Stepping into the 360 ‘Virtual Reality’ experience

Gary Adcock

There is nothing virtual about the 360 degree experience that was in explosive abundance at CES 2016. In my opinion, this is less about a “Virtual Reality” and more about what I call an “Augmented Experience.”

In VR, headset designs focus on using smartphones from companies like Oculus, the clear leader in the field, and the economy-minded Google Cardboard to deliver the content to viewers. 

Users are able to fully step into an ever widening variety of environments.  The gaming market, for one, will certainly drive the devices to a much wider audience.

This is not the linear Quicktime VRs like the one I built for Taco Bell to show how proposed signage would look in a variety of stores, stitched together from a series of high-res still photos.

Today’s multi camera VRs shoot a full 360 degrees, standing in a single position, that dynamically changes viewer perspective when you raise your head or look around. The level of force feedback to the viewer is controlled by motion sensors in the smartphone used in each headset. 

The number of cameras and their placement in a VR rig determine whether you are delivering 2D or a true 3D stereoscopic view. But remember, as you look around and interact in the viewing  environment, you are wearing a headset that looks like something found on an alien in a kitschy ‘50s SciFi movie. 

Because of the headset design, the viewer is enveloped in the environment, reinforcing our natively binocular vision. 3D glasses are unnecessary because the technology delivers a separate, discrete image for each eye.  That eliminates the current need for the multiplexed 3D files we currently use to view RealD 3D content in the theatre.

A rapidly growing 360 VR content market

360 VR is growing at an exponential rate.  Companies like FOX Television use it to drive up viewership for their Fall 2015 hit “Scream Queens TV show. 

From the simple inexpensive Kodak PixPro  and the 360Heros rig for GoPro Cameras to the professional VR cameras, from Nokia and Jaunt the market for content is booming.

Sporting events, live performance, nature, even auto racing, hockey and football are currently available or in production.

This is 3D as originally intended, although it is still in its infancy in terms of development and content delivery. But with a smartphone as the display device for the near future, the opportunities for the addition of a fully augmented reality as Tom Cruise sci-fi Minority Report envisioned, has just begun. 

Disclaimer: I have worked as a data handler in production of multiple VR projects from companies listed in this article. I was paid a standard rate for working on set and I have not received any additional financial or other incentives for including them in this article.

Film professional and consultant Gary Adcock shares his unique understanding of product technologies and their evolving relationship between acquisition, edit and delivery. Contact: gary.studio37@gmail.com.

COMMENTS