From The VRUK Festival at Ravensbourne University

The VRUK festival was back for its second consecutive year and they followed the first year with another great show. There was something for everyone. Whether it was hands on workshops. Exhibitors giving you a chance to immerse yourself through experiencing their latest products. Or even some very thought provoking lectures. The lectures included a variety of people from both big and small agencies. They were there offering both industry insights and a closer look at their latest creations.

VR at Google: What we’ve built what we’ve learnt and where we’re headed

Greg Ivanov
Business Development, Google Play

Greg Ivanov talks about the Google day dream, which is a VR standalone headset built in partnership with HTC Vive and mobile and computing company Lenovo. They have prioritised the usability aspect of the product design workflow, as is apparent through the effort given to making it comfortable and light weight. Google was already in the VR game with google Card board, however this product shows a real effort to produce something of quality.

Lightweight, customisation and aesthetics are obviously all something they felt was amiss from their market research. The users can have a choice of three colours. The headset works in compatibility with a google app and comes with a minimalist designed remote for simple and efficient use.

Greg Ivanov also explains there are two ways to innovation you are either solving a problem or you are experimenting through play and discovery.

Can immersive technologies change opera and ballet

Tom Nelson
Head of Audience Labs, Royal Opera House

Tom discussed how most or their average audience are an ageing population so to keep with the times they have been looking at how immersive technologies can be adapted within their industry.

They are looking to partner up with Virtual Reality technology companies such as HTC and creatives. Mainly creatives with previous theme park installation experience, with a focus towards on-site experiential iterations of it. They see the future being in augmented reality as opposed to virtual reality as they don’t want to replace what is already existing but rather enhance it.

Which they believe is better facilitated through augment reality. They may make use of things such as Google’s pitch and fund scheme. They believe Shows such as swan lake, which always brings a crowd provides a good opportunity for them to try out new things with the audience, and leads to an exciting time.

Interactive Narrative Experiences

Kim Leigh Pontin
Creative Interaction Director, Sky VR Studios

Kim Leigh Pontin gave a very thought provoking talk. Choosing to talk about the experience itself rather than tackling business concepts. She explained virtual reality and how by its very nature it has strong links with philosophy. Terms such as psychographics were used to explain why different people play games, including different profiles such as achievers, killers, explorers and socialisers.

There is no such thing as a universal reality as everyone has a different understanding of the world. We each see things through our own perspectives as our senses feed to our brain, which feeds back to our senses giving us our reality. Virtual reality is our own projection of reality that we have created from our senses. Therefore, virtual reality has the potential to be more real than our own usual realities feel.

The phrase Essence of experience was used to explain how the mind can be tricked. you can use things like the graphics of breath leaving the mouth and the sound of snow crunching beneath your feet to make people feel cold without having to reduce the temperature.

The Gruffalo spotter – is an augmented reality game that encourages people mainly children to go to the forest and search for the Gruffalo it is a treasure hunt type augmented reality game. Visit one of 26 forests in the UK and look for the special markers which will work as trigger points. This app was commissioned by the Forestry Commission, for more information on this app visit our Gruffalo article. The app is inspired by the Gruffalo book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler.

Kim can also be quoted saying “all is real is what you feel” which again is very philosophical. There are a whole host of philosophical theories which have close ties with virtual reality. I won’t get too deep into these as that would be a separate article in itself.

In addition to this there was the discussion of how both Apple and Google making augmented reality developer kits means we are likely to see an increase in mass adoption of AR technology as a lot more content will now be produced.

Mistika Stitching workshop

Peter Amies
Training and Education Mentor, SGO

Peter gave an insightful workshop on the capabilities and work flow of Mistikas new VR specialised software. He explained things such as syncing different videos timelines, colour matching, key frames, and setting the point of convergence all as crucial points within the VR workflow. Which he demonstrated through Mistika VR. He also explained some of the pros and cons with current VR hardware options available.

The State of VR Myths and Reality

Dave Bomphrey
Director of Strategic Partnerships EMEA, Jaunt VR

Jaunt are one of the pioneers of Cinematic VR and Dave Bomphrey the Director of Strategic Partnerships EMEA was present at the event explaining who Jaunt are and some of the content they’ve created with some big clients. He shared his opinion that VR content should be more valuable than a normal TV advert because you have 100% of the audience’s attention for the entirety of the experience. Making it a very efficient means of advertising due to the amount of control. With Virtual Reality finally improving in popularity Dave states that the time is now and 2017 is the inflection point for Virtual Reality.

Creating ‘Flight Deck’, the world’s first mixed reality motorsport companion for Red Bull

Sol Rogers
Founder & CEO, Rewind

Sol Rogers is a name that holds a lot of credit within the industry of Virtual and Augmented reality. Being the founder of arguably the biggest virtual reality production company based in the UK. He has a lot prestigious titles such as being chairman of Immerse UK and a Bafta member. He was at the event discussing the differences between directing video and virtual reality. He makes a point of saying that ultimately the objective is still emotion. You want to make the user feel a specific emotion. So, the question to ask is how to evoke that emotion.

