SMPTE 2015: VR, AR Open Annual TV/Film Engineering Show

The Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers opened its annual conference in Hollywood with a day devoted to the technical and artistic challenges of virtual reality and augmented reality, otherwise known as mixed reality. AMD lead architect for VR and advanced rendering Layla Mah gave the keynote address, detailing the technical parameters that will allow VR to become a commercial reality: an untethered device capable of one petaflop (a quadrillion floating point operations per second) among other criteria.

SMPTEAccording to TV Technology, Mah reported that these and “other equally ambitious goals” are achievable, but only by improving more quickly than Moore’s Law. “A straight line path and Moore’s Law won’t get us there in our lifetime,” she said. AMD, and other companies are hard at work on finding ways to innovate architecture that can speed up development, she noted.

A trio from Samsung — virtual reality lead developer of Milk VR Jeffrey Wilkinson, director of software development Andrew Dickerson, and tech lead/senior director of research of the Think Tank Team Sajid Sadi — described that company’s work in VR, especially with regard to Milk VR. They also teased out the difference between virtual reality and augmented reality. Sadi, who prefers the term “mixed reality,” said his group hopes to create the tools to allow users to shoot VR/AR and, in the process, learn what succeeds and what doesn’t.’

CastAR chief software engineer Rick Johnson offered some “guiding principles” for successful AR: “It should be fun, social and tangible.”

“We want to create something that is seamless with the real world, that augments it in an entertaining way,” he said. But, he added, AR is more complex than VR, so “expect AR development to always be 12 to 18 months behind VR.”

Unity Technologies lead engineer/VR dude Pete Moss, who specializes in game engines for VR, believes the lines between VR and AR “will all bur in the future.” He warns people not to confuse it with anything they tried in the 1990s — and he has a message for the film/TV industry. “Sorry Hollywood, but 360 video is not VR.”