SIGGRAPH 2015: The Road to Producing Virtual Reality Content

At SIGGRAPH 2015, the computer graphics convention held this year in Los Angeles, virtual reality executives encouraged the Hollywood production community to begin to develop more content. Oculus Story Studio, the content creation division of Oculus, which makes the Rift virtual reality headset, recently debuted its second short VR film, “Henry.” Creating content for virtual reality comes with a variety of technical challenges, say the experts, but virtual reality won’t take hold until compelling content is available.

The Hollywood Reporter quoted Oculus Story Studio co-founder Maxwell Planck, who was formerly employed at Pixar. “We have a chicken and egg situation,” he said. “We think amazing content needs to be made, but we have to inspire you to start to do this.”

Digital Domain CG supervisor Hanzhi Tang believes that virtual reality will require digital humans, but notes that VR will present the same challenge as feature films: staying clear of “uncanny valley” in which CG humans appear fake and sometimes repellent to viewers. Nonetheless, Digital Domain continues to work in that space, including the virtual Tupac shown at the 2014 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.

Digital Domain has also partnered with Immersive Media to create IM360, and created a digital version of Taiwanese pop singer Teresa Teng for a VR experience.

IM360 has also developed some of its own VR gear, including a 360-degree 3D camera and tools to view footage being shot in real time. Planck enumerated his wishlist for VR hardware and software, says THR, including “previsualization tools, review tools and methods to animation, set dress and light in a VR environment.”