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VR: BBC Taster

BBC Taster is the experimental site for the development of digital content and emerging technology, and it is chock full of both 360 degree videos as well as true VR experiences, which are well worth exploring. In my mind, the difference between the two is interactivity; if you can click on icons to change the presentation in different ways it is VR, if not it is a 360 movie. As a single instance of what is on offer at BBC Taster, The Kraken Wakes 360 started with the radio play and musical score they created from John Wyndham’s science fiction novel of the same name. They layered the 360 degree video on top of a piece of that and made it available for public viewing, with the request that once you watch it (or any of their VR/360 pieces) you rate it. They are trying to get an idea of what works and doesn’t work for people with different kinds of presentations before they crank it up to full production mode, and unlike all the developers using focus groups and test audiences in secret or restricted environments, they are making the public part of the decision making process right from the beginning. They are also taking it on tour across the UK to events like the Sheffield Doc/Fest 2016 which begins today, setting up VR presentation areas complete with the hardware and headsets, so people who don’t have the gear at home can give their feedback. Nor are they the only ones; the Alternate Realities: Virtual Reality Arcade at the Sheffield Documentary Festival has a range of presentations, including the ones from BBC Taster, organized and implemented by Site Gallery and supported by the Arts Council of England. As the year progresses there will be more and more of these kinds of organized public VR gatherings all over the world, so keep your eyes out for the ones happening in your neighborhood.

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