Tag Archives: TV

Amazon Prime Video VR arrives on Oculus headsets

Amazon has launched a new VR app for Oculus headsets (Quest, Go, and Gear VR). According to a blog post from Oculus, Amazon Prime members in the US and UK can watch programming from Amazon Prime Video, including a curated selection of 360° videos.

Beyond the Prime Video library of TV shows and movies, Prime Video VR also offers 10 handpicked 360° videos at launch and will continue to add VR-specific content. Prime members can watch the Emmy-nominated short film INVASION!, starring two adorable bunnies as they thwart an alien attack on planet Earth, and Greenland Melting, an immersive documentary from NOVA and Frontline that explores the effects of climate change on the Arctic island of Greenland.

Prime members have full access to all their Prime Video and VR content. And while non-Prime members can’t access VR-specific content, they can watch anything from their personal library in VR.

Amazon finally joins Netflix, YouTube, and Hulu in providing an app for streaming content on VR devices. Video content can also be streamed in VR via Bigscreen.

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For more information on Amazon Prime Video VR visit: amazon.com/PrimeVideoVR.

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.

Bigscreen TV launches with over 50 channels in Virtual Reality

Bigscreen, the social VR platform which has been in beta for several years now, has just launched Bigscreen TV, an expansion of its platform with more than 50 channels of free video content.

Most channels are available 24/7, and are free for all users (ad-supported). Here is a list of channels available at launch:

The content can be viewed together in VR with other users in public rooms, or in private rooms that can be launched individually and shared with family and friends.

Bigscreen is a cross-platform application, and works on every major PC and Mobile VR headset, including SteamVR (HTC Vive, Valve Index), Windows Mixed Reality, Oculus Rift, Oculus Go, Oculus Quest, and Samsung GearVR.

The launch of Bigscreen TV is notable, in that it currently offers the largest selection of live video content in a shared VR platform. Taking advantage of the rising popularity of standalone headsets like Oculus Go and Oculus Quest, Bigscreen TV is launching at an opportune moment for the VR industry.

See more details in Bigscreen’s launch announcement.

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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.

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.

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.

 

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.

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.