Disney and VR?

Disney is known for doing exceptional things, especially in their parks. Personally, I think the next step for Disney would be to do stuff with Virtual Reality. This made me wonder if Disney had done anything with VR because I hadn’t heard anything about it. After researching, I found that Disney has been trying out VR and the possibilities look endless.

Disney Research has recently started messing around with VR. They have discovered this program called Cardinal. By using Cardinal, Disney Research has figured out a way to convert movie scripts into real-time VR experiences.

According to Sasha Schriber, Disney Research digital platforms group lead, the process could eventually be used for traditional filmmaking. Schriber said, “It goes from script to storyboard to animation in real-time.”

Image Credit: Janko Roettgers

The purpose of Project Cardinal is to speed up the process of making scripts into storyboards and eventually into animation. With Cardinal, it would all be automatic. Not only does the software take scripts and turn them into simple animations, but it also allows creators to put voice recordings in on the spot and preview the scenes in VR.

Characters can be moved from within the headset and Disney Research hopes to add more advanced editing skills that creators can do within the headsets. If the creators can edit more things within the headset, it will make the process of making a movie go a lot quicker.

Disney Research is currently testing Cardinal with a number of filmmakers. Schriber admitted that there was still work to be done and Cardinal is not perfect. Schriber said, “Each scriptwriter writes in his or her own way.” This complicates the process since Cardinal only has a simple language for scripts that it takes in. Since all writers write differently, Cardinal will not work for all scripts.

Disney Research has encouraged scriptwriters to make their writing simple. Disney Research also encouraged scriptwriters to stick to the present tense, since that is what Cardinal is used to. If scriptwriters are able to make their writing simpler, then their scripts will come to life a lot quicker. Instead of waiting almost two years, scriptwriter could be waiting only a handful of months to see their works come to life.

Another cool thing that Disney has done is a drawing of a Disney character in VR. Disney animator Glen Keane went on The Late Late Show to draw his favorite Disney character, Ariel from The Little Mermaid, in VR. Keane used the app Tilt Brush VR app to complete this drawing.

It is amazing to watch how Keane does this. Watch the video below and hopefully, you are just as amazed as I was! The way that the strokes are made in VR is mesmerizing and I found myself not being able to look away!

I am hoping that Disney continues to explore the possibilities of VR. There are so many things that Disney could do with VR. Maybe one day, Disney will be able to do a VR Disney movie! Like I said before, the possibilities are endless.


UK class meets in virtual reality

McKenna Horsley using VTime for JOU 497 in the Kentucky Kernel office. Photo by Arden Barnes

Virtual reality may be a young field, but the possibilities for the platform are endless. One class at the University of Kentucky used the technology to meet in class rather than in its regular classroom.

Students in David Stephenson’s JOU 497 class, also known as virtual reality storytelling, met in groups on a VR chat social network called VTime to discuss their own VR projects for the class in early February.

Instead of meeting in their regular computer lab, students attended class in restaurants, their beds and even the Kentucky Kernel office. Stephenson met in chat rooms with two to three of members of the class at a time. He has taught previous sections of JOU 497 but this class was the first to meet virtually.

VTime is over two years old and allows users from across the world to meet in virtual chat rooms based on environments like an executive air jet or a campfire in the woods. As of now, the platform only allows for a total of four users to be in a room. VTime is available for iPhones for free. The app works with Google Cardboard viewers or similar VR viewers.

Aaron Porter, a student within the class, got on VTime while he was eating lunch with a friend. He enjoyed the experience because it showed that people can connect in the same space without actually occupying the same space. He said that VR opens up many new opportunities for education.

“You can have a class of thousands of people put them all in one class while a professor teaches it… There would be people all across the county—all across the world—that could see it,” Porter said.

Porter said that the class discussed ways VR can be applied to education. For example, some medical students at the University of California San Francisco are using VR in their classes to better understand anatomy and forgoing older methods such as cadavers and textbooks, according to the university’s website.

Today vTime turns two! We'd like to thank each and every one of you for being a part of our journey. Every idea,…

Posted by vTime on Friday, December 22, 2017

Savon Gray, another student within the class and Porter’s partner, said he liked being able to attend class from the comfort of his own bed. He liked switching between scenes, such as the banks of river in a forest and a space station. Gray said the experience seemed so real that he “could feel the water between my toes.” He could also see the body of his avatar, which added to the immersion.

He said the experience allows for a stronger connection in communication.

“It’s kind of like FaceTime, except for you are looking at your virtual person than your actual face,” he said.

Naliah Spencer, a student in JOU 497, uses VTime to meet with other students while she is in an office.

According to an article from Reality Technologies, social networks like Facebook are exploring VR-based forms of communication. The social media giant’s plans unveiled in 2016 used the Oculus Rift headset and allowed users to create their own avatars. The same article also mentions that Google is exploring ways to connect people within VR and that the company sees VR’s future is in immersing users both physically and emotionally.


Exploring VR and AR on campus

The first three weeks of class were spent exploring, and more importantly experiencing, the ways the virtual reality and augmented reality are being used for gaming or visualization. Thanks to Nathan Stevens for giving us the afternoon with his HTC Vive and also to Dr. Song for a tour of the visualization lab in the Computer Sciences Department where we also were able to test out the new Microsoft Hololens.