“WHEN PEO­PLE PUT ON 360 HEAD­SETS, THEY EX­PE­RI­ENCE FILM AS THOUGH THEY WERE THERE... IF PEO­PLE ON CAM­ERA TALK TO THEM, THEY FEEL A HUGE EMO­TIONAL CON­NEC­TION”

Computer Arts - - Special Report -

CRAFT­ING EX­PE­RI­ENCES

The big­gest USP of VR is the abil­ity to place users in en­vi­ron­ments – real or fic­tional – that in­spire awe and de­light. Just as REWIND gave users ac­cess to the In­ter­na­tional Space Sta­tion in Home – A Spacewalk (see left), adam&eveDDB and MPC Creative de­vel­oped the Buster the Boxer VR, where visi­tors to John Lewis’ Ox­ford Street store could don an Ocu­lus Rift head­set con­nected to a Leap Mo­tion de­tec­tor and Kinect cam­era and play with the adorable an­i­mals – in­clud­ing Buster the Boxer – from John Lewis’ 2016 Christ­mas ad. Set in a back gar­den, with lots of brick­work, fo­liage and fur, the ex­pe­ri­ence was de­vel­oped in Un­real En­gine due to its strength in vis­ual fi­delity. Users can ‘con­duct’ the an­i­mals to make them jump, ac­com­pa­nied by a sub­tle melody as well as am­bi­ent rus­tles and growls. In­tu­itive hand­track­ing was key here to re­duce the learn­ing curve for new users. “John Lewis is a fam­ily brand,” ex­plains MPC Creative’s in­ter­ac­tive creative di­rec­tor, An­dre As­salino. “We knew the au­di­ence would in­clude kids and grown-ups of all ages, so we didn’t want a com­plex con­troller sys­tem.”

An­other chal­lenge was ren­der­ing such rich con­tent at 90 frames per se­cond per eye – some­thing es­sen­tial in VR to avoid mo­tion sick­ness. “If there’s any lag, it’ll make you feel re­ally sick,” says As­salino, who also sug­gests think­ing be­yond the head­set. So other shop­pers could un­der­stand the ex­pe­ri­ence, MPC Creative de­vel­oped a 3D cam­era that cap­tured the player and trans­posed it on-screen onto their ex­pe­ri­ence in real time. At the end of the game, the player re­ceived a re­ceipt fea­tur­ing a URL of their video. “VR tra­di­tion­ally isn’t share­able, so that was re­ally im­por­tant to us,” As­salino adds.

On the more fan­tas­ti­cal side, Frame­store worked with Warner Bros to de­velop Fan­tas­tic Beasts and Where to Find Them VR, an in­ter­ac­tive ex­pe­ri­ence with mind-bend­ing VFX for Google Day­dream based on JK Rowl­ing’s lat­est tale. The ex­pe­ri­ence is set within pro­tag­o­nist Newt Sca­man­der’s shed, where play­ers can flick through his books, cast spells us­ing a wand (in re­al­ity, the Day­dream con­troller) and even meet mag­i­cal char­ac­ters from the film. The pro­ject pushed the bound­aries of what can be done with mo­bile VR, and is an ex­cel­lent ex­am­ple of what’s to come. The team in­vented tech­niques to com­bine re­al­time in­ter­ac­tive el­e­ments with an en­vi­ron­ment ren­dered off­line, in­creas­ing the vis­ual fi­delity of the ex­pe­ri­ence and mak­ing it all the more be­liev­able. Sim­i­larly to Buster the Boxer, the strength of this pro­ject lay in its strong in­te­gra­tion with other mar­ket­ing strands. “It’s im­por­tant not to cre­ate a VR pro­ject in iso­la­tion,” states As­salino.

PROMPT­ING REAL FEEL­INGS

But VR’s power to in­spire needn’t just be about spec­ta­cle – its abil­ity to gen­er­ate em­pa­thy with real world sit­u­a­tions is one of its big­gest strengths. “When peo­ple put on 360 head­sets, they ex­pe­ri­ence film as though they were there,” says Henry Stu­art, CEO and co-founder of VR stu­dio Vi­su­alise. “If peo­ple on cam­era talk to you, you feel an emo­tional con­nec­tion. There’s huge value in that.” A Walk In Their Shoes, a re­cent pro­ject by AT&T and My­coskie for eth­i­cal shoe brand Toms, in­volved cre­at­ing a 360° film for Google Card­board that fol­lows a Toms cus­tomer to Colom­bia, where the viewer sees how his pur­chase has helped a child there. The in­ex­pen­sive viewer was given to Toms cus­tomers when they pur­chased the shoes. An­other Google Card­board pro­ject is #pride­forevery­one, a global VR Pride pa­rade made for Fundación Ser­gio Ur­rego that al­lows any­one – even in places where ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity is il­le­gal – to join in the fun and know that they’re not alone.

This sense of close­ness also al­lows us to ex­plore his­tor­i­cal events in an un­prece­dented way – some­thing sure to in­ter­est brands with a strong his­tor­i­cal nar­ra­tive. Ex­cel­lent re­cent ex­am­ples in­clude Re­mem­ber­ing Pearl Har­bor, a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween TIME’s LifeVR, HTC and Deluxe VR,

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