Category Archives: TV

Brie Larson rocks “Beat Saber” with Jimmy Fallon

Earlier this week, Brie Larson (star of Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame) was a guest on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” where she and the host took on the popular virtual reality game “Beat Saber.”

Brie was the clear winner of the VR rhythm game contest, as she adeptly performed the required moves to slash objects using virtual light sabers.

“Beat Saber” is one of the most popular VR games around today, available for the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Windows Mixed Reality headsets, as well as PlayStation VR. It will also be available on the upcoming Oculus Quest standalone headset, available later this spring.

Watch Jimmy and Brie in action on YouTube:

 

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.

Blast From the Past: Quantico VR

In the spring of 2016, ABC Television released a short 360-degree video, set in the world of its popular crime drama Quantico. Although the show was cancelled in 2018, it’s worth taking a look back at this early VR experiment. Officially called Quantico: The Takedown, this short VR film was one of the first examples of a broadcast network using virtual reality (or 360 video) for a major TV series.

Sponsored by Lexus, the three and a half minute video starts in the backseat of a Lexus LX 570 SUV. Told from the point of view of a new FBI recruit, the viewer is brought along on a mission with FBI trainees Shelby Wyatt (Johanna Braddy) and Caleb Haas (Graham Rogers) as they track down and apprehend an assigned target.

Presented in a single, uninterrupted camera shot, the viewer follows Shelby into a nightclub, where they search for and apprehend their target, then move quickly into a back alleyway. Finally, they end up back in the Lexus SUV.

It’s a short experience, but provided enough immersion to give me a feeling of what it’s like to participate on a mission with these characters. Throughout the film, the characters addressed me directly, and the camera pulled me through the story without limiting my freedom to look wherever I wanted.

Overall, a fine early example of 360 video used for a TV show. This and other early examples have led to current productions such as Nightflyers VR, The Limitand Trinity.

See below to experience Quantico: The Takedown on YouTube VR, along with a behind-the-scenes companion video (in traditional “flat” format).

Quantico VR is available via YouTube on all major VR headsets, including Google Daydream, Samsung Gear VR, Oculus Go, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and PlayStation VR.

 

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.

Nightflyers VR Review

Nightflyers is a new science fiction TV series premiering December 2nd on SyFy. In advance of the premiere, SyFy has launched a special three-part web series in virtual reality. Available on YouTube VR as well as on SyFy.com, each chapter in the VR mini-series is around five minutes in length.

The story follows several characters, in a series of 360-degree videos shot on the actual sets of the TV show. Special effects were also added to the production, which is essentially a short mystery on board the Nightflyer spaceship. Chapter summaries from SyFy.com are provided below (links to YouTube are included for each chapter):

Chapter 1: Alarm

Kel, a new recruit aboard the Nightflyer, must journey into the heart of the ship to uncover the secrets hidden within the starship’s dangerous cargo.

Chapter 2: Tunnel

Lommie uses her physical connection with the ship to confront the L1 telepath, supposedly being kept locked away.

Chapter 3: Circle

Kel’s harrowing journey through the Nightflyer concludes in a mind-bending showdown with Thale.

Although it can be argued that 360 video is not “true VR”, when done well it can provide a very immersive experience. Especially when presented in stereoscopic 3D, the experience can be just as good as computer-generated VR, and is usually more realistic (since the imagery is captured from real life).

Thankfully, Nightflyers is fully stereoscopic and provides a great sense of depth throughout the story. Camera movement is slow and deliberate, which works well for VR productions, in order to prevent any motion sickness due to jarring motion or quick cuts in the action.

Admittedly, it’s difficult to get a complete sense of what the TV show is about in the short time we spend with a few characters in VR. But the experience does convey a sense of the atmosphere and tone of the show. The brooding music, creepy sound effects, and claustrophobic setting create a feeling of suspense and terror that we will likely see more of in the full series.

