Category Archives: VR VIDEOS
2016 is VR's year for the taking and that means one thing: everyone has an opinion on the technology and its use in creative industries from Hollywood to games to everything in between.
Some opinions are more interesting than others. So we've rounded up some choice cuts from the respected, the famous and the downright magical below. The main question being - will VR be a thing and if so, what kind of thing? What are we going to do with it? If you've spotted any great VR discussions or op-eds that we've missed, let us know in the comments below.
Pixar's Ed Catmull: It's not storytelling
Ed Catmull co-founded Pixar Animation so he knows a thing or two about working ahead of the creative curve. Despite the fact that ex-Pixar cinematographer and director Saschka Unseld now heads up Oculus Story Studio, Catmull is keen to draw lines between "experiences" and a new kind of cinema. Here he is speaking to The Guardian in December:
"It's not storytelling. People have been trying to do storytelling for 40 years. They haven't succeeded. Why is that? Because we know that if they succeed then people would jump on it. Linear narrative is an artfully-directed telling of a story, where the lighting and the sound is all for a very clear purpose. You're not just wandering around in the world.
"Having said that, I think they should keep running the experiments. But the fact that we should run the experiments and the fact that the technology has changed doesn't mean that it's going to end up where they think it is
David Attenborough: It gives you a dozen different stories
Speaking at an event at the Natural History Museum for his 20 minute, 360-degree Dive The Great Barrier Reef experience, Attenborough couldn't contain his excitement over the potential of VR and 360-degree video for telling stories about nature. In fact, he takes the exact opposite view to Pixar's Ed Catmull.
"I have been completely caught up . It takes you to places you could have never dreamed existed. Suddenly you are completely immersed, and you have a vivid feeling of actually being there. It's an experience you don't forget.
"It means you have to think in quite a different way. It is a different way of thinking, and it is very different from the usual way where we as filmmakers direct the viewer towards the story we want to tell. Normally once you have seen that story, well you've seen it. You might want to see it again but VR gives you a dozen different stories. You are your own director. We can take you on one dive, but instead of looking down or straight ahead you can look behind, or to the opposite side. I might want to see what is happening over there!"
Chet Faliszek: You can slow gamers down
When we spoke to one of Valve's writers, who has worked on the Portal, Half-Life and Left 4 Dead series, Chet Faliszek waxed lyrical about the power presence (not just immersion). But he also picked up on the way that VR can allow developers to slow gamers down and enhance their gameplay. The quotes below are from our December interview with Chet:
"Often when you're in a 2D game, people will eat up content very quickly. They do that because it's really easy to move and there's no risk to moving fast. So you blow through that. In virtual reality, you end up moving slower, especially if you're standing because if you're standing, you feel vulnerable. Much like you wouldn't go running through your offices at 40mph, you don't want to do that in virtual reality either.
"You can also just escape. You can go really deep, where you are just in that moment, in that world. I think that's something developers have lost. People have such sensory overload now, of being on multiple screens, never being in a place fully anymore. Virtual reality brings you back to that where you are fully in a place and fully engrossed in what you're doing."
Mike Woods: VR demands interaction
Mike Woods is a Framestore alumni, where he launched the VFX company's VR studio and has since launched White Rabbit VR. As he spoke about in his Medium post, he has worked on a lot of virtual reality content so he is in a pretty good position to comment. Woods starts by - controversially - saying that VR storytelling doesn't work. He ends up arguing that it works in distinct circumstances which still may not be enough for the medium to flourish. The whole thing is a great read but here's one point that brings up the whole games vs films thing.
"This brings us to the elephant in the room with the current notion of VR Storytelling. Storytelling is a RETROSPECTIVE thing. It always has been. People didn't sit around the campfire telling stories in the timeframes that they actually occurred. And I'm not aware of realtime books. Linear narrative mechanisms have evolved to break down the constraints of time and emotive viewpoint. But herein lies the VR Storytelling anachronism.
"Virtual Reality is very different to the Internet, but not in one profound way. It DEMANDS to be interacted with. Like real life does, and indeed, demands... The work of Telltale Games, Naughty Dog and The Chinese Room have all proved that you can create wonderful story narrative within a user controlled world. But even something as marvellous as 'The Last of Us' relies upon cutscenes to further the narrative story arc. Why is this? Is it the only way? Do you have to disable interaction to further story?"
