We don’t always use hand control at dSky, but when we do… we choose Hydra

Madame Hydra

Yes, Marvel did have video long before the Avengers re-start. Oh, good ole G.I. Joe…

With Hydra, we get to use BOTH our hands in VR,
just like Madame Hydra here…

Keeping it simple... because the best part of the hydras is... you move your hands, and your VR hands... well, they move precisely where they should.

Keeping it simple… because the best part of the hydras is… you move your hands, and your VR hands… well, they move precisely where they should. Buttons not included.

and here are the hydras at play:


dynamic audio : wind in your hair

When we design spaces, we want our worlds to be *alive*.

A key component of this sense of vitality is dynamic audio. In a nutshell, dynamic audio is physics-based, player-generative audio signals. The two challenges we are working on are:

1. the sound of the lightsaber as the player swooshes it around them in the environment. buzzzzzzz…. hmmmmm… zap! Obviously, this is dynamic, based on the velocity and acceleration of the ‘blade’.

dsky sceneplay lightsaber ultimate

2. the sound of wind in the player’s hair as they fly high above the city… modulated by airspeed, gusts, and hopefully, near-miss-objects.


Programming Sound with Pure Data

Solution? Hard work, creative sample bases, and sweet code. I’ve found this awesome resource: Programming Sound with Pure Data, by Tony Hillerson.


Can’t wait!

Stay tuned…


PS – here’s a little extra on the actual components of the original lightsaber sounds, circa 1977: doppler microphone swinging 🙂


Unity 5 port complete

Well, the port to Unity 5 took a bit longer than expected. Then again, what port doesn’t? Overall, we’re very happy with the more robust namespace support in code, and the physically based shader model. It took quite some time to re-tool all our custom shaders into a PBR model, but once done, the results are spectacular, no pun intended.


R2D2 with the new PBR in Unity5. We’re loving that blue-alloy metal look!

And, we finally solved the mascara issue with all our character models, which we created in Mixamo’s excellent Fuse product. For those techies / artists out there: the trick is to duplicate the existing Legacy/Diffuse-Bump shader for each character, keep the textures and normals, and set the shader model to “Standard / Specular / Fade” with a smoothness of 1.0. Do the same with the eyes, and you’ll have that beautiful “twinkle in the eyes” that all pseudo-living avatars should properly exhibit.

Luke finally drops the mascara and gets real eyebrows -- and a spark

Luke finally drops the mascara and gets real eyebrows — and a spark

In other news, our friends at Magic Leap released their first actual concept video. Just single-player for now, but fun stuff nonetheless.

That’s all for today.


The lightsaber… that is all.


I realised many months ago that the make or break of our VR experience will be the veracity and feel of the lightsaber. To this end, I’ve developed a wishlist of features:

  1. accurate saber model with metal and buttons
    1. — getting there.
    2. need a really good reflective metal shader
    3. need it to be all solid faces 🙂
  2. perfect glowing blade
    1. — COMPLETE with alpha textures AND point light source
  3. perfect control by hands
    1. — COMPLETE with Razer Hydra
  4. dynamic motion-driven sound FX
    1. halfway there
    2. need some velocity based flange / distortion
    3. OpenAL or other, transform tip velocity vector to dynamic sFX
  5. hands interaction
    1. switch saber power-on/off from keyboard control to Hydra control
  6. multiple on/of cycles
    1. once lightsaber is off:
    2. blade needs Prefab re-instantiation to be tied to proper place on base
    3. and finally…
  7. interaction with architecture
    1. calculate the intersection of the blade with solids
    2. leaving decals on wall where point hits
    3. showing a fire where it is actively intersection
    4. throwing sparks

Yeah. That should about do it.