VR Digest: Contests ongoing as E3 approaches;
Journalism examples from NYT and WSJ

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VR Digest: A Virtual Reality newsletter brought to you by Studio Transcendent

VR Digest: A Virtual Reality newsletter brought to you by Studio Transcendent

Hi Friends,

Our Google Alerts have been going nuts this week with publications jumping to conclusions about an Oculus release schedule. We politely decline to speculate.

John will be speaking on a panel at the Digital Hollywood AR/VR Summit Thursday at 12:30 PM in Marina del Rey. If you'll be attending, come to the panel and say hi!

If you've been enjoying this newsletter, please tell your friends. 


Aaron, John, Ian, and Elissa
at Studio Transcendent

Contests ongoing as E3 approaches

The Oculus Mobile Jam competition continues with more than 500 entries. The experiences being built include an educational app explaining the science of simulator sickness from the people who Kickstarted an Apollo 11 experience, while the creator of Titans of Space is making a telescope-planetarium-observatory. Also, the man who won the first Oculus VR Jam with Darknet is building a tabletop real-time strategy game.

There are too many interesting ideas for us to name them all, but Voices of VR’s Kent Bye compiled a list of eye-catching experiences as well as an unofficial spreadsheet with everything listed so that people can more easily peruse the projects.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles cloud-based rendering company OTOY announced a contest with a grand prize of $25,000 for people to “make inspirational artwork” for VR. If you want to see what OTOY can do, it launched the ORBX Media Player in the Oculus Store on Gear VR, which includes content produced using some of its technology.

While promoting the contests with a blog post, Oculus also announced two key hires, Anna Sweet from Valve to head developer strategy and Mary Lou Jepsen to work on future VR displays. Jepsen previously worked in Google’s semi-secret X lab.

The announcements come six weeks ahead of E3 where Oculus is likely to show polished versions of potentially killer apps like space-fighting game EVE: Valkyrie, platformer Lucky’s Tale and possibly something new.

Oculus platform leader and co-founder Nate Mitchell will also be taking the stage for an interview at Techcrunch Disrupt, which runs from May 4 to 6 in New York.

VR journalism examples from NYT and WSJ

The New York Times is getting deeper into VR with its magazine debuting Walking New York, a virtual experience built by VRSE that takes you up in a helicopter for a bird's eye view of street art. Wired writes about the making of and the Times’ take on VR's role in the future of journalism. Two huge factors of VR are the feeling of transporting you to some place ... [and] connecting you to the people inside of that place.” Also, The New York Times’ ad department is working on a virtual reality campaign for an unnamed customer which should be released in four months.

Not to be outdone, the Wall Street Journal debuted an interactive web-based VR “ride” that takes people through the ups and downs of two decades of the NASDAQ stock exchange.


Action-camera company GoPro acquired Kolor, a wrap-around video software company. The purchase suggests GoPro is getting serious about making cameras specifically designed to capture the real world for use in VR experiences.

Wearality and its Kickstarter project for lenses creating an ultra-wide field of view for VR is right around its $100,000 goal with several days of fundraising left.

Oculus founder Palmer Luckey spoke with Wired about VR for social good. “Until we have technology that can perfectly capture and recreate what’s going on in something like a war zone, there’s the potential for heavy-handed bias in how things are presented ...There’s a risk people see it and treat recreations of things with the same weight and authority as videos and pictures, which are much harder to manipulate.”

Santa Barbara-based WorldViz officially announced its VizMove walk-around VR solution, with bundles starting at $40,000 aimed at “design visualization, architectural walk-throughs, industrial training and behavioral research.” From the company: “VizMove solutions are modular, commercial grade platforms designed to provide everything necessary for a range of customer requirements.”

Oculus Story Studio Director of Photography Jeff Brown posted about the process of developing stories for VR. “What sets VR apart is the feeling of being present. This creates an entirely new set of opportunities and creative constraints. We believe our environments, characters and situations should be better suited for virtual reality then they would be anywhere else. This is easier said than done ...”

Now that the goggles are less likely to make you sick, what are the next steps to make a flawless experience? The Foundry takes a look. People are still trying to work out how to make this an immersive experience that still tells a story.” You can listen to the full interview here.

Virtual Reality Digest is a VR Newsletter brought to you by Studio Transcendent, a producer of premium Virtual Reality experiences. We publish weekly on Wednesdays.
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