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The ghost howls

A blog of virtual reality, startup and stuff

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virtual reality

VR mega update: Facebook Spaces, Facebook AR, Google Earth & Microsoft Headsets

After Easter weekend, we were all relaxed, digesting all chocolate eggs we have eaten. When, suddenly, Tuesday came and gave us a hard wake up with a bazillion of virtual reality news! Here you are a small digest if you missed something!

Facebook Spaces

At F8 conference, Facebook has announced Spaces, its social VR environment.

So, what is Spaces? Spaces is that cool application that Facebook showcased at Oculus Connect 3 …the one we believed it was pure fluff.

Well, it seems that it is not fluff… since now it has been released! With Spaces you will be able to cartoonize yourself and then meet all your friends in VR! Continue reading “VR mega update: Facebook Spaces, Facebook AR, Google Earth & Microsoft Headsets”

Gorillaz’s Saturnz Barz 360 music video review

Some days ago I read an article on RoadToVR about Gorillaz’s latest video: Saturnz Barz (Spirit House). But why one of the most important sources of information about virtual reality has talked about a song? Well, because it is the 360 videos making the most views at his debut on Youtube.

Youtube 360 video view Saturnz Barz music
Stats about Saturnz Barz views, compared with other 360-videos on Youtube. As you can see, they outperformed all the others (Image by Youtube, taken on Road To VR)

I got curious about this, so I decided to give a look to this video using DeoVR. And well, my impressions are pretty mixed.
Continue reading “Gorillaz’s Saturnz Barz 360 music video review”

Happy (virtual reality) Easter everyone!

I wish all of you, my amazing readers, to have a marvelous Easter with all your family and friends! If in your culture you don’t celebrate Easter, well, I wish you a fantastic April the 16th to live with all people you like the most.

Here we celebrate Easter opening chocolate eggs and eating lots of chocolate and tipical Easter cakes (like “Colomba”)… in a few days I’ll surely be 10kg heavier than now… but I’ll keep writing articles about virtual reality for sure!

Again, happy holiday! Hope you’ll like the photomontage I did 😀

How to play Cardboard apps with Gear VR

A little article to talk to you about a small trick that may be useful in your virtual reality innovator’s life. You have a Gear VR and you have a Cardboard (no, I’m not making something like Pikotaro…) and suddenly you start wondering: why can’t I use my Gear VR as a Cardboard? Gear VR is super-comfortable, super resistant and has an awesome design… so why should I use a crappy card headset to live Cardboard experiences? You’re right… why?

The answer is: you have not. Since a Cardboard is just a hmd with two lenses, Gear VR is like a deluxe Cardboard. But there is a big problem: once you put your phone inside the headset, Oculus runtime detects that you have connected a Samsung Gear VR and launches Oculus Home and all other Oculus stuff. There’s no way to escape from that: with my Gear VR Innovator Editor there was still the possibility to put the phone so that the hmd plug didn’t enter completely inside the phone USB-C port, so that Oculus runtime wasn’t triggered (but you had high chances of your phone detaching from the headset and falling to the ground), but with new Gear VR versions this is not possible anymore. So how to do that? Continue reading “How to play Cardboard apps with Gear VR”

Issues (and advices) in shooting VR-videos and 360-videos

As a shower thought of the day, I was thinking about 360-videos. We all love them, especially if they’re 3D and if they tell an interesting story (like Ashes To Ashes does). There’s a reason if “storytelling” is one of the buzzwords of VR ecosystem: virtual reality is a great medium to create empathy, to create strong feelings by living stories. And 360-videos are a good medium for offering high-quality storytelling.

But shooting 360 videos has lots of issues and here I want to highlight some of them.

Hardware

How to shoot this kind of videos? There are various means, but the most popular are:

  • 360-cameras: for €249 you can afford buying a Samsung Gear 360 (2017 edition), which can record 360-videos up to 4K in resolution! Really cool. But… these videos will not be 3D, meaning that you will see the videos as projected on a sphere around you, you won’t get the sense of depth of the objects contained in it;
  • 2+ GoPro: as PornFoxVR guy told me, with 2 GoPro cameras and some post-processing you can record a 3D video with a 180° FOV. Incrementing the number of GoPros and using dedicated programs, you can shoot 3D videos with a bigger field of view. This solution is more expensive than the previous one, but can offer 3D imagery that in my opinion makes the video more real, more VR (some people argue that 360-videos are not true VR);
  • Professional VR cameras: professional spheres full of cameras that record a 360-video in 3D. These are the devices used by Jaunt or by other professional companies. Nokia sells a camera of this type for $45.000, so we’re talking about professional stuff;
Nokia 360 camera professional
Nokia OZO Camera, that can record 360-3D-videos and 360-audio with amazing quality. But it ain’t cheap (Image by Nokia)

