The Blog

Hopes & Dreams 2017: A Community Storytelling Project in Virtual Reality

(Brookline, Mass., June 1st , 2017) The first publicly-funded virtual reality lab in the U.S. has launched a participatory virtual reality (VR) campaign titled Hopes & Dreams. The project allows viewers to access community-based stories inside a virtual reality headset, on the web and via mobile.

One goal of the Public VR Lab and this project is to reduce the barriers to entry and show that virtual reality content creation can be easily created and shared on 3D web sites using WebVR and the programming language A-Frame, an open source tool created by Mozilla.

Kathy Bisbee, co-founder of the Public VR Lab, said that the accessibility to mass media, and gaining access to equipment and training are issues that traditional community media and VR share, “The Hopes & Dreams project and WebVR help lower the barriers to entry in the virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) space bringing new creators and storytellers into our community media centers to use our 360 cameras, and take classes in mixed reality content creation.”

“VR/AR is still in its nascent stages, but it’s growing fast. Many creators and storytellers don’t have the technical tools or the new skills required for this new industry,” citing the need for public accessibility to be part of the VR conversation.“

Nir Darom, BIG’s lead creative designer shared how the storytelling works in VR: “In the Hopes and Dreams project we wanted to let viewers feel as though they were right there, inside the circle of people sharing their hopes and dreams. Once you’re inside the circle, whoever you visually “click on” begins talking. This immediacy is what makes VR such a great documentary tool.”

When Fasility’s co-founders heard about the Public VR Lab’s mission, they knew WebVR and A-Frame would be a natural fit. “WebVR has the power to transform human storytelling,” said Kathy Trogolo, Fasility’s CEO. “Creators and storytellers are sharing something precious. Thanks to VR, their words and emotions are almost as impactful as they would be in person; plus, the interactive experience allows the viewer to pause and reflect on the content more deeply. The Public VR Lab and the Hopes & Dreams project is a perfect match with our mission to empower authors to create 3D immersive and interactive webspaces.”

Top five reasons WebVR is a key to the future of accessibility in VR/AR

  1. Works on the smartphone you already have in your hand
  2. Anyone can be an author – no expensive software or hardware needed
  3. Incorporates browser’s built-in accessibility features
  4. Works across mobile, desktop, and VR equipment like HTC Vive and Oculus Rift
  5. No app store!

Learn more about using WebVR to create virtual reality content at the free Boston Meetup at the Public VR Lab on June 8th, 2017 in Brookline, MA. Register here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/web-vr-and-you-tickets-34548544627

To view the Hopes and Dreams Virtual Reality project, visit the site below: http://brooklineinteractive.org/had

About the Public VR Lab

@PublicVRLab

www.publicvrlab.com

Over the past year the Lab has demoed over 90 virtual reality experiences at senior and teen centers, offered free bi-weekly VR sessions at its Boston-area labs, curated interactive content for film festivals, launched a VR Academy with free and low-cost classes, organized a regional virtual reality hackathon focused on climate change, and created the first private-public partnership for two location-based augmented reality community storytelling projects.  

In its second year, the Lab is building on its long tradition of public access television, to provide increased accessibility and digital inclusion with an immersive media grant program, and teaching specialized classes at their low-cost VR Academy to support the production of experiential storytelling, immersive journalism, storytelling in games, and new forms of artistic expression in the public sphere.

About Fasility

@fasility_vr

http://fasility.com/

Fasility is a WebVR consultancy focused on education and user empowerment. Fasility helps their clients create web-based VR experiences that are easy to navigate, impactful, and play back on desktop, cardboard, and high-end VR devices. Established in 2016, Fasility prioritizes design, human factors, and interoperability to reach broad and inclusive audiences. Through studio projects and customized training, Fasility is bringing the power of VR to everyday content creators.

What Do You Want to Create at the Public VR Lab?

We need your help in developing the Public VR Lab! Click here to fill out our survey and earn a chance to win an Eco Dot or win a free Public VR Lab membership!

Thanks for your help in developing the Public VR Lab! Become a member and make amazing immersive media!

2017 VR Ecohack Highlight Reel

First Augmented Reality Location-Based Storytelling Project Launches about Boston Marathon Memories  

Last week the Brookline Hub wrote a story about our cutting-edge Boston Marathon Moments project, a collaboration to gather and share community stories in augmented reality (AR) with Traces, a startup founded by London-based neuroscientist, Beau Lotto. Read the story here:

http://brookline.wickedlocal.com/article/20160526/NEWS/160527132
Runners and spectators can add their own stories before, during, or after Marathon Monday through the Traces app, found at Traces.io. Along the marathon route on Beacon Street, near Coolidge Corner and Washington Square, spectators and visitors can use the app to view the stories floating through the air along Beacon Street, waiting to be discovered, caught, and read/watched.

