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VR Academy Classes

BIG and the Public VR Lab are pleased to offer several classes in virtual reality this summer and fall.

WebVR with A-Frame

Want to make 3D websites? We’ll show you how in this two-session class! Instructors from Fasility will lead two sessions on how to make virtual reality for the web, also known as WebVR. We’ll use A-Frame, a popular and free framework from Mozilla that makes VR as easy and powerful as editing HTML.

Next sessions: September 7th & 14th 5:30-7:30pm – $50

Register here.

Designing for VR: Creating 3D objects with Blender
Blender is a free professional open-source 3D computer graphics software used for creating animated films, visual effects, and video games. This two-session introductory course will provide you with a basic understanding of using Blender, including creating basic shapes, color and rendering options, and modeling techniques.

Next sessions: TBD

Introduction to Unity
Unity is a powerful and widely-used game engine for developing VR experiences, as well as video games for consoles, mobile devices, and websites.
This 2-session workshop will introduce you to the basic functions and concepts of Unity and will provide you with the opportunity to do 3D modeling and coding through its systems.

Next session: Monday, October 23rd & 30th – $50

Unity – Basic Coding
Unity is a powerful and widely-used game engine for developing VR experiences, as well as video games for consoles, mobile devices, and websites.
This 2 session workshop will introduce you to the basic functions and concepts of Unity and will provide you with the opportunity to learn basic C# coding.

Next session: TBD

Creating VR Experiences With Simmetri –
Simmetri is an immersive design tool for creating interactive experiences for VR. In this one-session workshop taught by its lead developer, you will learn about the basics of Simmetri and create a mini-VR experience with your classmates. You will also export a 360 degree video of your creation for uploading to YouTube to share with friends.

In the class, we’ll learn the basics on using the tool and begin exploring and experimenting with various ideas.

For ages 14 and up

Next sessions: TBD

Illustration in VR: Using VR Doodler
Want to create a virtual reality experience? Not crazy about learning Unity? If you like to draw or tell stories, come learn how to use VR Doodler, an easy-to-use online tool that enables you to make a 3D drawing on the web that you can ultimately turn into a virtual reality story!

For ages 14 and up

Next sessions: TBD

What is Community VR?

What is Community VR? (the short version, for now)

Kathy Bisbee presenting on Community VR

Co-founder and Director of the Public VR Lab, Kathy Bisbee presenting on Community VR at NATOA 2017

I’m in the process of writing a longer article than this one about a new movement I hope you’ll join me to seed, fund, cultivate and grow. It’s called the Community VR movement. Like its sister movement, Community Media, it’s a movement where everyone can participate, create, learn, share and express. Where everyone’s stories matter, everyone is included, and everyone’s voices can be heard. It shares a goal of providing equitable access to media making tools, training, and in inspiring the next generation of journalists, filmmakers, creators and storytellers. The only thing it doesn’t have in common with community media is that it’s not yet ubiquitous or woven into our social, cultural, economic and public fabric. Yet.

The Public VR Lab is building an inclusive Community VR movement that will facilitate public dialogue; provide professional training; empower community knowledge and creation of 360, virtual and augmented content; provide access to tools, headsets, arcades, toolkits, and professional expertise; and generate locally-focused, broadly impactful, Next Realities experiences in the public interest. Here’s a recent highlight reel about our work at the Lab.

At the NATOA conference (the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors …) in Seattle this week, I was met with surprisingly-engaged enthusiasm from government employees who tried our HTC VIVE after my presentation and wanted to figure out how they could use VR and 360 in their communities. Colleagues began the process of signing up to become a Public VR Lab affiliate; others wanted to purchase our Public VR Lab Toolkits (VR demo and content creator toolkits); others still asked about our curriculum, equipment, staffing; and NATOA attendees from Alaska to Massachusetts inquired about applying to our national collaborative project called “Immigration Stories in Full Frame: Reimagining Migration.”

We have to be mindful not to make early mistakes as this new medium grows from infancy into its preteen years, assuring that equipment/headsets, powerful computers, and training programs are accessible to all, no matter your geography, income, gender, ethnicity, etc. We need to educate creators on the potentially troubling “virtual literacy” issues and ethics concerns inherent to this visceral medium; to the dangers of limiting our characters in VR to our own/current biases and roles; and to consider policies that hold VR/AR marketing, propaganda, access to the new currencies of the metaverse, and the use of public spaces in careful check with public interest needs.

A longer article will be published later this month on the implications of this work, my thoughts on the immediate challenges and opportunities, the projects we’ve set out to grow the movement in the next year, and ways you can help to support Community VR. Stay tuned!

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 April of 2016, and have expanded the Lab to grow a national network of Lab affiliates to work collaboratively to build a movement for Community VR. Please join us!

Become an affiliate of the Public VR Lab at your library, community media or arts organization, government agency, or newsroom, and be part of building the movement for Community VR. 

Brookline Town Hall in 360 Sketch

Two things to share today:

Google Expeditions

Excited to see this great tool for sharing VR experiences now open beyond education:

Google opens Expeditions VR education app to the public

In other news, our team created this super cool 360 illustration of Brookline Town Hall!

Brookline Town Hall 360° Sketch Video

Brookline Interactive Group is hiring!

Brookline Interactive Group, one of the community media arts centers houses the Public VR Lab’s work in the Boston area, is hiring an Assistant Director, a new position.

While our work at BIG is in predominantly in community media arts, the AD will be able to participate in rolling out our new model of community media in the VR /AR space, providing public accessibility and digital inclusion in this still nascent industry, and will help us gain the capacity to grow our work in Brookline and beyond.

Applications accepted until July 25th, 2017.

Anyone with relevant experience in media arts facilitation/ non-profit operations will be interviewed by phone or in person.

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!

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

[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 –

Oculus Rift –

Samsung Gear VR –

Google Daydream –

Microsoft Hololens –

Content Creation Resources (More links coming soon!) 

Email josh at 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