Report: Facebook to Launch Oculus Go Standalone Headset at F8 Developer Conference, by Scott Hayden

Oculus Go, the company’s upcoming $200 standalone VR headset, doesn’t have an official release date yet, but a recent report from Variety contends Oculus will be launching Go at Facebook’s f8 developer conference this May.

Variety cites “multiple sources familiar with the company’s plans,” although a Facebook spokesperson declined to comment when asked to confirm.

In short, Oculus Go is essentially a standalone version of Samsung Gear VR, a mobile VR headset featuring rotational-only tracking (3DOF) for both the headset and the controller. Starting at $200, Oculus Go is however much cheaper than Gear VR‘s total price, which requires not only a $130 headset/controller, but also a compatible Samsung smartphone to drive it.

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Walking in another’s virtual shoes: Do 360-degree video news stories generate empathy in viewers? by Dan Archer and Katharina Finger

Does immersion yield empathy? The aim of this report is to address the question of whether news media—in this instance, short-form journalistic stories—presented in a 360-degree video format affects a user’s empathetic response to the material. If so, what might the advantage of such a response be, and could it include improvement in a viewer’s ability to recall the content over time or a resulting behavioral change? Naturally, part of the study will deconstruct what we mean by such a nebulous term as “empathetic” and how exactly it can be measured.

The study both investigates if particular audiences are likely to respond empathetically to certain narratives and analyzes the component parts of immersive experiences—comfort level, interactivity, and perceived amount of user agency—that contribute to producing an empathetic response. It also aims to answer whether the virtual reality (VR) format is better suited to particular stories or audiences, as well as the potential for unintended, antithetical effects in this embryonic medium such as a user’s perception of personal space invasion or the feeling that they are not looking in the right direction.1

Results from our study of 180 people viewing five-minute treatments comprised of either 360-degree video or text articles monitored user reactions and their sense of immersion on the day of their first exposure to the narrative treatment, as well as two and five weeks later.

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MK2 to Equip VR Venues Around the World… by Elsa Keslassy


One year after launching Europe’s first and biggest VR space, MK2 is set to start commercializing VR plug-and-play equipment for global exhibitors who are looking to launch VR venues in theaters, museums, and institutions, among other places

Called the MK2 VR Pod, the equipment which MK2 will be distributing worldwide is considered to be an “end-to-end premium and white-labeled product line,” the company said.

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How Travis Cloyd became a VR film visionary, by Dean Takahashi

Travis Cloyd started making virtual reality films three years ago, and he has made four of them so far. That record was enough to earn him the award for VR Visionary at the Cinequest film festival in San Jose, California. That’s because VR is such a young medium, and Hollywood storytellers like Cloyd are still experimenting with how to do these films.

At Cinequest, Cloyd showed off his VR film that promotes the new Nicholas Cage movie, The Humanity Bureau. It’s a dystopian science fiction thriller set in the year 2030, when a massive recession and global warming catastrophe forces society to get rid of its unproductive members. The 2D film debuts on April 6.

Cloyd has also created VR promo films for John Travolta’s upcoming Speed Kills and the Wesley Snipes film The Recall. At Cinequest, Cloyd won Best VR Feature Film for Speed Kills and Best Sci-Fi VR Film for The Humanity Bureau.

With those VR films, Cloyd had to work around the schedule and production for the 2D films, and he also had to figure out how to place the cameras so they captured 360-degree action — without making viewers seasick.

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Animatrik Partners With Lifelike & Believable To Create Immersive Real-Time VR Experiences, by Peter Graham

To make in game characters more lifelike virtual reality (VR) developers use motion capture technology from the likes of IKinema or Vicon. Today, independent motion capture studio Animatrik has announced a new partnership with Lifelike & Believable to enhance its digital character pipeline and create immersive real-time VR experiences.

Having delivered high-end motion capture for both feature films and video games; such as Spider-Man: Homecoming, Gears of War, Justice League, and Oscar-winning immersive VR experience Carne y Arena, Animatrik will bolster its existing virtual production pipeline with the VR processes usually outsourced to videogame development studios.

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Hollywood 360: how virtual reality is poised to take on the traditional movie industry, by John Mateer

The Lawnmower Man was the first feature film to depict a new type of technology that enabled characters to explore synthetic, simulated worlds through an emerging new medium called virtual reality (VR). That was 1992.

Using head-mounted displays (HMD) the size of crash helmets and gloves with sensors, VR users were experiencing computer-generated environments and stories in new ways. Through the idea of “presence” – the feeling of actually being part of an artificially created place – any adventure was now possible, at least if the buzz was to be believed.

The film was a hit; now Hollywood studios were watching, waiting for the technology to mature to a point where they could actually create VR experiences for audiences. This idea of “convergence” between old and new media was a hot topic, and extremely attractive as a potential new revenue stream for studios.

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Virtual Reality Finally Sold Big at Sundance: Here’s What It Means for the Future of the Marketplace, by Kim Voynar

In a year of slow sales for traditional movies, VR came out on top. So what happens now?
“Spheres” director Eliza McNitt

While everyone was busy complaining about slow sales at the 2018 SundanceFilm Festival, something remarkable happened: The festival saw its first major VR acquisition. For a reported low-to-mid seven figures, CityLights bought the three-part VR series “Spheres,” directed by science-storytelling whiz Eliza McNitt, narrated by Jessica Chastain, and executive produced by Darren Aronofsky.

A few days later, in the first sale of a VR documentary at Sundance, Dogwoof acquired “Zikr: A Sufi Revival,” directed by Gabo Arora​. “Zikr” is a 15-minute interactive VR experience that uses song and dance to transport four participants at a time into ecstatic Sufi dance rituals; in addition to location-based installations, the deal includes funding for an online version of the VR experience that allows multiple players to be networked at once.

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HTC announces Vive Pro with upgraded resolution, audio and second camera, by Ben Kuchera

HTC announced the latest upgrades to the Vive virtual reality platform, including a new headset design with superior resolution and pixel density. The hardware is called the Vive Pro, although no firm price or release date has been announced.

“Vive Pro includes dual-OLED displays for a crisp picture resolution of 2880 by 1600 combined, a 78 percent increase in resolution over the current Vive HMD,” HTC said. The new head-mounted display also has improved ergonomics, built-in audio support and two front-facing cameras that open the door for augmented reality applications.

You can get a look at the new hardware in the video below:

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Apple embraces VR video with 360-degree and 8K support for Final Cut Pro X, by Jon Martindale

Apple has firmly embraced 360-degree video with its latest update for Final Cut Pro X that lets users edit video especially for virtual reality. The update also introduces a number of additional features for modern video editing, including support for High Dynamic Range (HDR), 8K resolutions, and advanced color grading.

As much as we love fully immersive virtual reality games and experiences, it’s likely that 360-degree video will be the first point of contact many people have with VR. As a standard, VR video may also be the future of immersive media, in much the way that color imagery supplanted black and white. Apple is keeping itself at the forefront of modern content creation with its latest update for its premier video editing suite.

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Pimax “8K” Surpasses Oculus Rift as Top VR Headset Kickstarter Project, $2.45M Raised So Far, by Scott Hayden

Pimax, the company aiming to deliver three flavors of its high field of view (FOV) headset via their Kickstarter, have recently blasted past the $2 million funding mark. With only a week left in the crowdfunding campaign and now more than $2.45 million to their name, the company has reached arguably a more important milestone: they’ve surpassed the original Oculus Rift Kickstarter, becoming the top funded VR headset campaign in existence.

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