All technology can be used for constructive or destructive purposes. Some industries require more elaborate and nuanced navigation of moral pitfalls and user experiences than others. VR opens doors for self expression and actualization, as well as extreme escapism. How will developers drive users to engage in a positive relationship with this new technology?
Facet is a boutique virtual reality production company based in Austin and NYC. When they’re not developing immersive content for clients, the Facet team explores realism in the VR experience. Nick Ramsay and Ivan Gabriel Ramirez, the cofounders of Facet, share how to access the development and/or use of VR. http://facetvr.com/
For individuals just starting to work with VR and 360 capture, what hardware and software are must haves to produce quality work? Do you have any tricks of the trade you would like to share?
Hardware: The Samsung Gear 360 camera seems to be the best “pro-sumer” 360 camera on the market right now, and can be purchased for around $300 (the downside is you need a Galaxy S7 to use the camera in its full capacity). It's this cute little camera with two fisheye lenses and internal stitching software. It shoots in 4k and has relatively good specs, compared to other cameras of its kind (Nikon and Kodak both have similar products but Samsung’s seems to be the best right now).
For software, Adobe premiere is a must for editing. They recently added a VR viewer which makes working with 360 footage that much easier. You also need a somewhat powerful computer for editing, because the files are so large.
Google Cardboard is a recyclable headset that users can slip their phone into to view 360 captured video and photos. Long term, how do you think VR will impact the mobile phone and general GUI interface industry?
Mobile headsets like Google Cardboard are great because they makes immersive video experiences accessible to everyone who has a smartphone. Cardboard is great because it can be purchased at such a low price-point (you can get one for $10 on Amazon). That being said, cardboard isn’t the best mobile headset. The more expensive ones like Samsung Gear and Google Daydream are much more comfortable viewing experiences… And comfort is important when you’re in VR. Any little annoyance like your phone shifting around in the cardboard can really take away from the experience.
Long term, it seems like mobile headsets might not be the final solution for VR. The limitation is that your eyes are really close to a phone screen, so the image fidelity isn’t great. “Tethered” headsets (HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Playstation VR), ultimately provide a much cooler experience, because the image fidelity is better, and they have motion tracking for your head movements, so it’s that much more realistic. I feel high coming out of HTC Vive, because it overrides my visual experience of the world so effectively.. It’s really another world. It’s wild. And that doesn’t happen with cardboard.
That being said, mobile headsets are hugely important because they make 360° video accessible to the masses, and make it a viable medium for the masses. Without mobile headsets VR would still be a niche video game thing. It will be interesting to see how the technologies evolve.
Paint me two pictures:
1. your utopian dream for a VR integrated society
2. Your dystopian nightmare
We think the greatest potential for VR is in its ability to transport viewers to new worlds, and build empathy for other’sexperiences in a more vivid and meaningful way. So, our utopian dream for a VR-integrated society is a world where amazing immersive experiences are being used in a way that helps create equality and peace around the globe. In this world, VR would be used not only for entertainment and news media, but also for education, in classrooms, and at universities and hospitals for medical and scientific purposes. We’re already starting to see this, and it will be exciting to see continued advances. A utopian scenario would also involve greatly improving access to the technology and making VR available in less affluent areas.
The dystopian nightmares can go a lot of different directions. One is that people check out of “real reality” and become too engrossed in their virtual worlds. There’s undeniably something weird about walking into a room where someone is in a VR headset flailing around in their own world. But, in a sense, it's not so different from the “checking out” we do when we watch a movie… It's just that now the screen is attached to your face.