hobbit logo filled my field of vision, just as it does at the beginning of the film, the cavernous, gold-filled halls of the dwarf kingdom of Erebor gradually revealed themselves around me. Damn, that’s a LOT of gold.

Then, my headphones fill with the sound of shifting coins behind me — yup, it’s Smaug stirring from his slumber. Unfortunately, in this VR world, my Hobbit-feet remain firmly planted in place; there’s nowhere to run. I can look all around, but there’s no escaping this monstrosity. Smaug slowly reveals himself in all his glory, and it’s pretty stunning — he flies around the cavern, taunting you with his lines of dialog from the film, and eventually comes up to you as close as possible. Unfortunately, the limitations of VR mean the back-and-forth between Bilbo and Smaug is absent; instead, it’s just lines of dialog that work reasonably well without the verbal sparring. But it’s not nearly as engrossing as the showdown in the film.

UNFORTUNATELY, IN THIS VIRTUAL REALITY WORLD I COULD NOT RUN FOR MY LIFE

Still, when Smaug got right up in my face, staring me down with his huge, bright eye, things got unsettling pretty fast. But the flaws still inherent in VR keep this from being truly immersive. The colors are all wrong, for starters, and the low resolution means this version of Smaug isn’t quite as impressive or as immersive as it was seeing him on a huge IMAX screen in 3D.

via Smaug just melted the flesh off my bones in virtual reality | The Verge.

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