The Blue Angels Give You Wings

Hit the runway at a cruising speed as the blue angels zip over a marsh. Holding tight formation, our narrator talks of the parade pass- a formation the angels assemble into placing the jets less than 6 inches away from each other! The Diamond 360 turns the formation of four planes into a clean formation that acts and moves as one. Using voice inflections, and code words our narrator directs his unit of four planes.

Feeling weightless, and flying over the marshland the viewer is placed as captain of the unit and guides his team. From the slot position you command a squadron of the most skilled fliers the United States has to offer. Now you can’t feel the 8 G’s of force against your body, but you can see the breathtaking flight patterns by our nation’s finest.

 

Choosing to do this video in Virtual Reality, was a fantastic choice. I was sitting in a computer chair while watching it and felt like I was a third pilot in the plane. Spinning around in the chair, I ended up being about 5 feet and facing the opposite way of where I started. The video’s immersiveness is spectacular, and unbelievable. The camera placement was wonderful, and useful to help the viewer be immersed in the flight. The camera set up used was a clamped stand between the primary, and secondary pilot.

The narrative process of the video works great due to the take-off, warm up formations, more advanced invasive flight patterns, then winding down by re-bunching in formations, and winding up together in back in a 360 Diamond. The story is experience driven- and due to its immersive nature it places the viewer in a wonderful experience of bliss that virtual reality can achieve. This type of form, and storytelling is why virtual reality’s imaginative power is so innovative. Placing a viewer in a world of wonder, and a scenario that they could rarely, if ever experience is one of the main reasons many find Virtual Reality so wonderful and expansive.

 

There were some weaknesses to the film, but the concept is strong, and the execution of USA today’s work is impeccable. The weaknesses I see are one sided narration, and the length of the video. Eight minutes is lengthy for the film and they could have accelerated some movements, but I didn’t recognize the time because I was transfixed in the work. It’s transformative video work, and a great subject matter. There was some tension, I was a little worried the wings would hit, or we’d stutter some, but the plane stayed remarkably stable.

When we talk about virtual reality taking people to a place of imagination, a place of wonder, and an exceptional experience. By putting on a virtual reality set, anyone can become Ace and Maverick in Top Gun. Much like a skydiving video, spacewalk, or a steampunk stunt driving video, USA today drops us into a fresh new experience and makes the video shine.

The Greatest Showman 360 Video Review

The 360 video that I am reviewing is a behind the scenes from the movie The Greatest Showman that came out in 2017 starring Hugh Jackman, Michelle Williams, Zac Efron and Zendaya. The 360 video begins with the two songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul and the director Michael Gracey discussing how they came up with the opening number and the idea of the suspense they added into it. This is a family movie with its fair share of romance and drama throughout the movie. As well as winning kids choice and teen choice awards. I believe this 360 video was successful because being someone that watched the movie it is interesting to see how it all came together, in addition to seeing and hearing how these men put this film together. It also felt like we were there when the movie was being put together and it made it even more interesting making you want to watch the movie even if you haven’t seen it.

I believe they used telepresence because when I began watching the 360 video I felt that I was actually there while they set up for the movie as if I were apart of the process of helping direct the movie. They allowed you to understand the concept of the movie and the work they put to make it. They added the points of view of the main actors that allowed the 360 video to be even more interesting because we get to hear how they enjoyed themselves and the craft of the movie. Also, they used excitement and joy when explaining how they felt. I believe that they did a good job with characters and location because that’s what the movie is about. The circus. Hugh Jackman’s character wanted to create a circus of unnatural people, almost like a freak show, something different from what people are used to. They 360 video was set in the making of this circus and a place they would make look to be a circus. The characters they chose had strong stage presence and brought a different kind of feel to the film with their different personalities. After watching the movie and now this 360 video I believe I have a better understanding of what this movie started off as and then finished as.

I personally think this was good for VR because we don’t get a lot of behind the scenes for good movies and when we do it’s normally 2 dimensional and with this being 3 dimensional I actually felt like I got the chance to be apart of the making of a great movie. They could have done a better job on camera placement because one minute we would be watching the show go on and then we’re looking a the wall or the director and we had to turn to find everything. I don’t think the story had many weaknesses. They did a great job at allowing the director to discuss the film and then the main characters and allowing us inside the movie. They could have done better with where they placed the text and the camera but I truly think this was a interesting VR video.

