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Putting VR, Volumetric Video in Refresh Mode


Putting VR, Volumetric Video in Refresh Mode posted: 17/08/2019

by Andy Marken

Evolution not Revolution

Hope you caught the news...Amazon Prime just launched their VR streaming. They had to because Netflix, Hulu and YouTube already have the service. Well no most of the stuff you watch isnt really VR but at least you get to use your HMD. If youre one of the few who havent experienced VR immersion youll probably put the unit on and say big deal. But we just had a chance to see what a number of volumetric and VR filmmakers are creating and once you do, youll know why creatives are working so hard to bring you into their content. Its better - much better - than last year and the content and VR games are being delivered, watched and played. Yes its good...darn good! And the number of titles continues to grow.

When you attend film festivals like Sundance, Toronto, Tribeca and most recently Cannes; all of the attention is on:

The important (and self-important) people

The budget-buster screeners

The budget-scrimping shows - short/long

The important (and self-important) people

Tomorrows opportunities

Its easy to see that everyone will have her/his private entertainment channel to watch content in 8K, then 16K HDR.

Im disappointed, not terribly, but still. It should have gone much further much faster. Its okay, though, I know what the problem is.

The roadmaps are pretty clear, and the mass merchants are ready to push aggressively, even though folks are just slowly beginning to appreciate 4K ... almost everywhere.

But whats around the corner, just over the hill?

What will filmmaking look like in 5-10 years?

At every film festival, theres a corner of the lot roped off for the immersive future, VR (virtual reality).

The mass entertainment market prophets keep telling us every year its going to be huge ... in two years.

Friends like Ted - a gaming industry expert - keep hollering, It isnt hot, sexy; wont be and in fact it was stillborn.

Others, like Jon and Mark - who play endless hours of VR games (theyre testing the stuff), tell us its just getting better and better.

Virtual pros dont have much time to chat at film festivals; but at the IBC Future Zone, the cream of the crop will be able to focus on detailing what they have been doing to push the frontiers of creativity and technology to give us a dose of real reality.

Were gonna listen!

These folks are the creative content people who believe the old saying, The best way to predict the future is to create it.

Naysayers like to point out that todays VR content is usually only 1-10 minutes long because ... you get sick!

They dont realize that in the 1890s when British Photographer Eadward Murbridge developed zoopraxiscope - primitive film devices, the projects were only 1-10 minutes long because the work was tough to do and people probably ... got sick.

It wasnt until the 1920s that films were one hour plus in length and the industry released about eight films a year that were shown in tough-to-find cinemas.

Today, we have thousands of short and long films a year produced and shown everywhere on the planet.

Not long ago, we sat through 3 hours, 2 minutes of the Avengers: Endgame ... twice!

Break Time - As people walk around their real world, they need to periodically take a break and just sit back, relax. The same is true in the virtual world which can be intense and jarring. Relaxing can be rewarding

The goal for creatives has been to help people identify/connect with the main character(s) and make the film/show their own.

VR does that, is doing that, will do that ... one segment, one viewer at a time.

Despite all of the hype, negativism and excitement, its still very new as storytellers leverage technology to help people be a part of and control their content.

At Tribeca, producer/screenwriter Andrew Cochrane and cinematographer Andrew Shulkind captured the Tribeca X Award for the 12-min The 100%, the true story of Maggie Kudirka, a ballet dancer, rising star at the Joffrey Concert Group diagnosed with incurable stage four metastatic breast cancer.

Both are recognized volumetric/VR filmmakers and Shulkind has become widely known for his painterly use of lighting.

Focused - When Andrew Shulkind isnt on a project shoot, he spends his free time trying to determine how volumetric/VR can be improved.

Like many in the field, he began in the real/unreal world of visual-effects heavy workflows and a solid tech foundation.

To deliver what isnt there, Shulkind designed his own 360-degree camera array system -- uncompressed 23K-resolution, 12-bit Headcase Cinema Camera.

Seemingly never satisfied, Shulkind finds the present VR lighting constraints to be the hardest part of the art form.

Since the viewer can see in all directions, hes currently experimenting with new ways to naturalize the medium rather than rely on the top-lit experience common in present VR films.

In Cannes, Diego Prilusky, Intel Studios general manager, said his group has been intent on not just having viewers connect with the character but actually create and intensify the experience for them whether its with a brand, sporting event or film.

With the worlds largest volumetric studio at his teams disposal and in cooperation with Paramount Pictures, they produced Grease 40th Anniversary - Immersive Cinema Experience, one of several immersive projects they unveiled at Cannes.

Planning - Intels Diego Prilusky (standing) believes that while the viewer ultimately controls what she/he sees/experiences, VR and volumetric projects also have to be scripted, planned and focused.

Joining Intel with the acquisition of capture specialist Replay Technologies, the visual effects talent has focused on developing and refining what he calls Data Powered Entertainment.

Todays digital films are still frontal, said Prilusky who has done visual effects work on proj
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