NEW PLAYSTATION VR BUNDLE HAS EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO GET STARTED, by Gabe Gurwin

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

PlayStation VR may be the least expensive way to enter the world of virtual reality, but it still isn’t cheap. Previously, the headset sold for $400 in addition to the mandatory PlayStation Camera for an additional $60, but that changes this week with the newest PlayStation VR bundle.

Starting on September 1, the PlayStation VR’s standard bundle will come with a PlayStation Camera for $400, effectively giving customers a $60 discount. Sony says that this will be the “core” PlayStation VR bundle moving forward, so if you already own the camera but haven’t picked up the headset yet, you might want to act quickly.

In addition to the $400 option, those looking to also pick up a game with PlayStation VR can check out the $450 PlayStation VR Worlds bundle — previously called the “launch bundle” at most retailers. The package contains everything from the standard bundle and adds two PlayStation Move controllers and the PlayStation VR Worlds game. Coming with several different mini-games, including The London Heist, Danger Ball, and the enthralling Ocean Descent, it’s a great way to get introduced to VR technology, though not all of the games are created equal. VR Luge is a pretty mediocre racing game, and Scavengers Odyssey is all but guaranteed to make you queasy.

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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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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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Shot on Lytro’s Light-field Camera, ‘Hallelujah’ Is a Stunning Mix of Volumetric Film and Audio, by Ben Lang

Photo courtesy Lytro

Hallelujah is a new experience by VR film studio Within that’s captured using Lytro’s latest Immerge light-field camera which captures volumetric footage that makes for a much more immersive experience than traditional 360 video. Hallelujah is a performance of Leonard Cohen’s 1984 song of the same name, and mixes the latest in VR film capture technology with superb spatial audio to form a stunning experience.

Lytro’s Immerge camera is unlike any 360 camera you’ve seen before. Instead of shooting individual ‘flat’ frames, the Immerge camera has a huge array of cameras which gather many views of the same scene, data which is crunched by special software to recreate the actual shape of the environment around the camera. The big benefit of which is that the playback puts the viewer in a virtual capture of the space, allowing for a limited amount of movement within the scene, whereas traditional 360 video only captures a static viewpoint which is essentially stuck to your head. Not to mention the Immerge camera also provides true stereo and outputs a much higher playback quality. The result is a much richer and more immersive VR film experience than what you’ve seen with traditional 360 video shoots.

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The YI HALO Camera Rig Shoots 8K x 8K Stereoscopic Video, by Olaf von Voss

8K x 8K. That’s already an amazing figure on its own, but there is more to this device than just a massive pixel count. In terms of design, the YI HALO works as the frame that holds seventeen 2.5K action cameras. 16 of them handle the horizontal view while one camera faces up, and they are all connected internally to the main unit that also powers them.

This design makes the YI HALO completely modular. If something happens to one of the cameras, you can just replace it with one of the two spares it comes with, and you can even replace them with newer models once these become obsolete – something that doesn’t take very long in the camera world these days. Firmware upgrades are also easy to do: they can be triggered for all connected cameras through the interface on the main unit.

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Pluto VR raises $13.9M to build out virtual reality communication platform, by Nat Levy

The Pluto VR founding team, from left to right: Jonathan Geibel, Forest Gibson, Jared Cheshier and John Vechey. (Pluto VR Photo)

Pluto VR, the Seattle-based virtual reality startup co-founded by PopCap Games co-founder John Vechey, has raised $13.9 million in a Series A funding round.

The company, which is developing applications for people to communicate within virtual reality, will use the cash infusion to continue research and development, roll out its alpha test to more customers and support additional platforms.

Seattle-based Maveron led the round, with participation from Madrona Venture Group of Seattle, Trilogy Equity Partners of Bellevue and other individual investors. Maveron co-founder and General Partner, Dan Levitan, will join Pluto’s board of directors.

