One of the biggest questions when you’re getting into virtual reality is “What type of PC should I get?” VR is driving the upper limits of the required technical specifications of the GPU and CPU, and an off-the-shelf solution may not have enough horsepower to drive a good VR experience at 1080p at 75Hz for DK2 and 1440p+ at 90Hz for CV1.

This podcast explores the biggest questions and tradeoffs for building your VR rig, and has lots of amazing insights shared by AltSpaceVR’s community manager and VR evangelist Cymatic Bruce, and Kite & Lightning‘s developer John Starr Dewar.

  • This is Cymatic Bruce’s budget build for around $1100 using some salvaged parts from previous builds.
  • This is what AltSpaceVR’s VR rig of “The Beast” was based upon for around $2100.
  • This is the mobile VR rig within a Pelican suitcase that John built, which drove some interesting component decisions and a cost of around $2900. Here’s a photo set of John’s VR rig build
  • I configured a Falcon Northwest Tiki with all of the high-end, recommended components along with a TB SSD & 2TB HDD, and the price was around $3,257. (I’m not sure if the motherboard would support an upgrade to 2 video cards when and if that becomes possible). EDIT: John says, “That’s a mini itx board so it can only take one card. They actually use an L-bracket adapter from silverstone so that the card will be mounted parallel to the motherboard instead of perpendicular to it as is normal. The case will only fit one card anyway. 600w is definitely more than you need. I have my card which is factory overclocked running at 106% tdp and I’m not having any power issues with the 450w.”


Here’s some of the questions that we tried to answer:

  • What tradeoffs do you make when deciding to get for each component including CPU, GPU, motherboard, cooling system, storage, power, operating system, monitor, case, optical drive, and wireless network adapter?
  • What’s the best machine that you can get for your money and still comfortably meet these specs?
  • Should you go with the higher performance and more expensive Nvidia GeForce GTX 780 Ti 3GB GPU or the better bang-for-your-buck but less supported AMD’s Radeon R9 295X2? Spoiler alert: Most VR devs seem to prefer Nvidia, but the /r/buildapc subreddit seems to prefer AMD cards for the better performance per price but they may not know about the VR implications of going with something that’s not as well-supported.
  • If you’ve never built a PC before, then how do you go about navigating all of the various tradeoffs between price vs performance and portability vs heat management?

Read more discussion on Reddit here.

This is Twitter thread I mentioned where I solicit advice for building a PC. Below are a lot of links and insights and additional feedback.

  • OliverJT’s VR rig: Asus M8, Intel Core i7-4771, 16Go Corsair DDR3 2133, SSD Crucial M500, CPU Fan AXP-200R, GTX 780ti Phantom. >9Kg.
  • Leonard Burton’s VR rig: Silverstone FT03 case, ASUS MAXUMUS IV GENE-Z, 3.3ghz i5, GTX780, Crucial M500 SSD, 16GB 1866 DDR3. Small build, handles vr nicely
  • Proton Pulse/Vanguard V VR dev Justin Moravetz has a MacPro with a dual Fire Pro D700 rig with 12gb of VRAM in my Mac, but it’s not very common.
  • This rig built by @gfodor is also close to what I’d get, but with Intel Core i7-4790K 4.0GHz Quad-Core Processor. He’s at AltSpaceVR, and this build is the precursor to what Cymatic Bruce was referring to as “The Beast.”
  • Comparison between the Xeon processor that John Dewar went with and the Intel i7 4790K
  • RedofPaw asks if there’s going to be a GPU that will top the 780Ti. It’s from 3 months ago, and Nvidia is about to come out with their 900 series. But the consensus seems to still hold true that the 780 Ti will be the best GPU out there for a while.
  • Steam’s Hardware and Software Survey of the wider gaming community.
  • Logical Increments shows a spectrum of component parts ranging from a destitute to monstrous budget
  • Check AnandTech for the latest PC part tech news.
  • The comparison pages that convinced me that the GPU performance of a self-built PC with the GTX 780 Ti was going to be far superior than the top-of-the-line, mobile GPU of GTX 880M.
  • This was echoed by @ghostmachineVR who said, “Bought a laptop w/ 880m for demos, not up to the task. Returned it and built mini ITX rig w/ 780 works perfectly.” And he jammed it into a EVGA mini case.


