MOUNTAIN JOURNEY CAPTURES A 5000 YEAR OLD PINE TREE IN VIRTUAL REALITY

I traveled over 300 miles and climbed a mountain to an ancient forest, all  for a chance to watch  Marshmallow Laser Feast at work! MLF, The creative collective know for the Sundance award winning “In the Eyes of the Animal“, as well as my favorite VR music video for Squarepusher  (available on samsung gear VR and cardboard), was headed to a special trail to find and digitally scan a 5000 year old tree for their VR project #treehuger!

I got to tag along and I’m not a wimp when it comes to hiking! But this was much more – we weren’t prepared and nature pushed us hard. In the name of “digital art” all of us faced real fears we wouldn’t make it out alive!

20160411_085542But before fear of snowy death brought is together, true passion for VR is where the journey started. If you’ve tried presence based VR, (That is the high end headsets coming out now from Oculus, HTC and Playstation), you learn quickly 20160411_115340the powerful graphics and capabilities don’t just make a great VR experience, they leave a lasting impact long after the headset comes off. This is what mass consumers don’t yet know about high end VR – See a forest in VR, care more about nature for days after your experience.

With good intentions we hit the road on a Monday, and on the way up to the park, we were warned by several people that the road to the pines were closed for the winter. We heeded no warnings,  it was sunny and 70 where we were,  so we pushed onwards.

IMG_0488No problems getting to the Main entrance of the park, looks harmless! Sunny day…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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But as we got higher, we entered the snow lines, and into those clouds. Strangely all the roads were open!

 

 

 

Finally, the road dropped us far above the snow line. It was getting to deep for the Tesla,  so we parked on the side of the mountain, and went about a mile on foot to the trail head.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once we got on the path, the views were amazing!

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Finally we got to a peak, and could see the old pines, but you cant run the capture machine with the snow because it throws off the data scan. Barney (pictured) kept saying “its going to clear up, the sun will come out”…

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From here, no one believed it…and then it happened!

Clear Skies!

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Time to scan the forest!

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It was only about 8 minutes for a full scan, and after meticlous captures, from multiple angles, we realized it was getting late. The sun was moving behind the mountains, and the snow started again. As we set out on the loop path back, we realized we had twice as far as we thought, or almost an extra 2 miles, plus the walk back to the car.

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Here is where it got dicey! The snow was so deep, just moving a few steps at a time took a lot of effort. We had no snow gear on so we were soaked and cold, and now running out of energy (no water or food).

There is a reason these trees have been untouched up here o long – its rough!

 

 

 

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Trudging through deep snow, expelling so much effort with every step, we were at the end of our rope when we finally got out of the woods…

…then 1 mile back to the car

 

 

 

 

 

We had to leave Ersin at the trail entrance at this point He insisted on stopping to run a towel on his feet! To be fair he couldn’t feel them, but the sun was down and we were so close. He promised to not die in the snow, but I had to get bad to the car.

But when I finally got back to the car, I collapsed and had a mini panic attack! I couldn’t catch my breath! Instead of felling relived and warm, I threw up and basically passed out within minutes of getting back to the car.

Ersin made it back with warmer feet and I when I woke up we realized I got Altitude Sickness. We were at 9000 ft. Luckily the guys were able to drive most of the way home. A burger and fries later, we glided back to LA with some magic captured in the machine..

 

stay tuned to see what it looks like.

 

Exploring Reality

VR is more than about technology and content. It is the next step in evolution!

NYC media lab explores the connection between VR and Reality:

Exploring Future Reality

Courtesy MediaREDEF

ONLINE VIDEO MATURES AND VR IS BORN

Its been a great ten year arc in the online video Space!

From “your doing what with your phone?” (see clip below!) …

..to the sale of Maker studios to Disney, online video has matured. To think uploading video with your phone was a conversation stopper just 8 years ago!

I’ve been part of the online video from the beginning and I am as excited about the VR journey as I was when working with Ashley Tisdale to put the first established artist on youtube ever!

Ben Smith has a few article worth reading over at Road To VR, connecting the dots between the online video revolution to todays growth in VR.

Here We Go (Again): The VR Industry Is Spinning up Just like Online Video 10 Years Ago

What $136 Million Invested in November Alone Says About the VR Industry

Someday well have a video to look back at that will make the beginning of VR as old fashion as using youtube on your phone!

VIRTUAL REALITY ROADMAP – FROM 360 VIDEO TO “TRUE” VR

vrThe Oculus developers conference is a hot ticket in Los Angeles this week! After a few months looking for the best experiences to play with on with my Samsung Gear VR (powered by Oculus), it’s clear developers and creators are calling many different types of content and experiences “VR”.

At its essence, a major part of Virtual Reality is your state of mind. This makes labeling anything challenging. Simple text messaging with a friend puts me in a “Virtual Reality”, and I clearly feel like I’ve left my current space, and am “with” that person.

