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Say Hello to @PrologueVR, a Developer and Graphic Artist in the #VR field

The very foundation of virtual reality is being realized at this very moment. Countless developers, artists and enthusiast have taken up the torch to light the way for the future of human interactivity in the digital world. With the recent release of Playstation VR to it’s core gamers, there is inevitably going to be a positive flux in VR adaption and new-found enthusiasm in experiencing media in an extraordinary way.

Speaking of extraordinary experiences in VR, Prologue Immersive has been making their mark in this growing industry. Based in Venice, CA, the studio was founded by Kimberly Cooper(CEO) and Kyle Cooper (Designer), who original founded Prologue, their independent company focused around the two-D cinematic screen. Their work can be seen in American Horror Story, XMEN, Sherlock Holmes, Iron Man 1&2 and Bungies game “Destiny.”

With an insurmountable years of experience in developing hi-quality graphic designs for major entertainment and production studios, Prologue states by “by using our ‘pure imagination,’ we are determined to offer content that will exemplify all the possibilities of the new VR / AR medium.” To help guide them in this endeavor, they have Hideo Kojima who heads Kojima Productions responsible for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain and Mike Viola who is the Principal Technologist at NASDAQ, as advisers by their side.

They also had the unique opportunity to try out the popular VR headsets, including Google Cardboard, Samsung GearVR, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and Microsoft Hololens, and a well-rounded understanding of CryEngine, Unreal Engine 4 and Unity. Through their wealth of knowledge, they’ve have been creating VR content for education and entertainment.

One such educational experience they’ve produced is “Science360,” for the Gear VR. They wanted to make visualizing hypothetical and hard-to-imagine situations much more easier by placing the students within these situations. For instance, instead of student’s using their Mind’s Eye to imagine what it’s like to travel at the speed of light, students can actually experience that scenario. Science360 has had positive reviews by VRJam and Engadget.

They’re latest immersive experience can be seen on JauntVR, titled “Memos from Hell.” If you like macabre stuff, you’ll definitely find this 360 film entertaining. As explained on Jaunt, it “is a VR film series that revolves around a graduating class of ‘Tempters’-devils trained to harvest their victims’ souls.” One cool aspect, which helps with the 360 experience, is you are the entree on the table, surrounded around demons talking about the collection of souls. Though this film is not for the weak minded.

Overall, Prologue has been creating some very impressive immersive content. As is agreed with many developers and enthusiast, if VR plans to move forward out of the niche realm to mainstream and wide-spread use, there will need to be varying kinds of content to appeal to a wide range of people, and Prologue Immersive is definitely at the forefront of facilitating this adoption. To keep up with them, you can follow them on Twitter @PrologueVR.

Thanks for reading!

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@SecretSorcery is Releasing Their Fantastical Debut #VR Game “Tethered”

When the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive finally made it to the public marketplace, many were overwhelmed by the computer requirements and the price barrier they presented. Most people do not own an hi-end gaming computer, which meant for them, it would be around an $2500 investment. With the release of Playstation VR, it will be a lot easier for people to explore immersive content, especially with PS4 units in millions of homes. For these owners, it’s really about an $500 investment, and with the content coming out, will be very well worth it.

With that said, I would like to recognize one studio who is bringing gamers into the clouds. Established in 2015, Secret Sorcery is an independent British game development studio who has found an keen interest in virtual reality. Powered by experienced developers, the studio has been working on original immersive content, which includes their debut VR title, “Tethered.”

Tethered is an third-person strategy-based game, which takes place in the clouds. You are an spirit guardian who has awakened to see your land and it’s peeps ravaged by the creatures of the night. The archipelago your land is part of, has suffered the same fate, with each island’s spirit guardian held prisoner at the Nexus Totem’s. With such despair, the inhabitants of the floating islands have fell into a suicidal depression. Your objective: Free the Spirit Guardians and restore Hope.

