ETC Recognizes ‘Wonder Buffalo’ Creators for Innovative Tech

The Entertainment Technology Center at USC, through its Project Cloud initiative, has selected filmmaker Christine Berg and writing partner Simon Shterenberg to receive the 2016 Innovative Technology Award for their AR/VR/Cloud-based project, “Wonder Buffalo.” Berg and Shterenberg developed the script at the Writers Guild Foundation’s Veterans Writing Program, which pairs military veterans with WGA film and television writers. “Wonder Buffalo” is the third short to be produced through ETC’s Project Cloud to explore and test next-gen production processes and technologies. Continue reading ETC Recognizes ‘Wonder Buffalo’ Creators for Innovative Tech

Industry Visionaries Discuss VR Production at Oculus Connect

Best practices for remaining on budget, the importance of planning and testing, whether to capture in mono or stereoscopic 3D, techniques for directing talent, and how to treat (or not to treat) VR environments were among the many topics discussed during a compelling panel about creating 360-degree video at the Oculus Connect 3 conference in San Jose last week. Four accomplished virtual reality production executives and technologists shared their practical knowledge and recommendations for navigating the uncharted waters of budgeting and producing VR content. Continue reading Industry Visionaries Discuss VR Production at Oculus Connect

Game Engines Are Now Entrée to Better Titles, Faster Delivery

With its game engine, Electronic Arts can apply code created for one game to another new game. EA has evolved its engine, now integrating the features of a dozen into a single game engine, dubbed Frostbite, which was used most recently to create the title “FIFA 17.” Now, Facebook, Amazon and other tech companies are also interested in game engines, which can handle graphics and physics as well as save time and money on R&D, and open doors to development in new media markets such as virtual reality. Continue reading Game Engines Are Now Entrée to Better Titles, Faster Delivery

Amblin and Alibaba Ink Mutually Beneficial Moviemaking Deal

Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment just inked a deal with Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba Group to produce, finance and distribute movies. The relationship gives Alibaba an entrée into the Hollywood moviemaking industry, and Amblin a pipeline to distribution in China. Although the financial details of the deal were not disclosed, Alibaba will now have a minority equity stake in Amblin and a seat on its board, and Amblin will have access to the Chinese company’s massive database on consumers there. Continue reading Amblin and Alibaba Ink Mutually Beneficial Moviemaking Deal

Oculus Connect Unveils Wireless Headset, Social VR, Web VR

At the third Oculus Connect, the company revealed Santa Cruz, a new prototype headset that doesn’t require external cameras or towers to move through digital space. The cameras detect real motion, which matches the virtual environment. Also shown was a new social VR experience that allows the user to hang out with friends, who appear as icons, in a real-world 360-degree scene. Oculus debuted the ReactVR JavaScript framework for building WebVR experiences that will be able to run on Carmel, Oculus’ upcoming VR Web browser. Continue reading Oculus Connect Unveils Wireless Headset, Social VR, Web VR

Oculus Chief Scientist Predicts the Future of VR Platform Tech

Disavowing popular wisdom that it doesn’t pay to be too specific, Oculus chief scientist Michael Abrash delineated what virtual reality tech will look like in 2021 at the Oculus Connect 3 conference last week. With the caveat that he would be proved “wrong about some of the specifics,” Abrash described a high-end VR future that includes 4K x 4K resolution per eye and 140-degree field of view displays, foveated rendering, personalized audio encoding, and “augmented virtual reality.” Abrash was the final speaker in a keynote session that stretched past two hours. Continue reading Oculus Chief Scientist Predicts the Future of VR Platform Tech

Sony PlayStation VR Launches Next Week with Slate of Games

On October 13, Sony will release its PlayStation VR headset to be used with the PlayStation 4 game console and PlayStation camera that detects body movements. Sony’s Move wand-like motion controllers allow the user to interact with virtual objects. Tech experts agree that one positive note is PlayStation VR’s $399 sticker price, which is less expensive than rival models from HTC and Oculus. They’re also enthused that Sony is debuting the hardware with a significant number of game titles. Continue reading Sony PlayStation VR Launches Next Week with Slate of Games