Drash is a VR developer best known for creating the educational experience of Titans of Space. Here’s the official release thread on the Oculus Developer forums that details all that’s been updated for it to be compatible with DK2. He talks about some of the changes that he made under the hood to build it out more in the future as well finding the right scale ratio, and how so many people reacted to the evocative music loops that he got from Jon Hillman’s “This is Now” music loops in the Unity3D asset store.

drash-titans-of-spaceDrash also did a number of optimizations to make it run faster as well as other refactoring to make it easier to add more tours in the future that go beyond our solar system.

He talks about some of the challenges with getting DK2 demos working in this early stage and working around some new quirks, but that overall the DK2 port was a drag and drop experience.

Drash has also been an active participant in both the in the Reddit r/oculus and Oculus Development forums, and has done a number of Rift Demo round-ups. He noticed that a lot of developers are hungry for feedback, and has gone out of his way to try as many demos as possible and provide feedback where he can.

A couple of Drash’s favorite developers to keep eye on include include /u/BaseDeltaZer0 who did the Ambient Flight & PolyWorld DK2 demo. As well as Tore Knabe, who is known as Tamulur on the Oculus Developer forums.

He talks about some of his other experimental demos including helping phantom limb pain with an Amputee VR Therapy, the TNG Engineering Star Trek engineering room, and a VR experience where you see the world as if you were color blind. Drash talks about his own hearing impairment and how that makes him particularly sensitive to making VR experiences more accessible for everyone, and suggests looking at for more details.

Finally, he talks a bit about his future plans in making more educational and game experiences, and looks forward to being able to loose himself within a MMORPG VR experience while still being connected to his obligations in reality. He sees that reality and VR will eventually start to merge through AR, and that he doesn’t hold any judgements against people who choose to spend time in immersive environments because they’re building memories, and that’s what it’s all about.

To keep track of Drash and his future VR ventures, then be sure to keep tabs on


  • 0:00 – Developed Titans of Space to see scale and flying in space. Started as a Hobby, but it’s getting more serious now.
  • 0:44 – Made the Top 20 demos of 2013, and was the only educational demo on there. What type of feedback have you gotten. Lots of positive and constructive feedback. People really respond to the music that changes in intensity as you go through the tour.
  • 2:12 – Jon Hillman’s “This is Now” music loops in the Unity3D asset store (preview). Cross fade from one sample to the next.
  • 3:24 – Approach to scale in Titans of Space. 1:1,000,000 was the end result of an iterative result. Moving away from multiple camera.s
  • 4:30 – Experience of porting Titans of Space from DK1 to DK2. Still things that need to be ironed out. Toggle between VR and non-VR mode. Work it on non-VR mode and then build it out to take a look. Zooming is an experimental feature that messes with the field of view to zoom, and it breaks with every new SDK.
  • 6:26 – Rearchitected Titans of Space, but not because of DK2 because the first version was a bit rushed and sloppy. Had to realize new issues to take into consideration once
  • 7:40 – Options low persistence, time warp, black smear correction. Turn off low persistence to see what it’s like.
  • 8:35 – Challenges getting stuff running. CymaticBruce’s 25-minute troubleshooting video. A little bit of black magic because it’s not idempotent, and have to try things multiple times. A bit more stable to run as Direct to VR HMD mode. Helps to have a trivial scene pop up immediate at the beginning. Some vertical tearing, and you can disable and re-enable sync.
  • 10:47 – Challenging to test every combination of hardware and software. Turn off time warp because issues from the graphics card. That’s why he put in that feature. Demos need to run at 75fps, and shouldn’t rely on Time Warp.
  • 12:00 – Optimizing Titans of Space. Went from 4 million to 100k vertices. Have planets come and go, and some people like the planets like to stay put and people like to be able to compare.
  • 13:15 – What provides immersion in VR. Realistic lighting and self-shadowing really help with immersion.
  • 14:07 – Special lighting? A lot of stuff is faked. Special tricks for on-bard lights
  • 14:48 – Controlling the path of the camera. Set up some curves beforehand.
  • 15:28 – Compact version was something that was requested by viewers
  • 16:11 – Planning on exploring beyond our solar system. Exoplanets. Galaxies. Nebula.
  • 16:50 – Building specific 3D models for these since there’s not a lot of freely available models.
  • 17:36 – Active in the Reddit r/oculus and Oculus Development forums. Checks 10-20 times a day to see what’s new. The rate that new posts and topics are coming up are so much that he can’t keep up. Others have stepped up. CymaticBruce’s DK2 resources post that was made sticky. is a new site that sends out e-mail notifications with each new VR app release.
  • 19:15 – Spent a lot of time trying out every demo that was coming out for a while. A lot of novel and interesting ideas that are out there that may seed other ideas, and it contributes to the whole ecosystem.
  • 20:40 – Experiences that may be beneath the radar. Developers to keep an eye on include: /u/BaseDeltaZer0 (Ambient Flight & PolyWorld DK2 demo) & Tamulur on the Oculus Developer forums. (aka Tore Knabe)
  • 21:37 – Did a top 5 list for a while. So many good different ones
  • 22:31 – Experimental minor demos listed on Drash VR website. A series of small to medium experiences.
  • 24:00 – Color blindness to make it more accessible for people. Has a hearing disability and is sensitivity to making VR experiences as accessible as possible. Check out for more details
  • 25:46 – Amputee therapy
  • 26:48 – TNG Engineering demo of a Star Track Engineering room, and wanted to experience it in VR and learn more about lighting in VR
  • 27:37 – Building educational experiences in VR. Make it entertaining and use gameplay mechanics. Lots of things you can do in VR that you can’t do in reality. Possibilities are endless
  • 28:40 – Want to do both more educational experiences and gaming as well.
  • 29:36 – Learning with surprise was delightful. Some people felt vulnerable in space. Other surprising reactions. Some people are really muted while others have wild over the top reactions. Lack of positional tracking in DK1 is uncomfortable after using DK2.
  • 31:14 – Text broke immersion for some people. Low res or turning off anti-aliasing seemed to break immersion for some people. Debates about scale.
  • 32:18 – Changing scale warning so that he could use a single camera for the entire experience
  • 32:49 – Ultimate potential of VR. Played some MMORPG and wonder if it was wasting his time, but looking forward to loosing himself to a certain degree in VR to create new memories. Reality and VR will merge over time.
  • 34:12 – Regrets of playing games? Or worth it? No regrets, but getting serious about purpose in life later than he thought he would. 35 years old now and wishes that VR had come along sooner in his life. Need to have all his ducks in a row in reality first include obligations, marriage and day job. Enjoys that stability. No judgments for people who choose to spend time in immersive environments building memories.
  • 35:45: to keep posted.

