VR Digest: Inside Magic Leap;
NAB announces VR Tools

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VR Digest: A VR newsletter brought to you by Studio Transcendent
written by Ian Hamilton (@hmltn) issue 64 – April 20, 2016

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

Magic Leap Provides Rare Look Inside

Florida startup Magic Leap gave Wired unprecedented access for a several-thousand-word cover story on the company’s light field technology. The piece leads with a photo of a clear material said to be Magic Leap’s “photonic lightfield chip.” The startup, which raised roughly $1.4 billion so far to build out its technology from investors including Google and Alibaba, also released a 2-minute video showing new user interface concepts for the device including an email application and a HyperCard style presentation for a school project.

Though the Wired piece is worth a read, revealing that The Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson is advising Magic Leap and creating content for the company’s platform, it did not shed much light on the company’s technology.

There may be an indirect clue about Magic Leap’s field of view: "Of the current crop of [Mixed Reality] spectacles, Meta 2’s field of vision is the widest, but even its coverage is inadequate." (Meta 2 has a 90-degree field of view).

Magic Leap’s tech is praised for eliminating the screen door effect, but objects projected in the glasses are not opaque. However, author Kevin Kelly praises the comfort of the photonics system that lets your eyes focus naturally:

“In trying out Magic Leap’s prototype, I found that it worked amazingly well close up, within arm’s reach, which was not true of many of the other mixed-and virtual-reality systems I used. I also found that the transition back to the real world while removing the Magic Leap’s optics was effortless, as comfortable as slipping off sunglasses, which I also did not experience in other systems. It felt natural.”

VR Tools Announced at NAB

The annual National Association of Broadcasters conference in Las Vegas this week saw the announcement of new hardware for content creators.

The Foundry announced CARA VR, a toolset for Nuke that enhances the compositing software’s ability to deal with stereoscopic wraparound footage. Users will be able to paint, rotoscope, and insert 3D objects into spherical imagery without having to manually adjust for the polar distortion that accompanies it. They will also now be able to preview their composition in a VR headset.

Adobe announced similar preview functionality for their Premiere editing software in this year’s Creative Cloud update. For more advanced functionality, Adobe users can turn to Mettle’s plugins for After Effects and Premiere, which are on sale for the next few days.

Nokia says it will add livestreaming to its Ozo camera this fall and is rolling out a new tool called OZO Creator which will fill a big gap in its toolset by automating the stitching process.

GoPro announced the availability of its official six-camera monoscopic 360 rig, the GoPro Omni. The rig automatically synchronizes the six GoPros and can charge them all from a single battery, greatly simplifying camera management. The rig is available for $1500 and a complete system for $5000. Meanwhile, GoPro’s HEROCast and LiveVR technologies will work hand-in-hand to enable wireless 360 content streaming. GoPro also released a content portal app and website called GoPro VR.

Teradek announced Sphere, a breakout box that can convert four HDMI signals into a stitched spherical panorama then livestream it to an iPad app wirelessly.

360Heros unveiled a new set of camera rigs that work with the new BlackMagic Micro Cinema and Micro Studio 4K cameras.


Facebook debuted an impressive social VR prototype at its developer conference showing people separated by about 30 miles interacting naturally in VR and taking a selfie together while immersed inside a 360-degree photo. A 4-minute video shows the conversation from one side while another video shows it from the other side.

Insomniac Games, the developer behind the highly anticipated VR title Edge of Nowhere (releasing June 6), partnered with Oculus Studios to announce a magic dueling title coming later this year called The Unspoken that will let players join an “urban magic fight club” where they’ll cast spells at one another using Oculus Touch controllers. Also announced: a fighting game that lets players transform from humans into “feral beasts” called Feral Rites (trailer).

A 1-minute video shows a Vive implementation of an interesting VR movement solution that could let you walk or run in place to travel long distances inside VR. The method relies on a controller stuffed into your pants.

Oculus doesn’t condone a hack that allows games exclusive to the store from Facebook’s VR division to run on the competing HTC Vive.

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

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