Google Unveils Pixel Phones, Daydream VR, Chromecast Ultra

Alphabet’s Google unveiled several new products at its annual hardware event in San Francisco yesterday, including a pair of Pixel smartphones; the $79 mobile Daydream VR headset; its Amazon Echo rival, the $129 Google Home; a multi-point network system called Google Wifi; and an upgraded Chromecast streaming dongle. Shipping November 4, Google Home is on sale now, with a free six-month subscription to YouTube Red. Also shipping in November, Chromecast Ultra supports HDR and 4K video streaming. Key to many of Google’s new products is its artificial intelligence software. Continue reading Google Unveils Pixel Phones, Daydream VR, Chromecast Ultra

Samsung Cautious Regarding Plans for All-in-One VR Headset

Samsung president/chief strategy officer Young Sohn clarified that, although the company is actively engaged in smartphone-based VR headsets and standalone products, it’s taking a wait-and-see stance with regard to developing and shipping a dedicated all-in-one device. More specifically, says Sohn, the company is waiting to see where the virtual reality market is going, and if often clunky headsets click with users. Earlier, Sohn had confirmed the company was looking at developing a standalone headset. Continue reading Samsung Cautious Regarding Plans for All-in-One VR Headset

Japan Emerges as Hub for Virtual Reality Culture, Innovations

Japan is on track to become a virtual reality powerhouse, largely due to the imminent release of Sony PlayStation VR. Mixed-reality theme parks, VRcades, augmented reality, and VR retail applications are all gaining traction. Gumi, GREE and Colopl, which has made about 30 VR investments, are a few of the major domestic VR investors. One VR startup, FOVE, a pioneer in eye tracking, has already raised $11 million; its chief executive Yuka has been featured in Forbes and SoftBank’s Taizo Son, chairman/founder of mobile gaming company GungHo, is one of its investors.

Continue reading Japan Emerges as Hub for Virtual Reality Culture, Innovations

Google Offers Daydream SDK and Unity Support to Developers

Having exited beta, Google’s VR platform Daydream is now available to developers who can use the VR SDK to build virtual reality experiences for Daydream-capable phones and headsets. Daydream is already baked into Android 7.0 (Nougat) and can also integrate with Unity and Unreal game engines. Apps to be available at launch include CNN, HBO, Hulu, IMAX, MLB, NBA, Netflix, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, as well as Ubisoft and Electronic Arts games. Daydream was first introduced at Google I/O in May. Continue reading Google Offers Daydream SDK and Unity Support to Developers

Presidential Race Gets Streaming Treatment Across Platforms

Election coverage focused on presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will get a major boost from social media, streaming technology and even virtual reality. Facebook plans to live-stream the upcoming debates with help from ABC News, while a Twitter-Bloomberg partnership will bring live streams of the debates to Twitter. YouTube, meanwhile, is slated to live-stream the debates from PBS, Telemundo and The Washington Post. And starting last night, NBC with AltspaceVR began streaming election coverage in virtual reality. Continue reading Presidential Race Gets Streaming Treatment Across Platforms

Google May Intro New Pixel-Branded Phones, 4K Chromecast

On October 4 in San Francisco, Google will likely reveal new Pixel-branded smartphones, the Pixel and larger Pixel XL. Google manufactures the Pixel phones by itself rather than in collaboration with LG, Huawei or other partners. A teaser video for the event features a rotating group of photos shown in a phone-shaped format. In addition, Google may also use the event to debut Google 4K Chromecast, go into more details about Google Home and reveal more specific plans for its upcoming Daydream VR headset. Continue reading Google May Intro New Pixel-Branded Phones, 4K Chromecast

Testing VR and AR as Next Wave of Videoconferencing Tools

Several companies and academic institutions are studying the use of virtual reality as a way to replace the videoconference call. Among those experimenting in the field is the NYU Media Research Lab, which showed a video of researchers using Samsung Gear VR headsets to collaborate in a simulated environment. The Bank of Ireland and U.K. utility National Grid PLC have also tried out early VR software. Skype, the Microsoft company often used for videoconference calls, is working on an augmented reality solution. Continue reading Testing VR and AR as Next Wave of Videoconferencing Tools

VR Games and Hardware Make Splash at Tokyo Game Show

The Tokyo Game Show, held by the Computer Entertainment Supplier’s Association and celebrating its 20th anniversary, featured 614 companies and more than 1,500 game software titles. Virtual reality received a great deal of attention this year, showcased in a dedicated area. Many experts believe that, although VR has many real-world uses, it will first find popularity in video games. Currently, a lack of content as well as bulky, expensive headsets and nascent technology are some of the obstacles to its uptake. Continue reading VR Games and Hardware Make Splash at Tokyo Game Show

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