VRLO is a London based VR event which celebrated its third outing in December, bigger and better than ever before. Road to VR‘s Jonathan Tustain was there to report from the show. Here’s a nifty wrap-up tour featuring a collection exhibitors at the event.
Organised and sponsored by creative agency and digital production company REWIND, designed to bring together the growing VR community and industry members in the UK to talk about and demonstrate the latest in immersive technology.
Its third event, VRLO last December was bigger than ever before, packing out the Amba Hotel in London’s Marble Arch in December with over 350 VR enthusiasts in attendance. REWIND’s Founder and CEO Sol Rogers said that, despite the events growing size, the ethos behind VRLO is still very much that of an inclusive, informal gathering. “It still in theory is a meet up … The nice thing about what we’re trying to do here is still keep it super inclusive. So, anyone can come and show their work, hardware or technology totally for free. We ask people to sponsor just to keep the bar open.”
We’ve broken down some of the highlights from the video to give you some background and context on some of the companies and items featured.
National Theatre / Play Nicely – @1m:22s
Play Nicely has collaborated with the UK National Theatre and 59 Productions to create a free VR exhibition of otherworldly digital experiences to accompany the musical wonder.land. enter wonder.land opened last November and will run until April this year. The VR experience was built for the Oculus Rift and is being used in the foyer of the National Theatre ahead of the show proper.
“The free exhibition was conceived by the NT’s Head of Digital, Toby Coffey, who worked with designers Tom Paris and Rae Smith, to give audiences an immersive experience in addition to the stage production. It builds on the Virtual Reality research development Play Nicely was already undertaking with the National, alongside 59 Productions’ incredible wonder.land performance visuals which were re-appropriated for the interactive exhibition.”
Bossa Studios – @2m:37s
Bossa Studios, well known in the UK VR community, we at VRLO showing their latest version Surgeon Simulator, subtitled ‘ER‘. SS:ER supports both the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive VR headsets and now also integrates motion controls, so you can cack-handedly slice your virtual patients more accurately with either the Oculus Touch or Steam VR controllers.
Autodesk – @05m:09s
Autodesk, the CAD and modelling software giant have been making inroads into both gaming and VR recently with the launch of their game and 3D visualisation engine Stingray, which supports VR headsets for the viewing of creations within the package. The company is at the intersection of entertainment and industrial visualisation and sees it’s engine’s ability to render natively to VR as important.
Retinize – @6m:23s
Retinize specialise in high quality, immersive 360 stereoscopic film-making. CEO, Phil Morrow, has over 25 years of experience in TV production. Technical Director Jack Morrow, gave us a little more insight into what makes Retinize tick.
“Using our experienced TV backgrounds we decided to approach this new medium focusing on the content and storytelling elements before anything else.” he told us. “By bringing the action much closer to the camera and letting the viewer see our actors facial expressions, as well as calculating the most comfortable ways to direct the viewers attention, we created a showreel that takes people from scene to scene effortlessly. We believe it’s all about taking what people know and expect from theatre, film and television and playing with those expectations.”
Speaking to their technical process, Morrow told us “We are mastering in 8K 60fps stereoscopic video using higher order ambisonic audio to deliver the most immersive experiences current hardware will allow us to deliver, but technology is a means to an end for us. We are storytellers who love working in a new medium where there is so much more to see.”
Hammerhead VR – @9m:05s
Hammerhead have been working with VR for some time now, but their latest project may be their most promising yet. Presence is a mixed media, episodic cinematic VR experience that blends photogrammetry, traditional photography and rendered virtual reality elements to allow you to re-live famous cinematic experiences immersively.
Designed as a series of short films, to launch in 2016 for desktop VR headsets, the first episode ‘Abduction’ will launch as a free download with later episodes likely to be monetised. “So we’ve used Unreal Engine as a development environment but we’ve [also] used traditional film and VFX techniques … and brought that in-engine. So, for example, all the characters you see are 4D scans.”
DoubleMe – @10m:20s
DoubleMe‘s technology is able to create realtime 3D models from a synchronized collection of 2D images. Subjects step into a small studio consisting of blue-screen walls and 8 inexpensive cameras. Capture computers take the synchronized video feeds and run them through a series of imaging algorithms to create a 3D model in realtime. What differentiates DoubleMe from other solutions is that it’s capturing motion, and it’s doing it using cameras instead of motion capture gear.
So, VRLO is clearly growing, but when can we expect it to return? In short, the Spring. REWIND are still ironing out the details, but the event is provisionally set for the first week in March and is to be held in conjunction with the Visual Effects Society.
Full disclosure: Jonathan Tustain consults for REWIND.
Road to VR are proud sponsors of the VRLO meetup.