Mixed Reality Video

One of the really fun projects I got to work on over the past few months was creating a mixed reality video to show off SteamVR and the HTC Vive. With virtual reality we had this big problem that it can be really difficult to convey what its really like to be in it. So far mostly the best we have done to deal with this is just spend lots of time doing demos. Now that products are out in public the number of people who can experience it in person have grown a ton but its still only a limited set of people that will actually get to try out the hardware for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile there are a ton of videos that capture the first person view that the player sees inside VR or else footage of the person standing in a room moving around (or maybe a split-screen with both at the same time). These can be a good start but the first person view swings around all over as the person looks around and doesn’t feel especially real.

A mixed reality video on the other hand can provide a much better representation of what its like to be a real person “inside” one of these environments. An external camera shoots the person playing in a green-screen environment and they are composed into the views generated by the game (but the game generates a view from the perspective of the camera, not the person’s head). Camera movement helps a ton too because it helps you feel the real dimensionality of the space the person is in as opposed to the person just moving around on a 2d background.

Check it out here-

One of the best things about this was working with the awesome Valve film team and getting a chance to experience a professional video shoot and the great ideas they had about what would make a compelling video. The goal from the beginning was to make something that felt really real and didn’t come across as the usual marketing gimmick video. So a ton of the planning around the shoot involved bringing in normal people and really just trying to capture their actual reactions experiencing VR for the first time and playing the games. The funny thing is that many of the best reactions didn’t make the final video because they were so over the top that they looked fake. They were actually totally real but its one of those things where people would never have believed it just watching a 5 minute video. Oh well.

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