Theme music: “Fatality” by Tigoolio

Richard Gilbert is a Professor of Psychology at LMU who founded the P.R.O.S.E. Project, which does Psychological Research on Synthetic Environments. He’s been researching the psychological impacts of virtual worlds like Second Life, and has found that people feel psychological immersed in another environment. There is also a lot of idealism in terms of showing your ideal self, but overall people experience these virtual worlds as being real, albeit an idealized version of reality.

richard-gilbertRichard has studied a number of different aspects of how people are using avatars in virtual worlds including everything from sexuality, friendships, relationships, intimate relationships, marriage, role playing of children, role playing of families, addictive issues, identity issues and constructing a new identity in the virtual world, changing genders, and changing of physical appearance.

He explains that some people play with identity to have a corrective experience from their childhood by playing a child or a parent of a child. Or there’s also people who change genders in order to explore alternative sexualities through relationships with the same sex, but through a heterosexual virtual avatar. He found that 11% of Second Life users are a different gender than their avatar, and that over 90% of that 11% were males.

When it comes to exploring identity in a virtual world, Richard says that everyone wants to be different, but that it can be liberating to be the person that you always wanted to be.

Richard says that immersing students in a learning environment makes them less passive and provides more opportunities to be creative, which ultimately provides a more active and deeply-engaged education where people learn and remember more.

Finally, he sees that the potential of virtual reality being the creation of a metaverse that’s will provide be a parallel context for human culture. Our senses will be engaged at all levels there, and it’s where education, entertainment and all dimensions of reality all be going. In the end, he seems that this alternative world will provide psychology and emotional reactions that will be indistinguishable from reality.