BIG is partnering with Traces to create original local content to be placed around Brookline and the surrounding communities in the app, which community members can then view. Bisbee is interested in sharing and expanding this project, hoping next year to have each town along the marathon route involved in creating and sharing their stories along the Boston Marathon miles through their towns. Initially, this project will focus on the Boston Marathon route as it winds through two miles of Beacon Street in Brookline.

[Above: Our favorite Brookline runner’s Marathon Moment (so far!) that will be shared in augmented reality (AR) through the Traces app.]

To participate through the production studios at BIG, one can sign up to come in to BIG on a Tuesday evening or Wednesday afternoon to briefly talk about their marathon memories, which could range from a yearly tradition, standout memory, or even their thoughts on this famous event. Participating will take no more than 30 minutes. BIG will professionally film, edit, and produce a brief video for each participant, and then place their story along the marathon route in Brookline. Alternatively, anyone in the Boston area and on Marathon Monday can add stories directly through the Traces.io app to the “Marathon Moments” storytelling campaign.

To learn more and sign up for a time to film your marathon moment or to learn how to use the Augmented Reality app, please visit https://brooklineinteractive.org/marathon-moments/. For questions, please contact Erin Kinney at erin at brooklineinteractive.org.

 

“Help us, Ecohackers, you’re our only hope.” VR Eco Hack 2017

[Above: Co-founder of the Public VR Lab, Kathy Bisbee, transforms into a Princess Leia hologram to promote the first ever VR Ecohack.]

Join us for the VR EcoHack, a regional hackathon in Brookline, MA on April 21-23rd, 2017 where teams of students and adults can create climate change content in virtual reality, augmented reality and 360 video.

Sign up here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/vr-ecohack-hacking-the-future-in-vr-ar-360-tickets-32803656620?aff=es2

We’ll have lesson plans from educators with a focus on science and media literacy that attendees can follow to develop content, and mentors and volunteers will be available all weekend to help inspire and guide teams.

Bring a formed team or meet new teammates at this hackathon to create and test your stories and games on multiple headsets, including HTC VIVEs, Hololens, Oculus, PSVR, Samsung Gear, and more.

Use the Public VR Lab’s 360 cameras, computer labs, television studios, and 3D asset libraries to create your team’s content. Food, fun and ample caffeine. Cash and awesome equipment prizes will be provided in all three categories. [Above: *free Vr EcoHack stickers to all!]

Participants over 13 and of all levels of VR, AR and 360 experience are encouraged to sign up.

NEW TO VR? If you’re new to VR, we welcome you to sign up for a FREE week-long pre-bootcamp beginning on Tuesday, April 18 through Friday, April 21st to help you learn new skills in 3D object creation, 360 video, Unity, VR illustration tools, Simmetri, and learn the basics of Aframe to create content in Web VR.

Please sign up directly on our web site linked here for the VR bootcamp.

Read more about the Hackathon at www.vrecohack.com or sign up!

Thanks to the VR EcoHack partners: Brookline Interactive Group, The Public VR Lab, Boston VR, Teach for America, Wayfair, Fasility, VR Doodler, Mass Media Literacy, Traces.io, LearnLaunch, VR at MIT, the Brookline Public Schools, Lifeliqe, Simmetri, VR- Before It’s Too Late, the VR/AR Association, ROTU, and the Transformative Culture Project.

 

Tonight: Public VR Lab & Boston VR Joint Meetup @BIG in Brookline

The Public VR Labpublicvrlab

The Public VR Lab is a collaborative effort to facilitate a public dialogue and projects around new VR-related technologies; to support the community creation of 360, virtual and augmented content, provide access to tools and headsets; and to generate socially-relevant and locally-focused public interest VR experiences. Brookline Interactive Group (BIG) and Northampton Community Television (NCTV) launched this VR accessibility and literacy initiative at their community media centers in Northampton and Brookline, MA, beginning in Spring of 2016.

In this short video, BIG’s Executive Director, Kathy Bisbee, who co-founded the Public VR Lab with NCTV’s Executive Director, Al Williams, shares the vision of the Lab’s work to bring the public access to VR/AR, local content creation, expertise and public trainings through several initiatives.