Nicole Stenger: Hyperreality is a trend
Back when we asked whether 2016 will be VR's breakthrough year, Wareable's Dan Sung chatted to VR pioneer Nicole Stenger who worked at the Human Interface Technology Laboratory in Seattle in the 90s. She sees VR as already mainstream and is even starting to pick out trends in how the medium is being used by filmmakers and games creators in both CG and 360-degree video.
"There's already a first VR trend which is what I'd call hyperreality. It's the reality we're used to but enhanced, so it gives you more emotions. It's the same but it's magnified. The same ingredients but pushed to the extreme. It's all about using images of reality like video. But you could look at VR as a dream world instead of reality as we know it.
"It's the same as at the beginning of cinema. You could have had dreamy computer animation-type film and people chose realism right away, like a train pulling into a railway station."
Werner Herzog: We might live in VR
Trust Werner Herzog to be toying with the idea of virtual reality not only in terms of making movies, after his work on his 3D documentary Cave of Forgotten Dreams, but indeed in terms of life itself. From his amazing discussion with The New Yorker, first, VR's role in the future of movies and games:
"I am convinced that this is not going to be an extension of cinema or 3D cinema or video games. It is something new, different, and not experienced yet. Short forms that I have seen look fairly convincing and fairly good, but I do not see a real, big form of expressing the state of our existence. It happens somewhere else... What was more convincing was animated films. Digitally created landscapes and events made a better impression on me."
Then, it gets a bit weird but stick with him.
"The most fascinating idea—but it's deeply philosophical and very disturbing—is whether we do live in a virtual reality all the time anyway, in some sort of virtual ambiguity... All human encounters are ambiguous. Even the perfect personal encounters are ambiguous in all societies, in all age groups, in all historical phases. And you see this ambiguity very clearly, for example, when you are on Facebook. Do we already live in a virtual reality? Did Rome, in antiquity, live in some sort of virtual reality?"
Source: WHAT FILMMAKERS, STORYTELLERS AND GAMES DEVS ARE SAYING ABOUT THE FUTURE OF VR
Most of the Virtual Reality software for VR devices focus on games and demo experiences. Third in line is VR Movies. VR movies and those who make today’s movies are experimenting with the best way to achieve a real VR movie experience. With a classic film the director can control what the viewer sees. With VR, the viewer can look in any direction and perhaps miss a crucial part of the story. Movie makers need to develop new methods to ensure the viewer is looking at the correct location when they need to be. The most common approach is to produce a sound in the direction you should be looking, and human nature will make you look there.
Justin Lin, who is probably best known for his work on the Fast and the Furious 3–6 is now dabbling in VR shorts in a movie called “Help” by Google Spotlight stories in their first live action 360 movie.
The story takes place in the middle of downtown Los Angeles, where a meteor shower has left a deep scar on the streets of Chinatown. Panic, fear and an alien sends a young woman scrambling to escape.
All you need to watch the movie is a phone and a Google cardboard or cardboard clone.
If you’re unfamiliar with how to watch a movie with Google Cardboard, then you can review our guide below.
How to watch Google Cardboard Movies
How would you like to be able to see yourself in VR 360 after your operation at the hospital?
Or in this case the Royal London Hospital, Dr. Shafi Ahmed live streamed a three-hour operation on a patient with colon cancer, in 360 degrees to Google Cardboards and Samsung Gear VRs all around the world.
London-based VR experts Mativision took care of the capturing, processing and broadcasting with two 360-degree cameras.
Want your insides showcased to the world?
Dr Ahmed founded a VR startup in late 2015 and planned to expand this first Livestream into training programmes in live and recorded formats.
Would you like your operation in VR for public consumption? Yes? How about if it was say, a vasectomy?
You can watch the video on the Game Of Thrones Facebook page
Google first launched support for 360-degree videos back in March 2015. Now Google has released the ability for content providers to stream LIVE 360-degree video.
Google will showcase this new technology by streaming select artists at Coachella this weekend.
Google also announced the launch of spatial audio. Spatial audio allows you to listen along as you do in real life, where depth, distance, and intensity all play a role. You can try this for yourself with these sample videos. Android device is required for the Spatial audio to work.