  • 0:00 – Intro. Professor of Psychology at LMU. PROSE Project is the Psychological Research on Synthetic Environments. Interested in user’s experience and how it affects them and society.
  • 0:55 – Have studied the following issues in virtual environments: sexuality, friendships, relationships, intimate relationships, marriage, role playing of children, role playing of families, addictive issues, identity issues and constructing a new identity in the virtual world, changing genders, and changing of physical appearance
  • 2:31 – People don’t see virtual world as a game. Large majority feel psychologically immersed in another environment. A lot of idealism in terms of showing your ideal self. People experience as real, but are also in an idealized world as well.
  • 3:39 – Trying to remediate trauma. Studying this issue. Role playing a child and seek new parents to have a corrective experience. The parents could also be trying to do the same thing from a new perspective.
  • 5:20 – Playing with identity. Everyone wants to be different and be the person you always want to be can be liberating. Role players have multiple avatars. Multiple personality Order.
  • 7:00 – Surprises? People happier in their virtual relationships with better communication and more intimacy than in physical context. Only can do in virtual worlds is communicate and can develop intimate connections very quickly
  • 7:45 – Getting audio in second life and getting additional context
  • 8:40 – Modulating their voice with role playing. Some people switching genders to experiment with a gay lifestyle.
  • 9:40 – Audio masking is getting better
  • 10:10 – 11% operate as a different gender in Second Life, and of that 11%, then over 90% of them were males who were switching to a female avatar in Second Life. Rare for a woman to change to male. Females get more gifts, but also experimenting to empathize with woman or experiment with same-sex relationships but through a heteronormative context
  • 11:24 – History of the metaverse. Begin in literary forms. Lord of the Rings inspired people to create technology to create Dungeon and Dragon like experiences. Future of the metaverse. Need a transfer protocol to move through the 3D web with all of your 3D assets and not have walled gardens
  • 13:56 – Sees a Multidimensional Internet. In Second Life, he can pull up 2D content on screens including websites, email and Pandora music. Merger between the 1D Internet, 2D social networking, 3D physical reality & 3D space of Second Life. Motion capture and VR HMDs will
  • 15:41 – Education improved by immersion. Immerse in learning environment, they’re less passive and can be more creative. It’s more active and deeply engaged education. People learn and remember more.
  • 16:40 – Creating a metaverse that’s going to be a parallel context for human culture. Our senses are engaged at all levels there. Where education, entertainment and all dimensions of reality is going, an alternative world that is harder to distinguish between it’s psychology and emotional reactions.

Theme music: “Fatality” by Tigoolio

Saadia Khan is an adjunct assistant professor of psychology and education at Teachers College, Columbia University. She has research is with looking at how using avatars in virtual worlds can improve learning and how they can make you feel better.

Saadia-KhanSaadia explains how Embodiment Theory shows how experience things with more than one sense can improve learning, and that virtual world avatars can also provide that type of multimodal learning. Avatars can increase interest, focus, motivation, engagement as well as making a more emotional connection to characters and periods in history.

She describes some of her research in using virtual worlds for education, and the importance of identifying with your avatar in order to have a self-image in the virtual world which can provide stronger sense of embodiment. There a lot of potential for using virtual worlds and avatars for education, and Saadia is definitely on the cutting edge of researching this field.

Theme music: “Fatality” by Tigoolio

Dr. Jacquelyn Ford Morie was a co-founder of USC’s Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT) where she spent 13 years as a Sr. Research Scientist. She is also the founder and chief scientist of All These Worlds LLC.

JackiPortraitSmall-180x240Jacquelyn has been working in Virtual reality for over 25 years since 1989. She comes from an artist background where she found her medium was to create emotionally evocative virtual reality environments. Interestingly, she found that a majority of the VR experiences created before 2007 were created by women.

She covers a wide range of the history of virtual reality starting with Ivan Sutherland in the late 60s, the military simulations up into the 80s and 90s, and then up to today. She has done a number of VR experiments, and helped create a language for emotionally mapping a VR experience based upon biometric feedback. She also invented a scent collar in order to bring the emotional power of smell into immersive experiences.

Jacquelyn talks about a number of the different military training simulators that she’s worked on as well as some of the recent research into mindfulness training in virtual worlds and using social experiences with AI within VR to minimize the isolation of NASA astronauts on extended missions like going to Mars.

Overall, Jacquelyn has a wealth of information about virtual reality and has a very unique perspective about the history of VR considering that she’s been a part of it for the past 25 years. There’s some interesting connections to inspirations from sci-fi literature, and the reason why the military wanted USC’s ICT to be located in Hollywood and it’s connection to Star Trek and the creation of the Holodeck.

Theme music: “Fatality” by Tigoolio

Morris May is the CEO of Specular Theory and he talks about transitioning into making virtual reality experiences coming from the Hollywood special effects industry. The toolchain is very similar, and he’s excited to be able to start to exploring new ways of telling stories with this new immersive medium.

Morris-mayHe does see that there will be a bit of a gold rush into VR, and that it’s still very early in figuring how the best way to tell interactive stories in VR. He sees that a lot of the initial experiences will be more like watching a movie experience, but expects that this will evolve to be a lot more interactive by triggering actions from where you’re looking or even looking at biometric data like your heartrate as a passive input to alter your VR experience.

