philip lelyveld The world of entertainment technology


Meet the Camera That Could Bring Virtual Reality to the Masses

lucidcam_1_pressThe LucidCam is part FlipCam, part GoPro, with the look and feel of a slim smartphone. It's meant to be a point-and-shoot camera for capturing virtual-reality content on the go. It's portable and mountable, and makes it possible to create high-quality content from a first-person perspective. With its 180-degree field of view and true depth perception, the camera creates the sensation that you really are there. You can then watch this virtual-reality content on your smartphone, with or without a special viewer, or on a virtual-reality headset.

LucidCam has gone through a number of iterations and prototypes, and the next step is to take it to mass production. To make that possible, LucidCam is in the middle of raising $100,000 (roughly Rs. 66,35,000) on the crowdfunding site IndieGoGo.

With 45 days to go, the product has already pulled in more than $90,000 (roughly Rs. 60,00,000).

The best content, Jin said, is still being made by professionals, not amateurs. Companies such as JauntVR are applying Hollywood-style production techniques to creating cinematic, immersive virtual-reality experiences.

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Bankrolling the 10 Breakthrough Technologies: Magic Leap

magicleapx519Abovitz founded Magic Leap in 2010, and it became his full-time gig in December 2013 after he sold his previous business, the medical-device maker MAKO Surgical, for $1.65 billion. Nagraj Kashyap, senior vice president at Qualcomm Ventures, attributes much of his firm’s enthusiasm for Magic Leap to Abovitz’s track record building successful technologies and cultures. But he also sees good reason to believe that Magic Leap’s technology will create something new, a “pervasive and persistent” form of augmented reality.

Although virtual reality is not new, investors have been drawn back to it because of a substantial decrease in costs. Virtual-reality headsets that existed 20 years ago cost $20,000 to make, says Philip Rosedale, creator of Second Life and High Fidelity. Because it was so expensive, he says, “virtual reality in general has been a dream always five years in the future.”

In contrast, today “90 percent of the hardware in a virtual-reality headset is already in a cell phone,” says Nabeel Hyatt, a partner at Spark Capital, the original backer of Oculus VR, the virtual-reality headset maker Facebook bought in 2014 for $2 billion.

Spark Capital professes to like investing in markets so new their size can’t yet be determined. Even so, Hyatt says his firm believes the augmented reality of Magic Leap is still too far off to warrant investment. Significant technological puzzles still have to be solved in computer vision, 3-D rendering, strategies for mapping a room in real time, and other areas, Hyatt argues. “I am bullish on that,” he says, “but over the very long term.”

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OzoMG! Why Nokia chose a virtual reality camera for its hardware comeback

ozoclosetwoThe mass market hook is there too -- the company believes that VR will become ubiquitous on phones. "We see this as the birth of an entirely new media. We don't see it as a niche market where the audience would only consist of gamers and owners of virtual reality consoles, but everyone who has a mobile phone is a potential consumer of this content," said Melin.

... you'll always want to watch Apocalypse Now just how Francis Ford Coppola put it together, but a tour of the set filmed on an Ozo might give you another perspective on how the movie was made.

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Broadway’s ‘The Lion King’ pushes into virtual reality

"The Lion King" on Broadway is offering fans a view of the musical that even the very best seat in the theater can't rival.

The Disney stage blockbuster on Wednesday released 360-degree footage of its opening song "Circle of Life" that lets users look left, right, up, backstage and at the audience, even when sitting on a couch.

To create the virtual reality world, some half-dozen GoPro cameras were mounted on a stand and placed in the center of the stage as the actors swirled around in their Julie Taymor-created costumes and masks.

The stand also telescoped 20 feet into the air to capture the view as Pride Rock rises up and baby Simba is introduced. Software stitched together the various videos into a seamless, 360-degree view - a circle of life.

The footage can be seen free on laptops and desktops on Wednesday via YouTube and Facebook (using cursors to move around the virtual world) or smartphones and tablets (where the screen tracks movement) or special immersive headsets like Samsung's Gear VR and Google Cardboard.


