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We’ve talked with Dave Cardwell and the wonderful folks at Brio VR to learn more about the new tool, which allows to quickly gather VR-scenes even if you’re not into 3d modeling.
Challenges of VR
We are in a unique position with SpinVR in that we share the same floor as our VFX sister company, SpinVFX. With a filmography that includes shows like The Expanse, Game of Thrones and feature films like Gerald’s Game and Suicide Squad, we have a unique opportunity to hear from companies about “how they want to work with VR”. The entertainment industry has expressed a strong interest in engaging with VR, as in the case of The Expanse, for whom we created a VR 360 video experience. We also get a lot of interest from different industries. For example electronics companies that want to encourage their consumers the chance to interact with, say, a refrigerator, which we can allow become interactive and true-to-scale in VR. VR lets consumers do this in the way that an HD 6″ picture on a screen can’t do, no matter how physically accurate the render is. We event engage with architectural firms who would like to create a pre-construction walkthrough, and we also hear from many automotive companies who would like to create customer-facing interactive product experiences.
Many things present barriers with current VR software platforms on the market today. For example to create something interactive you need to learn how to code C#, C++ or some scripting language. For this, businesses need to hire someone, which is a high cost, and requires a lot of time to write the code. After this you need to share it, so you are forced to place your app on one of the app stores or Steam. An additional hassle is you need to convince your audience to come to find your app and download and install it! That costs lots of money. I myself have spent hundreds of thousands for my own apps in the past doing this, and I lost all of that money. Learned plenty but that gives you some idea of the types of risks involved for companies that would like to create VR experiences.
For users, the main barriers to entry are similar. Most of the major VR apps on the market still require some kind of programming knowledge in order to use, pricey and specifically configured hardware, and require software downloads and installs to be able to use. We created BrioVR to remove those barriers and risks. Not only is none of this required, but we have built the platform to be shareable, so users can build VR scenes and then share on social media or via email with just one click. No VR company can sell the value of a VR app better than friends and family who actually use it, and this function makes that possible.
I had felt strongly VR should not be so technical and should be more accessible for everyone. I had been burned creating apps on the app stores and I did not want AR/VR to be another “developers only” software space. VR should be like Keynote, Powerpoint or Prezi in terms of ease of entry to content creation. We needed better software tools and a platform to share from.
Previously I was the Asset Supervisor here at SpinVFX as I love the process of creating beautiful pixels. So I met the SpinVFX team then. Then a friend of mine convinced me to come out to help Apple manage a Visualization team there. While there I had been following VR closely and realized that VR was really starting to take more form and industry was taking actions to implement the tech into their workflows. There were problems with those VR workflows that I witnessed first hand at large facilities. The time was right to get into VR, creating solutions for industry.
I never forgot the great time I had working with the team and the partners at SpinVFX. I called Neishaw Ali, President of SpinVFX, and we chatted about how big VR is going to be. She is always forward thinking on tech and has been for years. That then kicked SpinVR into high gear, so we put together an elite team of Product Managers, Producers, Rendering Experts, UX designers, Graphic Designers, 3d Artists, Front End, Full Stack and Back End developers and with lots of hard work BrioVR was born.
Our rendering tech is real-time and based on OpenGL but it runs on the web. BrioVR supports all the latest PBR shading in addition to things like Lightmaps that can really help create a more beautiful scene. Our rendering is being upgraded as we speak, and scientifically speaking there are not many barriers for the looks we can achieve with real-time renders, even on a browser. But if you need full physical caustics BrioVR is not focused on this. There are lots of products to render 2D images of that kind of thing. What BrioVR is focused on is allowing almost anyone to create amazing, interactive VR experiences and presentations full of sound, camera/player movement, video, 3D objects, photos, text and atmosphere, without needing to code. We would like to see artists, educators, designers, developers, manufacturers, advertisers, medical professionals etc. improve the state of their visual communication and engagement through AR and VR.
Well, it’s very flexible currently except that it doesn’t allow for coding. You can, however, import real-time models, textures, animations etc. to build almost anything you like. BrioVR is a drag and drop VR editor & sharing platform – again with the ultimate goal of being user friendly to non-tech industry users. When the scene is getting too heavy you can use our VR Tunneling feature or “Wormhole” to warp to your next scene without removing the headset. Everything is streamed from the cloud directly to your viewer of choice. BrioVR has everything you need to build a cool interactive presentation and VR experience.
It’s not, however, designed to build the next Call Of Duty or PUBG, but you can build a unique Product Demo or Training, a Music Video, advertisement, create fun 3D Portfolio demos or build a Un-boxing product review room where the audience gets to pick up and hold the product in hand during the review. With the unique BrioVR Behavior system we have, the possibilities are endless. Current VR/AR solutions on the market require software development expertise, lots of time, and are hard to share. BrioVR is the solution that dramatically lowers the barriers to author VR content. Click to publish, and your audience clicks to view on any platform via a web browser.
We find that users are pretty fond of our shading system. We support PBR textures, tiled maps, tri-planar projection and more. One of the cool things is we support is video in all the shading channels. You can create sparkle for roughness maps or add video to the alpha channel to create a particle effect. We will be releasing more tutorial videos in the weeks to come. In the final release product, there will be better templates to help guide you to build something cool in VR. The templates will help show you where to swap in your model, texture or video to get the most from the template and customize it to tell your story, or present your idea. Not to mention, we are still adding new features. Recently, we announced BrioVR Behaviours, which helps to animate your scene. Users can learn more about what’s new in BrioVR through our weekly digital newsletter, which is sent to all of our users.
The Magic of WebGL and luckily since folks like Google and Mozilla are moving in the direction of open rendering on the web we are in a good spot in terms of tech. Our main pillar is the user experience though. We don’t mind how rendering tech changes. We care more about how usable the product is and what people can create with it.
The more you use, the more you store on the server so there will be a small cost for users to pay because we need to pay as well. We are about providing value to users so prices will be fair, while ensuring that we have great features for everyone.
Dave Cardwell (Brio VR Founder) Bio:
The 2014 recipient of The Academy’s prestigious Technical Achievement Award, honoring pioneers who have contributed in significant and lasting ways to motion pictures, Dave has been carving a path as a VFX artist and innovator for close to twenty years. He was a Co-Founder / Creator of Mudbox, later acquired by Autodesk, where he developed sculpture and texture painting tools used at some of the world’s leading visual effects companies today.
Dave began his career as a Designer and Class A Surface Modeller working for Ford in Detroit and Mercedes Benz in California. He moved on to a Senior Character and Environmental Modeler position at Weta Digital working on Peter Jackson’s Oscar winning blockbuster trilogy The Lord of the Rings, King Kong and Alex Proyas’ I-Robot. He later joined EA in their Sports Division to strengthen the character creation process, developing prototype modeling tools to more efficiently create photorealistic facial likeness for FIFA and NBA games.
Following his success with Mudbox, Cardwell continued his pursuit of visualization technologies, expanding his experience into real-time asset creation, texturing, shading and animation. He has successfully directed and distributed several games and mobile visualization products.
Dave is a visionary and his passion to create beautiful imagery has led him to partner with SPIN VR to creatively pioneer bringing this immersive technology right to your doorstep.
“We believe the creative opportunities surrounding augmented and virtual reality are enormous! Our team at SPIN VR has been heavily invested in technology, tools and process in support of this new reality for the past few years. Today, our proprietary software – BRIO VR, Interactive VR Content and VR Experiences are active participants in setting the technological and creative bar for the industry. We are thrilled to take part in creating Virtual Magic for the world’s audiences as we continue to unveil the possibilities of sharing and engaging with you in this media breakthrough. “