Monthly Archives: August 2018

Immersive Cinema Projects at New York Film Festival 2018

The Film Society of Lincoln Center has announced their lineup of Virtual Reality and Immersive Cinema projects to be shown at the 56th New York Film Festival, taking place on October 11-14, 2018. Featured projects will include Walt Disney Animation’s first ever VR short Cycles.

untitledOver the course of NYFF’s final weekend, audiences can experience wide-ranging selections of Virtual Reality and Immersive Cinema with several World Premieres including: What Goes Up/Must Come Down, a combination of VR and video installation that takes viewers through the gorgeous Instagram sensation of the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival and the environmental destruction the lanterns cause once tourists leave; Blue Bird, an immersive animated VR film that feels like a painting come to life; and Hope Amongst the Haze, a journey into the citizen-led effort to rid the once pristine beaches of Mumbai of the trash that overwhelms them. Additionally, Convergence will present the U.S. premiere of Cycles, Walt Disney Animation Studios’ first ever VR short, a brilliant meditation on what makes a house a home.

Complete details are available at the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s website.

Augmented reality adoption by TV broadcasters

NewscastStudio, the Trade Publication for Broadcast Production, recently provided highlights from their roundtable with broadcast solution providers, to discuss the use of augmented and virtual reality in broadcast television.

Here are some of the key comments from providers such as Avid, Brainstorm, Vizrt, Full Mental Jacket, and ChyronHego:

“We’re definitely on the front end of the adoption curve for VR. This is mainly due to the expense of HMDs (which is coming down), the growing number of fragmented platforms, and the lack of compelling content, which can be costly to produce. All of these factors are contributing to the slow rate of growth in VR. You could make the case that AR is further behind VR,” said Ray Thompson, Director of Broadcast & Media Solutions at Avid. “While social platforms like Snapchat have added some basic levels of AR, and Pokémon Go has helped raise AR’s profile, we primarily see AR being used in broadcast as a way to augment and enhance storytelling for news, weather, and sports.”

“I think it’s a little soon to expect mass adoption of AR/VR solutions, but we are seeing progress. The availability of flexible and reliable optical tracking systems like the Mo-SyS Star Tracker, together with the recent publicity around the use of the Unreal engine in AR/VR applications, is beginning to have a real impact,” Olivier Cohen, Senior Product Manager at ChyronHego.

NewscastStudio plans to share more of their responses as part of their Focus on Augmented and Virtual Reality.

VR Emmy Nominations for 2018

Virtual reality content continues to receive accolades in the film and television industry, as indicated by a record seven nominations for this year’s Emmy awards. The following titles were nominated this year:

  • Back to The Moon by Google
  • Blade Runner 2049: Memory Lab by Oculus
  • Coco VR by Disney Pixar
  • Grand Finale at Saturn by NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
  • Spider-Man Homecoming VR Experience by CreateVR
  • Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality by Owlchemy Labs
  • Silicon Valley: Inside the Hacker Hostel by Rewind

Detailed coverage and descriptions of all the nominations are available at VRScout.

The 70th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards will take place on September 17th, 2018.

New York Times to offer Mixed Reality Content for Magic Leap One

In a press release on August 8, 2018, the New York Times announced that its immersive journalism content will be available for the “Magic Leap One Creator Edition” mixed reality headset:

The Times’s first offering for “Magic Leap One Creator Edition” is a mixed reality (MR) version of its immersive report inviting readers to explore the damage caused by the Fuego volcano eruption in the Guatemalan village of San Miguel Los Lotes. Through MR and accessible via Helio, Magic Leap’s web browser for 3D and spatial web experiences, The Times is able to transport a life-sized piece of the scene to readers, conveying the scale of this natural disaster in a visceral way, and allowing users to examine it as if they were there.

The New York Times continues to explore the latest technology in immersive media. In previous projects, they established themselves as early adopters of virtual reality, 360-degree video, and augmented reality. Most notably in November 2015, the Times distributed over a million cardboard VR headsets to home subscribers in conjunction with the launch of their 360-video “NYT VR” app.

Journalism offers unlimited opportunities to benefit from the features of immersive technology. As more VR, AR, and MR devices become available and affordable, the content produced by news organizations like the New York Times will continue to reach increasing numbers of consumers. However, producing content that’s compelling and accessible is only part of the equation. It’s critical to raise awareness and promote immersive media to the public at large, to ensure that talented journalists and technologists (like those at the Times) can continue to create these amazing experiences.