Continue reading “Issues (and advices) in shooting VR-videos and 360-videos”

In.Block review: a nice 3D prototyping app for Oculus

In this period, an idea popped into my mind: why can’t I develop an app for fast 3d prototyping in VR? I know that there are cool drawing apps like Oculus Medium or Quill, with which awesome products have been made (fantastic Dear Angelica experience has all been made with Quill), but I wanted something really simple, really fast. Something like the Paint 3D of VR, with just cubes to sketch things in VR. As always happens when I have a great idea… well, it already exists.

The app is called In.Block and has been made by Run Dot Games. You can download it for free on the Oculus Store.

It is exactly as I thought it should be: a simple environment within VR, where using your Oculus Touch you can paint mega-voxels in space. Voxels can be of different colors and size. Stop. This is the simple concept of the app: draw cubes with your hands.

Continue reading “In.Block review: a nice 3D prototyping app for Oculus”

Transported review: visit the house of rich people in VR

Transported is a nice app on Oculus store that lets you take tours of awesome houses from all over the world. This has two purposes:

  • If you’re rich, you can take a tour of the house from wherever you are in the world and then decide if buying it.
  • If you’re poor, you can see how is it living in a big house and then cry in a corner. I belong to this group, of course.
Transported VR rich houses tour
Look at all these rich people stuff I’ll never have in my life!

Obviously the target of this app is the first category of people: buying a house is a very complicated process and you have to visit lots of houses to decide which one is the best one and this makes you lose a lot of time. I’ve friends that have just gone through all this process (not for millions-worth houses, unluckily) and this is just a nuisance. So, why don’t make all this better doing the tours in virtual reality? This is surely the idea that got the guys of Transported… an idea that is surely interesting. I’m sure that no virtual tour can substitute at the moment the action of going inside a house and feel how it is from the inside, but virtually one could go even to 100 houses in few time and then going actually in real life only to the 2-3 ones that seemed the most interesting. Continue reading “Transported review: visit the house of rich people in VR”

Ghost in The Shell VR experience review: I expected something better

I just tried Ghost in The Shell VR review on The Oculus Store. And I admit I’m a bit disappointed.

I’m not a huge fan of Ghost In The Shell (not because I don’t like it, but because I barely know what is it), but since I’ve friends fond of it and because this movie is having lots of attention by the media, I was very curious about its VR experience that was available on the Oculus Store. After having seen it, I can say that I liked it a bit… but I expected something more.

First of all, you have to know that there is not Scarlett Johansson in this experience. This is the first turndown: my dream was being next to her, at least in VR… but even this has been ruined. FFFFFF. So, if I had to give a score for this experience, I would start from -10 just because of this big issue :D.

In the experience (that is not a 360-video, it is a Computer Graphics VR short movie) you start on a skyscraper of a futuristic town and then you move forward until you reach the main character (the girl who is not Scarlett Johansson). Here you notice one of the problems of this experience, that you will feel all the time: motion sickness. Every scene makes you move forward and this is surely not comfortable, at least for newbie users. There is a reason why Ghost In The Shell has been flagged as “moderate” comfort on the Oculus Store. Continue reading “Ghost in The Shell VR experience review: I expected something better”

Make WebVR development easy with Rodin

As a response to my article about my sad experience with WebVR, I got in touch with some guys working on a interesting framework to make WebVR development easy. After some email exchange, I thought it was a good idea to talk about their product, that is called Rodin.

What is Rodin? Well, they say that:

We’re making it ridiculously easy to build and deploy powerful VR
experiences. Create experiences for multiple platforms with a single codebase and reach your audience no matter their device (from web to oculus)

Woah, “ridiculously easy” is pure marketing juice, I love it. 😀 😀

Anyway, let’s return serious. These guys were the founders of a studio (Knoxlabs) that was making VR experiences for lots of companies, even big ones. In the end, as always happens when you develop lots of similar applications, they started creating their own libraries, their own shortcuts… and in the end they had a little engine. So they envisioned the possibility to stop focusing on selling content and to begin investing in an engine that would let the developers to develop VR application faster and better. Continue reading “Make WebVR development easy with Rodin”

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