I’m joined by the Kite and Lightning team including co-founders Cory Strassburger & Ikrima Elhassan as well as developer/VFX artist John Dewar.

kite-and-lightning-allThey talk about the creative process behind converting the mini-opera song of Senza Peso into a 2D motion graphics film and then into an immersive virtual reality experience, which created some impressive buzz within the VR community.

They also discuss a number of the reasons why they went with using Unreal Engine 4 over Unity 3D, and how it enables them to more rapidly prototype on the look and feel of their VR experiences. They also have more control by being able to change the source code. They also talked about the decision to record stereoscopic video of the characters rather than using motion captured avatars.

Cory also talks about his background in the sci-fi film Minority Report, and his interest in helping develop 3D user interfaces in VR as demonstrated in The Cave & The K&L Station experience..

Finally, everyone talks talks about some of the major take-aways and lessons learned from working on all of their VR experiences over the past year, where they see VR going as well as how many exciting, open questions there are right now.

To keep up with all of the latest developments with Kite and Lightning, then be sure to sign up on their newsletter listed at the bottom of their website here.

Reddit discussion here.


  • 0:00 – Intros
  • 0:51 – Backstory behind Senza Peso. Getting a DK1 changed everything. Switching to Unreal Engine
  • 2:56 – Comparing Unreal Engine to Unity, and what UE4 provides
  • 5:25 – Translating the story to a 2D motion graphics film, and then translating it into a cinematic VR experience
  • 9:35 – How they did the character capture with stereoscopic video
  • 11:06 – Programming challenges for creating this cinematic VR experience
  • 12:47 – Visual design considerations & working with the Unreal Engine 4 in contrast to what the workflow would’ve been with Unity.
  • 15:29 – Ikrima’s take-aways from working on this project, and Kite and Lightning’s
  • 17:14 – 3D user interface prototypes in the Cave & insights from working on sci-fi films like Minority Report
  • 21:51 – Other 3DUI interface insights from the VR community including Oliver Kreylos’ Virtual Reality User Interface (Vrui)
  • 25:56 – Tradeoffs between file sizes in using different motion capture techniques
  • 31:38 – Experimenting with experiences that are either on-rails, some triggers, completely open world
  • 35:17 – What type of innovations they’re working on in terms of motion capture and graphics. Optimizing their production pipeline processes.
  • 37:14 – Lessons learned for what works and doesn’t work within VR
  • 44:51 – The ultimate potential for what VR can provide
  • 52:35 – What’s next for Kite and Lightning

Theme music: “Fatality” by Tigoolio

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