Roy Kachur is a Media Technologist, IT Architect, and VR Evangelist. He has worked in the information technology field since the 1990’s, and in the media industry since 2014. He believes that VR will play a significant role in the future of media.

BREAKING NEWS: Magic Leap One AR Headset Now Available for $2,295

From Magic Leap’s announcement today (Aug. 8th, 2018):

Calling all developers, creators and explorers – Magic Leap One Creator Edition is now available. Brace yourself because a universe of creative possibilities is expanding right in front of you.

Join us on a mind-expanding journey into the outer reaches of human creativity. Magic Leap One Creator Edition is a spatial computing system that brings digital content to life here in the real world with us. Its unique design and technology lets in natural light waves together with softly layered synthetic lightfields, enabling creators to build unbelievably believable interactive experiences and create worlds within our world. And this is just the beginning.


Virtual Reality: Dead or Alive?

For the past few weeks, various articles have been published claiming that virtual reality is dead, dying, or on life support. At the same time, other reports indicate that VR is alive and well, doing much better than ever before.

Well, which is it? 

No matter how you look at it, virtual reality needs more time to achieve mainstream adoption. Although VR seems to have emerged from the “trough of disillusionment,” it remains a niche technology mainly for enthusiasts. I believe there are several reasons for this:

  1. Cost
  2. Ease of use
  3. Customer awareness

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am a huge proponent of VR. In fact, I believe VR will play an important role in the future of media. Even today, much progress has been made to create quality programming in VR. Producers of news, sports, film, and TV programming continue to deliver compelling content for all VR platforms.

But why isn’t everyone on board yet? Why hasn’t VR replaced our smartphones, or at least achieved market penetration on a comparable level?

The “evidence”

Let’s dive into some of the recent articles proclaiming VR’s demise. This all started on July 19th, with an article in Digital TrendsVR is in a tailspin, and the sales numbers prove it. Referencing VR device sales data at Amazon, the article shows a decline in sales of four major VR headsets (PlayStation VR, HTC Vive, Samsung Gear VR, and Oculus Go.) According to the article, “Those sale ranks figures make it clear all the major VR headsets are in a tailspin, with no signs they’ll pull out of it.”

On the opposite side, we have an article at Futurism claiming that VR has reached a “tipping point.” The article remains hopeful that VR’s increased popularity is just around the corner. We are also starting to see more implementations of location-based VR, including VR at airports. An article in Connected Thinking claims that consumer VR revenue is headed to $9 Billion.

HTC responded to the Digital Trends article with their own defense: Think VR is dying? It’s just getting started. They claim that VR tech continues to improve, businesses are investing in it (especially location-based entertainment and training), and they are ramping up on production of more headsets.

The “reality”

The best way to look at the state of VR is to understand and accept that these things take time. Enthusiasts are excited and impatient for mainstream adoption, while detractors are quick to point fingers and disregard the steady progress that VR has already achieved, and continues to achieve.

There is also an unnecessary rivalry between complementary technologies, VR and AR (augmented reality). For the past few years, those in the AR camp have claimed that their tech has outpaced VR and is already the “winner.” Meanwhile, information has leaked about Magic Leap’s “rather small” field of view, causing major disappointment among AR fans.

Virtual reality is here to stay. Like any new technology, we need to be patient while the many talented engineers, developers, and artists continue to devote their energy and passion to creating something truly magical.


Roy Kachur is a Media Technologist, IT Architect, and VR Evangelist. He has worked in the information technology field since the 1990’s, and in the media industry since 2014. He believes that VR will play a significant role in the future of media.


Nickelodeon announces new VR / AR animated series

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Nickelodeon is developing a new animated series called Meet the Voxels, which will include experiences designed for VR and AR.

The new series was conceived by Chris Young, Senior VP of Nickelodeon Entertainment Lab (an R&D division focused on emerging platforms and new technology).

Set in the video game world, Meet the Voxels will follow a family of video game characters. At this stage, the Voxels are: Hunter, the 13-year-old star of a laser-tag video game; Maude, a 16-year-old girl fighting to pop as many bubbles as she can; their younger brother Cody, who has not found his video game calling yet; Mom, a popular street fighter in her game; and Dad, a 1990s-era classic console game character who quit the business years ago.

This is a promising development for children’s programming on XR platforms. Nickelodeon has already delivered content for VR and AR, and appears committed to continue those efforts.