Cooking up a Chinese VR short

360 view: http://vr8.tv/88/3F1840

Earlier this month, immersive content development took an experimental step forward with China’s first improvisational VR “table read” on the interactive cinematic VR short film, FOUR DISHES AND A SOUP. (full article on AWN)

360 view: http://vr8.tv/88/3F187D

Cooking up a Chinese VR short

The only VR metric that matters

Raise your hand if you have a family member who uses VR every day. (article on AWN)

The only VR metric that matters

SIGGRAPH Asia Macau musings

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Early last month in the gambling haven of Macau, I attended a SIGGRAPH conference for the first time in a long time. My initial SIGGRAPH experience as a student volunteer in 1993 was eye opening, and I was a regular attendee and occasional speaker for the next 15 years – including the very first SIGGRAPH Asia in Singapore, 2008. As an outsourced event, SIGGRAPH Asia has always been a distant relative to “SIGGRAPH SIGGRAPH” (as many folks comparatively refer to the “real” conference), but the initial offerings in Singapore and Yokohama were respectable.

Cut to today. Scarfing down a plate of Doritos at the SIGGRAPH Asia 2016 opening reception is a far cry from doing shots off the back of an SGI Onyx at the Nixon Library in the heady days of 1993 (though perhaps an appropriate analogy for the austerity arc of the graphics industry over the past two decades). Twenty years ago, there was a palpable sense that “anything is possible,” even though much still was not. Now – at a time when anything essentially is possible – we seem to be holding back. These days, CGI is like Doritos: tasty but predictable. And the VR game-changer has yet to emerge.

I attended all four days of the SIGGRAPH Asia conference and decided to distill my notes into three key observations (I’m a big fan of The Rule of Three). The following takeaways are… (full post on AWN)

SIGGRAPH Asia Macau musings

The art of indirection

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The following is a transcript of my presentation on VR storytelling principles, “The Art of Indirection”, delivered on December 1st at the 7th International Conference & Exhibition on Visual Entertainment in Beijing.

I’m here to talk about the development portion of the entertainment workflow, specifically related to virtual reality. My own background focused upon production during the first half of my career, the 12 years I spent with Walt Disney Feature Animation. After moving to China in 2008, I shifted my focus to development. This development work began in traditional areas of film and television – which I have taught here at the Beijing Film Academy – and shifted to virtual reality over the past year.

Virtual reality requires a different way of thinking. I believe you’ve heard this already. There have been great comments made today on this point, not restricted to virtual reality, but related to any new means of storytelling. When Demetri Portelli talked about shooting at 120 frames per second in 4k, he said something obvious, but also easily overlooked: the director needs to think differently about how to direct; the actors need to think differently about how to act; everybody involved in the production chain needs to review their assumptions, to adapt and expand upon what’s possible in the new media environment. This applies to VR as well. It’s easy to bring your preconceptions and old ways of working into play. In this respect – and I’m not the first person to make this observation – the current state of virtual reality is very much like the early days of… (full post on AWN)

The art of indirection

iAVRrc PROJECTS rollout

Thanks to Toni Cruthirds of The New York Times for these snapshots from the rollout of the inaugural iAVRrc PROJECTS slate at the 2016 T-EDGE VR Summit late last month.

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VR view:  http://vr8.tv:88/3F0460

iAVRrc PROJECTS rollout

iAVRrc PROJECTS

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As announced at the T-EDGE VR Summit in Shenzhen on May 20th, the Beijing Film Academy’s International Animation & Virtual Reality Research Center (iAVRrc) has launched iAVRrc PROJECTS, a program that facilitates the development & production of compelling content in augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality (MR). The first four iAVRrc PROJECTS represent a variety of approaches to immersive media, with Chinese culture as a common thread, and edutainment as a common goal.

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STORY FOREST is an interactive virtual reality story experience in which viewers enter a space populated by a hand-painted VR bamboo forest. A master painter stands amid the trees and tells a story, illustrating as (s)he goes. Under the master’s guidance, the viewers contribute story suggestions, which are incorporated into the tale.

