Assignment 1 – VR Experience – Brian Shantz
Coming into this class, I have had several different experiences with VR, with all of them taking place in a variety of settings. I have seen VR set up as activations at several different music festivals, with my first experience being at Firefly Music Festival in 2016. While there they had demonstrations set up where users could try on several different headsets and pick from a number of experiences to try out. I chose a demo where I was a paddle boarder going down a river. What struck me most about this first experience was how immersive it was compared to what I thought VR would actually be like. The person running the demonstration told me before I started that it would be wise to hold on to a metal pole set up as part of the demonstration as to not lose my balance. I did not do this, but as soon as the simulation started I was immediately thrown off balance and had to reach out to the bar for support. I was expecting the visuals to be immersive, but I had not counted on how the VR experience would affect my other sense, especially my sense of balance and coordination.
At other music festivals I have also had the opportunity to experience other demonstrations of VR. One such demonstration was a racing simulation set up by a local radio station, in which participants sat behind the wheel of a mock race car. Between the high quality headphones that were worn during this demonstration and the real time feedback generated by the steering wheel based on your speed/direction within the demonstration, this was an incredibly immersive experience and my heart was pounding by the time my session had ended (with me crashing into a wall at high speeds). At this same festival I had the opportunity to try out another kind of VR experience, this one was set up by Wells Fargo. In the experience, users went back in time to a "Wild West" sort of town and panned for gold. This was my first experience with Oculus Touch, or any sort of hand-held controllers in VR. What really made this demonstration stand out was the way in which you moved around the simulation. Users stood on a platform and attached sensors over their shoes, and could move move forwards or backwards through the experience by shuffling their feet, as opposed to using a joystick to move. Although the graphic quality of this experience was less than that of other simulation I had experienced, the walking mechanic of this particular simulation was one that I had never seen before or since in person.
I have had limited experience with 360 degree video, although I do have a Samsung Gear 360 that cam with my phone when I purchased it. I have definitely not used this camera to its fullest potential, as I am not really quite sure what to film with it. The only times I have used my Gear 360 have been on a fishing trip and in an attempt to film the solar eclipse. Both attempts have resulted in sup-par footage, and even if I had filmed these experiences well I am completely unfamiliar with 360 degree video editing, which is something I am excited to learn more about in this class.