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Virtual Reality Takes Center Stage at NAB


Photography courtesy of Robb Cohen Photography and Video.

Now that NAB 2016 has wrapped and people are beginning to process all that they saw and experienced, it can be said that the big news coming out the show is virtual reality (VR) technology. Below is a synopsis of the announcements made during NAB 2016 (Apr. 22-27, 2016):

The Foundry solves virtual reality content creation challenges with new CARA VR toolset
Software developer The Foundry has today announced the launch of its highly anticipated VR toolset. CARA VR is a new plug-in designed to work within the industry-leading NUKE environment to enable the creation of high-quality virtual reality content. CARA VR adds a new set of tools that builds on NUKE’s existing native support for the compositing of multi-camera live-action footage and enables artists to create seamless immersive experiences with 360° video content.

“Virtual reality presents an exciting challenge for us and for the industry,” says Andy Whitmore, chief product officer at The Foundry. “In order to make sure we developed tools that actually helped our customers tackle that challenge, we worked in close collaboration with them to understand their requirements and the challenges they face in working with this new medium. Our customers were already using NUKE on VR projects, but CARA VR streamlines those workflows, making high-quality VR content creation faster and easier without leaving the NUKE environment.” Learn more.

Introducing the world’s first VR/360° production platform
LookAt, the collaborative cloud for video makers, has released the world’s first VR/360° video production platform. For the first time, LookAt allows companies and video teams producing VR/360° videos, to review and collaborate using a simple and intuitive platform and save on valuable time and money. LookAt’s web-based platform enables anyone to privately share videos over the cloud, create separate discussion groups, make comments, access older versions and review even the most complex files using a unique stereoscopic viewer. The result: a more streamlined process, more effective teamwork and increased ROI. Learn more.

DEEP Inc. previews Liquid Cinema at NAB 2016
In partnership with ARTE and Canada Media Fund, DEEP Inc. launched LIQUID CINEMA , a groundbreaking software product that allows the creation and distribution of highly sophisticated, immersive 360 VR-based cinema experiences. According to the developer, one of the greatest challenges VR creators face is directing the viewer’s attention when the user is free to look around at anything they want to; and where traditional film editing breaks down completely. Currently, 360 players play back 360 video and not much else. There is a complete loss of control in directing the viewer’s gaze and many essential cinematic elements we take for granted in traditional films cannot be properly applied in a spherical medium where the viewer often completely misses them, DEEP says.

Liquid Cinema Authoring Tool solves this problem by expanding the language of cinematic VR with an innovative model: a term DEEP Inc. coined “Forced Perspective,” to make sure the viewer never misses a vital piece of action. The core of this approach is to use the viewer’s gaze to optimize the viewing experience, giving back vital control back to VR filmmakers in a medium where the “fixed frame” of traditional cinema no longer exists. The Authoring Tool also allows them to customize the layout, size, and behavior of visual and interactive elements for each platform in minutes. Changes are possible even after the film has been uploaded and gone live. Learn more.

SGO’s Mistika Goes 360
SGO gave NAB attendees a preview of Mistika’s advanced Immersive Reality Toolset, combining award-winning stereo 3D functionality with a new VR mode. Mistika’s finishing toolset provides a dedicated VR finishing environment that can easily be applied to VR projects, as well as automatically handling projection mapping of Equi-Rectangular content to a new 360º image-processing and finishing engine. Mistika handles the complex relationships between the spherical world and the flattened source and delivery files, so the user can work in the same way they always have, without dramatic changes to their method, and without the technical headaches of VR delivery, the company says. Shapes texts and composites are being designed to automatically warp and track across spherical projection seams and poles. The operator can switch between normal space and Virtual Reality space, by controlling the spherical VR viewing port with a grading panel tracking-ball, a newly developed GUI control or with a VR device gyroscope.

“This functionality is unique, and is not a 2D system merely pretending to do VR,” says Miguel Angel Doncel, CEO of SGO. “In order to implement this feature, we take full advantage of Mistika’s existing real-time architecture and advanced image-processing engine, integrating finishing and grading capabilities in a powerful Virtual Reality workflow. This simply wouldn’t be possible in a ‘colour grading only’ system.” Learn more.

Cogswell College in San Jose to Launch World’s First VR & Augmented Reality Certificate Program
To accelerate the development of applications for Virtual and Augmented Reality, Cogswell College—Recently recognized by the Princeton Review as a Top Videogame Design School in North America—is poised to become the first school in the world to launch a Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality (VR/AR) Certificate Program. Cogswell’s first courses start this summer.

“We look forward to helping the industry make sense of the exciting recent developments in virtual reality,” says Jerome Solomon, Cogswell’s dean & director of game design and development, as well as the conference chair for ACM SIGGRAPH 2017. “We recognize the pain of developing around emerging VR/AR systems while at the same time the gaming industry has always led the way in finding applications for new technologies.”

Cogswell College has assembled an impressive Industry Advisory Board for the new certificate program, which is aimed at practicing industry professionals. The board is comprised of: Fabien Bourdon, P.E., Sr. Architect, Citrix Systems; Richard Chuang, CEO and Founder of CloudPic, and two-time Academy Award Winner; Jeremy Kenisky, Director of 3D/Interactive, Geomedia, Inc.; Curt Miyashiro, Production Technology Supervisor, Jaunt VR; and Stephanie Riggs, CEO/Founder, Azimyth Creation Studio.

Cogswell will be offering classes within the burgeoning VR/AR space with four areas: Perceptual/Cognitive Aspects of VR/AR; HCI Design; Design for VR; and Project-Based Iterative Application. For more information about the VR/AR Certificate Program, please see: http://cogswell.edu/virtual-reality-certification.php.

May 4, 2016