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HUTONG HUNT is an augmented reality treasure hunt set in the hutongs of Beijing. Players compete against the clock and each other to find a hidden treasure. Animated AR stone lions, door gods and dragons offer clues, but also provide distractions. The hunt converts to VR for the finale, when players “dig” for the treasure and face off against fearsome guardians.

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FOUR DISHES AND A SOUP is a scripted cinematic virtual reality short film set during a traditional Chinese New Year meal in mainland China. Two stories are told: one of a young man’s return home, and another of a young woman’s return home. The audience experiences each scenario as the young person, from the point of view of the VR camera.

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WAY OF THE WARRIOR is a mixed reality holopresence experience in which actual reconstruction of a terracotta warrior in Xian is streamed via live holography to museums around the world. The ongoing live reconstruction is supplemented by a photo-realistic computer-animated terracotta warrior, who describes his life in ancient China.

Interested parties may contact:

Kevin Geiger
Executive Director
International Animation & Virtual Reality Research Center
Beijing Film Academy
holler@kevingeiger.com

iAVRrc PROJECTS

iAVRrc PROJECTS announced at 2016 T-EDGE VR Summit in Shenzhen

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iAVRrc Executive Director Kevin Geiger takes a 360 selfie while announcing new projects at the 2016 T-EDGE VR Summit in Shenzhen.

VR view:  http://vr8.tv:88/3F0460

Kevin Geiger, Executive Director of the Beijing Film Academy’s International Animation & Virtual Reality Research Center (iAVRrc), announced the initial slate of the iAVRrc PROJECTS program during his keynote address at the 2016 T-EDGE VR Summit, hosted in Shenzhen on May 20th by The New York Times and TMTPost:

  • HUTONG HUNT – an AR/VR treasure hunt that takes place in Beijing hutongs populated by animated Chinese mythological creatures.
  • STORY FOREST – a live, interactive VR story experience guided by Chinese painting masters.
  • FOUR DISHES & A SOUP – a cinematic VR short film set in the midst of a family’s Chinese New Year dinner.
  • WAY OF THE WARRIOR – a natural history collaboration utilizing 3D CG animation and holopresence technology.

Following the iAVRrc PROJECTS announcements, Geiger’s keynote address, “The Impact of VR”, focused upon five key predictions for immersive technology…

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Later in the day, Geiger moderated a panel on “Hollywood’s VR Future”, featuring the experiences and insights of xRez Studio partner Eric Hanson, Two Bit Circus CCO Nancy Bennett, and animator Shannon Tindle, creator of Google Spotlight Stories’ ON ICE.

Kevin Geiger 2016 T-EDGE VR Summit panel

Streamed live online in 360 video, the 2016 T-EDGE VR Summit featured technology innovators and business leaders from China and around the world, in presentations and panels ranging from VR content challenges to VR investment opportunities.  Chinese speakers were joined by foreign guests included Gabo Arora, Nancy Bennett, Toni Cruthirds, Nick Fortugno, Kevin Geiger, Eric Hanson, Graham Roberts, Molly Swenson and Shannon Tindle.

Kevin Geiger 2016 T-EDGE VR Summit speakers


The New York Times Company (NYSE:NYT) is an international media organization known globally for excellence in its journalism, and innovation in its print and digital storytelling and its business model. In 2015, the Times launched NYTVR, a mobile platform for distributing VR films, while distributing more than a million Google cardboard viewers to Times’ subscribers. The New York Times Chinese Website (cn.NYTimes.com) is the first Chinese language product introduced by The New York Times Company. The site is edited specifically for readers who speak Chinese, presenting translations of the best of The Times’ award-winning journalism alongside original work by Chinese writers contributing to The Times.

TMTPost is China’s leading technology information service provider. Focused on innovation, it serves as a communication platform, gathering the industry’s highest quality content, opinion leaders and service products for the most efficient, professional, and valuable exchange of technology related information in China. TMTPost also produces a variety of offline events and provides recruitment, analytical and advisory services to the technology industry.

iAVRrc PROJECTS announced at 2016 T-EDGE VR Summit in Shenzhen