If you’ve recently purchased or been gifted a VR headset, you’ll probably want to demo some experiences to your family and friends. However, from the outset, it’s unclear how to optimize for the best experience. Which experiences should you show? In what order? How can you ensure that you’ve provided the best demo possible?
VR demos for Gear VR and Daydream
If you’re demoing the Gear VR or Daydream headsets, you should start off with a high end cinematic experience in which the viewer will be sitting stationary and looking at the action unfolding around them. In this author’s opinion, the ideal first cinematic experiences to demo are “Invasion!” and “Asteroids!” by Baobab Studios.
Larry Cutler is the CTO and cofounder at Baobab Studios. He expands on what makes a compelling cinematic experience in VR, “in an immersive medium, the viewer has the freedom to look around in 360 degrees. Thus, catching the viewer’s attention is a new challenge in storytelling that hasn’t existed before on 2D flat screens. It’s important to create strong characters who can build empathy with the viewer, as this will encourage your viewers to follow your story.”
Cutler continues, “For example, in ‘Invasion!’, there is a moment in which a bunny makes eye contact with you and this creates a strong emotion of presence. The experience also uses sound and lighting to direct the viewer’s attention. This includes the sound of a hawk above you, the experience of seeing the alien ship appear, and other cues that reinforce and deal with the lack of a frame as seen in traditional movies. Moreover, in our latest film ‘Asteroids!’, we went one step further and added interactivity to the narrative. Viewers take part in the story as a helper robot and interact with the characters as they would in real life, adding a deeper layer of immersion.”
Suggested VR experiences for mobile headsets:
VR demos for Oculus Rift
If you’re demoing the Oculus Rift, it’s best to start off with cinematic content created by Oculus Story Studio, such as “Dear Angelica”, “Henry”, and “Lost.”
Once you’ve demoed a content consumption experience, you can showcase a content creation tool like Tilt Brush. Doing so serves two purposes: first, the person to whom you are demoing VR will learn how to use the controllers at her own pace. Second, having your viewer shift from consuming content to creating content will compel her to understand the potential of an immersive medium in an entirely new way.
Joe Connolly is President and Founder of Sketchbox, a prototyping tool for AR and VR. He elaborates on why content creation in mixed reality enables us to do what was previously impossible, “Trying to design a 3D application or experience using 2D design tools is incredibly difficult. I’ve spoken to dozens of teams building VR & AR apps and it’s almost impossible for them to get a sense of scale and ergonomics using whiteboards or other 2D design tools. Designers have amazing ideas for new mixed reality apps that they can’t communicate effectively to their dev team. Which leads to apps with poor user experience, and some very frustrated product designers.”
Connolly continues, “The best way to prototype AR and VR applications is with VR. It’s an intuitive spatial canvas for creating 3D experiences exactly as you imagined them and makes iterating easy. First-time VR viewers will benefit from trying creator tools because they will understand how a 3D creative medium can be useful to their own professional lives.”
Suggested Oculus Rift experiences:
VR demos for HTC Vive
HTC Vive delivers, right out of the package, what is arguably the best “room scale” experience for virtual reality. In a nutshell, this means that instead of being stuck standing in one specific spot during your VR experience, you can walk around the room while in the experience. If you’re fortunate enough to have enough space for the HTC Vive, you should focus on demoing social room-scale experiences.
Steven Zhao is the CEO and Founder of Glo Inc. The company built GloStation, a VR location-based entertainment venue featuring escape room experiences. He expands on why social room-scale experiences provide the deepest level of VR immersion, “when designing immersive experiences, it’s crucial to treat players as game pieces within the experience. At GloStation, friends can touch, hold, and grab each other. Gameplay includes interactions such as friends pulling each other away from a dangerous trap or pointing at obstacles and opponents. Despite the many remarkable memories that result from room-scale VR, customers tend to most vividly recall moments of social interaction within the environment after the experience is over.”
With this in mind, the best HTC Vive experiences to demo include both room-scale capabilities and social interactions.
Suggested HTC Vive experiences:
Creating a new generation of creators
Demoing VR to people will unleash dormant opportunities for positive disruption. That is, professionals from industries as diverse as healthcare, entertainment, and architecture will have unique ideas on how a 3D immersive medium can revolutionize their field. By introducing VR to your family and friends, you could inspire people to become creators in this emerging space.
Lesley Klassen is the CEO of Flipside, a VR platform for making animated shows. He expands on how mixed reality can launch a new generation of content creators, “the magic of VR is that, when done correctly, it enables regular people to create 3D content that would have otherwise been very difficult, expensive, or impossible to make. When people buy a desktop VR headset they are buying the ability to create content in 3D space. That means that everyone suddenly has a motion capture studio in their living room.”
Klassen continues, “Creators have a whole new world of possibilities including the ability to make animated content by using VR to puppeteer their own characters and avatars. Now you can become your own cartoon character and start making animated content. That is the power of creation in VR.”
Michael Park is the CEO and founder of PostAR, a platform that lets you build, explore, and share augmented realities.