Media artist Michael Naimark writes:
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In 1990, right as the first VR wave was swelling, Stewart Brand and Grateful Dead manager Jon Mcintyre concocted a scheme to produce an invitation-only 24-hour VR event modeled after the Electric Cool-Aid Acid test. They convinced Colossal Pictures, the largest soundstage in San Francisco, to host it. Dozens of demos and scores of talks were presented, by far the largest and most prominent VR event of its kind. I directed the video production. In total, 66 hours of video, both from a pro crew and a “basket full of prosumer cameras”, was shot.
Shortly after the event, David (Lawrence), Jim (McKee), and Earwax received an NEA grant to make a radio show. The funding enabled all of the video to be logged and transcribed. From it they made several versions, organized in short 1-4 minute themed sections. Their style was very “pre RadioLab”. From the New American Radio website:
Virtual Paradise—The Reality Tape (1992-93)
Earwax Productions with David Lawrence. An exciting production created in the spirit of the technology it focuses on. Virtual Paradise examines the ideas, issues, and attitudes that currently surround virtual reality. As this technology evolves, it brings with it the potential for redefining our most basic assumptions about media, experience, and reality. Virtual Paradise features many voices recorded at Cyberthon, a 24-hour virtual reality event presented by Whole Earth Institute in 1990. It also includes interviews with such visionaries as science-fiction author William Gibson, VR architect Jaron Lanier, artificial reality pioneer Myron Krueger, and Timothy Leary—all intercut with music and sound effects and shaped into a highly entertaining and insightful "virtual" tape composition.
In Wired, BB pal Kevin Kelly wrote a definitive feature about the current (and future?) state of virtual reality, technology that many of us first tried in the late 1980s but took nearly thirty years to be ready for prime time.
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I first put my head into virtual reality in 1989. Before even the web existed, I visited an office in Northern California whose walls were covered with neoprene surfing suits embroidered with wires, large gloves festooned with electronic components, and rows of modified swimming goggles. My host, Jaron Lanier, sporting shoulder-length blond dreadlocks, handed me a black glove and placed a set of homemade goggles secured by a web of straps onto my head. The next moment I was in an entirely different place. It was an airy, cartoony block world, not unlike the Minecraft universe. There was another avatar sharing this small world (the size of a large room) with me—Lanier.
We explored this magical artificial landscape together, which Lanier had created just hours before. Our gloved hands could pick up and move virtual objects. It was Lanier who named this new experience “virtual reality.” It felt unbelievably real. In that short visit I knew I had seen the future. The following year I organized the first public hands-on exhibit (called Cyberthon), which premiered two dozen experimental VR systems from the US military, universities, and Silicon Valley. For 24 hours in 1990, anyone who bought a ticket could try virtual reality. The quality of the VR experience at that time was primitive but still pretty good.
Industrial Light & Magic’s Experience Lab (ILMxLAB) is a newly-formed supergroup of artists, engineers, sound designers, and storytellers prototyping the future of interactive, immersive cinema for Lucasfilm. Over at Bloomberg Businessweek, I wrote about my visit to the xLAB
where The Force is quite strong:
"The way we do technology development here is really hand-in-hand with the creative goals,” says (Lucasfilm CTO Rob) Bredow. “The R&D is always in service to the story.”
For example, to port the Millennium Falcon from the Star Wars film universe into the interactive realm, the Advanced Development Group engineers first had to figure out how the VR hardware could render the massive 3D model in just milliseconds, compared with hours or days for a film shot. Then Skywalker Sound built a surround system that realistically rumbles and whooshes as a Corellian starship should. Meanwhile, game designers and the storytellers hashed out the most compelling way for a Jedi-in-training (you) to battle an army of Stormtroopers with a lightsaber.
"THE SUPERGROUP REMAKING STAR WARS AND JURASSIC WORLD IN VR" (Bloomberg Businessweek)
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"VR is the next big thing, says Andy Pandy, "and I'm going to make millions with my virtual reality cat petting simulator."
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“Is he going to eat me? I thought he was. Ahhh! I thought he was real! Is he real? Go away. You go away I say, dinosaur.”
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The general impression of the View-Master Virtual Reality viewer is that it's an excellent Google Cardboard viewer for any Android phone or iPhone, but that the View-Master app "reels" aren't very good. My family and I love Google Cardboard - the experience of walking around Paris and Tokyo is amazing. For $18, it seems like a good deal. Has anyone tried it? Read the rest
Ballparked at $350 by its creators, the consumer version of the Oculus Rift VR headset will in fact be $599. The sticker shock led the company's CEO to do an apologetic AMA on Reddit, where he explained the circumstances and why the earlier price suggestion was made.
