VR NOW CON & AWARDS 2017
THE END OF THE BEGINNING
THE VR NOW CONFERENCE AND AWARDS SHOW
After a couple of decades of development, 2016 was supposed to be the year when VR would be embraced by the masses. Then goalposts shifted to 2017. This year did not get us quite there yet and we are starting to hear the voices of some saying "I told you, its just a gimmick!". It is in this context that I find myself reading the vr now Program Director Tim Rittmann's introductory piece about the conference. He calls it "This is the end of the beginning" and by cleverly flipping an apocalyptic phrase, he goes on to argue that in fact there is a significant amount of outstanding VR related content out there.
The types of projects chosen for the conference are proof of a medium that is leaving its infancy and turning into something with real purpose. There is no need to look further than the people and companies which took part in the exhibition floor or spoke in the conference. Or the tremendous work nominated and awarded at the end of the event. My favourites where 'Foreign Method' and 'Huxley'. Huxley is a VR experience born here in Berlin, and created by ExitVR who won the VR Entertainment Award. Foreign Method who won the VR Impact Award and the VR NOW Grand Prize just blew me away. It is developed by The VRain, who has successfully applied VR as an aid for rehabilitation therapies that treat neurological damage. The Vrain is a exciting VR projects incubator operating from Spain, Mexico and Brasil and who is in a mission to re-invent and re-interpret reality.
For this project I tried two achieve two different tasks. First, to create images of the VR Now conference from the point of view of a typical spectator. Second, to document activities happening at the different booths of the companies present on the exhibition hall.
The first task presented a great challenge due to the low light levels in the conference halls. I decided to record the space using long exposures and low ISO to get the best image quality and on top of that overlay a faster and higher exposure image of the speaker and some of the attendees.
In comparison the second task was pretty straightforward. The issue here was to be aware of the large number of visitors moving about and making sure that I could deal with these bodies crossing the stitching lines in post-processing. Also, In order to make the images more interesting I tried to get as close as possible to the users of VR headsets, this presented another tricky situation since these people could not see that there was a tripod standing close to them and there was a risk of crashing into each other.
Finally, since this project involved people with knowledge of 360 technology, I decide for artistic reasons to reveal the 'construction' of the images by allowing some bodies to appear on different areas of the image. In this way I was making obvious that these images were not taken with a single shot 360 camera but where rather stitched from a number of different photographs.