Tag Archives: Virtual Reality

Sony v. Microsoft: The Console Wars

Over the course of the 2000s, two major companies have been competing for the attention of the serious gamer. The Xbox and the PlayStation consoles have both been integral to the advancement of not just gaming technology, but the driving force behind a few technological advancements. Sony’s PlayStation series has been known as the go-to console for most serious gamers, while Xbox focuses on being the all-in-one console. The different advertising strategies often attract different people, but with advancements in modern day systems, the main differences will be the exclusives and aesthetics.

ConsoleThe first iteration of PlayStation came out in the late 1990s, and stayed the leading console for many years. For the longest time, Sony had no competition, that is until the early 2000s when Microsoft released their flagship console, Xbox. Over the course of the next couple of years the two companies would start to sync up their release dates and start a pattern of pumping out new consoles. Every 5-6 years a new console is released but within those years are mid-cycle upgrades. For the two companies, they release a slim, and then a slightly more upgraded version (in terms of processing power) around a year later.

ConsoleOne key problem faced with these consoles is future proofing. When a new console is sent out every year there isn’t much room for improvement. Many people won’t buy a new system unless there is a significant change. With the introduction of Project Scorpio Microsoft aimed to create a system that would be one of the most powerful. With boasted true 4k gaming Microsoft’s current console, the Xbox One X, has the most powerful processor to date. As well as this they have made their newest console backwards compatible all the way to the original Xbox. Their mission is to make console gaming comparable if not better than computers.

PlayStation’s main focus is a little more different than Xbox’s, where Xbox focuses more on graphics, PlayStation focuses on content. Overall both consoles have good exclusive games, but PlayStation can brag about having a higher percentage of high reviews on their games. Sony’s newest upgrade to the PS4 is the PS4 Pro. This console says it has a 4k experience, but in all actuality it uses a process called supersampling . This process can lower the frame rate of a game, which is very bad when dealing with games that require quick responses. However, Sony’s PlayStation VR is one of the leading headsets in terms of gaming graphics. So much so that they have said they don’t want to advance any farther than they are now, so as to not scare away future competition. When asked about the future of VR in their consoles, Microsoft simply shrugged off the question and instead pointed out their new features of game sharing and backwards compatibility. Unfortunately, PlayStation is more focused on the future of gaming, so they will not be incorporating backwards compatibility.

One problem suggested with the speed of advancements in gaming technology today is that by the time a console is finished, it will already be outdated. A good point to bring up is how Sony released the PS4 pro with already next level graphics, only to be outdone by Microsoft the next year. To combat this both companies can be seen talking about producing consoles faster, or with better gear. The latter will make consoles more expensive and the former will make consoles less worth purchasing.

-Roberto Estrella

NAB 2017- Virtual Reality is Sick!* (*Caution, may cause nausea)

We’re back from Las Vegas, and we are telling the whole world about what happened there, or at least our handful of internet followers! We went to the 2017 National Association of Broadcasters Show to explore existing and future Virtual Reality technologies and uses. The NAB Show gave us an extensive look at solutions industry professionals are implementing in order to push VR technologies into the media market and into our society.

Virtual Reality

We previously mentioned concerns with nausea, and we immediately discussed these issues with Edwin Rogers, owner of VR Video. Rogers, featured in our video below, said that the industry is combating some of these issues with body stabilization and other production techniques.

The newest rage in VR is 4K resolution. 4K creates beautifully immersive footage, but also requires massive files. As we know, this presents various issues for those with slow bandwidth and little storage. Currently there isn’t much of a solution for these massive files, just a suggestion to “throw money at bandwidth” via Google. The point is, we are somewhat ahead of ourselves, and the industry needs to catch up on viable options for file sharing.

Our final area of investigation involved our curiosity about consumer adoption. Sure, VR is a great tool for filmmakers and entertainers, but how can it be integrated into society? Augmented reality provides a look at existing environments that are able to be altered in order to create plans, such as realtors providing frames for future construction, or the plans of a building for a firefighter entering a dangerous area never explored previously. The point is, virtual reality is here and bigger than ever, and you might find yourself using this technology in your own field regardless of your affiliation to video production.