Following the basics of an strategy game, you are in charge with building structures and upgrading the peeps. You’ll have access to various structures like the Moot Hall, Barracks and Workshop which in turn can be upgraded to other specialized structures. For example the Moot Hall can be upgraded to a Tavern or Hatchery. Speaking of Hatchery, eggs will spawn, which will add to your workforce, but beware as eggs do rot. Once enough Spirit Energy has been collected, the island’s Spirit guardian is freed from the Totem.

As most developer know when creating for VR, is keeping the experience comfortable. So Secret Sorcery implemented the standard teleportation method with an gods-eye-view. There are clouds placed around the floating islands, that can be pointed and teleported to, which provides you with a different view of the island. They’ve also employed an more intuitive interface, with a click-and-click approach. If you need a peep to hatch an spawned egg, click on the peep, then click on the egg.

The world of tethered took it’s inspiration from Hayoa Miyazaki, the master artist behind “Spirited Away” and “Howl’s Moving Castle.” Reason for this, is they wanted “a fantastical setting [which]… would free us up from the constraints of reality, offering up a magical world that surrounds the player as they step into VR.” In order to achieve this, they turned to their friend skilled in creating fantastical settings, Espen. They provided him with the base concept art, and he would refurbish it into something of beauty. Originally, Tethered was imagined as islands grounded by a planet, rather than a magical floating archipelago, until Espen came along.

Needless to say, Tethered will offer a unique experience, when it comes to visuals and gameplay. If strategy games are your thing, or simply looking for cool worlds to explore in VR, then this game is definitely a must for your VR to-do list. Tethered is currently available as a pre-order for Playstation VR. To follow updates and developments, you can connect with the studio on Twitter @SecretSorcery.

Thanks for reading!

@KuulaPic is an Online Community for Sharing 360 Photos and Tiny Planets #VR

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Have you ever wanted to know what was on the other side of a photo? Isn’t it just a bit frustrating to have to frame everyone in a group photo? This is one solution virtual reality can provide. 360-degree photos enables people to capture moments in time in it’s fullness. It can transform the way we take pictures with our friends and provide a new avenue for professional photographers to make a living. It is going to be 2017 soon, and we’re going to need a refreshed way to capture the world and it’s moments around us.

This brings me to online photo sharing community, Kuula. Kuula was created to provide a way streamlined way for people to edit their 360 photos.Before we delve into how their picture-editor works, we must understand how an immersive photo is produced. When a 360 camera snaps a photo, it utilizes two lenses opposite of each other, which each capturing a little over 180 degrees of the environment.

When captured, an internal process called “stitching” sews the two halves together, creating a full spherical view. Afterwards, the photo is saved as an JPG, by a conversion process called “equirectangular projection.” In their blog, they explain this by stating, “the concept should be familiar to anyone who’ve ever seen a world map. A world map is a rectangle that represents the surface of a sphere, right? This is exactly how a 360 photo projection works!”

They also list a few cameras to get you started on your immersive photo-capturing adventure, such as Gear 360(for Samsung S6 or S7) and Ricoh Theta S(suitable for most smartphone). If you ever seen an equirectangular photo, you’d notice the distorted edges, like the flat image of the world-map. To help people reconstruct the photo back into the immersive picture it was meant to be, Kuula developed an 360-degree photo player.

When you upload your photo to their online community, you have the option of editing and adding filters to them. One very unique feature they offer is the Tiny Planet Editor. As implied by it’s name, it isolates a 360 degree photo into it’s own little planet, which is better seen on their tiny planet page. You’re not only able to view your photos on their website, but also embed it in another website, blog, Twitter, Facebook and any other online medium.

Kuula is very impressive when it comes to editing and sharing your own 360 photos, and they’ve built a community around it. Which makes it very useful for professional photographers to explore a new kind of medium and allow others to experience and even critique it. After all, as immersive content begins to take over traditional two-D content, in terms of use, there will need to be insights and as we all might hate, opinions on what makes a great 360-degree photo. You can became a part of their community by becoming a member or via Twitter @KuulaPic.

Thanks for reading!

