France, Britain Lead Europe’s Foray Into VR Content Creation, by Elsa Keslassy

COURTESY OF REWIND/BBC

They’re already home to two of Europe’s most vibrant film industries. Now France and Britain are leading the way in the region in creating VR content.

Between them, the two countries have eight of the 22 titles competing in the upcoming Venice Film Festival’s new virtual-reality section — the world’s first competitive VR strand at a film festival. Add in an entrant apiece from Italy and Denmark, and the number of European titles in the competition exceeds that of the U.S.

“The VR industry is booming in Europe, which is great for all of us,” said Sol Rogers, CEO and founder of Rewind, the British creator of “Ghost in the Shell VR,” with U.S. banner Here Be Dragons, and “Home: A VR Spacewalk,” which just picked up an award at Cannes Lions.

A report in August identified 487 virtual-reality companies operating in Europe, up from the 300 recorded in February.

But in contrast with the U.S., where virtual-reality creation is mainly being funded by deep-pocketed corporations and private investors, the VR industry in France and Britain is being driven in large part by public broadcasters, TV channels, government institutions, independent producers and tech studios.

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The Keepers of VR, by Devar Ardalan

COURTESY OF WORLD OCEANS FESTIVAL

When I first met Jeff Olm, he told me about Under the Canopy, a VR film that was shot using moving cameras and drones in the Amazon. It felt surreal to mount the VR headset and descend into the rainforest, in full stereo might I add. I asked to learn more about the production and Olm sent me a series of links. I especially loved going behind-the-scenes with a sloth in VR.

Jeff Olm is a VR/AR creative director and also co-chair of the VR/AR Association’s Stories and Audiences Committee. Together with several other industry thought leaders, we recently published the Top 10 Virtual Reality Best Practices in an effort to capture into one source the rapidly evolving knowledge about VR.

The radically new experiences that the medium provides today have been decades in the making. As part of this living document, we seek to present not only our experiences with the hardware and software, but also to dig into the specifics of development and content production. This work is especially timely given that analysts are projecting VR will transform into a multi-billion dollar industry in the next decade.

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How 360° video projection is created and why it’s worth your time, by Miriam Harris

You’re probably familiar with 360° video by now. Forward-thinking brands are experimenting with 360° video content on Facebook all the time, but imagine being right in the middle of a room-sized 360 video. 

Stepping inside the 360° walls of Igloo Vision at London’s VRLO to be surrounded by peaceful scenes of the beach at sunset, underwater, and our solar system, I was quickly hooked with the idea of immersive 360° video panoramic projection.

Igloo Vision creates immersive 360° projection environments aka giant domes or cylinders (accommodating up to 1,000 people), and Blend Media are the masters of 360° video content, which is projected onto the walls of the dome/cylinder, creating a whole room experience that lets you escape reality for a moment. Visualise is a virtual reality (VR) production studio, but it also specialises in 360°video content creation. It offers 360° video, VR apps, 360 post production and 360° live streaming.

But what exactly is a whole room experience and how can 360° video benefit us beyond brand engagement? We take a look at what Blend Media and Igloo Vision offer to the world of immersive technology.

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Facebook’s Oculus woos game makers as virtual reality faces hurdles, by Queenie Wong

This file photo taken on June 14, 2017 shows Gaming fans wearing VR goggles to play “Echo Arena” from Oculus on day two of E3 2017, the three day Electronic Entertainment Expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center in Los Angeles, California. Facebook-owned Oculus has been beefing beefing up the content it offers to attract more consumers. FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

Facebook-owned Oculus wants game makers to buy into the future of virtual reality, but for some developers, creating content for a smaller audience is also a gamble.

Despite all the hype surrounding the technology, virtual reality headsets aren’t flying off the shelves as quickly as some analysts expected.

Oculus has been putting its money where its mouth is by funding developers ready to get into the game.

“Developers get so incredibly geeked out by technology that selling them on VR is the easiest part of my job. That leaves only the business,” said Oculus’ Vice President of Content Jason Rubin in an interview.

When the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset was released in March 2016, only 30 VR titles were available. Now more than 500 titles have been released.

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Iconic German Film Das Boot To Get VR Videogame, by Peter Graham

For those unaware, back in 1981 an anti-war story revolving around the crew of a German U-boat during World War II, Das Boot, was released, becoming one of the most successful German films ever. Recently, Sky, Sonar Entertainment, and Bavaria Fernsehproduktion, have revealed a collaboration to recreate the film as a TV series which is scheduled for release in late 2018. Alongside this, remote control productions (RCP) has been employed to create a virtual reality (VR) title to compliment the show.

Working with Bavaria Fernsehproduktion, RCP aims to capture the essence of the popular movie and the upcoming TV series, with a special focus on the anti-war message. Players will be able to submerge themselves into the story of a German U-boat crew, experiencing the oppressive narrowness of submarine life and the horrors of war.

