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VR Digest: Google's Daydream;
Valve/Oculus controversy

The week's top VR news brought to you
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VR Digest: A VR newsletter brought to you by Studio Transcendent
written by Ian Hamilton (@hmltn) issue 69 – May 25, 2016

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

Google Announces Daydream VR

Google’s developer conference saw the introduction of Daydream VR, which is the company’s answer to the Oculus-powered Gear VR. Later this year, Google will debut a reference design for a simple VR headset and a basic (untracked) handheld motion controller that will work with a new class of high-end Android phones featuring high performance sensors and chips.

Initial partners that will make Daydream-compatible phones include Samsung, HTC, Huawei, LG, ZTE, Asus, Alcatel, and Xiaomi. Apps and partnerships coming to the platform include Hulu, HBO, Netflix and The New York Times.

A 30-minute video showcasing experiments performed by the Daydream Labs team at Google could be a good starting point for developers looking for ideas.

 

Bits

IMAX is building a VR camera for Hollywood that works with Google’s “Jump” stitching technology. The current version of Google’s Jump camera is constructed with 16 GoPros. Chinese manufacturer Yi Technology, known for its GoPro clones, will also be creating a lower-end version of the camera.

Facebook released the first video made with its new open-source camera design. Created by an internal creative team called “The Factory”, Here and Now is a huge production by current VR standards, utilizing 500 extras and 20 actors. The ambitious video shows that, at the very least, the software has a long way to go — there are many stitching errors and artifacts like sliding feet and bubbles surrounding the heads of some of the actors. The sharpness of the image is excellent except when looking straight up.

Two more examples of the camera’s output can be found at the bottom of its new web page. They show far fewer stitching artifacts, but there are some apparent problems in very bright parts of the image.

Nokia released two examples (Red Rocks, Corvette) of monoscopic footage captured with its Ozo camera.

Early Oculus Rift developer DrashVR released Titans of Space 2.0 on Oculus and Steam for $8. The space education app was an early demo for Rift development kits and offered many their first taste of VR. The app offers a sense of the scale of different planets and stars in the universe, and the early release of the software includes new features with more planned.

Immersive audio company Two Big Ears was acquired by Facebook and made all of its tools for creating 3D audio free to use. The software allows sound designers to use familiar Digital Audio Workstation software to create directional binaural audio.  This can be played back alongside a video or a real time rendered experience via an audio renderer that can be easily integrated into just about any application. It also allows the finished 3D audio sequence to be exported in a variety of other surround-sound formats.

Studio Transcendent and our audio partner ECCO VR have been using it heavily, and we highly recommend it.

Tensions are higher between fans of Valve and Oculus after an update to Facebook’s VR software company broke a hack that allowed people to play Rift-exclusive games on the competing Vive headset. There was also a revealing post on reddit by Alan Yates about the raw feelings at Valve that have grown up around Oculus' Facebook acquisition and the way the two companies went from close collaborators to fierce competitors. VR Digest writer Ian Hamilton covered the story in-depth for UploadVR.

Vrideo launched a new version of its app that works on both the Vive and the Oculus Rift (interestingly including support for Oculus Touch controllers).

Studio Transcendent released Rapid Fire on Vrideo this week, where it can be found under Animation and Films/Documentary or here on the web portal.

The BBC reported on tests in England using VR for crime scene reconstruction and to virtually bring jurors to the “scene of the crime” so that they can better understand its circumstances.

Valve updated OpenVR to version 1.0, giving developers access to the outward-facing camera on the Vive.

Google’s 360 Spotlight Stories released a new film by Patrick Osborne, who previously directed the Disney short Feast about a puppy with an insatiable appetite and his lovelorn owner. The new film, Pearl, is a touching animated short that explores the nostalgia surrounding an old car belonging to a young musician and her father.

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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