The Void: Disney Springs Review

For this blog post I have decided to review Disney Spring’s VR experience called The Void. I was recently in Orlando for a job interview and spent some time at Disney Springs. When I saw they had a VR experience, I had to check it out. The Void describe their business as a chance to experience “hyper-reality” a “whole-body fully immersive VR experience.” Tickets for each experience were $29.95 a person and I went in with a team of 3 other people.

What the Void does is blend actual reality with a virtual reality experience. When you walk into the building, you choose what story you want to experience, and an employee escorts you to that part of the building. The best way I could explain what comes next is if you blended laser tag, an escape room, and virtual reality. I chose to experience the Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire story. They suited me up with a haptic vest, headset, and a fake blaster and sent me into the experience. This was different than anything I’ve ever remotely experienced in VR. The location you walk into is pretty much a blank environment that mirrors what you’re seeing in your headset. You can reach out and feel the walls, open doors, you can feel wind rushing past you, different temperatures, and even rumbles beneath the floor you’re standing on.

Star Wars: The Secrets of the Empire

Since you’re equipped with a haptic suit, you feel like you are truly immersed. In the Star Wars story, you are written into the story as an undercover agent for the Resistance disguised as a storm trooper. There are multiple rumble packs on the chest that vibrate when you’re being shot at or get pushed. The blaster I was given worked pretty much like a controller where I could pull a trigger and shoot down enemies as I made my way through the story. The headset can track your movement throughout the environment through motion sensors on the front of the eye piece. It can even see your hands and track where you place them in the area around you.

The headset itself is a modified version of the Oculus Rift. This is the starter they use for all of their headsets. However, these are customized for The Void and include the extra advancements that go along with what is needed to connect the environment to the scenes in the virtual world. 

Wired Review of The Void:

This is where I see the future of VR being really successful. The Void is a third party that has partnered with Disney in both Anaheim and Orlando, but they’re centered outside of Salt Lake City. They also have an insane amount of locations in heavily tourist popular destinations like Santa Monica, Las Vegas, and Toronto. Based on the popularity of escape rooms, I can only see growth for this company as they have the ability to franchise in more and more cities. There is a limited amount of stories you can have in one location and some could consider that a drawback, but I see that as a better business move because as you phase older experiences out and newer experiences in, it brings returning customers back. The experience wasn’t perfect. There were moments where you felt a little like you were walking around blind because you had to find an interactive element in the room, but the headset could always keep you in the general area. Above all, this was something I have never experienced anything like and I’m excited to return again when I live in Orlando this Fall.

Buy tickets here:

AR Experience

By: Anna McAndrew

Augmented reality (AR) is starting to change the way we are experiencing reality. AR is an interactive experience in a real-world environment. It allows the objects that are in the real-world to be amplified by computer-generated information. It can include visual, auditory, and more.

AR can be used in games and apps. For example, Pokémon Go allows users to use the AR experience. To do this, simply tap the AR toggle at the top right of the screen when you are trying to catch a Pokémon.

Not only is AR popular in gaming, it is starting to become popular in Hollywood with films and costumes specifically. USA Today announced that they were getting ready for the academy awards with AR. They did this by targeting costume designers of Oscar nominated films. The AR experience was available last month on the USA Today app. It allowed viewers with an IPhone or Android to experience the real-world environment by showing costumes from specific movies. The movies that costumes were shown included, “Mary Poppins Returns,” “The Favorite,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and “Black Panther.”

“We wanted to give our readers a different feel, a hands-on experience,” said USA Today Life managing editor Alison Maxwell in an interview with Variety. The experience allows readers to explore individual costumes in their own four walls, thanks to mobile AR technology.

One thing that I found interesting when reviewing USA Today’s AR experience was that it was not easy to find. They had directions that were not as clear as they should be. I was told to download the app and find it under the “Life” section. Unfortunately, it was not that simple. I had to click around many times to figure out how to get to the actual AR experience instead of just the written article. USA Today specially said that they wanted the AR experience to be in just one app to make it easier to access. For me, it was closer to being “scattered” than simply opening up the app and finding it.

Overall, I felt that the article in Variety by Janiko Roettgers, was a short article that got right to the point of what the experience offered and what it should accomplish. The AR experience offers a different type of storytelling that allows you to interact with these costumes. I believe that the intended audience was for anyone who loves to watch these award winning and nominated movies. It also is targeted to anyone who wants to learn more about what AR can do and experience it for themselves. When going to other articles on this specific AR experience, I felt as if they all offered the same information. The only one that I thought had possibly some more information was in the USA Today article that had all of the same information as Variety but at the end it briefly explained how to get to the AR experience. If I could change one thing with the article it would be to put a link that brings you directly to the AR experience. It was a confusing process to get to the actual spot to view the costumes in AR.