Canadian Film Centre and NFB VR Lab will Host #VR #Workshop “Open Immersion: A VR Creative Doc Lab”

What would books be, without the stories and knowledge written upon them? What would television be, without the films and documentaries broadcast to them? What would the internet be, without social media and plethora of digital content that entices us to stay online?

Point is, media platforms are nothing without content, which is why creating engaging, comfortable, entertaining and useful experiences in virtual reality will be crucial to fueling and stabilizing the immersive marketplace.

In order to leverage VR’s potential, content-creators must be able to understand how to effectively create immersive experiences. Which brings me to a nine-day creative creative workshop, titled “Open Immersion: A VR Creative Doc Lab.”

Open Immersion is a collaborative event with hosting partners Canadian Film Centre, CFC Media Lab, Just Films Ford Foundation and NFB. Each company has made a name for themselves in the entertainment industry, with CFC Media Lab being an internationally acclaimed digital media think tank and the Ford Foundation funding stories focused around social justice.

To re-enforce the immersive workshops, Creative Doc Lab has been equipped with respected artists from both Canada and America, who include Scott Benesiinaabandan(Anishinabe Intermedia), Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers(Kainai First Nation), Kevin Lee Burton(originally God’s Lake Narrows First Nation), Kai Lumumba Barrow(New Orleans visual artist), Michaela Pilar Brown(multidisciplinary artist) and RaMell Ross(Research Affiliate MIT Media Lab).

The event will take place in Toronto, Canada, with the first two days starting at the Canadian Film Centre and the next 7 days downtown at NFB’s VR Lab. First two days will be orientation and knowledge breakdown of virtual reality, then the rest of the time participants be downtown to enjoy various workshops from professionals in the field of art, academics and production.

Undoubtedly, for those who are attending, will come out with a deep understanding of how to leverage VR to create comfortable, yet creative experiences that will be necessary to bring the marketplace to the next-level. It’s been barely a year since Oculus Rift and HTC Vive has been made available for the public and there are already plenty of experiences to check out, so we can only imagine what the VR marketplace will become a year from now. Open Immersion: A VR Creative Doc Lab will start on October 11 and end on October 19. To learn more, you can visit cfccreates.com.

@Lifeliqe Utilizes Corinth Classroom’s Library of Educational Material to Merge #VR & #AR with E-Learning

How many uses are there for mixed reality? It can enhance gaming, let you become the character of a story, let you have face-to-face social interaction with your family, redefine online retail, explore tourist locations and many more unforeseen benefits yet to be discovered. Though, one thing virtual and augmented reality truly has the chance to revolutionize is the way we educate ourselves. Afterall, two-thirds of the population learn best through visuals.

This is exactly what Lifeliqe has been achieving through leveraging mixed reality. But before we talk about Lifeliqe, we must talk about their sister company, Corinth Classroom. Corinth is a start-up based in Czech Republic, who specializes in e-Learning materials. Their immense catalog of educational content related to Biology and Geology follows U.S. Standards for Education, with their materials backed by Stanford, University of California, Charles University, University of Tennessee and other experts of related fields.

After over 4 years of building an interactive archive suited for individuals and school systems, Lifeliqe was founded to accommodate the e-Learning materials in a much more visually appealing interactive platform. The platform is currently guided by co-founders, Ondrej Homola(Chief Executive Officer), Mark Andersen(VP of Marketing), Daniel Sklar(VP of R&D) and Daniel Capek(Chief Technology Officer). As mixed reality surpasses conventional media in terms of usage, they understand there is going to be a demand for immersive e-Learning materials.

Lifeliqe can bring multi-layered educational 3D models into the classroom… literally. As stated already, most people on Earth are visual learners, and it is proven that VR increases information retention, since people can actually interact with what they are learning about. Being able to get up close to a stegosaurus, while being able to expand additional information about the dinosaur, proves to be much more engaging and stimulating than listening to a lecture or reading a book.

Essentially their educational platform is great for teachers to retain students attention and parents wanting a fun and benefiting way to entertain their kids. Their app also features Spanish translation and sharing capabilities. The developers even talk about Lifeliqe being a way to create your own educational videos with their library of 3D models. To continue to enhance their interactive learning platform, they’ve teamed up with HTC Vive, which will definitely be something to look forward to. You can connect with Lifeliqe via Twitter @Lifeliqe.