Rewind were also demonstrating their latest collaboration with Red bull at the event. The once just energy drink company who are now also totally immersed in the world of extreme sport. This partnership was about how Rewind could utilise Augmented Reality Technology. In order to enhance the Red Bull air race experience for the audience. This was achieved through producing an augmented reality experience using the Hololens. The audience are given additional things to look at such as a life size model of the plane, close up and real time data overlaid over the race in a similar fashion to what you would see at the formula one races.

Changing Careers in conversation

Tom Fenwick-Smith
Creative Director, Rewind

Tom Fenwick has high credentials having won awards such as the BIMA student of the year award and the D & D student pencil. In addition to working as a traditional filmmaker which saw him working on over 30 feature films as an assistant director before last year’s VRUK event.

Since then he has consequently become well positioned to talk about the VR industry. After having been appointed as the new creative director at Rewind. He gives a little insight into Rewind and what they are working on behind the scenes and a general word on the industry itself. He was drawn into the medium through the agency of rewind, due to their reputation of using the technology in a way that maximises the effect of the medium.

He went on to state that topics they are currently exploring include artificial intelligence, big data, and cross communication between headsets no matter what brand they are.

How can mixed reality generate new forms of experience?

Carl H Smith
Principal Research Fellow, Ravensbourne

Friday the second day of the event kicked off with an exciting start as Carl H Smith the Principal research fellow at Ravensbourne college blew the cornflakes right out of your bowl. It was the first show of the day, but if you weren’t awake beforehand you definitely were after.

Carl proceeded to push you forward into the future. He spoke about a whole range of interesting, but not always easy to grasp topics. Such as people turning themselves into machines through enhanced realities he used the title “extreme empathy engines and referred to artists such as Moon Ribas who embedded a magnet within her elbow. This allowing her to feel on coming earthquakes as tremors, she would later translate into art through her dances. Her long time artistic partner Neil Harbisson the only living cyborg. Originally born colour blind now uses an antenna attached to his cranium to turn colours into frequencies and he now hears colours a form of synaesthesia. .

Moving swiftly on, next was the discussion of mirror neurons the neurons behind empathy and the things that are working when we watch sports such as tennis our brain reacts in the same way as audience or participant which is what makes for such an exciting spectacle. He also spoke about his own personal journey and how he has explored the evolution of spaces from pictorial into physical, virtual and then finally hybrid spaces. He then went on to talk about a conceptual place known as a memory palace. Memory palaces are fictional places constructed inside your mind as a memory aid.

His talk was either very interesting or bizarre given your personal preference. This theme continued with tales of Wim Hof a man who is seemingly superhuman. Who sat in a bath of ice injected with E. coli and used the power of his mind to conjure adrenaline and combat the bacteria.

Other interesting topics he discussed include Sensory augmentation that would allow you to know where north is. Using technology to hack back into our natural ability. Screens in front of our faces all the time leading to hikikomori, hand writing and haptic technology, context engineering and both mirrors and lighting on shop floor are deliberately different to the mirrors and lighting in changing rooms encouraging consumers to buy more.

The Future of VR and advertising Panel

Chaired by Dan Harvey
Zone Digital

The members consisted of Debbie Ellison Head of Digital – Geometry, Dean Johnson Head of Innovation – Bandwidth and Lawrence Weber Managing Partner, Innovation – Karmararma. Dean offered up an interesting idea of a business strategy. He proposed giving the audience everything, then offering them the opportunity to pay to take away pieces and create a perfect tailor made expedience.

Lawrence Weber suggested VR content should be and will hopefully be a subscription based service. Hopefully people will pay for customised content etc. Something like Netflix and this will generate a lot of high quality content.


Making Interactive Music Experiences In VR Video

Kevin Molloy
Head of Production, Inception VR

Kevin spoke about his experience in the music video production industry. He made a conscious decision to specialise in VR videos because he likes the interactivity that the content affords you. He is heavenly influenced and inspired by the video games industry and has been interested in interactivity ever since make your own choice books.

He discussed topics such as the confluence between technology and interactivity. He drew from his inspiration with the games industry as well to bring inconsequential interactivity to the table. Explaining that he loves the extra layers of interactivity you can add which have no effect on the storyline but create an added sense of realness and immersion for the audience. Something he has personally implemented in his own work is the idea of branching narratives thereby offering the users multiple version of the same story.

Create and share your first piece of AR, VR or MR in 15 minutes

Jazz Rasool
Research Fellow, Ravensbourne University

Jazz looks at emerging technologies and he comes up with innovative ways of utilising them that can create a fast workflow useful for prototyping. This was demonstrated to me along with his capability and knowledge in his workshop.

His exciting workshop used new technologies and showed people what you can achieve on a budget that is affordable to your average person through a combination of open source software and clever new hardware allowing people to be well on their way to creating their own AR experience.