UK Baseball Stadium: Kentucky Proud Park

Our VR Project takes the viewer on an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour led by two current UK Baseball players. Get an inside look at the new complex/field and all of its features.

Camera Operation: Josh Moultrie

Editing: Haley Higdon

Inside Abe’s Office

The director of the CollegeHumor VR Story “Inside Abraham Lincoln’s Oval Office,” Michael Schaubach has been working with CollegeHumor for almost ten years, and sticks within the realm of comedy is regards to the type of content he is associated with. The producer Shane Crown is also solely known for his work with CollegeHumor Normally, CollegeHumor tends to stick with more conventional platforms to tell a story, so VR could be considered a bit out of their comfort zone. It is indeed a new challenge to take on a method such as this, but it seems that CollegeHumor did a fine job of preserving their unique touch which intertwining it with a modern phenomenon.

This VR story transports the viewer into the oval office when President Lincoln was president making some of his most notable decisions. Of course, CollegeHumor throws a comedic twist on the storylines to make the historic events a bit quirky, interesting, and inaccurate.

To a degree, there is a three-point structure to this story. Characters build towards the beginning, the script guides us through the plot, and the end has us all anticipating a final decision/answer. However, it is not so clear-cut that it comes across as uninteresting; it works for the context.

The characters were, in my opinion, the most important aspect of this VR story. Without them, it would just be an empty, silent, office with no action, only still objects to look at and be bored with after 60 seconds. I wouldn’t say this story used clear-cut emotion, but rather anticipation, and even minor stress. At some points, there were many people crowding the office with demands, complaints, or other statements. This is not a bad thing because it added to the story and feelings of the viewers; it expressed the overwhelming job of the president. I, along with other reviewers, believe that the space was never boring and there was always something to look at in the office.

As mentioned before, this VR story was heavily driven by the script spoken by the characters. Of course the location was significant, but the same story likely could have been convey just as well in another building. The experience was not that exciting or unique, but it served its purpose and was entertaining for what it was. I believe that with this storyline, VR was the most appropriate method. If I were to watch this in a plain video format, it would not be nearly as interesting. Reading it in a comic or other literary platform would likely work considering this is heavily character/script driven, but the VR experience takes it to the next level.

Honestly, my biggest critique is that I thought that this was just too long of a story. It was interesting for the first 4 min, but I felt that it drug on for the last 2 min and I was anxious to get to the end. I felt that there were a few too many plots going on at once and the acting was a bit poor. The camera placement was fine and I felt like a fly-on-the-wall, but there being only one location was a bit dry towards the end, which is why I felt that 6 min was a stretch.

Insta 360 One X Camera Review

When being introduced into the Virtual Reality world, I was able to test many cameras with 360 capabilities. There are many great cameras for VR use in the market such as the Theta and the GoPro. However, the Insta 360 One X has given me the best camera experience for my VR endeavors. This is one of the newest cameras to date that has been released for 360 videos. The camera is made from the company Insta360. There are various styles of the camera such as the normal Insta360, the Nano, NanoS, the Air, and the One. The Insta 360 One X camera is an Action camera. The price runs close to 400 dollars from the site. Although, there are various carriers that sale the camera. The camera is available in many different sites with easy accessibility to purchase.

Insta 360 One X (Click here to view camera)

One major reason as to why this camera has been my favorite is the easy steps for shooting. The camera is very simple and easy to use. The camera includes 2 buttons on the front and a mini screen. These are used to turn on the camera, turn to a specific setting, shoot, and turn off. Compared to other 360 cameras, the settings on the Insta are the easiest to navigate. There is an app called Insta360 One X that you can download to your phone to pair via Bluetooth with the camera. From there, you can begin to shoot your video and watch the footage straight from your phone.

There are many pros to this camera that id like to point out. The first being, the simplicity of the camera. As mentioned earlier, there is not complication with navigating through the settings and trying to shoot. All of the steps are very simple and self explanatory. Another pro for this camera would be the pre stitched footage. With VR, stitching video is one of the most tedious tasks to complete. With the Insta 360, once you upload your footage to a desktop, the footage is already pre stitched. this saves VR filmmakers a tremendous amount of time. Another pro that the Insta 360 One X has is its bullet time feature. This camera is able to take literally bullet time shots by swinging the camera around a space. Click here to watch an impressive bullet time video with the Insta 360 One X camera. You’re able to actually slow this footage down while editing in the app. The App for Insta 360 has pretty incredible features such as editing tools to put your video in black and white a many other filters.

As for now, it has been hard for me to find cons for this camera. As time goes on and more consumers use the Insta 360, complications may arise. However, for now this camera is some of the upmost highest in VR technology.

This camera could be applied in many VR storytelling videos. The stabilization for the camera is very high quality, so to use this camera for biking, skiing, or any other footage that will be constantly moving would be perfect.