This weekend crowds flocked to ‘Virtual Reality LA’, the world's largest virtual and augmented reality expo that attracts both consumers and industry attendees alike. VRLA featured cutting-edge demos of the most exciting projects in development for the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, PlayStation VR, Google Cardboard, Samsung GearVR, and more. There was also a hefty lineup of insightful presentations, panels, and announcements.
The Mill booth demonstrated a broad spectrum of VR and immersive experiences including Google Spotlight Stories ‘Help’, Jack Daniel’s ‘Storytelling’ and The Guardian '6x9:A Virtual Experience of Solitary Confinement'. VRLA was also well-attended by The Mill in Los Angeles, who had this to report:
Josh Hatton, VFX Lead Supervisor, observed, “My big takeaway was that the crowd was much bigger than last year's. There was also a lot more diversity among that crowd, it wasn’t just 'VR Nerds'. There were a lot of families that went together, many indy filmmakers and even a casting agent I ran into. So, basically confirming VR is huge!
The other trend I noticed was the big push on audio. 'VR for audio' seemed to be the new buzzwords. Along with Aurelia Soundworks, there was a huge presence from Dolby. Skullcandy sponsored a VR rave, complete with virtual DJ and an awesome 3D LED panel from floor to ceiling. I also checked out a software called Rondo360, which places sound in the 3D space.”
Anna Zhang, PR & Marketing Executive, attended the “Audio in VR” panel featuring Robert Dalton Jr., Co-founder at Dysonics, Ola Björling, Global Director of VR at MediaMonks, Sam Paschel, Chief Commercial Officer at Skullcandy and Martin Walsh, Vice President, R&D, DTS Inc.
Anna explains, “The key take-away from the panel was that in VR when a sound that's not part of the experience comes on, for example a voice-over, it breaks immersion because your instincts tell you to question where it's coming from. This is completely different to traditional televisual or cinematic viewing where you're always aware where all sound is directed from.”
The focus on audio within VR was of specific interest to The Mill in Los Angeles, having recently completed REEPS ONE ‘Does Not Exist’ a spatial audio experience in partnership with Aurelia Soundworks. The immersive piece is performed by beatbox phenomenon Reeps One and composed specifically for mixing in 3D sound, making it the first music video of its kind.