Thanks for reading!

@Casino_VR Brings the Poker Experience to the Comfort of Your Home Via #VR

It is not necessarily a new thing to see online gaming merge with virtual reality. Afterall, what can give VR that extra level of immersion is being social or the ability to play with other people. Such games that have implemented this, include Detached, Arizona Sunshine, Damaged Core, Mindshow and New Retro Arcade: Neon. But for those of you looking for a great virtual casino experience to immerse yourself in, then Casino VR is a must.

Co-founded by Hamza Siddiqui and Marco Kobelt, Casino VR premise is to provide a real-life casino simulation, which allows players to play poker in the comfort of their own home, while competing as if they were face-to-face with the other players. This will very well rid of the hassle of putting on a poker face, which will force other players to look for other tell-tale signs. The team from Casino VR explains, “VR is finally able to portray true presence and immersion. With such a technology, Casino VR envisions to combine online gaming and casino gaming into one.”

They are always running tournaments everyday of the week, giving people the opportunity to win stacks of poker chips and free VR games. To ensure a high-quality gaming experience, updates are continually made, with one being “Lockdown,” which limits the inflation of poker chips by preventing players from joining active poker tournaments after a certain amount of time has pass by. Currently, Casino VR is only accessible for Oculus Rift(Windows) and GearVR owners.

Casino VR definitely plans to add new games, but for the time being, they’re having fun hosting the future of online poker. If you want to test your poker skills in virtual reality, you can visit Oculus Home to download their app. You can also connect with them via Twitter @casino_vr.

Thanks for reading!

@Sketchfab Enables Social Media and Websites to Embed #VR Enabled 3D Content to be Viewed on VR Headsets

Understandably their are many VR enthusiasts, developers and artists experimenting and creating content for the next-level interface, known as virtual reality. When the Oculus Rift made it’s debut, the virtual reality community revolved around immersive gaming, then afterwards an explosion of different ways to utilized VR happened, with online social environments, immersive filming, collaboration software, hi-end branding experiences, streamlined VR creation platforms and 3D drawing platforms.

With this said, their is an online community of 3D artists that is leveraging VR’s potential to enable people to view their creations via VR. Sketchfab was founded 2012 in Paris, France, by co-founders Alban Denoyel, Cedric Pinson and Pierre-Antoine. Their original intent was to provide a hub for 3D artists to connect and publish their creations, based off their dissatisfaction of an absence of such platform. Now there are over half a million creators who have contributed an endless amount of 3D content for people to discover and enjoy.

Through their platform, users are able to discover 3D models related to gaming, characters, creatures, architecture, technology, science and cultural heritage, among other things. On top of being connected to one of the largest 3D creation community, users benefit from discounts, such as eLearning, software tools and online retail stores. There is also a blog, informing users about updates on Sketchfab, events, new tutorials and stories from the community. Now they’ve added a new feature for the Sketchfab community.

Being a 3D creator’s community, it is only natural they would implement a virtual reality platform. Now users who own the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift or even an mobile VR headset, can now download their app, which enables them to view 3D models in virtual reality. Even better, through webGL enabled browsers(mobile) and webVR through Google Chrome, people can view 3D content on websites and social media embedded with Sketchfab’s VR viewer, without leaving the page.

It has already been in the works, in trying to fiure out how to succesful implement VR content online, especially without people needing to download a huge file. With Sketchfab’s VR viewer allowing people to create 3D content, then share it with social media to be viewed in VR, is another step closer to ensuring the immersive marketplace will be succesful. You can keep up-to-date with Sketchfab, either through their blog or via Twitter @Sketchfab.

Thanks for reading!