Here is the short video we created about our VR Adventure!

You can also check out a more personal documentation of our journey, thanks to our team member Josh Berendes, through his Daily Doc’s featured on his YouTube! (Like and subscribe, which we have to say for the sake of shutting up Josh.)

The benefits of traveling to Las Vegas as students were staggering. To be able to witness the media industry from production to distribution, including cinematography, directing, engineering, etc. gave us a one-of-a-kind opportunity to really decide what we want to pursue in this industry. It isn’t often that a university program is able to fund students to attend this sort of event. We are truly thankful to UNI Digital Media Leadership for the opportunity. It was a once in a lifetime experience!

– Josh Berendes, Marielle Gaiser, Tom Randolph & Kyle Stoutenberg

NAB Pre-Report: The Future of Virtual Reality

As virtual reality becomes more accessible to consumers we are beginning to see the true potential of this new method of media consumption. From short films to video games, Virtual Reality is the next step in media technology. However, many people have also raised questions and concerns in regards to the distribution of the content being produced. Some of the major problems with the distribution of VR content include: bandwidth needed for VR content and the transcoding of said content. At the 2017 NAB Show we plan to discover what these problems are and what some companies are doing to combat these issues.

Virtual RealityNot only does virtual reality provide impressive 360 visuals, but it also provides new environments for storytelling. We are interested on how these industry professionals plan on using these new territories. With the freedom of completely new realities, stories will begin to incorporate new elements into pre-existing mediums that we haven’t been able to capture before.

Currently smartphones dominate the VR industry, however, due to thermal issues on some headsets, most overheat after about half an hour. For widespread consumer use, these headsets need to be optimized for frequent and maintained use.

Virtual RealityNew technology often fascinates people who are inclined to pay attention to the ever-changing industry, but what about the general public? Sure there are Google cardboard headsets, but are people going to accept this new media as a popular attraction? We are heading to NAB with the intentions of securing a more substantial answer about where this media can take us in the future.

With virtual reality making waves and stealing the show at the NAB show last year, we look forward to seeing where VR finds itself in the Industry moving forward as the tools needed become more accessible to consumers and content creators alike. With glaring issues such as vertigo and nausea plaguing much of the early releases of VR now being addressed and ensuring far more practical usage, the content coming from the session planned at the 2017 NAB show hold much more potential for the future of VR.

Though virtual reality has much at stake with their progress we will be seeing at the 2017 NAB show this year, there lies much potential for augmented reality to have a chance to make waves as one of the most interesting pieces of emerging technology at the show this year in much of the same way VR did last year.

On last week’s episode of No Film School’s podcast, they announced a secret project that VR specialist 360 Designs has been working on; a 6k livestreaming VR drone. Sounds crazy right? That’s because it is. This drone is able to be operated by a single person and has the ability to send wireless signals over five miles. This is something we are excited to witness as it paves another milestone in video production!

Josh Berendes, Marielle Gonzalez-Gaiser, Tom Randolph & Kyle Stoutenberg

Virtual Reality: The Distribution Dilemma

We’ve all heard it before, “content is king.” However, without an effective means of distribution, even the best content could fall short of its potential within its respective market. In this blog post, I will explore the current state of the virtual reality (VR) industry, the two main distribution problems it has, and one company that thinks it has a solution to these problems.

virtual realityThe Current State of the Virtual Reality Industry: If you have been on Facebook within the last year then you’ve probably noticed the recent trend in the amount of 360 degree videos distributed online. 360 video allows the viewer to choose their own journey, as these videos are created with smartphones in mind, allowing for the user to watch the video on a device they already own. Although 360 video is an early form of immersive video, a truly immersive experience will come with VR.

VR can be defined as an environment, either one that currently exists which is simulated or one that is created from scratch, that can be explored by a person with proper VR equipment. Some of the equipment needed can be as simple as a smartphone that is mounted in front of a person’s eyes via cardboard (Google Cardboard). However, in order to create a more immersive VR experience, the VR industry is making a push towards head mounted displays, or HMDs.