Morris says that he’s getting interested from producers of the horror film genre to do VR experiences because they have a lot of experience in creating first-person perspective narratives.

He also predicts that VR will change almost every industry over the next 5 years, and that it’s impossible to predict every creative application that people will think of.

Specular Theory is a digital agency specializing in creating VR experiences for clients, but they’re doing some of their own R&D and game prototype development like with their Rift Park VR experience where you’re righting different amusement park rides, but you can dial it down if it’s too intense.

Overall, Morris is excited to be able to provide an experience of awe to others like he experienced when he first saw Star Wars. He’s looking forward to exploring the new ways of telling stories and immersing people within another world.


  • 0:00 – Intro. Coming from Hollywood special effects
  • 0:45 – Hollywood experience
  • 1:07 – Transitioning from Hollywood to VR. Inspired by Star Wars and wanted to share excitement to other people. Got desensitized to special effects, but VR storytelling potential is huge and exciting. Presence and feeling like you’re there
  • 2:21 – Differences in storytelling in interactive VR. Figuring it out. Doing pure game engine and hybrid of capture. Working with horror film genre director who use first-person perspective. 1st TV show was a recorded video show, and first VR experiences are very much like movies
  • 3:42 – Creating spaces and environments for people to explore. Guiding people through a scene in open world is a challenge. Technological challenges force telling stories from one perspective
  • 5:30 – Immersive theater like Sleep No More and seeing what other audience members paying attention to. Looping interactive narrative. Most social platform. You’ll be in the movie with the friends and take cues from other people within the film.
  • 6:51 – The Life of Pi special effects shop won an Oscar, but went out of business. Love making content, but not always the best businessmen and creates a challenging work environment. Whether special effects shops will move from movies to VR. Work for hire business model vs making your own content. Opens new realms of possibilities for new streams of revenue and telling sties
  • 8:36 A bit of gold rush time and migrating into VR. Whether special effects shops will migrate from film to VR
  • 9:46 – Offshoring of special effects in Hollywood
  • 10:08 – What do you want to experience. First-person narrative. Made Rift Park experience where you can dial back the experience if it’s too intense. Working on horror experiences and being able to trigger things by where you look or your heart rate
  • 11:28 – Using biometric feedback to alter a VR experience
  • 11:41 – VR starts with gaming. Capturing and sharing a theater experience. Name any industry that won’t be completely transformed by virtual reality. Watching Indianapolis 500 from within the car. Presence where you immersed in another world. Education will be huge in VR. Judging the OCVR Educational Hackathon. Getting a sense of scale that you can’t get elsewhere.
  • 14:10 – Haptics and getting a massage in VR. Restaurants
  • 15:00 – Internet and Mobile cell phone industry and how much it’s changed society. Impossible to predict how VR will be used
  • 15:55 – Being a digital agency and creating some of their own content and doing some R&D.
  • 16:34 – Toolchain from Hollywood being applied to VR. Using game engines. Use same modeling, rendering and compositing films. Same post-production process. Everything is much harder, but essential same tools.
  • 17:22 – Motion capture with a Kinect and do simple modeling. Special effects industry has made a lot of innovations that will be applied to VR
  • 18:18 – Using Kinects for motion capture. Keeping it simple. Tons of energy to do a LIDAR scan in Hollywood.
  • 19:33 – Using a Kinect for motion captures. Maya character generator and then drive that character in Motion Builder and use Zigfu ZDK for Unity. using characterize and eventually export to FBX and import into any game engine
  • 21:14 – How it works? No one really knows. But it does skeletal tracking and will map a skeleton onto your movements. No perfect, but cheap and can’t com pain
  • 22:10 – Telling stories with VR and want to help immerse people in new ways and telling stories.

Theme music: “Fatality” by Tigoolio

John Dionisio is an associate professor of computer science at Loyola Marymount University, and he talks about moving towards omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence in virtual and augmented realities. He sees augmented reality as the reversal of virtual reality where AR brings alien technology into reality, VR is bringing alien humanity into synthetic environments.

John-DionisioJohn talks about the evolution of privacy and identity through technology, and the open question as to whether there are latent generational differences or if technology is an active participant in evolving that relationship.

He also talks about the spectrum from reality to augmented reality to virtual reality, and sees that there is a multi-dimensional nature to how presence, communication and our economic capabilities are influenced within each type of reality.

In terms of education, he sees immersive technologies as merely a means to an end of ultimately producing competent producers, users and thinkers in a specific domain. It’s more about improving yourself and not just being enamored by technology for technology’s sake.

