All posts in VR Education

Building a Community VR Movement: The Lab Featured in MIT’s Immerse Publication

The Co-founder and Director of the Public VR Lab, Kathy Bisbee, was one of several immersive storytelling thought leaders featured in a recent MIT publication, Immerse, in an article about Who is VR for? Kathy shares her expertise and thoughts about building a national movement for Community VR, a phrase she’s used to describing how community media and place0-based arts organizations can develop to create hyperlocal immersive stories, games, journalism, and experiences in VR by collaborating, co-funding, and partnering with media outlets, municipalities, libraries, community media arts organizations, film festivals, and universities.

https://immerse.news/who-is-vr-for-20b3f077a912

 

 

Virtual Reality (VR) in the Public Interest….

Tomorrow we’re driving down to Games for Change in NYC. As usual, I’m thinking about VR-in-the-public interest and how we can differentiate gaming from the many other ways we can learn, share, create and teach VR. At the Public VR Lab, we’ve been teaching our community and beyond for over a year now to use new tools and equipment for community storytelling, immersive journalism, and documentary filmmaking in order to heal from trauma and to create awareness and action around the health of our planet. Here’s a few of this week’s highlights and resources we’ve seen so far in the space.

On the content creation side, our team is learning how we can deploy content, trainings and toolkits to our members, community of media makers and to share with other colleagues. While this may seem something drawn from the 1992 novel “Snow Crash” and its “metaverse,” it means the beginning of public creation tools and a door to many new social, creative and possibly economic platforms/spaces that are sure to follow for an almost ready VR-ready world. This might be the closest thing to Dreamweaver for VR that we’ve seen to date. P.S Snow Crash is a must-read.

Start Building Your VR Second Life in Sansar

Empathy-producing content can help us to understand what it is like to “be” a tree, or understand what it might be like to be in the body of another, and to feel “presence” that helps you to put yourself outside of your own experience. Feeling empathy inside of VR can even move us to action on issues like social and environmental justice in the “real” world.

VR-related technologies can help shape beautiful new ways we see ourselves, our current reality, and can shift our perception of what truth and reality are. VR can help us experience and understand many things from visceral perspectives that embody the experience of the “other.”

Tree, is a virtual-reality project that transforms you into a rainforest tree. With your arms as branches and your body as the trunk, you’ll experience the tree’s growth from a seedling into its fullest form and witness its fate firsthand. Tree elevates the concept of empathy in VR, helping the participant understand what it’s like to be a tree in the Amazon. I particularly love the redwood version of this created by Marshmallow Laser Feast (I so love this name!) with a haptic feedback vest that makes you feel like you are entering inside the tree. 

And this project, RIOT  whose filmmaker, Karen Palmer, will speak at our favorite festival for storytelling, the Future of Storytelling in NYC this October. According to FOST, she was inspired by the events in Ferguson, MO, following the shooting of Michael Brown, and created RIOT, an emotionally responsive, live-action film that uses AI and machine learning through facial recognition to allow participants to navigate though a dangerous riot. Palmer’s work challenges participants to understand other people’s lived experiences, and represents a powerful development in the emerging field of neurogames.

Another area of VR-in-the-public interest growth is in the health sector, and how VR can make us “think” differently and even heal from trauma. This New York Times had a great story today about the use of VR by therapists to heal patients from the fear and trauma of car accidents, the fear of heights, flying, spiders, PTSD, and other forms of anxiety and stress.

And lastly, the team at the Public VR Lab sat in on an insightful VRARA webinar a few weeks ago hosted with Robert Scoble as he shared his always intriguing insights about where tech and VR in particular is headed (here). Check it out!

Gateway Arts Visits the Public VR Lab

We’ve been super busy this month at the Public VR Lab and Brookline Interactive Group.

We’re hiring a new Assistant Director, have several summer multimedia programs (aka “camps”) for kids, launched new VR classes for adults, and co-coordinated Crowdsourced Boston to get ten other community media centers involved in re-creating Back to the Future! BIG’s talented members won three awards at the Alliance for Community Media‘s national Hometown Awards, and BIG won Best Public Access Station in the country! Woot!

We are laying our plans for our fall eleven-day film sprint, curating the immersive content and LIVE VR ART at the Northampton Film Festival for their September 27-October 1st, 2017 fest, in collaboration with our sister organization, Northampton Community Television (NCTV).

We’re launching a national collaborative on a VR project around immigration stories, and an affiliate program will be announced soon so that libraries, teen centers, arts and cultural organizations and media centers can learn to share VR with their communities, have the equipment and training they need to start a Lab on site and engage their communities in a conversation about the future of 3D computing!

Our VR demos are weekly, and recently we had Lead Boston, Brookline High School math camps, and the Gateway Arts program stop by for a tour and VR demos at the Lab.

Check out the cool vid of their folks playing for the first time in VR above!

 

DEADLINE EXTENDED: Immigrations Stories in Full Frame: Collaborative 360/VR Filmmaking

Collaborative Immigration Project: Deadline extended to 9/18/2017

We’re building a national collaboration project around 360 filmmaking, immersive journalism, and community storytelling. You’re invited to apply to join our team, and we’ve extended the deadline to help more folks apply to the project.