Maveron, founded by Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz and Levitan in 1998, has already backed three VR startups — Virtuix, an active VR motion gaming platform; VicariousVR, a connected VR social network; and Against Gravity, a Seattle-based startup behind the hit VR game “Rec Room.”

Anarghya Vardhana, a senior associate at Maveron, explained to GeekWire in February why the firm is so bullish about VR/AR.

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Inside IMAX’s Big Bet to Rule the Future of VR, By David Pierce

Photo: GRAHAM WALZER FOR WIRED

This is where Tom Cruise sits to review footage from his latest action epic, where Chris Nolan makes sure every soldier in Dunkirk looks exactly the way he should. Then, once filmmakers are happy with what they’ve created, it’s the job of the theater’s namesake—IMAX’s white-haired and suit-wearing chief quality officer—to replicate it perfectly in the more than 1,100 other screens it operates all over the world. Keighley is famous within IMAX for flying to random theaters on the release dates for big movies, to make sure everything’s just right.

For more than 45 years, IMAX has defined the absolute highest end of the movie-going experience by controlling every aspect of that experience, from building cameras to developing laser-projection technology to redesigning the seating arrangements so more people have better views. “Why do filmmakers come back time after time after time?” Keighley asks rhetorically. “Because they know the IMAX version of the movie is probably the best version of the movie.”

In recent months, though, IMAX has set its sights on a new technology: virtual reality. IMAX CEO Rich Gelfond believes VR is much more than a toy for gamers or a living-room furniture piece. He sees it as the future of the movie theater—even the future of movies. It’s just not the present. “Anyone who tells you that VR is ready for prime time in its current form is wrong,” says Gelfond, a stout man in his early 60s. “Wrong!”

But that’s precisely the opportunity. Virtual reality is poised to be the biggest shift in the history of filmmaking. “Everything is new, everything is fresh,” says Joe Russo, the director of movies like Captain America: Winter Soldier and the next Avengers flick. “The execution is different, the impact on the audience is different. Some people are going to take some big swings in it, and those are going to define the direction it takes.” From music to games to blockbuster movies, every aspect of entertainment will be changed by (or competing with) VR. And just as MGM and Warner Bros. made a killing at the dawn of the movie industry, there’s a gold rush happening around the future of frame-free cinema.

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Facebook plans to invest more than $3 billion in VR over the next decade, By Lucas Matney

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg sees virtual reality as a future computing platform that his company has a chance to own, though he admits it may take 5 – 10 years to bring it to the masses.

Members of the press had a rare opportunity to get a more unfiltered view into the future of Facebook’s virtual reality ambitions as Zuckerberg took to the stands today to testify in a $2 billion lawsuit surrounding the origins of Oculus, a VR company it acquired in March of 2014.

At the heart of its case is the claim that Oculus acquired information from former ZeniMax employee and current Oculus CTO John Carmack that was instrumental to the creation of the the company’s core technology, help that ZeniMax was never compensated for.

Zuckerberg told the courtroom that the company will likely invest more than $3 billion over the next decade to bring VR to hundreds of millions of users, the NYTimes reports.

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RØDE parent company purchases SoundField, By Adam Savage

As it approches its 50th year in business, The Freedman Electronics Group – home to pro-audio brands RØDE Microphones, Event Electronics and Aphex – has expanded its portfolio with the purchase of surround sound recording specialist SoundField from broadcast equipment manufacturer TSL Products.

The deal between RØDE managing director Peter Freedman and TSL MD Chris Exelby sees Freedman Electronics take control of the entire SoundField company, which includes the current product offering as well as all IP associated with the brand.

The existing product line will continue, and all support and warranty for SoundField products will now be handled through the new operation. TSL Products will retain the upmix/downmix processing product range, which will be rebranded.

“I’m extremely excited we have added the SoundField product line to the Group,” said Freedman. “RØDE is a power player in studio and live microphones and the world’s market leader in on-camera mics, so adding a product line like SoundField – with its unique surround sound microphones and applications – to our portfolio is a real step for the Freedman Electronics Group.”

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