The Greatest Showman | Behind the Scenes of “The Greatest Show” in 360° ft. Hugh Jackman http://www.youtube.com/user/FoxMovies

 

Intel and Modern Medicine

The famous company, Intel, is helping to bring the medical field in a form for patients.  When doctors are attempting to explain a medical diagnosis to a patient, sometimes the patient has a hard time understanding what is really going on because they cannot see everything there is to know about their diagnosis. Virtual reality has helped to build that bridge between patient doctor discussion about a person’s diagnosis.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XoVpQG8Nd8U

 

The video above discusses how a system known as “Surgical Theatre”, created by Intel, allows doctors and surgeons to take a patient’s brain into a VR setting and allow them to look around and better understand what they are looking at which then allows the patient to better understand what is going inside their body.  However, this technology is only being used in certain hospitals in a few cities. The video explains the desire to have this VR technology in hospitals everywhere to help patients feel more comfortable with their diagnosis and to understand how their procedures will take place.  This VR technology has been instrumental in patients with brain tumors.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FuZjHnpYL_4

 

A CAT scan can only show a patient so much. However, with VR, patients can go inside their own brain to see, not only the tumor, but where the tumor is located in comparison to critical areas such as optical nerves and different lobes of the brain.  Intel has been working with doctors to enhance the system to help patients truly see every part of what is going on inside their heads.  This software is also changing the ways doctors prepare for brain surgeries.  Before this system, doctors never knew what to fully expect when they would go into the operating room (OR).  They would think in their minds all the steps they might need to take and what to do if something goes wrong.  Now, with this VR technology, doctors are able to perform a virtual procedure that allows them to decide, step by step, what they will do in the OR and help mentally prepare them for whatever might be coming when they begin the surgery.

 

See this article for more information on how Intel is working with doctors and hospitals to integrate this technology:

https://iq.intel.com/vr-prepares-doctors-patients-life-saving-surgery/

 

How about that?  Virtual reality inside your own brain.  I would give anything to see that, minus the whole brain tumor part. This technology is revolutionary to medicine and to the world.  Never would I have thought to use VR to help a patient understand what is going on in their brain.  I think this use of VR is extremely exciting and ground breaking, and I think this is going to be open a lot of door for the medical industry in the future.  Right now, it may just be brains, but in the next few years, think about everything else we could look at: knees before knee surgery, organs before transplants, maybe even pregnancies.  The opportunities are truly endless, and I am so excited to see what else comes from this with Intel.

Equipment Review: HAMSWAN Virtual Reality Goggles

Price: $21.99
Company: HAMSWAN


In the search of acquiring an affordable and functional VR headset I came across a pair listed on Amazon for a meager $21.99. Normally a price this low would leave me feeling skeptical when it comes to buying a product like this, but surprisingly enough the customer reviews were overwhelmingly positive. I hesitantly decided to put my faith in the favorable online reviews and purchased the HAMSWAN Virtual Reality Goggles. After about a month of casual use, the goggles have proven to be a decent introductory headset with a handful of limitations.

HAMSWAN Virtual Reality Goggles

HOW-TO USE

Using the HAMSWAN Virtual Reality Goggles is fairly straightforward. First you remove the detachable cover from the goggles exposing the elastic band. Once you have your video chosen, you strap your phone up using the band and put the detachable cover back onto the goggles. Put the goggles over your head and use the dial on top of the device to adjust the pupil distance to whatever looks best to the viewer. Adjust the straps accordingly to fit your head and you’re ready to go.

PROS

The Price

The most appealing selling factor for HAMSWAN Virtual Reality Goggles is its inexpensive price tag. For just under $22, it’ll be difficult to find another VR headset that affordable that isn’t cardboard. It’s a great way to try out VR without feeling financially strained for doing so.

