Southwest VR in Bristol, UK, 24th Feb – how it went!

Southwest VR, Nick, Pittom, Conference, Storytelling, Oculus, Virtual Reality

So, this past Tuesday I was at Southwest VR at the At-Bristol centre. It was a single day conference, taking in a lot of talks, but also a bunch of demos by VR hardware and software developers.

The night before a bunch of exhibitors went for a lovely indian meal. Here’s some of them, being nerds. 

The full panel rundown can be found at the Southwest VR website, and was a pretty good mix of very interesting talkers – Dave Ranyard from Sony kicking things off with a talk about what VR is, and studiously avoiding mentioning anything about Morpheus. There were also talks about what makes great VR, what 360 video can be, how to make a VR startup (there were a lot of talks, which is great!). For my own interest standpoint there was some great stuff from The Third Floor on their approach to VR from a background of pre-vis, but the talks from Imersively and a lot of the others were also great. Katie Goode from Tri Pixels was there and did a great talk on VR Design as well.

Apparently it was live-streamed in Riftmax, so hopefully people got to check it out there.

The ever present Callum Underwood from Oculus was in attendance. Nice chap. Offered me a room for the night, but I had to turn him down.

My talk was on  ‘Real-time VR storytelling experiences – Opportunities and possibilities for Filmmakers and Animation Studios’ – a liveblog of this by VR Focus can be found HERE., makers of this awesome Hong Kong Unrest 360 video filmed the event and will be providing streams for SWVRC to put up some time soon… I was interviewed by New Scientist, which was pretty exciting, as I am a big fan of the magazine.

I tried out VR Karts, with a game-wheel and pedals etc, and was pleasantly immersed in it’s cartoon visuals, if a bit crap at it myself! Pixel Rift were there, and Anna, who made it, gave a very amusing speech on her experience from making pies to becoming a VR dev. 

Radial G were also there, but I’ve checked them out loads and they’re doing pretty awesomely all on their own, so they don’t need me going on about them 😉

Most impressive of the demos I did try (I did not get to try many!) was Presenz from Nozon – a way to add positional tracking to pre-rendered 360 CGI video – which is pretty damn amazing if you ask me! No idea how their tech works… I suspect some kind of photogrammetry, or mesh projection, but it’s impossible to say for sure. Certainly it blows non-positional tracked CGI out of the water. I noted the reflections were not ‘dynamic’ in that they were ‘baked’ into the object, and there was some ‘fizzing’ at the edges of the robot in the video. Frame rate was at 30, while the DK2 runs 75fps, so there was a little flicker caused by that mismatch – but these small issues asside it’s one of the most impressive VR video technologies I have seen!

I was of course also there with Jon Hibbins showing a new demo for our game Crystal Rift, editor included, and an early GearVR version. Martyn  from Yogzcast stopped by to check it out and his video should be up soon!

This was the biggest VR event I have been to in the UK, and I think it will be even bigger next year. There were lots of very interesting and very clever people there and it gives me a great feeling about the future of VR, in the UK for sure, but everywhere in general!

Finally, a story from IBTimes, most notable for it’s big image of my face. Amazing.

Next up: EGX Rezzed!

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