VR Digest: Microsoft throws
its (HMD) in the ring

The week's top VR news brought to you
pre-digested and ready for assimilation!
VR Digest: A VR newsletter brought to you by Studio Transcendent
written by Ian Hamilton (@hmltn) issue 92 – November 2, 2016

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

Microsoft Throws Its (HMD) in the Ring

Microsoft announced last week that they were partnering with several PC manufacturers to release $299 VR headsets featuring inside out position tracking borrowed from Hololens. The company is focusing on creative professionals with its forthcoming Windows 10 Creators Update, which will include new 3D content creation tools in Microsoft Paint and support for the Windows Holographic VR shell. More details about the headsets will be coming in December. Microsoft says their HMD will run on a $500 PC.

Microsoft also brought VR support to Windows Phone.

Unite LA Brings Good Tidings for VR Devs

At their Unite LA 2016 event, Unity announced that their in-VR editing tools would be available for the public to play with beginning next month. Timoni West demonstrated the latest iteration by decorating the fire tower from Firewatch.

Of more immediate use to VR developers, they have released the post processing effects pipeline from their visually stunning Adam demo on Github.

Playful, developer of Lucky’s Tale, was on hand to demonstrate the new progressive lightmapper coming soon to Unity, a feature which long-suffering developers have been salivating for, ever since it was first teased a year ago. Unfortunately, Unity still would not commit to a release date for it.

OTOY demonstrated Octane Render 3 integrated into Unity and announced that all versions of Unity including Unity Free will include an Octane Render license. Capable of rendering stereoscopic panoramas and light fields, it could potentially be a great way to create high quality 360 video output from desktop-based interactive experiences for playback on mobile devices.

Unity announced that they have hired Tony Parisi as their new head of VR and AR.


Studio Transcendent is looking to hire high quality game artists with Unreal and Unity chops. We are also seeking a seasoned game producer who has strong art and development contacts.


Oculus announced that Dead and Buried, a western ghost-themed multiplayer shooting gallery, would be included for free with Oculus Touch controllers. The window for pre-orders to maintain their reserved place in the shipping queue has closed and shipping estimates on new orders have slipped to Dec 13-21. Extra sensors for setting up a room scale system with Touch became available for pre-order on Halloween.

A report from Engadget states that Google’s new standalone VR headset “will integrate eye-tracking and use sensors and algorithms to map out the real-world space in front of a user.”  This is supported by Google’s recent acquisition of Eyefluence, a company that provides eye-tracking technology for VR headsets.

Doug Liman, director of Bourne Identity and Edge of Tomorrow, addresses the challenges of filming a story in VR. “We have to work way harder in VR than we’ve ever had to do in 2D to make the audience hungry, because they’re going to have to search the frame to find the story. The characters are going to have to be more compelling, and more quickly compelling, than what you’re used to in film and television.”

Liman recently premiered his five-episode VR action series Invisible, which includes chase sequences and frequent shifts in location, from a Haitian village to a Brooklyn restaurant.  Linman observes, “The audience has a level of control, when you watch Invisible, that nothing in 2D can give you. The overall climax of the series will work no matter how you get there, and the climax of each episode will work no matter how you get there, but no two viewings of an episode will ever be the same.”

The Google Daydream View headset is now available for preorder. It hits stores on November 10 and is briefly featured in a new TV commercial for the Google Pixel smartphone.

Oscar, BAFTA, and Emmy winner Phil Tippett released a 3D 360 video version of his short film MAD GOD, full of nightmarish hand-crafted ghouls and war pigs.  The VFX innovator states “[VR] really is that first-person dreamworld. It’s all experimental, it’s all really wild. It was kind of like that working for George [Lucas] or Steven [Spielberg] early on.”

Starbreeze recently acquired Nozon, a Belgium-based VFX studio known for their PresenZ VR technology, a rendering technique that allows viewers to move around a little bit with correct perspective while watching VR movies, similar to a light field render.  This provides photo-realistic experiences on low end hardware, all while maintaining positional tracking.

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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