Finally, he’s sees that virtual and augmented reality technologies have the potential to produce a society that’s completely comfortable with increased capabilities when it comes to manifesting Omniscience, Omnipresence, & Omnipotence. And that technology could help to free us from feeling less limited and more empowered. There are open questions as to the digital divide and existing inequalities, but that those are more political and cultural issues to be resolved and are less technological in nature.


  • 0:00 – John Dionisio studies interaction design
  • 0:28 – Omniscience – channel information to you, Omnipresence – extend your presence elsewhere, & Omnipotence in Virtual Reality where arbitrary content creation is possible
  • 1:53 – Reversal of Virtual Reality. Virtual Environments is where human is immersed in a synthetic world. Augmented Reality is bringing synthetic objects into reality. Moving towards achieving Omniscience and Omnipresence in AR, and potentially Omnipotence. What will be more compelling? AR or VR?
  • 4:17 – AR bringing in technology into the lives perhaps against the will of others. It’s an open question to what will be more compelling? Will it be accepted
  • 5:40 – Balance of surveillance and privacy. Sun’s Scott McNealy on Privacy. “You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it.” You never had it. In reference to credit card and financial transactions. Some could argue that it was never there for anyone who had enough access. It’s an open debate. There are generational differences. Difficult cultural landscape that’s hard to know how that will evolve. Weakest link to privacy is more sociological than technological. Technology may bridge the gap with biometric security.
  • 8:52 – Evolution of identity within virtual and augmented realities. Layer of identity that’s beyond your control. Identity mapping project. Not sure how it’ll play out. Multiple personality ORDER. Project identity out and filter out parts of ourselves. Don’t know where identity will go. Just started to catalog how identity looks in different mediums.
  • 11:03 – Filtering and mediating your identity online. Identity in Virtual Worlds. Lots of factors, including generational differences. Younger folks are aware of false limitations of identity expression.
  • 12:38 – Spectrum of realities from reality to AR to VR. How true is linear progression of presence in VR vs AR. Not bound by physical constraints in VR. Spectrum will have more dimensions than just presence including communication and economics.
  • 15:00 – Financial differences in different realities and moving things of value from virtual to augmented to real world. How does economy look and how will the realities mix
  • 16:36 – Using immersion in an educational context. These technologies are just a means to an end. Ultimate goal of education is to produce competent producers, users and thinkers in a specific domain. Make sure that you’re taking yourself to a new place, and not just being enamored by technology for technology’s sake
  • 17:56 – Potential of VR. Back to manifesting Omniscience, Omnipresence, & Omnipotence in AR and VR regardless of limitations. Feel as unlimited as they can get via technology. Get to point where people feel empowered by technology.
  • 19:27 – Digital divide and the haves and haves not. Technology evolves and gets cheaper over time. If technology isn’t the limitation, then is it educational or another cultural factor. It should be watched, but don’t know any specific action to take.

Theme music: “Fatality” by Tigoolio

Ryan Pulliam is the Chief Marketing Officer of Specular Theory, which is a digital agency focused on creating augmented and virtual reality experiences that was co-founded with Morris May. She talks about how virtual reality is starting to be used in marketing and advertising campaigns, and the potential for telling engaging stories and immersing the audience into a unique and otherwise impossible experience.

ryan-pulliam2Virtual Reality will enable brands to create experiences that allow the audience to play a role in the story ranging from being professional race car driver, professional athlete or rock star on a music stage. Interactive stories up to this point have been seen through a screen where the audience feels more like a spectator, but VR can immerse someone within an experience.

Ryan talks about the lessons from the Games of Thrones Ascend the Wall VR experience by Framestore, and the Top Shop campaign during London Fashion week. She also mentions the Rift Coaster and Dumpy as being inspiring VR experiences as to what’s possible.

Finally, she talks about connecting a VR experience to a brand and the future of using VR as a try before you buy for things like Ikea furniture or driving a car. Immersive technologies can provide new ways to emotionally connect and audience to your brand’s story. In the end, it’s less about the VR technology, and more about providing an fully immersive experience that goes beyond what’s possible with observing experiences through a 2D screen.