Join our cohort to learn, share, and create a 360/VR documentary project on “Re-imaging Migration” together over the next year, as well as a create traditional media content for our local, regional and national networks. We’ll even have an app, and insights throughout the project experts on immigration messaging, history of migration in America, and on interviewing techniques.

To Apply:

Please email info@brooklineinteractive.org with the following information:

  • Contact info for applicants
  • A description of your work and your organization (media center, news outlet, library, arts org, etc)
  • Your interest in 360 video and immigration stories in your community
  • Capacity: Describe the technical skills and interest of your team, storytelling, and journalism, as well as describing the immigration stories that you feel need to be shared from your community.
  • Describe a current collaboration you participate in and your experience in it. Why do you wish to collaborate with our project? What can you offer your cohort co-members?
  • Do you currently own any camera equipment? Any 360 equipment?
  • How able are you to meet monthly on a call with the cohort?
  • Application date is now September 18th, 2017 at midnight

We’ll begin our work together in late October/early November and it will continue through the summer of 2018.

Requirements: Team collaborative calls monthly to share successes, challenges, and opportunities,  webinars (optional), and training/tips on 360 filmmaking.

We’ll provide a 360 camera, an ambisonic microphone, training on 360 filmmaking, and on VR/AR technologies, and immigration interviewing techniques, and other topics and coordinate editing and submission of the final piece to film festivals as well as promote the work of the collaborative, locally, regionally and nationally.

We hope to together create a template for a strong immersive news/content sharing network, engaged communities, training programs, and collaborative, community-based VR projects.

We hope that we’ll find some best practices for how to work together as a national cohort group, developing our methods, techniques, strategies, funding, and distribution to create social impact in the area of immersive, empathetic immigration stories.

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

“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.

 

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

360 Degrees of Wow

The presentation begins with the group entering virtual reality themselves and introducing the topic of their conversation.  First they talk about the public’s perception of VR.  Most people believe that virtual reality is here to stay, now that more are aware of it.  The speakers encourage anyone who is interested in experiencing virtual reality to try it out now, because there are a lot of conventions where companies are letting anyone use their products.  According to a survey, across all age groups more than 50% are most excited about watching movies and television in VR.  From there, three of the panelists talk about their specialty within the industry.  

Edward Tang, the co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer of the company Avegant, talks about the devices used in VR.  His company has produced a device that doesn’t use a screen at all, and instead projects the virtual image into the eyes.  This is said to reduce retinal train.  The image is projected onto many microscopic mirrors in front of the viewers eyes.  This means there is no pixelation, and the image looks more lifelike because we are seeing light reflected off of surfaces, just like we observe the real world.  The device is completely mobile, and can be transformed from a normal pair of headphones into an audio/visual virtual reality device with the touch of a button.

[su_box title=”Summary” style=”soft”]

  • Most people believe that virtual reality is here to stay, now that more are aware of it.
  • Anyone who is interested in experiencing virtual reality should try it out now, because there are a lot of conventions where companies are letting anyone use their products.
  • One company, Avegant, has produced a device that doesn’t use a screen at all, and instead projects the virtual image into the eyes.  This is said to reduce retinal train.  The image is projected onto many microscopic mirrors in front of the viewers eyes.
  • Vrtify is a company that is exploring another promising application for VR: music, specifically letting people experience concerts virtually.   If a concert isn’t sold out, instead of letting the extra tickets go to waste, extras can be sold to VR users who want to watch a live show from the comfort of their home.
  • VTime is the world’s first social virtual reality experience.  It allows people to have up to four-person conversations with people around the world in a variety of virtual locations.  It also lets people experience a virtual theater or television in a virtual room, so you can watch movies with friends and family as if they are there with you.
  • No matter how detailed a presentation is, you need to experience VR to fully understand its appeal.
  • Every speaker agrees that, while necessary to keep the industry alive, advertising needs to be integrated into virtual reality in a non-disruptive way in order for it to be effective.
  • Their parting advice is to attend Imagine Park, a convention where people can use all of the technology discussed in the talk.  [/su_box]

The next speaker is Facundo Diaz, the founder and CEO of Vrtify, brings up another promising application for VR is music, specifically letting people experience concerts virtually.  Diaz tells us that virtual reality is the newest evolution in music technology, after the walkman and ipod.  Vrtify is using the same business model for their platform, which will allow users to both listen to and live music.  He also brings up that if a concert isn’t sold out, instead of letting the extra tickets go to waste, extras can be sold to VR users who want to watch a live show from the comfort of their home.

Julian Price, the CMO of VTime, discusses the applications of social VR.  VTime is the world’s first social virtual reality experience.  It allows people to have up to four-person conversations with people around the world in a variety of virtual locations.  It also lets people experience a virtual theater or television in a virtual room, so you can watch movies with friends and family as if they are there with you.  Julian is interested in the possibilities of being connected to others with this new technology in real time.

Lastly, the group discusses the way the public can and will interact with this new technology.  They make it clear that no matter how detailed their presentation was, you need to experience VR to fully understand its appeal.  Every speaker agrees that, while necessary to keep the industry alive, advertising needs to be integrated into virtual reality in a non-disruptive way in order for it to be effective.  Their parting advice is to attend Imagine Park, a convention where people can use all of the technology discussed in the talk.