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UCLA computer science class integrates virtual world into reality

web.ae_.ford_.KV_-640x417Ford, a lecturer in the computer science department, aims to develop gaming as a subfield of graphics at UCLA through her courses on virtual reality and artificial intelligence. This quarter, Ford’s virtual reality class, “Advanced Game Development for Virtual Reality,” is using gesture-tracking to create its own virtual reality games, following in the footsteps of her spring class, “Virtual Reality Game Development.”

Ford said the interactions between players and artificial intelligence, built off the programming and testing done by students like Corbalis and Morgan, gave rise to pre-patterns of coding, which can be used by game developers across the world to create even more virtual reality games.

In August, Ford presented pre-patterns within her class’ games on stage at SIGGRAPH. During Ford’s presentation, the student-created games were met with cheering and applause from developers in the audience, she said.

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Instant VR for Your Next Party with ‘WeLens’

we-lens1-325x261What if you simply want to show off VR demos as part of your corporate event or birthday party without the hassle?

California company WeLens sets out to solve that problem. WeLens offers a kit complete with Samsung Gear VR headset, a compatible phone, headphones, charger, and cleaning accessories, and can even preload content. Beyond that, they can assist with on-site staffing and furnishing, offering a turnkey VR event.

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Figment VR iPhone case doubles as a virtual reality viewer

fgmnt2The Figment VR case packs two VR app-ready lenses into a sleek case designed to protect your iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus. A simple sliding mechanism extends the lens component from the back of the iPhone case, and when you're done the lens fold back, seamlessly blending in with the rest of the case's outer surface.

And while we haven't had a chance to test the device out, considering the less than stellar experience delivered by Cardboard, it seems unlikely that the Figment will be the best VR viewer around. In fact, the Figment's lack of side and top eye coverings (which are present on Cardboard) could impact the immersive dynamic VR is designed to offer in the first place.

The Figment VR, which comes in white and black, is launching on Kickstarter for $49 and $59 (Plus versions) and will sell for $69 and $79 when it hits retail.

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Aberdeen husband and wife team enter virtual reality

virtual-reality-660x496Having spent years studying their subject in depth, the Kerrs have developed their own technology for filming content using their in-house designed camera rigs.

Mrs Kerr, who previously launched a business organising European tours for Chinese tourists, said: “We hope more people can have the knowledge of what we do and take advantage of it.

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New Report: Virtual Reality Journalism (Columbia School of Journalism)

Third, we draw a series of findings from the case study, which together document the opportunities and challenges we see emerging from this new technology. These findings are detailed in Chapter 4, but can be summarized as:

  1. Virtual reality represents a new narrative form, one for which technical and stylistic norms are in their infancy.

  2. The VR medium challenges core journalistic questions evolving from the fourth wall debate, such as “who is the journalist?” and “what does the journalist represent?”

  3. A combination of the limits of technology, narrative structure, and journalistic intent determine the degree of agency given to users in a VR experience.

  4. The technology requirements for producing live-motion virtual reality journalism are burdensome, non-synergistic, rapidly evolving, and expensive.

  5. At almost every stage of the process, virtual reality journalism is presented with tradeoffs that sit on a spectrum of time, cost, and quality.

  6. The production processes and tools are mostly immature, are not yet well integrated, or common; the whole process from capture through to viewing requires a wide range of specialist, professional skills.

  7. At this point in the medium’s development, producing a piece of virtual reality media requires a complete merger between the editorial and production processes.

  8. Adding interactivity and user navigation into a live-motion virtual reality environment is very helpful for journalistic output, and also very cumbersome.

  9. High-end, live motion virtual reality with added interactivity and CGI elements is very expensive and has a very long production cycle.

  10. This project’s form is not the only one possible for journalistic VR. Others, including immediate coverage, may be accessible, cheaper, and have journalistic value.

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Dysonics is the motion-tracked audio capture solution that VR needs

7905e974c213a054a89527f632b0f14aThe difference, says co-founder and CTO Robert Dalton Jr., is that for these live recordings Dysonics is using eight microphones in a rig it calls RondoMic. This microphone array captures audio and stitching algorithms are used to put it together in a similar way to how camera footage is stitched together from different cameras to provide 360 degrees of video. Dysonics calls it “motion-tracked binaural” sound. According to the company, it is more difficult and intricate to do correctly than stitching a panoramic video together.

“We’re essentially doing four binaural recordings simultaneously,” he said.

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