When I watch a 360-degree video, I want to feel like I’m in another place (either real or fictional). The Nightflyers VR experience effectively transported me to the sets of the TV show, and gave me the feeling of being a part of the production. Although I could not interact with any of the characters or affect the story, I felt like I was on the ship and experiencing the adventure along with them.

The Nightflyers VR experience is available via YouTube on all major VR headsets, including Google Daydream, Samsung Gear VR, Oculus Go, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and PlayStation VR.

 

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.

Roddenberry Wants to Create Star Trek’s Holodeck in Real Life

Rod Roddenberry (son of the late Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry) has partnered with cloud-based graphics company OTOY and holographic display startup Light Field Lab to build a real-life version of Star Trek’s “Holodeck.”

Roddenberry believes that advanced holographic technology exists today that will enable the creation of a Holodeck, as depicted on the TV show. Originally seen on Star Trek: The Next Generation, the Holodeck is a science fictional depiction of advanced virtual reality. Scenarios can be programmed into a computer and then “created” in a physical space. Holodeck users are able to see, touch and interact with holographic characters, objects, and environments.

Is it really possible?

Star Trek’s holodeck uses fictional transporter technology to physically transform matter into any object imaginable, including holographic humans and other physical objects. Such technology could enable the creation of an infinite number of interactive scenarios. On the TV show, the holodeck was used for recreation by the Enterprise crew, who would participate in games or adventures in various settings from literature, history, or fantasy. It’s the ultimate depiction of virtual reality. But it is possible in real life?

Although Roddenberry’s plans are ambitious, in practical terms the technology would only enable visual elements using large holographic display panels. It’s doubtful if any tactile component of these holograms would be possible, since the re-creation of physical matter is only possible in the realm of science fiction.

No headset required

According to a press release on October 22nd, the Holodeck will not require a VR headset or other device to be worn by users. It will make use of Light Field Lab’s “revolutionary headgear-free holographic displays and OTOY’s ORBX Technology, the industry’s first open source and royalty free format for rendering media and real time graphics on Light Field Lab’s holographic display panels.”

Light Field Lab’s initial prototype modules will scale to form larger holographic video walls with hundreds of gigapixels of light field resolution setting the standard for fully immersive holographic experiences. OTOY’s blockchain GPU compute network (RNDR) will provide the scale to make rendering holographic content for these experiences widely available for the first time. Light Field Lab started demonstrating holographic prototypes with OTOY-rendered content earlier this year to leading industry stakeholders including Endeavor, Roddenberry Entertainment and Richard Kerris, former CTO of Lucasfilm and Advisor to OTOY.

Realizing Gene Roddenberry’s dream

Rod Roddenberry is the CEO of Roddenberry Entertainment (which his father started in 1967). His is currently working with Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel to develop content for the Holodeck.

“The concept of the Holodeck was extremely important to my father as well as the Star Trek Universe,” said Rod Roddenberry about his late father, Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek. “I want to see Star Trek’s technologies made real, and for the very first time, now believe that a real Holodeck is no longer limited to science fiction. Although it’s early days, my father would be beyond excited to know his vision is coming into reality thanks to OTOY’s trailblazing light field rendering, and the revolutionary holographic display systems created at Light Field Lab.”

Image credit: Future vision concept art of room scale holographic display from Light Field Lab, Inc.

 

USA Network Releases Mobile AR App for “The Purge”

Released as a companion mobile game for their new horror TV series, The Purge augmented reality (AR) app is now available for Apple and Android devices.

The Purge AR app allows you to “scan your space with your phone and then add defenses to make your room Purge-worthy (think: barbed wire and bear traps).” Once your room is protected, you will face increasingly difficult stages and earn better objects to safeguard your environment.

Based on the hit movie franchise from Blumhouse Productions, The Purge revolves around a 12-hour period when all crime, including murder, is legal. Set in an altered America ruled by a totalitarian political party, the series follows several seemingly unrelated characters living in a small city. As the clock winds down, each character is forced to reckon with their past as they discover how far they will go to survive the night. New episodes air every Tuesday night on USA at 10/9c!

More information and download links are available at USA’s website.

 

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.