Friday, April 14, 2017
Virtual Reality Content - A New Creative Format for Designers

The smartphone has become the anchor of everyday life and is the primary device people use as part of their daily routines. This device gets more powerful each day and now the industry has accomplished the big screen experience with a mobile device through Virtual Reality. Your smartphone screen plus a VR goggle are used to create the virtual reality environment. This has the potential to convert your smartphone into a personal viewing device with a HD big screen feel. You will no longer have to use your laptop for air travel as an example and you can watch in 2D and 3D formats.




I got to experience some of the content available on VR at the DX3 Trade Show held on March 8 and 9 in Toronto as they had a Virtually Reality section where I got to experience first hand a movie, car simulation and an interactive school learning tool. I even took a trip down the Grand Canyon. When I did the tour of the Grand Canyon at the Samsung booth they also had a skiing one with poles and fan for wind. During my tour of the Grand Canyon, I looked up and saw the sky, I looked below on saw the river and when I looked left to right I had canyon views. In another one designed as an educational tool, I was putting together a 3D skeleton with a hand controlled device and I was in a room that had the perspectives you would expect by looking around.  This one was designed by Sponge Lab using HTV Vive software and headgear, below are some screenshots from their VR experience and a video link to a demo.



To set up your smartphone you will need VR goggles to make this work that can cost from $20 to $100, but some telcos are offering VR gear for free when you upgrade to a new phone. There are VR gear kits that don’t need a smartphone that start at $1,200 plus controls. One caveat, there will be a select number of smartphones that will support VR as it requires computer grade processing power. For Samsung it is the Galaxy S6, S7 and their new S8 phone plus 5 other devices the Moto Z from Motorola, Huawei’s Mate 9 Pro, ZTE’s Axon 7, Google’s Pixel and ASUS’s ZenFone AR. Apple officially has no VR apps or gear available at this time, but there are 3rd party apps that work. Microsoft has a different vision of VR with their Hololens headgear that projects virtual objects onto actual surfaces and environments like your office desk.  



Then you will need to download a VR app. Google has created the Daydream app that includes shooting VR video and photos along with a $20 cardboard VR goggle.  Samsung has their own exclusive app (Samsung VR) and VR goggles for their Android based devices. 



There are 100 apps for Samsung and 250 apps for Daydream in the Google Play Store. There are 250 VR game apps available combined between the two formats out of the 350 apps in the store (70%). There is a Samsung VR Star Wars Fan App that looks like an immersive experience with video and interactive features. You can get Google Street View and You Tube in the  Daydream app library and there is a live sports one that provides NBA, NFL, MLB games from NextVR. VR app download activity an indicator of the markets had a spike in the Holiday 2016 season, according to Sensor Tower, an app usage data company, as there were 45 million downloads in the Android (70%) and Apple (30%) platforms. Compared to 2015 this was a 300% spike (15 to 45 million) for all VR app downloads which suggest a good upside potential for mainsteam adoption of this technology. Or it can be like the hype surrounding QR Codes and 3DTV that arrived, consumers tried it and was  left in the trash after a few years like a fad.




To help design in this new environment, the Quill VR Illustration software from Oculus looks like a handy software to know. Oculus software and hardware platforms are widely used in VR app creation and powers all the Samsung devices and Facebook owns the company. The software has been released in beta, but has been used by Oculus’ Film studio (Story Studio) to create short animated VR films.  


The VR creative format opens the door of migrating from 2D to VR concepts and artists will now have a touch controller to design with, which sounds like a lot fun. Oculus sells one for $199 and you get the Quill software for free. In addition Oculus has goggles/hardware, developer tools for apps and a store with 700 apps.  Oculus has a 49 minute (link) overview on the creative process and the tools available to art directors plus one that talks with a game publisher (link) that allows you to have closer look and learn more about the technology’s capabilities. Have fun in the VR world.

- Martin Seto
About Me
Martin Seto

Martin Seto is the producer of the Canadian Online Publishing Awards (COPAS) with 30 years of life expereince in technology, advertising, media and creative exploration. He can be reached at marty(dot)seto(at) or 416-907-6562, and on LinkedIn.

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Lorene Shyba says:
Full of terrific information, Thanks!...
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