@Framestore VR Team of Dedicated Developers are producing Hi-end #VR films in Partnership With Leading Brand Companies

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Its always interesting to see what digital developers and films experts are doing to push forward the potential of virtual reality. I’ve written in a previous post about how Storyhunter has incorporated a community of experienced directors and developers to understand and explore the various ways VR can enhance the very experiences that two-D screens are not able to achieve. This is why Framestore deserves recognition in their feat of producing high caliber films in virtual reality.

Framestore VR is a team of highly experienced and skilled filmmakers from Framestore Pictures, who produces groundbreaking immersive experiences, as well as work with brands and enthusiasts to provide them with a deeper understanding of VR’s possibilities through workshops. They have had the pleasure of working with Marvel, Samsung, HBO, Samsung, Paramount Pictures and other hi-profile leaders in the entertainment industry.

Through their partnerships, they have created a impressive portfolio of immersive entertainment. One such experience was a collaboration with Samsung and Marvel to produce 360-degree video, “Battle for Avengers Tower.” Built for the Gear VR and currently viewable on YouTube 360, you get first-hand slow-motion experience as Iron-man, as he flies through hordes of sub-Ultrons and aiding his friends, to eventually run into Ultron Prime himself.

As stated by Framestore VR, “The solution was to open with an epic real-time rendering, fully interactive environment and then transition to a stunning pre-rendered 360 video.” In order to direct the gaze of viewer to next action sequence or heroes, they utilized rockets and flying weapons, such as Thor’s hammer, which smoothly shifts viewers attention.

They confess that the most time-consuming technical obstacle, was the rendering of the spherical video. The entire production time of this 360 video took them under 2-months. Once released, Battle for Avengers Tower obtained over 2million views and was talked about on CNET, VRFocus, Wired and Android Headlines.

Though this is one of the many immersive films Framestore has produced. They’ve worked with Fiat for “The Power of X,” Universal Hip Hop Museum for “Kurtix Blow,” Marriott for “The Teleporter,” HBO Game of Thrones for “Ascend the Wall,” and their multi award-winning film in partnership with Lockheed Martin, “The Field Trip to Mars.”

Overall, Framestore VR main goal is to create Oscar-winning immersive experiences that will inevitably push the VR marketplace forward. To stay up with their latest developments and plans, you can connect with them via Twitter @Framestore.

Thanks for reading!

@AskGreenlight Insights Provides Analytical Information About the Direction of #Virtual and #Augmented Reality Marketplace

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With mixed reality applications showing true potential for changing the way we interact with media itself, it can be daunting for companies to understand how to best utilized virtual and augmented reality for suiting their needs, whether it be brand promotion, service enhancement or just plain ol’ entertainment. Lucky for these companies, there is a research firm who can help with strategies in leveraging this enhanced media.

Greenlight Insights provides analytical data pertaining to the direction of the mixed reality(MR) marketplace. The research firm is powered by Clifton Dawson(Chief Executive Officer), Steve Marshall(Senior Vice President), Erica Bishaf(Director of Consumer Insights), Eddie Lou(Managing Director), Peter Krasilovsky(Chief Analyst) and Ben Delaney(Distinguished Analyst). Through their efforts, they create daily/weekly newsletters, thoughtful insights about attended MR conferences and customized research services.

Through their customized research, they “deliver tailored research that addresses specific business needs for a wide range of operators, vendors and industry bodies within the virtual reality industry.” Companies will gain information about market size, distribution channels, public insight(consumer surveys & focus groups), as well as strategic analysis for entering the marketplace and informative events.

They also participate in VR/AR and host webinars which explains and explores the growing immersive marketplace. You do have the opportunity to join these webinars by registering through their website. For companies that don’t necessarily want to employ a team to seek out business specific opportunities, can purchase Greenlight Insights reports, with their latest one extracting data from 1200 people, which covers attitude towards VR, attitude towards advertising, payment models and purchase intent.

Greenlight Insights has definitely made it their obligation to understand the mixed reality field, and their reports can prove to be a game-changer for most businesses seeking in-depth analysis about the direction of VR/AR and how they can benefit from it. You can stay up-to-date on their blog or via Twitter @AskGreenlight.

Thanks for reading! Let us know your take on Greenlight Insight with a comment below:)

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