Into the Deep : Water, Physics, Bubbles, Sunlight & such

We’re doing a rapid prototype of how an underwater VR cinematic journey might play out. A primary dynamic visual element is the bubbles. Refraction, expansion, sound FX… all of it! Right after bubbles, come rays of light, caustics, and the miraculous mirror reflection of the surface from below. It should be a fun design and rendering challenge, esp. when we port to the resource-challenged mobile headsets.

Here are some of our sourcebook visual inspirations for the math & physics ahead:

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scuba bubbles rising

underwater-ocean-catfish-wallpaper-53e27b83a2df1

spiral_by_orion_fredericks

Vivian Spiral dancing beneath the waves. photo credit: Orion Fredericks

Got ideas about VR underwater?

Do you have experience with shaders and rendering and particle animation of underwater scenarios? Post your links below and / or send us your resume!

 

Luxo, meet Henry : And the Wheel in the dSky keeps on turnin…

In 1986, Pixar Animation Studios created its first film, dubbed Luxo Jr.

luxo-jr-still-pixar-cgi

It was presented to a sophisticated audience at SIGGRAPH, the annual convention for those in the know, and in the engineering, design, and creation of the best 3D graphics in the world. At the time, the air was one of hope; Tron had just been released to audience acclaim a few years earlier in 1982, the first movie to have significant computer-generated visual effects (nee CG/VFX) sequences, and whispers in the wind predicted at some point, at some time, a completely 100% CGI (computer generated imagery) film would be created.

In less than 2 minutes, Pixar proved that seemingly inanimate objects, in this case simple desk-lamps and inflatable toy balls, could exude, even ooze, character, charm, and even emotion.

toy-story-key

That one film opened the door to an entire new era of Hollywood cinema, which arguably exploded into mainstream consciousness a decade later in 1995 with Toy Story, the first commercially successful, full length, completely computer-generated CG film… again, by Pixar, the love child of George Lucas, John Lasseter and  Steve Jobs.

Fast forward 30 years. Oculus, the amazing company that launched on kickstarter and was stunningly acquired by Facebook for $2 billion a mere 2 years later, launches a virtual cinema division dubbed Oculus Story Studio.

And now, here’s Henry.

Meet Henry from Story Studio on Vimeo.

Henry is a clear attempt to move from hardcore, sci-fi, robot-loving gamers, into a more general, emotional, human populace. Presumably, a human populace willing to put on a pair of blackened ski-goggles in order to watch — scratch that — in order to experience, genuine story-fed emotion.

Henry is, plain and simple: An attempt, albeit a decent one, to launch a new category, animated cinematic interactive VR… with a best-in-class example.

Come August 28, and more-so, come February 2016, the world will decide.

Here’s hoping they succeed.

 

 

 

 

Switch Hitting : back to Mr. Potter

great meetings with the Studios in Hollywood. Put some post-demo polish on the Star Wars featurette, now it may be time to revisit Harry Potter in his most awesome game of Wizard Chess VR. Remember BattleChess? You ain’t seen nuthin yet.

Early early pre-viz:

Harry Potter Wizards Chess VR

scene recreation, v0.03

Harry Potter Wizards Chess

Wixards Chess, still from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. © Warner Brothers

our first task is to do the basic “blocking” on the scene. For this we use simple capsules as stand-ins for the actors. Once all the gross movement is accounted for, then we swap in the high resolution humanoid models, and slowly add in actual gestures / movements / walks / hands / head animations, lip sync, and even eye gaze, aka dristi.

Harry Potter Wizards Chess

character stand-ins for basic scene blocking

Harry Potter Wizards Chess VR

Harry Potter Wizards Chess, Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone © Warner Brothers

Onward.

first flights : lessons learned

Flying : Major accomplishments, and major lessons learned.

dSky VR : under the GGB!

dSky VR : under the GGB!

The good news : we got Flying Adventure working in the Rift, and let me tell you : flying under the Golden Gate Bridge, through volumetric clouds, at 70mph about 3′ above deck… a total rush. I flew in and around the city for about 30 minutes, totally absorbed, free, in bliss. Further, there was a palpably sublime moment when, flying across the surface of the water at speed, I looked down and saw something on the face of the waves: it was my avatar’s reflection, distorted in real time. Spine tingling.

whats that on the face of the water? me, as avatar

whats that reflected on the face of the water? me, as avatar

The bad news : humans and birds are not at all built the same. We first modelled the simulation so that a human flyer would be belly down, in a sort of yoga cobra position, abs engaged. The challenge is : while a birds eyes are on the *sides* of its head, and its head is naturally aligned for the bird to view forward while prone… a human’s eyes are on the *front* of our heads; and while prone, we are naturally looking downward. thus, if we are using “natural” forward propulsion, as one might imagine superman or ironman doing, we humans are forced to *seriously* arc our necks back in order to see “forward” towards where we are headed, and to more naturally navigate our flying world.

Human neck : natural downward articulation while flying | avian neck : natural forward orientation

Human neck : natural downward articulation | avian neck : natural forward orientation

human v. eagle : very different animals.

human v. eagle : very different animals.

The consequence : after 30 minutes of flying, my neck really hurts… and that’s coming from a trained acrobat, supposedly used to such contortions.

Fast conclusion: we are fast coming full circle to Palmer Luckey’s assertion that “present-day VR is a seated experience”. Going to start exploring alternate methods of navigation metaphors, including:

  • levitating chair, a la Professor X
  • cockpit, a la an F-18
  • saddle riding, a la How to Train Your Dragon
quite possibly the best way to fly

quite possibly the best way to fly : on a saddle, atop a trained giant eagle.

  • we also might simply try rotating the camera 90° up
    relative to the avatar body :)

Until our next post, enjoy the screenshots.

flyin

Click here for downloadable demo.