Virtual Reality is the computer generated, three dimensional simulations of reality that is convincing to the user. Virtual reality companies and developers achieve this by stimulating one or more of the user’s senses. Users can then interact with the digital environment in the same way they would the real world.
Creating a realistic virtual environment requires an immersive experience. VR equipment must convince the user to naturally interact with the virtual space. This is, in practice, extremely difficult since the brain has evolved to interpret our senses with perfect accuracy. Even a minor alteration from reality disrupts the immersiveness of the VR production. This also means the virtual environment should eliminate real world stimuli as much as it should mimic it.
To create VR videos that are realistic and immersive requires specialized tools which are designed to stimulate certain senses. VR production requires tools including headsets, headphones, and haptic systems. These tools stimulate our visual, auditory, and tactile senses, respectively.
In addition to rendering realistic experiences, VR equipment must respond to the user. Headsets, for example, may track the user’s head and eye positions in order to allow them to “look around” a 360 degree space. Audio systems track the user within the virtual space and alters playback in accordance to the user’s position. These tools imitate reality and invite the user to interact with the virtual environment. As VR companies improve production and technology develops, VR tools will become more immersive and realistic.
To produce VR content and create 360 degree video also require specialized equipment. VR developers use sophisticated software to help create convincing digital environments. For recorded VR experiences, such as 360 degree VR video, special cameras and microphones are constantly being invented to enhance the virtual experience. For example, GoPro’s Omni captures 360 degree video using up to 6 cameras, while Jaunt VR will soon release a VR recording system with 24 cameras. Specialized surround sound microphones allow for more versatile audio for 360 degree recordings. As this technology develops, VR video production costs will decrease as accessibility and quality increases.
VR has numerous applications. In addition to entertainment, it is currently being used in myriad of disciplines, including medicine, design, and education. Using VR allows for the alleviation of real world risks. The Department of Defense uses VR tech to train fighter pilots. In medicine, surgeons can learn and practice new techniques as well as remotely perform surgery, reducing the chance of human error. In art, artists such as Bjork push the boundaries in fine art by holding exhibitions completely in VR. And of course, entertainment, from video games and cinema to news coverage, VR video makers now produce in 360 degree video. VR production companies recognize the need for diverse VR experiences. Virtual reality companies such as Hello World produce content for many customers. Examples include Recording Orchestras at Carnegie Hall and producing a 360 degree horror video.
In conclusion, VR digitally simulates reality by stimulating the user’s senses and allows them to interact with the virtual environment as they would the real world. Specialized equipment is used in both to create VR video, and these technologies are constantly being improved upon. Finally, VR has many real world applications beyond entertainment. Looking into the future, virtual reality content creation will continue to improve as technology becomes ever more responsive to how the user interacts with the digital environment.
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