The Build Quality

Despite the low price point, these goggles are still made somewhat well. The headset is only made up of three separate pieces, one being the goggles itself, the straps to keep the goggles on your head and the hard plastic cover that’ll rest over your phone when in use.  The frame is mostly made of a light plastic that feels durable enough to support normal amounts of use. Though trying to put the goggles through any conditions rougher than that might result in unwanted damage. The surface of the goggles is wrapped in a cloth-like fabric which is a strange choice for VR goggles, but doesn’t have any adverse effects because of it. The straps aren’t luxurious, but serve their purpose and can be adjusted to fit you best. A comfortable plush fabric lines where you view through the goggles making them pretty comfortable to use. The headset also comes with a small dial on-top of the headset letting you adjust the pupil distance according to what looks best for the viewer.

CONS

The Detachable Cover & Elastic Band

The aspect which led to the most trouble when using the HAMSWAN Virtual Reality Goggles was having to take off and put back on the detachable cover and remove the elastic band after every use. It’s a time consuming roadblock that comes after ever video you watch, making you spend nearly as much time taking out the phone and readjusting as you will actually spend using VR. This can make the experience less immersive for the viewer due to the several intermissions one has to take to make this adjustment.

The Focus

Even when streaming in 4K and using the adjustable pupil distance, the focus still has a slight gaussian blur effect that can become a slight distraction. It isn’t deal a breaking flaw, but defiantly an aspect which could be improved upon.

Adjustable Pupil Dial

OVERALL

While these goggles may lack certain luxuries like a remote controller or perfect focus, they are a solid introductory headset for those looking for a simple and casual experience. While improvements to the design could be made, it’s hard to complain too much with such a reasonable price.

 

Links To Purchase

Other Links

 

Written By: Nic Moore

One Strange Rock: Space in 360

“I took a look at the planet at just sort of let it sink in. I thought to myself, ‘this is something that human eyes are not supposed to see. This must be the view from Heaven.’” When Mike Massimino along with three other astronauts boarded the space shuttle, they were not prepared for the life-changing events that would take place as they graced the galaxy above.

National Geographic’s One Strange Rockthe first ever VR filmed in space- lets viewers experience first hand what being in zero gravity is like. Award-winning filmmaker Darren Arnofsky was able to capture the beauty of the planet with the Vuze 4K VR Camera from Humaneyes Technology. The compelling narratives from the astronauts paired with breathtaking 360 views of our planet make this virtual reality story innovative and extremely emotionally effective.

This piece is not solely about being in space. There is no guided tour, facts about the sun, or asteroids flying past us. Instead, viewers are forced to simply be still and notice. The way the video is able to evoke emotion so well is through the storytelling technique-  the strongest part of the piece. The astronauts each voiced-over a section of the video, elaborating on how their perspective of earth changed after viewing it in person. Using astronauts to narrate allows for an intimate tone throughout the video. Their individual stories guide us toward the overarching theme of appreciating the beauty of the earth and life itself.

 

This use of an intimate tone helps reveal connection we as human beings have with each other and the earth. If a starker tone was used instead, it would have the complete opposite effect and make us feel disconnected and the mystery of the earth more remote. We are presented with 360 degree immaculate views of space, view of the interior space shuttle, and different atmospheric landscapes around the world. We feel a sense of enlightenment and gratitude for our amazing world by the end of the video.

Ultimately, there were no flaws in this piece. The video is appropriate for all ages, and the storyline is unique as are the visuals. The story being told in Virtual Reality is essential to the piece. We have seen several photographs of outer space throughout our lives to the point where we have become desensitized to the fact that there is an entire universe floating above us. However, reintroducing the universe using Virtual Reality brings back our awareness and curiosity that some have lost. Of course the amazing 4K quality drastically helps immerse the viewers too. Seeing textbook style photographs of the moon may feel repetitive, but actually feeling like you can reach out and touch the moon may open our eyes a little wider. We can become inspired and educated about the earth with a fresh eye– future generations are going to have a powerful learning device in the classroom too.

One Strange Rock is an example of innovation in Virtual Reality. The 3D visuals and creative use of narration by the astronauts makes for a nearly unbelievable virtual reality experience. Incomparable to any other Virtual Reality story I have seen, One Strange Rock a definite must watch.