  • 0:00 – CMO & co-founded Specular Theory with Morris May. Marketing and storytelling and reaching people in new ways with emerging technologies
  • 0:34 – Marketing is about storytelling and reaching your audience in a new way. Sharing content through a screen where they’re spectating. Experiential campaigns are limited by not fully being a part of a brand’s story. Making the impossible possible. Allowing them to be a play a role and not just be inspired by it like being a professional race car driver, a sports star or a rock star on stage at a music festival.
  • 1:57 – Which industries get virtual reality. Car companies stay up with technology and make interactive stories. Brands with a lot of marketing budget. Game of Thrones VR experience.
  • 2:46 – Connecting a VR experience to a brand. Depends on the brand. Brands who sponsor an event, and food and drink sponsor music festivals for example. Try not be gimmicky, but if you go that route, then give the best experience possible. Be a part of a brand. Try before you buy shopping experience either with furniture or a car will be pretty big. Gloves to pick up objects. Ikea shopping virtually to avoid driving there. Cool to bring really awesome things to your fans. It may be an extreme experience, but as long as it’s connected to your brand of adventure, enthusiasm or sports
  • 4:55 – VR demos that provide some inspiration for a marketing context. Top Shop campaign during London Fashion week where they did a contest to use a Rift during a fashion show. Been impressed by a lot of experiences on the Oculus Share site. Connects dots
  • 6:58 – Rift Coaster. Dumpy. Would be great to experience Dinosaurs
  • 7:52 – Game of Thrones demo. Fully immersed within a scene.
  • 8:31 – Scale and huge wall in the demo. People experiencing vertigo. Had a museum exhibit while waiting for the #GOTExhibit experience
  • 9:30 – Future of VR and marketing. Less about marketing and advertising and more about the story and the narrative. Less about the technology, and more about the experience. Immersion and being a part of a story and being emotionally connected to a story, and to be wowed. It’s about trying to be awesome and effective, and can now actually provide an experience rather than just seeing an experience

Theme music: “Fatality” by Tigoolio

Michael Licht is a professor of level design at USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering and has involved in video games for over 15 years and has an architecture background. He paired up with Nonny de la Pena in creating immersive journalism pieces because he wanted to use his skills beyond just making war simulations like Call of Duty.

michael-lichtHe talks about the importance of creating real and believable environments because our psyche will think that it’s fake unless it’s based upon real physics and has sound architecture. He also talks about the importance of being able to freely roam around in an untethered VR experience, and how can create a profound sense of presence

With immersive journalism, there’s not a lot of freedom to deviate from the source material because it starts to become fantasy and not a documentary of actual events. And he talks about the importance of creating virtual human characters through motion capture and facial capture to create an emotional resonance.

Michael is looking forward to continuing to collaborate with Nonny on immersive journalism pieces, but is also interested in creating an untethered VR game prototype to see if it’s something that people would enjoy as digital out-of-home entertainment. He sees that people are willing to take the red pill with virtual reality, and to be taken to a new place and have novel experiences there that will really blow them away. He’s looking forward to seeing the medium evolve and thanks Oculus for creating an open platform where people can experiment and innovate with the VR medium.


  • 0:00 – Intro. Game level designer and architect for 15 years. Looking for new application beyond war simulations with VR pipeline, and found Nonny & Immersive Journalism
  • 1:00 – Importance of creating environment and spaces. Creating immersion. Real environment that behaves in a real way. Architecture needs to be sound otherwise it’ll feel fake. Knowing how things are built plays a part of our psyche. Base it upon real physics and real life. Second part of immersion is that the space is plausible. It needs to seem realistic. Recreate environments based upon photos
  • 3:07 – Incorporating full body tracking. Use their own VR HMD system to create an untethered experience. Using a 20ft x 20ft space to freely move around. Creates profound sense of presence
  • 4:30 – Level design of games vs. immersive journalism. Forbidden from deviating from the event that actually happened. Use the audio to match it 1to-1.
  • 5:35 – Use of omniscient narration and whether that breaks immersion or adds more context
  • 6:31 – Virtual humans, and focusing on motion capture and emotional expression. Play actual audio for the mo-cap actors to match to actual events as much as possible.
  • 7:47 – Use of Force VR piece about an immigrant who was beaten to death. Recreated footage from cell camera footage
  • 9:30 – Where you’d like to go in the future with VR? Love to see more gaming applications in physical spaces and motion tracking within a large open space.
  • 10:30 – Faculty on level design
  • 10:50 – VR vs 2D screen. People want to take the red pill and taken to a new place. Facebook acquisition got people’s attention
  • 11:30 – Insights from Immersion 2014. Technology is so young, and there’s a lot of experimentation and lots of cool energy and looking forward to seeing what people do with VR.

