Who first created the VR platform

VR Experience Designer - Job 3

Reading time: 6 minutes

I don't know who else is, but I just can't get the words "virtual reality" out of my mouth. Virtual Reality - virtual realities. So far, I've only had theoretical experience with VR. Despite all the language difficulties, a job in VR should not be missing on my list of my future professions, I think. That's why I'm working as a VR Experience Designer this week.

I get in touch with Dr. Jonathan through Jonathan, whom I got to know for his book “Junge Überflieger”. Rolf Illenberger. Rolf is the managing director of Viond, a Munich startup that offers a platform for 360 ° / VR experiences. You would like to support my project, writes Rolf. And would have VR experience designers that I could accompany. We exchange a few emails and agree on a spontaneous deployment a week and a half later.

Working in the international software development team as a VR Experience Designer

Two Mondays later, I meet Rolf in person. He's come up with a few things for my week at Viond. After an overview of the company and the product and getting to know my colleagues, I'm supposed to build my first VR experience on the second day. So I could prepare myself well for the Family & Friends Hackathon, which takes place at the end of the week and where the content creator creates virtual worlds and experiences with the company's own VR platform in a battle. But first there is the “All Hands Meeting”, where all employees of the company find out about current processes and topics.

Scrum is used here

Around the table are the children of this world who I remember well from my time in kindergarten. Back then they were smaller and shook hands while standing around the globe. Today they have grown up and work as software engineers or VR experience designers at Viond. There is Orlando from Argentina, Max from Ukraine, Rémi from France, Perla and Diego from Mexico, Theo from South Africa, Danny from Indonesia and Lisa, Lea and Rolf from Germany. Great! After the all hands meeting, there is a stand-up meeting. The stand-up meeting, also known as Daily Scrum, is part of Scrum, an agile project management method that is often used in software development. Everyone tells what they have been working on since the day before, what they will be working on until the next meeting and what dangers they see that could keep them from achieving their goal.

When I look at Lisa questioningly, she calms me down. “This has nothing to do with your job as a VR Experience Designer,” she says. “With us you are also part of the Viond development team. But you wouldn't be if you were to take care of their VR experiences in another company. ”After the stand-up meeting, I follow Lisa into the company's communal area. “We thought for a long time what we should call the job that you are testing with us. The term VR Experience Designer seemed the most appropriate to us. It's part of the job I do at Viond, ”Lisa explains to me. Viond, she tells me, has only existed since March of this year and was previously a Re'flekt product. After the spin-off, the entire team that was responsible for the Viond product at Re'flekt moved to the new company.

Viond in white

The difference between VR and 360 °

Viond offers companies a platform with which they can create their own interactive 360 ​​° and VR offers within a short period of time. With the use of the platform, you no longer have to program these yourself. "360 °?" I ask Lisa. "What is the difference to VR?" “The terms are often mixed up,” she answers me. VR glasses, which are often equated with VR, cause confusion. It is only an output device on which you can watch VR, but also 360 ° content.

360°

The 360 ​​° content includes photos or videos that are recorded with 360 ° cameras and provide a panoramic view, of course you can also look up and down. The user always looks from the point of view of the camera that took the pictures beforehand. He can change the direction of view, all other of his movements are not taken into account. With his gaze he can trigger interactions or move around in 360 ° space. To move means to jump from one camera setting to the next. You can view 360 ° recordings on a device that you hold in your hand, for example on a tablet or smartphone. But you can also watch them in VR mode with VR glasses.

VR

VR, on the other hand, is a computer-generated 3D environment that can only be displayed using VR glasses. The user can move around the room and trigger interactions with special gloves, for example. The computer calculates the location based on the tracked movements and displays the environment accordingly or triggers the interactions. With VR and 360 °, the user can decide for himself which direction to look or which interaction to trigger. The VR pioneer Nonny de la Peña explains in her 10-minute TED Talk what VR is and what it can be used for. If you have more time, we recommend the science fiction thriller Ready Player One by Steven Spielberg, in which the majority of humanity will live in a virtual world in 2045. There are cool 360 ° videos from Disney about the jungle book. VR and 360 ° make it possible to experience and immerse yourself in content. They are already used in a variety of areas, for example in therapy, marketing and education.

How to build a 360 ° experience

After the theoretical basics, I get an introduction to the Viond platform. Software engineer Perla gives me an overview of the system. In the upper part of the program I can look at 360 ° pictures or videos and use interactive elements. In the lower part I can define the number and order of scenes. Each scene contains a 360 ° photo or video. I can also create transitions from one scene to the other. Should the user of a virtual tour of the apartment be able to go from the living room to the kitchen, for example? Or back in the hallway? In the job as a VR Experience Designer, I do exactly that: I decide which recordings I take for the experience, how I arrange them and guide the user through and which interactions there should be. To get more familiar with the system, I recreate the experience of a tour of the office. It's not that difficult at all. But the conceptual work was already done by someone else. “Jannike, are you coming to say goodbye to two colleagues?” Lisa calls out to me. I close my laptop and follow my colleagues onto the roof terrace. My day ends with beer and hot dogs. It can go on like this.

My first own VR experience

The next day I am allowed to build my first own experience. We received 360 ° recordings from a potential customer, which I should look at and think about which composition, order and interactions could result in a good story. I look at the 360 ​​° videos in 2D and have difficulties mentally translating the recordings into 3D. What do the rooms look like and how are they related? Which door leads to which room? Where does the balcony go? How do I arrange the content so that it makes sense, both in terms of content and space? I draw the floor plan and slowly get an idea. I then cut the videos into individual sequences on my laptop. My experience in the job as a video producer helps me now. I decide which scenes I want to use and which one I want to start with. I upload the individual video snippets in Viond. The fan on my laptop is noticeable. The capacities of a MacBook Air do not seem to be sufficient for the amount of data.

How do I want to send the users through the virtual space?

I add graphics that can be clicked to move to the next room or video. I loop some of the videos or ask the user to take the next step. As a rough structure and story are available, I export my experience to view it on my mobile phone with VR glasses. Error message. I check every single component of my experience, insert new transitions and check the links between the graphics. After an hour I discover the source of the error: I used a special character in a file name. Sometimes things are so simple. I proudly show Lisa my result and have the impression that she is already satisfied with it. "Unfortunately, this video material does not offer many opportunities to incorporate interactions," she says. “Interaction options should be planned directly when recording the content. They are really good at involving the user. Personally, I would now create a menu that you can use to start the experience and make the graphics a little clearer. ”No sooner said than done.

Almost closing time - the hackathon is over

My first hackathon

I'm building my second experience as part of Team 2 at the Hackathon on Friday. The Viond meeting room is full of VR experience designers, IT nerds, content creators and game design students, some of whom have brought their own computers and screens. In eight hours we are supposed to build an experience on the subject of "Space Colonization". In Team 2 we decide on a user-friendly version of the proficiency test for the Mars One Mission. Lisa is part of my team and shows me all the interactions that can be built into an experience as a VR Experience Designer. Cool. Unfortunately we don't win the hackathon. But the competition was also good. It was fun anyway. As always, I'll save for my book why VR Experience Designer is a profession of the future and what you need for it. I'm now going home on the night train and using the time to work on my pronunciation. Virtual Reality, Virtual Reality, Virtual Reality.

Many thanks to Jonathan, Rolf, Lisa, Lea, Perla, Diego, Rémi, Orlando, Max, Danny and Theo!

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  1. BuGaSi on July 31, 2018 at 10:42 am
    • Jannike on July 31, 2018 at 11:10 am