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“In a September interview, during the Oculus Connect developer conference, I made the infamous ‘roughly in that $350 ballpark, but it will cost more than that’ quote. As an explanation, not an excuse: During that time, many outlets were repeating the ‘Rift is $1,500!’ line, and I was frustrated by how many people thought that was the price of the headset itself. My answer was ill-prepared, and mentally, I was contrasting $349 with $1,500, not our internal estimate that hovered close to $599 — that is why I said it was in roughly the same ballpark.
Later on, I tried to get across that the Rift would cost more than many expected, in the past two weeks particularly. There are a lot of reasons we did not do a better job of prepping people who already have high-end GPUs, legal, financial, competitive, and otherwise, but to be perfectly honest, our biggest failing was assuming we had been clear enough about setting expectations. Another problem is that people looked at the much less advanced technology in DK2 [Development Kit 2] for $350 and assumed the consumer Rift would cost a similar amount, an assumption that myself (and Oculus) did not do a good job of fixing.
A young man with a VR headset does not want to part with an inflatable torso dressed up as an anime character.
I interviewed Robert Anton Wilson for bOING bOING (the zine) in 1988 and he told me he was not concerned about virtual reality sex because people who favored it over real sex would be weaned from the gene pool.
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Interested in creating virtual reality? Google is looking for people to test drive their Jump VR system that includes 16 cameras. Anyone can apply by filling out this 2-page form. But the company is going to be highly selective, and your answers should be "awesome," according to the company. They plan to start the testing by the end of summer, so if you're interested, apply now! Read the rest
Amazing gameplay footage: Minecraft through the Hololens. The VR demo from Microsoft executive Sax Persson today at the annual E3 games convention completely transforms the experience of Minecraft.
Microsoft acquired Minecraft Maker Mojang for $2.5 billion last year.
“This is a live demo, with real working code,” Persson said, before donning the HoloLens and projecting a Minecraft map onto a wall, and then a table onstage. Microsoft announced Minecraft would be a main attraction of the HoloLens earlier in the year, but this is the first working demo the company has shown to the public.
Viewers were able to see Persson’s augmented reality through a “special camera” outfitted to show the HoloLens display in real time, as he played the game on the wall with an Xbox controller.
Persson then walked over to the table, said, “create world,” and watched as the Minecraft world poured onto the table. This was met with perhaps the loudest applause of Microsoft’s presentation, as he continued to use voice commands and gestures to manipulate the world. The virtual projection constrained itself to the edges of the table well, and the camera was able to look inside of structures by moving through the virtual walls.
No HoloLens release date yet.
More at Boing Boing's OFFWORLD:
“The only things you really need to know about Microsoft's E3 press event”
[Kotaku on YouTube]
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For the first time, ASMR experiences are pioneering beyond simple soft talk.
New methods for treating anxiety, trauma and mental illness are emerging at the intersection of games and therapy
Want to be less popular at cocktail parties on the West Coast? Try being a virtual reality skeptic. I can't help but feel validated, though, by this post from Wagner James Au looking back at 1992, just one of a few times in history we've been exactly as excited about VR as we are about the Oculus Rift now.
I met Mr. Au years ago when we were both writing about virtual worlds and the metaverse -- he was Second Life's official (first ever?) embedded journalist. I was writing articles about wealthy owners of virtual land and how the 3D web was our certain future. Since then I've grown leery of technologies that are mostly led by the imaginations of Snow Crash fans rather than by practical applications. I have not yet come upon anything intuitive and compelling enough to make me commit regular, daily applications of black-helmeted nausea to the agenda of my simple, one-touch daily life.
But I want to believe, honest. The coupling of alienation and novelty offered by the Oculus headwear might have interesting applications for art -- a possibility recently explored by musician Erika M. Anderson, who records as EMA. Her 2014 album The Future's Void very conscientiously examined how we mediate relationships through technology; this article by my friend Sophie Weiner about women musicians like EMA negotiating digital culture and surveillance state is worth your time.
EMA wore a VR headset on her album cover -- she's poised as if midsentence, as if in the midst of casual communication, with this great black brick obscuring all of her facial features. Read the rest
download 'Banshee Chapter' free today
Oculus Rift fans can
from Jamwix. Released in 2013
, the 3D horror film based on H.P. Lovecraft’s From Beyond
has been repurposed as a virtual reality feature. Read the rest
Artists and journalists will use virtual reality to transform perception—and virtual reality will transform everything. Jason Louv stares into the Rift between promise and product.
Demonstration of SpaceX's experimental rocket design tools melding gestural interfaces, 3D design, virtual reality, and 3D printing. Read the rest
Danger Room reports that an Army-backed R&D project called “Power Dreaming”
at Naval Hospital Bremerton in Washington State promises to help troops battle their nightmares with digital "counter-dreams": virtual dream stimuli. The Army awarded about half a million dollars to a consulting company for help developing the experiment, which is scheduled to launch next year. Read the rest