Post Magazine

October 2015

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REALITY virtual 37 POST OCTOBER 2015 t takes a village to make virtual reality (VR). The re-emergence of VR has been fraught with concern around its longevity, and readiness of technology to meet the needs of consum- ers. However, one thing that is extremely evident is the tight-knit community that has rallied around the new possibilities of VR, as demonstrated at VR Village during this year's SIGGRAPH 2015. It may be surprising to learn that SIGGRAPH has been the place to try out and be educated on all things VR. The 1991 SIGGRAPH conference's "Tomorrow's Reality Gallery" is con- sidered by many to be the very first juried exhibition of VR technology, and it featured everything from networked & interactive game playing to a flying cow, "tele-tutoring" (before teleconfer- encing was cool), VR gloves, and hybrid real-world/virtual world arcade games. Unsurprisingly, the technology in the '90s wasn't yet available to support the wide-spread acceptance of developers, manufacturers, and the general public, so VR went into a perceivable decline in the mid to late '90s. At SIGGRAPH 2014 in Vancouver, it was evident the dry spell was over, with VR-related sessions being over capacity and attendees content to take a seat in the aisle or against the wall. There were already plans to create more opportunities to showcase VR for 2015, and now we had our case to create a specialized program. "SIGGRAPH was at the forefront of displaying the latest in technologies related to AR and VR more than 20 years ago," says Marc J. Barr, SIGGRAPH 2015 conference chair. "We felt that with the maturation and greater access to the technology and the growth of related industries, it was important to give it a prominent place at the conference." The convergence of AR with VR, the accessibility of 3D printing and engines, such as Unity and Unreal, have all acted as a catalyst in the growth of VR. For the first time in a really long while, everyone in the industry appears to be on the same playing field. For those fortunate enough to live in a city that has a VR Meetup group, they will have witnessed the ever-popular "show and tell" format, with indie developers working alongside major studio executives in solving the same problems and discovering opportu- nities together. Inspired by this energy, VR Village was created to showcase the very best content, with 72 contributors from 14 countries. VR Village co-chair Ed Lantz of Vortex Immersion Media and I curated VR Village, where we strived to include a range of experiences. Attendees became crash-test dummies, explored the mind of a musician, rode dragons, walked a tight-rope between New York's Twin Towers, visited a refugee camp, explored a tomb, and contributed to a three-di- mensional mural, among other notable experiences. Throughout the conference, there was an integrated VR theme with high-profile panels, talks, and emerging technology demonstrations. With VR being a main focus for the Conference in 2015, this energy will certainly carry over into 2016's event. The community of individuals working within VR brings together a most eclectic, spirited energy with the talent very evi- dent in the entertainment industry. Nearly every Hollywood and major international studio now has a virtual reality division, with indie studios cropping up by the thousands to rival them all in quality. The affordability of hardware, soft- ware, open source and development kits has opened the door to those new to VR, or those considering making it a main- stay of their business. It now costs less than $5,000 to purchase a head-mount- ed display (HMD) development kit, computer, and the software needed to get started in creating VR. Every couple of months, new support for 360-degree post production tools are being an- nounced as plug-ins or open source, with some people creating their own software VR: IT TAKES A VILLAGE BY DENISE QUESNEL, IMMERSIVE IMAGING LIAISON, SIGGRAPH 2016 I This year's VR Village had more than 70 contributions from 14 countries. Denise Quesnel is pictured below. SPECIAL REPORT: REALITY virtual

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