Who Am I?

Toney, Alabama, United States
Software Engineer, Systems Analyst, XML/X3D/VRML97 Designer, Consultant, Musician, Composer, Writer

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Occulus Rift and VR Hype 2.0

VR DESTROYS FILMMAKING! Film at eleven....

As usual, not really.   The problems of what VR-old school called the "free roamer" are pretty well understood.   The hardware challenges of bandwidth over presence are solvable but creating a linear experience in a quasi-non-linear medium does stretch the imagination.   Or does it?

We experimented with and debated this stuff two decades ago and despite the hype being passed about such as this article to restart the buzz, we know how to do this and write for this.   It is very time consuming because the characters of a compelling 3D roamer are expensive to build and the code or AI that makes for an adventure requires considerable depth of character modeling not usually found in a first person shooter or a car race.  Presence is not simply about rendering fidelity but as Tony Parisi pointed out over a decade ago, behavioral fidelity although Tony's context was why it was very hard to write a common standard for real-time 3D that operated across different platforms.

Who knows if it is worth buying yet another device, but it may for a period of time mitigate the blurring effect of infinite choice (as mashable likes to mash the original cybernetics's choice of choices dilemma) by offering a scarce alternative to a diluted supply.  The first forays into a medium are met with ecstasy and awe by the vendors of such and the early experimenters; yet without compelling content, they quickly fade into the realm of failed technology.  When Tony Parisi's company posted that first spinning globe example, we all watched and marveled. A decade later complex second life worlds were ghost towns.

There is a reason for the phrase "compelling content". In a conversation with a friend yesterday I pointed out that the challenge for VR cinema was the inventors of VR systems tend to be Silly Valley techs who are geniuses of math and midgets of story telling; so until Hollywood "gets it", there won't be much to have or enjoy.  The first VR worlds of the 90s tended to be as self-adulating of their creators or the technology as these early Occulus Rift 'firsts'.   They say to write what you know and math majors know math, hardware designers know hardware and money people know money.   It doesn't make for a very entertaining artwork past the gee-whiz.

That said, only money matters and the deep pockets and the deep web will find those who know enough to do the job well and just as the folk scare of the late fifties and early sixties stewed in the village soup, an Albert Grossman will hold auditiions and VR cinema will have Peter Paul and Mary to make hits out of a VR Dylan's stories.

Producers have a role.   Corporate deep pockets have a role but eventually a group of people with a cause and a story to tell have to take up the task of producing content.   My guess is this group will not come out of Silly Valley.   They will be some group who are just adept enough to acquire and learn the technology but know a lot more about how humans behave and why desire is the creator and the destroyer.  And they will know what filmmakers know and adapt it just as the first filmmakers adapted the stage and the first storytellers in VR adapted cinema art 20 years ago.   They will do it with better hardware and more bandwidth.  Wow.

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