#170: Hallie McConlogue on improv insights for VR and the HoloSketch VR animation tool from 1994

Hallie-McConlogue2Hallie McConlogue has been waiting for virtual reality to go mainstream for over 20 years now. She used to spend many consecutive hours within a VR design and drawing tool called HoloSketch at Sun Microsystems’ VR lab where she did interface design, modeling, art direction, and animation for 7 years. She worked on the first claymation for real-time playback within a head tracked virtual reality HMD.

I talked with Hallie right after she had tried out the Crescent Bay demo for the first time at SVVRCon. She was marveling at how well the head-tracking from system that she used over 20 years ago has stood the test of time, and even the framerates and resolution were comparable in her mind. Of course, computer graphics have improved exponentially and the cost of the Sun system that she was using was over $53,000.

She talks a bit more about using HoloSketch, which is a program developed in 1994 by Michael Deering. It sounds like the metaphoric grandfather of an interactive painting and design program like Tilt Brush.

One of the things that Hallie is interested in doing is applying the insights that she’s gained from improv acting and comedy over the years. She argues that improv theater actors have been on the vanguard of interactive media for as long as improv has been around. She thinks that improv has a lot of lessons to teach VR designers for how to create a compelling and engaging interactive experience.

Hallie also advocates for the importance of facial tracking, especially being able to track the eyes. Where the eyes are looking can give so much information about how to navigate social situations, and she says that the eyes are a huge feedback mechanism for how improv actors communicate with each other.

Hallie also talks about getting more women involved in Virtual Reality, and provides some feedback about what type of experiences that she’s interested in. She says that romance novels are like porn for women, and that there’s an romantic and emotional component that is worth exploring through the medium of virtual reality. And again, a lot of these types of romantic experiences get back to being able to track facial expressions and to have a strong sense of eye contact between either the audience or characters within a story.

Incidentally, Maria Korolov, the editor of Hypergrid Business, has started a Women in Virtual Reality website aggregating women speakers and professionals who are working with VR.

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