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Microsoft Is Making First-Party Content For Its Windows 10 VR Headsets, by Jamie Feltham

Microsoft will need the support of the greater VR development community if its new Windows 10 Mixed Reality VR headsets are to succeed when they launch later this year, but what about potential first-party content too? That’s in the works already, the company assures.

Speaking to GameSpot, Microsoft general manager Dave McCarthy stated that “several” of the company’s first-party studios are working on content for the headsets, which are made in partnership with companies like Acer, Dell, and Asus.

“I would say developers are still finding their way to define the killer experience there, which is great at this point in its evolution overall,” McCarthy said. “We believe in it enough that we have several of our first-party studios actually working on content for our Windows 10 devices. We’ll have more to talk about later this year on that.”

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Sony Music Inks Deal With Virtual Reality App MelodyVR, by Marc Schneider

Comstock/Getty Images

Sony Music is the latest label group to enter into a licensing agreement with virtual reality startup MelodyVR. Under the terms of the deal, announced Monday, MelodyVR receives the right to produce and distribute VR content by Sony’s roster of artists for its upcoming app. As with previous deals, most recently with Universal Music Group, announced in March, the content will initially be available on MelodyVR before it is released to both parties.

Anthony Matchett, the CEO of MelodyVR’s parent EVR Holdings, said the completion of negotiations with all three majors — Warner Music paved the way, in December 2016 — provides “significant validation in regard to our market leading position, our on-going success and the long-term value of our business,” adding that it “positions our company as the world’s only fully licensed VR music platform.”

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Elijah Wood Explains His Move Into VR with Psychological Thriller ‘Transference’, by Patrick Shanley

Courtesy of Ubisoft
Elijah Wood is the latest of Hollywood’s big names to dip his toe in the waters of video gaming.Teaming up with French video game studio Ubisoft, Wood’s production company SpectreVision (which he co-founded in 2010 as The Woodshed before rebranding to its current title in 2013) has finished its first foray into VR gaming with Transference, a psychological thriller that puts players into the uploaded memory data of a traumatized mental patient. The game is due to be released in spring of 2018 on PlayStation VR, Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, as well as on the Xbox One family of devices, including and Windows PC.

While a number of other Hollywood stars have ventured into the realm of gaming, Wood is unique in that he is producing Transference, not providing his services as a voice actor (though he has done so in the past in games such as Tim Schafer’s Broken Agein 2014).

SpectreVision has exclusively produced horror and genre films since its inception, and while Transference‘s creepy atmosphere matches the company’s pedigree, it is a entirely different experience crafting a VR game than producing a narrative film.

Heat Vision caught up with Wood to discuss his new collaborative project, his thoughts on VR and the possibility of producing more games in the future.

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Tate Modern Uses Virtual Reality to Recreate Modigliani’s Early 20th Century Paris, by Jonathan Vanian

A visiter tries a pair of HTC’s Vive Virtual Reality (VR) goggles, during the annual Computex computer exhibition in Taipei, Taiwan June 1, 2016. Tyrone Siu — Reuters

A new exhibit at the Tate Modern gallery in London is getting some virtual reality love.

HTC, the Taiwanese smartphone manufacturer and maker of the Vive VR headset, said Monday that it has partnered with Tate Modern on an upcoming exhibit featuring the works of painter and sculptor Amedeo Clemente Modigliani that will be accompanied by a new VR project.

The company said the VR exhibit is based on “elements of early twentieth century Paris” and incorporates “archival material and new research to bring [Modigliani’s] historical context to life.”

The smartphone company didn’t elaborate on the specifics of the new VR exhibit, only to say that museum visitors will be able to see a “fresh perspective into Modigliani’s life and influences” and parts of Paris that inspired the contemporary of Pablo Picasso and Juan Gris.

The BBC reports that the new exhibit will be the first time Tate Modern has used virtual reality technology. A museum curator told the BBC, “By using VR we want to feel closer to Paris as a city, the exhibition is about feeling connected with a particular place.”

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How One Company Is Using Virtual Reality To Inspire Exploration Of Remote Areas, by Zach Johnston

SOLFAR TECH/SHUTTERSTOCK

Uproxx knows that science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines are driving the future of this planet forward. Every day, we see new ideas, fresh innovations, and bold trailblazers in these fields. Follow us this month as we highlight how STEM is shaping the culture of NOW.

At the intersection of technology and engineering, you’ll find Virtual Reality — the much-buzzed about tech that will eventually be so cool that we’ll all Matrix ourselves. These days, most VR is a static, stereoscopic film which allows you to visually explore a single spot. The future of VR is more than that. It’s a fully immersive experience in which you can run, jump, climb, swim, fly, study, and research through space and time.

In this new VR-era, Sólfar Studios is blazing the path. They’ve built a VR world where you can viscerally explore Mount Everest, right now. The Everest VR experience from their studio allows the VR user to feel the wonders of being at Everest’s base camp before actually climbing the mountain in real time. You can take steps, cross rickety ladders, and even leave offerings on Buddhist altars.

It is so immersive that even though you’re virtually standing on the precipice of a virtual cliff on virtual Everest, you end up with real vertigo (it’s true, we tried it).

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