If your just starting to explore this emerging industry, and looking to understand the ecosystems and hardware for consumers and creators today, here is a simple explanation of the different terms being used on the road to technology that can truly create a virtual world for all senses.

360/Spherical video

360 degrees of 2D video mapped onto a sphere. Think of cutting up a map and putting it around a globe, but your inside the globe looking out.

Here now – no extra hardware needed. For consumers, it works on iOS, android,  YouTube, Chrome, and in many apps/browser plug ins.

User controls the POV from the fixed camera angle across 360 degrees of vision, you cant move the camera’s fixed perspective.

No interaction with environment.

Lots of hardware available to capture this now, its getting cheaper every day.

Here is a 360 video example from Discovery (but notice they call it VR….)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aQd41nbQM-U

Facebook announced support for 360 video today

http://newsroom.fb.com/news/2015/09/introducing-360-video-on-facebook/

Where it gets a bit confusing is when you watch 360 videos with a headset like cardboard or Samsung gear VR. In this state, instead of using a mouse or your finger to move the camera angle, you can move your head to change perspective. With a headset,  the spherical video covers your entire field of vision, and some assume the leap to VR happens here. To me, its too passive to call VR.

3D 360 (stereoscopic)

Taking all the the above but in true 3d. I find Its sometime hard differentiate between 2d and true 3D 360 video. 2d 360 kinda feel like 3D to me….

Headset or eyewear required, ideally headphones as well.

Your still in a fixed perspective and not interacting with elements in the video.

Harder to film live action as you need 360 and 3D rigs. Easier to achieve in rendered game environments.

From my experience, this is where great sound design makes a big impact, combing 3D 360 with sound cues, it all starts to come together. Again, still trying to resist calling this VR because there is so much more to strive for.

AR

A slight departure to mention AR – People seem really excited about augmented reality. It’s not as interesting to me but needs to be mentioned. Maybe that just my nature, i want to swap out the whole of reality, not augment it! My phone does a fine job of augmenting things today. My car had a heads up display and I wont even go to my experience with google glass

Headset needed.

Rendered assets over reality (think google glass and/or a heads up display).

User controls, and can process and interact with Augmented elements displayed over reality.

Virtual Reality

This gets very subjective, but the “true” Virtuality I see is in 3D, with a headset and headphones, with the ability to control camera’s POV. Your interacting with the environment, and other people, and ideally you have hand controllers and motion sensors that let you controll all aspects as if you were really there (oculus demoed their controls yesterday!).

Much harder to film, I’m not sure how or if you can even do this today with live action, but I think gaming is where this becomes attainable in a really cool way to start.

Today Oculus is making some big announcements at there confernce, so I will leave the further exploration of what it can be until after the keynote today. As with all early stage emerging space, everything may change by the end of the day!

DATA DRIVEN CREATIVE DEVOLVED

Combining Data and Creative is the meme of the moment. Back in 2010, I was lucky to work with Devo on a campaign the made fun of the idea that art and data belonged together. The first video is the approach. The second video is really a “Mocu-Panel” where we reviewed all the data and testing we did. The idea that Devo would use data to inform it’s latest CD and brand was ahead of it’s time. Making fun of it was even more innovative. The audience kind of gets it, but that is a sign of great art – they aren’t sure what to do! Can’t believe I was lucky enough to “perform” with DEVO

1000 CHANNELS, 1 BILLION VIEWS…

Shout out to the old school (great endcard on this one if you can make it through!)

CLICK THE LINK TO SEE AMY PHAM’S SHOCKING FACEBOOK VIDEO VIEWED OVER 17M times!

Because I can’t figure out how to do an embed, I thought that was supposed to work on FB video now. Real point is how FB video is working for her as a creator!

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https://www.facebook.com/iamamypham/videos/vb.260665084033709/702671643166382/?type=2&theater

YOUR DOING YOUTUBE WITH YOUR PHONE????

A clip from over 7 years ago, part of a Marketing campaign I worked on for her new record. This was the first ever upload of video from a cell phone to YouTube!

See how much culture has changed in such a short time, shout out to Bree for pulling it together :-) and Ashley for being up to try something new…

FB VIDEO BLOWING UP – TOLD YA!

A nice article from March where I talk about Facebook Video making an impact on the YouTube community. Since FB video is all the rage now, quick repost from my interview with the International Business Times in March. I am proud at how ahead of the curve Maker has been when it comes to Shortform, and especially FB video!

http://www.ibtimes.com/sxsw-2015-youtube-stars-are-finding-new-place-thrive-facebook-1847296

Shout out to the team, Violet, Emily, Cassy, Nick and more…..

MAKER + DISNEY PARKS = THE BEST DAY EVER!

Very proud of this channel and channel trailer. Part of Maker’s partnership with Disney Parks, were building something cool over at http://www.youtube.com/wdwbestdayever

Shout out to Tyler, Emily, Louis and Team!