Some of the more popular HMDs created recently are the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive which both allow you to consume VR content with the intended effect of being extremely immersive. There is no doubt we have the technology, but much like the current situation of 4K television content, we are missing an effective and efficient distribution method to consume this VR content.

 The Distribution Problem: The problem with VR comes with its distribution and getting the content to work on all of the different VR platforms and devices. First, the bandwidth needed to consume VR content smoothly is fairly significant and creates problems for large files. Because of this large amount of bandwidth needed, VR content creators are forced to give up quality in order to make the files more manageable which results in heavy compression.

Another problem that emerges when trying to distribute VR content is transcoding and making the content viewable on many different VR devices. Before we had the two major smartphone operating systems (iOS and Android), we had a similar problem of guaranteeing applications to work on multiple devices (forcing developers to choose one platform over the other). Although these two problems are major obstacles for VR content creators, there are still companies looking to solve these issues. This is where Jaunt comes in.

virtual reality jauntThe Distribution Solution: Jaunt is a cinematic VR start up that gained major attention after Disney invested in them in September of 2015. Since then, many employees from Disney owned production company, Lucasfilm, have joined Jaunt’s team to expand their presence in the VR industry. Why does this matter? Jaunt is looking to solve the distribution problem the VR industry has by creating a way to consume VR content via their website and a mobile application full of curated content from many content creators in a way that is efficient in terms of bandwidth.

virtual reality contentJaunt’s website and mobile application not only provide a way for people to access high quality, cinematic VR content, but it also allows them to view the content on many different VR devices. Jaunt is able to transcode their VR content in order to guarantee that it will work on the majority of VR devices that consumers currently own.

After looking at the problems with VR distribution and Jaunt’s attempt at addressing these issues, it is easy to see that we are still in the early stages of VR, but we’re not too far away from VR becoming a common way to consumer many types of media.

What do you think? Once VR content can be easily distributed and consumed, would you buy a HMD? Also, what are some of the other ways you can see VR technology being used in the future?

-Kyle Stoutenberg

2016 NAB PREVIEW: Very Real Virtual Reality

With the 2016 installment of the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show looming on the horizon, filmmakers, photographers, journalists and scores of other media professionals (approximately 100,000 of them) will converge to the Las Vegas Convention Center for five days to discuss and showcase all things media.

One reason in particular why those that are “in-the-know” in the media industry pay close attention to NAB is because it will give them a good idea of what the future of the media landscape will look like. For example, remember when drones came into the public spotlight two years ago? They were the buzz and hum of NAB the year before.

So that begs the question, where will the attention be directed this year? What is the hot new thing?

Two words: Virtual Reality.

While VR isn’t a completely new concept in the media world, the steadily declining price tag and commercial availability of VR software and hardware is. While companies like Samsung and Oculus paved the way for commercially available VR headsets, HTC will quickly be making waves with their recent release of their own VR setup, dubbed the “Vive”. Vive works with your computer and Valve’s online gaming community hub known as Steam to bring endless VR possibilities right into your home.

HTC Virtual RealityAs expected, there will be several sessions at NAB 2016 covering Virtual Reality, ranging from “Establishing Your Brand Presence in Virtual Reality” presented by Selvz to “Being There – Virtual Reality News and Documentaries”. The “Virtual and Augmented Reality Pavilion” will be an entire section of the NAB show floor dedicated to all things VR and its current industry leaders.

My group of NAB’ers consisting of myself, Daniel Hampe and Devin Harschnek are all quite eager to get hands-on with this material. Kaleidoscope, a large online community of VR content creators, will be hosting a Virtual Reality Showcase featuring “…groundbreaking virtual reality films and immersive experiences which hail from North America, Europe, South America and beyond.” Sphericam, a camera company from Dover, DE, will be featuring a 360-degree video camera tailor made for VR that is capable of recording 4k resolution at 60fps. These are only two of the many Virtual Reality exhibits and sessions we will be attending this year at NAB.

Join us on our three-day trip to Las Vegas by following us on Twitter! @ us questions or anything you’d like us to cover during our trip.

@devin24_7

@dj50_cal

@unimedialeader

-Cal Gruening, Devin Harschnek, Daniel Hampe