Siggraph promises “The Summer of VR” in VR Village

Juried and Invited content includes work from filmmakers, game developers, research labs, design, and more.

Siggraph 2016 intends this year’s conference and exhibition to be “The Summer of VR,” with an unprecedented number of experiential and cutting-edge Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) installations, during this year’s conference.

Throughout Siggraph 2016 (July 24-28, 29016 in Anaheim) VR Village will present a variety of VR and AR content formats for telling stories, engaging audiences, and powering real-world applications in the fields of health, education, entertainment, design and gaming.

The immersive, VR and AR installations and programming includes a wide range of both Juried and Invited Content from major studios, independent filmmakers, game developers and universities as well as non-profit institutions, such as research labs and planetariums. The past 12 months have seen explosive growth in the creation of VR/AR content and technologies; Siggraph 2016 attendees will have the chance to experience some of this new material and technologies directly.

Some of the planned VR Village exhibits and events include:

“Parallel Eyes”: Exploring Human Capability and Behaviors with Paralleled First Person View Sharing—This multiplayer VR attraction will allow attendees to play a game of Tag. Each player will be able to “see” each other, as though having eyes in the back of their heads inside their VR headsets. Each participant will be untethered (Nomadic VR), and will have the ability to hide from other players. This installation, which takes VR into a physically tangible space through new technology, will be presented by Sony Computer Science Laboratories, Inc., the University of Tokyo and the Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media (Y-CAM InterLab).

Groups will play Tag inside a untethered virtual reality environment at the Parallel Eyes exhibit at Siggraph 2016. (Source: Siggraph)
Groups will play Tag inside a untethered virtual reality environment at the Parallel Eyes exhibit at Siggraph 2016… once they figure out how to do more than stare at their hands. (Source: Siggraph)

MechVR: Interactive VR Motion Simulation of a “Mech” Biped Robot A presentation from South Carolina-based Clemson University, MechVR allows participants to go inside a physical motion simulator while donning a VR headset. Each player can embody a giant biped robot machine that will walk, run and fly, while also prompting the user to utilize hand controllers in hitting practice targets. The physical movements of the players will match the visual presented on their VR screens. This themed-entertainment type attraction was originally developed for flight and training simulations, and explores VR user experience (UX), a custom software base and user interface.

“Synesthesia Suit”: The Full-Body Immersive ExperiencePresented by Keio University, Rhizomatiks Co. Ltd., and Enhance Games, Inc. of Japan, this demonstration allows participants to wear a full-body, haptic VR suit – comprised of 18 powerful micro-sensors – synced to a selection of two VR environments. Called the TechTile technology, and implemented into the Synesthesia Suit, this was first seen in December of 2015 for the public demonstration of “Rez Infinite” PlayStation VR game. Users will be able to feel the beat and pulse of the music within the demo’ed environments, taking inspiration from the sensations of “feeling and seeing” music and sounds. In addition to “Rex Infinite,” the creators will also showcase a custom game interface that takes full advantage of the Suit’s full potential.

VR Village Storylab

Siggraph will also feature a new initiative called VR Storylab that blends narrative-driven, 360-degree, VR content in a physical lab environment. Located within VR Village, this diverse assortment of art, entertainment, academic, scientific, and experiential VR content will entertain and immerse attendees. Through participation in this groundbreaking lab, attendees will have the opportunity to help Siggraph shape the future of an immersive programming venue. Films to be shown in the VR Storylab include:  

Injustice: A VR film presented by Carnegie Mellon University“Injustice” is an interactive VR experience themed around racially motivated police brutality. Users witness an act of racial discrimination, forcing them to make moral and ethical decisions on the spot. Users will have the ability to select a variety of dialogue choices – each line of dialogue decided upon will change the path of the film’s storyline. Participants can actively engage with, and alter, the actual storyline itself.  

“Injustice” uses virtual reality to explore the issues surrounding racially motivated police brutality. (Source: Siggraph)
“Injustice” uses virtual reality to explore the issues surrounding racially motivated police brutality. (Source: Siggraph)

Pearl: A VR film from Google SpotlightGoogle’s Spotlight Stories team, which is part of Google’s ATAP R&D Unit, will demonstrate Pearl on the HTC Vive virtual reality system and Google’s own VR platform. This animated short “coming of age” film follows a father and daughter’s lives through the “eyes” of their beloved hatchback in immersive 360 video. Pearl is created and directed by Patrick Osborne, director of Disney’s Academy Award winning short animated film Feast.

Invasion!: A VR film from Baobab StudiosInvasion! is a narrative-driven interactive VR animated short presented in real-time. It is directed by Eric Darnell, well-known director and writer of the four Madagascar films. Darnell formed Baobab Studios together with co-founder Maureen Fan, with Invasion! as their debut project, featuring narration by Ethan Hawke. The film explores ideas around character empathy and immersive VR presence within a storyline, promising a close alien encounter.   

Other VR Village presentations include:

Agents of ChangeA look at the creation of VR experiences for health and social advancement featuring presentations by Walter Greenleaf, PhD, of Virtual Human Interaction Lab at Stanford University; Jeremy Patterson, Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital; Alice Grishchenko and John Luna, Ohio State University.

Art & Science of ImmersionAn advanced, high-tech look at the topics of programming, interaction design and shaders for immersive, interactive mediums. Presentations include bringing Google Earth to Virtual Reality, to high quality character shading from Pixar, and also a look inside the science that enabled the artistic vision of a specialized virtual reality drawing tool.                                                                                  

Production for VR StorytellingThis session will feature three, high-profile, diverse presentations.

  • “Invasion!” Exploring Empathy and Agency in VRDirector Eric Darnell and Maureen Fan will use their VR film “Invasion!” to tackle the questions of how best to tell a story in VR and how we make the viewer an active participant within the VR experience.
  • “Kanju”: Integrating HCI to Tell Better Stories in Immersive EnvironmentsPresented by Stephanie Riggs of Sunchaser Entertainment, the short VR documentary “Kanju” showcases cutting-edge concepts around Human Computer Interactive (HCI). Riggs aims to teach participants how to tell better stories within a virtual reality environment through incorporating a human-computer interaction techniques and basic design principles, which will be key to the future of narrative experiences.
  • “The Jungle Book” Through Mowgli’s Eyes, Part 1, KaaThis is a real-time game engine virtual reality experience created for marketing Disney’s “The Jungle Book” feature film. Presented by Joe Farrell, Visual Effects Supervisor / Concept Designer, Tangerine Apps was tasked with creating the experience for the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, having utilized high end film assets and also paying special attention to the VR storyline, target frames per second output, and visual style in just eight weeks. Farrell will present the “making of’ the VR experience and discuss project outcomes.  
Google Earth inside virtual reality will be part of the “Art & Science of Immersion” session at Siggraph 2016. (Source: Google).
Google Earth inside virtual reality will be part of the “Art & Science of Immersion” session at Siggraph 2016. (Source: Google).