Since then the Lab has offered free weekly public demos of VR experiences via the HTC Vive headset and controllers at both locations, at senior centers, fairs, and at pop-up public events, and created a fall VR Academy to train Brookline High School students. The Lab held its first Meetup in Boston in August 2016 with speakers from the VR content creation team at FRONTLINE on their pioneering immersive journalism films and projects, and has since partnered with VR/AR Hackathons, other mixed reality creators and labs, and in collaboration with Boston VR, the Science & Media Awards Summit, the Pioneer Valley Game Group, and curated the interactive component of the 2016 Northampton Film Festival. The Public VR Lab recently offered a mini-VR Lab talk and demos in Charleston, WV to offer opportunities to residents there.
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FREE & Accessible Virtual Reality Demos  

Since May of 2016, through the Public VR Lab, BIG and NCTV have provided free public demos of over thirty virtual reality experiences to hundreds of local residents. This free public access allows any community member the opportunity to experiment with VR-related technologies and storytelling in VR. In 2017, the Lab will also offer augmented reality (AR) demos as well. List of VR demos and experiences available.

Brookline Interactive Group, 46 Tappan Street, Brookline MA. 3rd Floor of the Unified Arts Building, Directly next door to the Brookline hills green line stop.

Wednesdays: 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Fridays: 2:00 PM – 3:30 PM

NCTV, Northampton MA

http://northamptontv.org/public-virtual-reality-demos/

[NCTV] Northampton MA

VR Academy

The VR Academy is a project of the Public VR Lab that began in Fall 2016 to help facilitate content creation through classes, workshops and hackathons focused on training high school and college students, as well as adults. The VR Academy also will launch regional and nationwide training programs in 2017 to train non-profit organizational staff, small businesses, and education administrators how to use, create, and implement VR-related technologies into their day-to-day services and programs. In 2017, the VR Academy/Public VR Lab will offer classes and workshops in Brookline/Boston and western Massachusetts in Unity, Simmetri, 3-D Modeling for VR, 360 Filmmaking & Cinematography, Digital Storytelling in 360, Storytelling in AR, and larger scale hackathons with a goal of training and content creation generated from the Lab and shared throughout the VR and broader community.
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Special Events

BIG & NCTV has and will continue to set up free community demos at a variety of locations, including senior and youth centers, at housing projects, libraries, conferences, hospitals, community fairs, business events, colleges, and in public places throughout 2016 and 2017. Check here for a link to our events calendar for the Public VR Lab.
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VR Resources

VR & AR Headsets

HTC Vive – https://www.vive.com/us/

Oculus Rift – https://www.oculus.com/

Samsung Gear VR – http://www.samsung.com/us/explore/gear-vr/?cid=ppc-

Google Daydream – https://vr.google.com/daydream/

Microsoft Hololens – https://www.microsoft.com/microsoft-hololens/en-us

Content Creation Resources (More links coming soon!) 

Email josh at publicvrlab.com with any suggestions for good resource sites. 

  • 360 Video
    • 360 content from BIG & The Public VR Lab
    • Tutorials
    • Tips & Tricks

360 Cameras

The Future of VR/AR/360

Visit the Public VR Lab at The Northampton Film Festival: September 28th-October 2nd!

“Humans have long been able to immerse themselves in other worlds, through oral story or novels, painting, photographs, television, cinema and pure imagination. The mind does not travel alone — the body most certainly comes along for the ride.”

– Nonny de la Peña, Co-Founder, Emblematic Group

Explore the immersive nature of storytelling with both your mind and body at the Northampton Film Festival for our second Public VR Lab event. Sink yourself into our national parks; navigate through stories about loss, abortion and domestic violence; feel the experiences of others in immersive journalism; and create art in VR/AR.

VR/AR and 360 developers and content creators will give short talks from 4-6pm about some of the ten interactive and immersive experiences on many HTC VIVEs, Gear VRs, Google Cardboard, and Hololens.

Explore a 3D experience of the human body via the award-winning HoloAnatomy using a Hololens; watch a dramatic unfolding of domestic violence situations as one of the
characters in Emblematic Group’s volumetric VR piece Kiya; experience firsthand what it feels like to cross the line at an abortion clinic in Across the Line.

View FRONTLINE’s new interactive Emmy-award winning project called Inheritance as well as their immersive journalism pieces. Enjoy nature across the world with Specterras’ “Env
elopvision” experience of Zion National Park
. Play games and make art  via Tiltbrush and VR Doodler and with the Pioneer Valley Game Developers who will be showing an unreleased, never-shown-before AR (augmented reality) game in development on the Google Tango platform as part of their talk!

Join us for an awesome four days in western Mass -art, world-class films (film and workshop schedule available here), storytelling, games, VR, and community participation. As part of the NFF, Mono No Aware from Brooklyn, NY will offer a day-long 16mm and Super-8 filmmaking workshop on Sunday, October 2nd, 2016, and participants’ films will screen that evening at the Festival.

