Björk’s Stonemilker is a 360 degree video that she posted around this time in 2015, ready to be played in your VR headset of choice (as previously mentioned, mine is Google Cardboard). Before it was released to You Tube it was a Museum of Modern Art installation in the VW Dome, where they set up 7 VR headset stations so museum goers could have the full experience. Now she is touring the world with the Björk Digital Exhibition, which currently includes Stonemilker and three other VR tracks from her album Vulnicura. She plans to render the other 5 pieces from that CD into VR format, and release the entire thing as the Vulnicura VR Album. Thanks to VR Scout for the heads up on this one.
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.
The Fishman Artist Embassy Series is a presentation of the DC Jazz Festival, which celebrates Jazz from around the world. Each participating embassy hosts a concert of one of their countries most celebrated Jazz artists in a series that runs from April to June, with this years contributors including Spain, France, Italy, and Japan. The Japanese contribution this time is the Mika Mimura Group with special guest Warren Wolf on Thursday, June 16th, playing at the Japan Information and Culture Center, which is the theater in the Japanese Embassy in Washington, DC. Tickets to see this (literally) world class band are only $15 a person, which is about half of what the valet would normally be tipped at such a concert in a major metropolis, so if you love Jazz and are close enough to make the show, do yourself a favor and be in the audience.
A new VR ride lives on top of a 60 story building in Tokyo, which lets you have the experience of being shot out of a cannon, off the roof and across the city. They have another VR ride on the same top floor I am much more likely to go for, where you swing on a swing while floating above the city. The place is referred to as Sky Circus, and it looks like an entertaining thing to do with the spectacular view. Thanks to VR Scout for the heads up on this one.
The My Hero Academia launch party will be streaming live online over at Funimation beginning at 1AM Eastern Time this Sunday, April 3rd. Usually when a new show launches they just play the first episode an hour or half a day after it airs in Tokyo. This time, there will be live pre-show and post-show programming, complete with a chat/IM interface allowing you to talk to the hosts and guests. They will be throwing in some giveaways, although they are vague about what that entails.
Of course, you need to subscribe to their service to get access, but you can use their 2 week free trial to check it out (along with everything else they offer), and then cancel before the regular payments start if you didn’t find anything you were interested in.
I haven’t previously seen Funimation do anything like this to launch a new series, if it works out for them perhaps we will get more of these kind of events. If they put the time and effort in to do it right, it could be an excellent Value Added feature of their subscription service, becoming worthwhile for their business model and their subscriber’s entertainment both. I look forward to seeing how they do on this one, and am keeping my fingers crossed.
For decades Virtual Reality has been expensive and flaky, but no more; this is the year it goes mainstream and affordable. Part of that is because of projects like Google Cardboard, allowing you to assemble your own VR headset for as little as $150 (cell phone, head set, and trigger button). Until recently there has been a lack of content for VR, but that has changed as well, with everyone from the Discovery Channel to the Dali Museum putting together presentations for it. In the case of the museum, they converted one of Dali’s paintings into a Virtual Reality exhibit entitled Dreams of Dali. Once at the museum they have Oculus Rift headsets for you to wear while exploring the VR environment they created of it.