What excites me most about 360-degree storytelling is that it lets us open up the world's experiences to everyone. Students can now experience news events in the classroom as they unfold. Travelers can experience faraway sites and explorers can deep-sea dive, all without the physical constraints of the real world. And today's kids dreaming of going to a basketball game or a concert can access those experiences firsthand, even if they're far away from the court. What were once limited experiences are now available to anyone, anywhere, at any time.
Note however that Spatial audio currently is not supported along with live streaming. It is one or the other, for now.
LG 360 CAM
The LG 360 cam is the most affordable in this line up. Coming in at just $199 it comes equipped with two 13MP, 200-degree wide angle cameras, 1,200mAh battery and 4GB internal memory, expandable via a microSD card. For video, you can record in 2K video and 5.1 surround channel sound recording through three microphones.
For the social among you, you can upload to YouTube360 and Google Street View.
360fly HD (360fly 4K Coming Soon)
If you're looking for a tough, resilient camera, this could be the right choice. The 360fly HD is water, dust and shock resistance along with 1,504 x 1,504-pixel resolution at 30 frames per second. Internal memory tops out at 32 GB to provide up to three hours of recording. The 360fly HD is available for $399. However, a newer version is on the way that shoots in 4K and costs $100 more so you may want to wait for the new model.
Moving up in the price range of 360-degree cameras we have the Bublcam at $799. The Bublcam consists of four cameras where all the video stitching is processed inside the camera. MP4 video at 720p along with 14mp photos with storage available via SD card (up to 32 GB)
The most expensive of the bunch falls on the Sphericam 2. The funky looking camera records in 4k at 4096×2048 resolution along with an impressive 60 fps in 10-bit color. The various camera angles are stitched internally together in real time. Truly an impressive piece of hardware.
Upon installation of the new app, I excitedly selected the Virtual Reality section. The app presented me with a bunch of "VR 360 movies."
I clicked on the first; it was a film titled "Experience the Blue Angels", I watched and rotated my iPad to rotate the view.
Then it dawned on me. This view of VR could be for many, their first introduction to "Virtual Reality." However, this is NOT Virtual Reality.
So what is Virtual Reality or VR? To quote the all knowing Wikipedia, they define Virtual Reality as:
Virtual reality or virtual realities (VR), also known as immersive multimedia or computer-simulated reality, is a computer technology that replicates an environment, real or imagined, and simulates a user's physical presence and environment in a way that allows the user to interact with it. Virtual realities artificially create sensory experience, which can include sight, touch, hearing, and smell.
So essentially then. Virtual Reality is a form of technology that makes you feel like you're in another place. It can trick your sight, your hearing, your touch, even your sense of smell into thinking you're somewhere else. The latest VR headsets that receive most of the attention such as the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive trick your vision, your hearing, and ability to manipulate objects within the virtual environment.
The USA Today Virtual Reality section is clearly NOT Virtual Reality. At best, it should be called "360-degree Video."
The term Virtual Reality has unfortunately become an overused marketing tool and serves to confuse many consumers.
How do you explain or describe VR to someone?
Describing Virtual Reality to anyone who has never tried it, is very, very, difficult. The best explanation I've seen recently has come in a form of a video from HTC that superimposes what the user is experiencing onto a green screen.
Where can I experience VR for myself?
Currently, there are very few places you can try true VR for yourself. Best Buy has demos of mobile VR using Gear VR. Gear VR is a device from Samsung where you insert your phone into a headset. It is a decent introduction to VR but not the best available.
Over the coming months, Best Buy will demo the Oculus Rift in the store and Microsoft and Game Stop will demo the HTC Vive in the store.
Related: Best Buy Starts Demo Of Oculus Rift in 48 Stores
When these become available for demos, I strongly suggest you head on over and try VR for yourself. I think you'll like it...
2016 Cannes film festival runs from May 11-22, where many in the movie industry get together, make some announcements, watch some movies and be merry.
Perhaps you have heard of Steven Spielberg? He has done a few small films over the years, nothing too significant.
Apparently Steven Spielberg does not like of VR.
"I think we're moving into a dangerous medium with virtual reality. The only reason I say it is dangerous is because it gives the viewer a lot of latitude not to take direction from the storytellers but make their own choices of where to look."
Maybe if I watch E.T. in VR, I want to see what color the M&Ms are? Or look up at the space ship? Maybe I just want the freedom to look where I want?