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.

gTrain-inbound-01

 

gTrain-midtrain-02

gTrain-freight-03

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)

Capturing Virtual Worlds to Virtual Cinema : How To

We’ve just read once, twice, three times this most excellent tutorial / thought piece by D Coetzee, entitled “Capturing Virtual Worlds: A Method for Taking 360 Virtual Photos and Videos“.

The article gets into the dirty details of how we might transform a high-powered, highly interactive VR experience into a compact* file sharable with all our friends on a multitude of platforms (cardboard, mergeVR, oculus, webVR, etc)

Having spent a great deal of time figuring out these strategies ourselves, its good to see someone articulate the challenge, the process, and future development paths so well.

360 3d panorama thin strip stitching

Most accessible present-day solution: a script that renders thin vertical strips with a rotating stereo camera array, then stitches into the final panorama

Enjoy.

  • the term “compact” is used here liberally. A typical 5 minute VR experience might weigh in at 500MB for the download. Transforming this into a 120MB movie might be considered lightweight… for VR. Time to beef up your data plans, kiddies. And developers, say it with me now : algorithmic content :)