LOS ANGELES - VRLA took place at the Los Angeles Convention Center last weekend. VRLA Summer Expo is presented by Radeon Technologies. Radeon Technologies is the new, rebranded division that focuses on graphics and immersive computing solutions. On Friday, the expo was open to a limited number of professionals in the industry, with over 130 exhibitors & sessions, along with educational discussions.
Some of the sessions included "Virtual Reality's impact on Education, Enterprise, & Medicine", "Fireside Chat with Unreal Engine's Nick Whiting," "Technicolor Presents: Immersive Experiences: The Collision of Storytelling and Technology," "The Foundry Presents: Content Creation for 360 Virtual Reality using Nuke and Cara VR," "Nvidia and the future of High Performance VR," "Dolby ATMOS: Object Based Audio Mixing for Linear VR," and the Keynote Session that started everything off, "Radeon Technologies Group Presents: Breakthrough Lessons and Opportunities for VR Content." The Keynote Speaker from Radeon Technologies was Roy Taylor, corporate VP content and technologies.
VR Technology is changing the content experience with immersive realities that are interactive and give you the sense you are truly there.
Friday evening, Edge Visual Studio threw an after party at Oddville presenting Carnival VR featuring some of the technology at the Expo in a fun environment where you could take some of the this VR content for a test drive. Kevin Mack was demonstrating his beautiful art sculptured abstract world "Zen Parade" using virtual reality to give the audience the ability to experience art in a unique experience. Kevin is an artist and Academy Award winning visual effects artist for his work in "What Dreams May Come", He is the Founder & Creator of Shape Space VR, that creates unique artistic virtual journeys that relax, rejuvenate, and inspire. "Zen Parade" is the first release by Shape VR. Shape Space VR is a family company with his artistically talented wife Snow as the Executive Producer, his son Ray creating the soundtrack, and their son Jonathan as a Technical Advisor. You can download "Zen Parade" a one time app purchase for $2.99 enabling a full five minute immersive audio video art experience that can help you relax and rejuvenate. It is a looping option so you can take snap shots within the "Zen Parade" experience.
Edge Visual Studios, which threw the party, was showing their MonarchVR app. The app is a mobile environmental and meditation app that gives the sense of being surrounded by Monarch butterflies - an experience that now is only available in only a few places in the world. When you buy this app on Google Play for the Android, you can sit down and meditate while in these relaxing surroundings with the butterflies while making a contribution to a non-profit organization, The Pollinator Partnership.
Saturday, on August 6th, the show opened to the public. The show floor was completely crowded. There was a mix of vendors from content creators to technology companies. Some of the news from the show floor included:
Radeon Technologies Group
Radeon Technologies was demonstrating their new video card line up, Radeon Pro WX Series in multiple booths. These cards provide powerful solutions for VR creators. Their corporate VP of content & technologies Roy Taylor spoke about this new line up of cards with me, he was the inspiring keynote speaker on Friday. The Radeon Pro WX Series gives VR, VFX, animation, & CAD professionals a powerful graphics card solution at an affordable price point. The price point is designed to provide freelance artists with powerful graphics solutions that don't require spending beyond their budget to create a powerful workstation.
Radeon Pro WX 7100 GPU - is capable of handling demanding workflows of the most challenging tasks that include the entertainment industries animation and VFX pipeline as well as demanding engineering workflows.
Radeon Pro WX 5100 GPU - is the ideal for realtime content engines and immersive real-time design and manufacturing, including CAD and CAM.
Radeon Pro WX 4100 GPU - gives users great performance in half the height design for mid range applications and demanded by CAD professionals to small form factor workstations.
At SIGGRAPH they announced their rendering engine is becoming open source, a 360 stitching solution for VR, and a new developing Radeon Pro solution for large data set applications, which will initially be developed as a developer kit. Starting at a full terabyte of Radeon Solid State Graphics also known as SSG, this innovative technology will provide greater memory capacity compared to existing GPYU memory implementations, enabling much better performance. During the first demonstration of SSG, 8K video time scrubbing was improved from 17 frames per second to 90 frames per second. This card is definitely a great card for the pipeline for VR creation and development. AMD/Radeon had an Education Room with speakers too.
Nvidia had a smaller booth at VRLA, but don't let that fool you...they had a huge presence at SIGGRAPH. Nvidia showed off their new Pascal P6000 with 24GB of RAM that can drive four 4K video screens at 120HZ. This new card can deliver 12 Teraflops of performance, a terabyte more then the Titan X. The P6000 has 3840 cores and 24GB of GDDR5X memory, it supports 432GBps. It has four DisplayPort 1.4 slots, it supports four 4K screens at 120HZ or 5K at 60HZ. The P6000 will power the most advanced workstations. Cost wise, these cards are more expensive than the AMD Radeon WX cards, and the Geforce line up, but this is meant for large scale projects where budgets are tailored around these cards. Nvidia VRWorks 360 SDK lets VR developers and content creators ingest, stitch and stream 4K video feeds from multi-camera rigs, allowing for realtime 360 experience.
Unity was demonstrating development of VR Content using the Unity Game Engine. Unity has a 45% share of the full feature game market, making it's game engine a great candidate to create immersive VR worlds. When you consider the 600 million gamers who play games created in Unity, you can see the growth potential for VR in Unity. The Unity Game Engine was used to create Pre-visualization for the movie The Jungle Book, imagine if you could have seen this in a 360 view...mind blowing. A good portion of the developers on the floor at VRLA were using Unity to develop their applications.
Unreal Game Engine 4 is also a popular game engine that has been part of the game industry for years. Unreal Game Engine 4 is used by Hollywood visual effects studios and Game Developers to create beautiful immersive games. Add the VR 360 toolsets for VR, you have a arsenal of tools to create anything you can imagine. In a major update in version 4.12, Unreal Game Engine now supports Google VR Daydream and OSVR native support. It also comes with the VR Editor that allows developers to natively build their 3D applications entirely from virtual reality. Unreal sponsored the Unreal Engine Theater.
Mirada was demonstrating how they were creating interactive, immersive experiences in content creation, showing an episode of Mr. Robot that allowed you to be a part of the show by immersing you inside the show and interacting with how you saw it. Matthew Celia from the company Light Sail VR was showing how they had created VR content for studios, and how their development team was focused on the storytelling medium of content creation.
Tim Gedermer from Source Sound was on a panel about what sound design was like in VR, and what the differences were in the pipeline that would accommodate the new VR/AR content. xRez Studio was showing some of the VR content they created for several companies, including Astroarchaeological Shoot to shoot alignments of the summer solstice occurring with known Anasazi ruins in conjunction with the researchers from the University of Colorado. Free Vi, the company behind the VR Tablet, were showing off demos in their booth. They are the leader in the no glasses VR display platforms and technology, changing the way the public views VR content. Nokia was showing their new OZO 360 camera. It is a new virtual reality camera. Radiant Images was showing their VR content created for Suicide Squad using the OZO camera. Kodak was also offering a virtual reality action camera with PIXPRO SP 360 4K. Technicolor, Deluxe and Prologue all had their interactive virtual reality content division out on the floor, showing off their content creation and their additional tools for creating immersive worlds. The Foundry showed off Cara VR - a plugin for Nuke to create incredible live action VR content with a special headset preview feature. HP/Intel Theater gave attendees recorded discussions on VR creation and tools.
There was a lot of stuff at VRLA, and yes, it is worth checking out. I couldn't write about all the companies without this turning into a book. It is totally worth going, and seeing all these new VR solutions. VRLA does have a Winter show that is coming up soon...so keep an eye out at http://www.virtualrealityla.com.