The Crowdsourced Cinema community art project will also screen their version of the Princess Bride on Sunday at 7pm, where 40+ teams each contributed their remade scenes to remake this classic film, whose newly-crowdsourced original score was created by multiple western Mass musicians.

FRONTLINE’s VR Team to Speak at the First Public VR Lab Meetup in Brookline

Brookline Interactive Group (BIG) is hosting the first ever Public VR Lab Meetup event, and is thrilled to announce that FRONTLINE’s Virtual Reality team will be speaking at at this event. This event will take place on Thursday, August 4th, 2016 from 5:30-9:00 p.m. at BIG’s innovative community media space at 46 Tappan St in Brookline.

At this event, the FRONTLINE team will speak about their VR production process and, for one night only at the event, share some of their immersive journalism projects. FRONTLINE Series coordinating producer Carla Borras and production assistant Kenzie Audette will talk about FRONTLINE’s foray into virtual reality, their virtual reality processes, and some of the lessons they have learned along the way.

They will also share behind the scene stories from the filmmakers, some of the challenges FRONTLINE has faced pioneering high-end VR journalism, which include Night of the Storm, Return to Chernobyl, On the Brink of Famine, and Ebola Outbreak pieces, and tips for creating VR films.

Brookline Interactive Group (BIG) is the organizer and co-sponsor of this event, along with Northampton Community Television, who are the founders of the Public VR Lab. The Lab is a collaborative effort to facilitate a public dialogue around new VR-related technologies, and support the community creation of 360, virtual and augmented content, access to tools and headsets, and socially-relevant and locally-focused VR experiences. BIG and NCTV have launched accessibility and literacy initiatives in VR at their community media centers in western Mass. See more about their accessibility and literacy initiative in VR at: http://publicvrlab.com/.

In addition to FRONTLINE’s presentation, this event provides an exclusive opportunity for attendees to demo and experience FRONTLINE’s immersive journalism project on BIG and NCTV’s multiple HTC VIVE VR headsets and controllers. The event will also feature conversations about the future of the public Commons in VR, ample refreshments, and the opportunity to try other gaming and story-focused VR experiences.

All VR enthusiasts are encouraged to sign up for the Public VR Lab meetup group and register to attend this event. As spots are limited, BIG recommends attendees sign up early. Meetup members may register at: http://www.meetup.com/The-Public-VR-Lab/events/232287760/ or at BIG’s eventbrite link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/public-vr-lab-meetup-launch-tickets-26547053953

For questions about the August 4th Public VR Lab meetup event, please contact Kathy Bisbee, Executive Director of BIG, at kathy@brooklineinteractive.org.

The Public VR Lab is a collaborative effort to facilitate a public dialogue around new VR-related technologies, and support the community creation of 360, virtual and augmented content, access to tools and headsets, and socially-relevant and locally-focused VR experiences. Brookline Interactive Group (BIG) and Northampton Community Television (NCTV) launched this VR accessibility and literacy initiative in Spring of 2016 at their community media centers in Northampton and Brookline, MA. www.publicvrlab.com

About Brookline Interactive Group (BIG):

Brookline Interactive Group (BIG) is an integrated media and technology education center and a community media hub for Brookline, MA. BIG provides access to innovative media-making tools, facilitates diverse community dialogue, incubates hyperlocal storytelling, arts, media literacy and technology projects, and serves over 500 youth annually. BIG offers extensive multimedia training, collaboratively produces local content, and provides low-cost professional media services to non-profit organizations, education partners, businesses, and to local government.

About Northampton Community Television (NCTV)

Northampton Community Television is a community media arts center whose mission is to serve as a model organization to enable expression of all kinds across mediums, providing resources and programming and educational opportunities to the community through all means technologically available. We are independent hyperlocal media. We are a physical public makerspace. We are a legal street art multimedia wall. We are a storytelling hub. We are an economic development organization. We provide opportunities for voices that do not have other opportunities. We provide free services to local nonprofit organizations and the community and tools for the professional multimedia community.


Photo: “Razer OSVR Open-Source Virtual Reality for Gaming” by Maurizio Pesce via Flickr. Licensed under CC BY 2.0

Northampton Community Television Tries out the Ricoh Theta S

 

 

Brookline Interactive Group Brings Virtual Reality to Town – Wicked Local

First came radio, then television, then the internet. The next big thing to shake up the way people consume media may be virtual reality, according to a growing chorus of media experts.
“I think VR is as big as the internet,” said Kathy Bisbee, Brookline Interactive Group’s executive director.