John Dewar of Studio Transcendent talks about their prototype VR experience called Rapid Fire: A Brief History of Flight. It’s a first-person educational experience where you’re standing on a virtual airfield where you see everything from the Wright Brother’s airplane to a F-22 raptor fly by in a historical air show.
It’s a really compelling virtual field trip where you’re able to really get a sense of the relative scale of these different aircraft, but also experience things that would be way too dangerous to experience in real life — such as having an aircraft break the sound barrier just 100 yards away from you and few hundred feet off the ground. It’s a great example of realistic sound design to see the disconnect between the visual feedback being disconnected to what it actually looks and sounds like to break the sound barrier.
They developed the Rapid Fire demo in order to demonstrate some of their technical and storytelling capabilities, and John talks about some of the innovations that they had to come up with in order to get these animations working with the Unreal Engine 4. In particular, John highlights the material editor features of UE4, and how that helps him create some really compelling unlit textures, and some of the other tricks they used to get it to work.
John also worked on a Mobile Gear VR game jam game called Tiny Cannons. It’s a multi-player artillery game where you can shoot canon balls at each other. They used the Unreal Engine 4, which in hindsight may have been a little bit too bleeding edge considering that the Gear VR support only got released shortly after the game jam began. John believes that the UE4 support will eventually be on par with Unity for mobile VR development, and is really still in an experimental phase where they’re trying to figure out the hidden monsters of interactive multiplayer experiences with UE4 and the Gear VR.
Studio Transcendent is also the sponsor of the extremely comprehensive and awesome VR Digest newsletter, which is led by a former tech reporter named Ian Hamilton. Ian has also recently started writing for Upload VR, and is one of the more rigorous and exciting VR reporters to hit the scene recently. If you’re not already signed up for the VR digest, then I can’t recommend it highly enough since Ian and the rest of the Studio Transcendent team do a great job of covering all of the essential news that’s happening in the VR industry each week.
Finally, John hopes to carve out a niche of creating more non-interactive, story-driven and narrative experiences for VR. They’re looking for work-for-hire gigs, but also see that there’s a lot of opportunity to create a number of their own original VR content experiences. You can get in touch with them via their Studio Transcendent site.
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Theme music: “Fatality” by Tigoolio