Theme music: “Fatality” by Tigoolio

Jane Crayton is an immersive educator at the ARTSLab University of New Mexico who teaches and creates immersive dome experiences. She’s collaborated with Charles Veasey from the The Digital Dome at Institute of American Indian Arts in creating the vDome open source software, which is multi-channel projection software that provides real-time warping and slicing of content designed for immersive domes.

JaneCrayton Jane describes how you could take content developed in Unity and project it onto a 20ft dome with one computer, and a TripleHead2Go to drive three projectors. Producing content for domes used to require a lot of rendering time, but can now be done in real-time using vDome or Blendy Dome VJ.

The desire to do live VJ performances in an immersive dome is what catalyzed some of these technological breakthroughs including with two other groups working on this including the Société des arts technologiques (SAT) in Montreal, Recursive Function Immersive Dome (RFID) in the UK.

Jane talks about some of the educational uses of immersive domes including how she’s using it to recreate archaeological sites. Domes also allow for collective experiences that could be shared in groups, and that she expects to see Unity playing a bigger role in producing content for domes moving forward. She sees that fully immersive domes have the potential to change your perspective and alter your frame of reference, since you leave behind your point of view and it allows you understand material in a new way.


  • 0:00 – Intro – Work in fully immersive dome. Teaching digital production for a full dome environment using technologies like spherical photography, photogrammetry, and building up 3D environments to be fully immersed in the dome environment and interact with it. At the University of Mexico arts lab, and got a grant to develop a curriculum to best product multi-projection, full dome format. Creating a 4000px x 4000px format. Blending photography with virtual objects with textures. Focusing on creating on new and interactive tool within the full dome. Technology has been innovating to change how multiple-projection digital planetariums are produced. vDome open source software written by Charles Veasey, which provides real-time warping and slicing for domemaster input. Developed it in order to do live VJ performances, and bringing in contemporary club culture into the immersive domes. Being able to build out virtual places that you can explore and interact with each other. vDome transformed how they use the dome since it doesn’t have to be pre-rendered so that they can see it immediately on the dome. It’ll change how dome content is produced. Still in the R&D phase. Other groups creating dome software include Société des arts technologiques (SAT) in Montreal, Recursive Function Immersive Dome (RFID) in the UK, Blendy Dome VJ in Brazil. All of the groups were motivated by wanting to do live VJ in immersive domes.
  • 7:55 – Immersive dome vs immersive VR in a HMD. Some are 360-degrees and others are 180-degrees or 270-degrees. It allows you to look around and see out of your peripheral vision. You can engage audience with surround-sound audio. Use sound as an instigator for what to pay attention. Engaging emotionally and physically and do it with a live audience. You can sit in different perspectives within the dome. Consider how the audience will be seated and how they’ll be looking at the dome
  • 10:35 – Educational component to domes. First experience within a dome was in a planetarium, and it got her interested in science, optics and computers. Slide projectors used within the dome. It’s not just about astronomy in the dome any more. Teaching photography and videography from a different perspective. Dome offers a lot to students and teachers to engage with each other. Your perspective changes when you’re immersed
  • 13:11 – Content beyond astronomy. Cartoons. Film. Working with on a NSF grant to document archeological sites and building out a virtual archeological sites to be experienced in an immersive dome. Looking at applications beyond astronomy. Teaching photography, videography and 3D skills
  • 15:40 – What one would need to set up a dome. Download vDome software. A 20ft dome would require 3 projectors. Need a computer. Would need a TripleHead2Go to drive three projectors.
  • 16:53 – Digital planetariums used to use a $5k computer per projector x7. Today it’s a lot easier. A computer with two video cards could drive up to six projectors with two TripleHead2Go devices.
  • 18:50 – How does Unity game engine fit in? Can pipe in Unity environments onto immersive dome environments. Movement can be difficult since moving too quickly will make the audience sick. Unity is up-and-coming platform for the dome
  • 20:20 – What to avoid to minimize motion sickness. There’s a sweet spot on the dome where they audiences’ eye naturally rest. Take everything a bit slower and watch what you’re producing in the dome. Slow pans, animations and moves, and can be easy to get sick. Trojan commercial with pigs on a roller coaster that made people sick.
  • 23:00 – Spherical video solutions to bring video into an immersive dome. High-learning curve on these technologies. 360Heros is probably the most affordable solution. Uses similar software pipeline.
  • 25:48 – Full dome has the potential to change your perspective and alter your frame of reference, leave behind your point of view and understand material in a new way.

Theme music: “Fatality” by Tigoolio