Oculus Connect 2 : Pixar v. Epic : Life in 11ms

There was so much to absorb at Oculus Connect 2, and now coming on the heels of Digital Hollywood, my brain is completely full. So instead of making my massive report as I did last year, we’re going to let the knowledge and wisdom trickle down in little pieces. Here’s the first one, from Max Planck, Sascha Unseld, and the team at Oculus Story Studio that produced Henry:

“At Pixar, with our rendering farm, we accepted the truism that it would take roughly 11 minutes to render each frame of animation, producing 24 frames per second.

With Henry, we have a hard wall of rendering each frame, in real time, at 90 frames per second, which translates to 11 milliseconds of rendering time per frame. We spent 6 months optimizing every single aspect of the models, lighting, renderers and animations to assure that we met that 11ms threshold for each and every frame, without compromise.”

11 minutes to 11 milliseconds.

Thank you Moore’s Law.
And Thank You Epic.

We accept this Truth…

…to be self-evident:

If it performs wonderfully on GearVR:
then it will be a dream on the Oculus Rift,
and take little or no effort to port, other than input harness*

If it performs adequately on the Rift + PC,
it may or may not work well on GearVR.
In fact, it may take both a massive re-factoring as well as a
total re-thinking of graphics, models, textures and code.



Be smart : Mobile First.

Develop for the Gear. Port to the Rift. WIN.



* a few words on input harnesses:

Designing input mechanisms for the GearVR touchpad is a tricky business… its a VERY limited input surface, and we tend to use both gestures AND a lot of “gaze detection” combined with taps…

for the Rift, we often take the easy way out : keyboard input. At dSky, we are especially fond of the following, which are easy to “find” for “blind” VR users:

  • space bar (easiest to find… big and central and edge)
  • cursor arrows at lower right (2nd easiest to find blind)
  • ESC key (far upper left, also “feelable”)

Truth be told, we should ALL be designing for
a) gamepad, and
b) natural hand tracking devices,
c) with keyboard as a “fallback”
d) oh, did i fail to mention the venerable mouse? ooops!

as the long-term goal for natural and intuitive VR input streams.


Arrival of a Train… and a new medium is born

Ever since watching Sascha Unseld’s talk at Oculus Connect last year, which prominently featured “Arrival of a Train“, one of the very first silent films, we’ve been noodling on a little side project concerning a VR capture of a train locomotive in action.

After many trials and errors, and much reverse-engineering of train schedules, and inclement weather, we’ve finally captured a nice little rough draft piece of footage. We’ve posted the 360 footage, captured with our Ricoh Theta, to YouTube, for your enjoyment.

Here are a few stills. Scroll down for the complete video. Be sure to a) fullscreen it using the little [__] icon in the lower right of frame, and b) click and drag around with your mouse (or look around if in googles).

Oh, and we’ve included the original “Arrival of a Train” for your viewing reference. The reason its so famous? Reportedly, crowds fled the theatres waaaaay back in the day, convinced that the 2d animation on the screen was in fact a train headed directly for them. This allegory is often used to communicate how audiences viscerally experience a brand new medium — half is the content, half is the novelty of the experience.





I was quite concerned that the train would knock over the tripod, it was within inches of the car extents. Thankfully, the rig survived, and we even got a friendly wave from the engineers.



and, finally, the original to which we pay homage:
Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat (The Lumière Brothers, 1895)