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Eevr 9

EEVR 9 – recap

By Event Recap

May 7th 2016 saw another round of EEVR, this time carrying the number 9. Although one of our main speakers happened to get ill just before the meetup, we still managed to easily fill many hours of interesting talks and demos. We were once again hosted by Digix at the Baltic film- and media school. This time we even got to be in a movie theater!

First up was an EEVR regular Filipp Keks, talking about his recent visit to the GDC. In terms of VR the GDC hall was packed with all sorts of new headsets, young crazy developers and VR-specific talks. One of the most interesting demos Filipp tried was a tracking solution that could identify both the players and any other objects that had appropriate markers. In the demo there was a basketball you could reliably bounce  around without losing tracking.

Ofcourse, once you threw the ball too high, the virtual version would stop mid-air and before you knew it, you got smacked in the head with reality. The solution was cool, and very-very expensive. There was also some technology for untethered VR that actually worked, so we might see VR cabels dissapearing sooner than we might think.

Next we had a presentation by Aleksander Väljamäe, a local academic and researcher who has been heavily involved in VR related science since the beginning of the 2000s. The presentation gave a really brief introduction to his wealth of work already done in the VR space. This included auditory illusions, the sense of self-motion, out of body experiences etc. Currently Aleksander is setting up a new lab in Tallinn University to investigate brain-computer interactions through media. For anyone dealing with VR audio, this talk will surely give some interesting new insight.

Check slides.

The demo sessions were fun as always. A few people got to try out a public speaking anxiety simulator by Madis Vasser, some had the chance to try out Battle 360 curesy of Maksim Vladimirovich, many tried the new Oculus Home demos brought by PsychoBus and EVERYONE stood in line for the HTC Vive show by Mario Saarik!

More pictures of the event can be found here.

Until next time (in july?) at EEVR #10 in Tartu!

Eevr 8 2

EEVR 8 – recap

By Event Recap

At last, the meetup has reached the point of no return – we can’t be bothered with roman numerals any longer! So, EEVR 8 took place on february 13th, once again in Tartu, Estonia. This time we were welcomed by Tartu Art School 3D Designers. Of course, many other professions were also present, be it developers, scientists or enthusiasts. The event was a first in many ways: it was the first time one of the two main organizers was absent, the first time we had international speakers and the first time no-one brought their own PCs on site! What exactly went down is detailed below.

First we had a video bridge with Kyra Hendrix and Diana Skopina from MSI, who took us through their line of “VR ready” products. We heard about the latest graphics cards, gaming technologies and also had the change to ask the MSI reps some questions. One big suprise for many was the fact that MSI “VR Ready” laptops were the go-to hardware for many VR demos in this years CES and that said laptops can power the giants like HTC Vive for hours, without being plugged to the wall! MSI also sent a nice swag-box for the event participants, so nobody was left empty-handed.

Next up was Haver Järveoja from Luna 3D (and Wolfprint and many other interesting projects), talking and showing 3D scanning via photogrammetry. Basically they have constructed a self-operated scanner that people can use in a public place to scan their portrait. In a few hours, the mesh can be sent directly to the customer or it can be “planted” on a pre-made character, depending on the context. For example, in the sea plane hangar you could become a virtual pilot. Many developers in the audience showed interested in high-resolution scans and Luna itself is also looking for talented modellers to construct more characters for “faceplanting”.

Last one in the spotlight was again Madis Vasser, a true EEVR veteran. This time he spoke about a little fieldtrip abroad, visiting one “leading company in VR knowledge transfer” in the UK. He came back with mixed feelings, but these are best left discussed in the video.

The bottom line – VR headsets are the future, no other technology even comes close.

The demo sessions were fun as always. As the art school provided PCs, all that people had to do was to bring their headsets. And so we had a nice row of HMDs lined up, from a DK1 to many DK2s, and also some mobile systems. Content wise people had the chance to try out EVE:Valkyrie alpha, I Expect You To Die, Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes and also some local stuff, such as the University of Tartu rollercoaster by PsychoBus.

Pics from the whole event can be found here.

Until we meet again in april!

Eevr 7 4

EEVR VII – recap

By Event Recap

It was yet another warm winter day on december 19th, when dozens of estonian VR developers and enthusiasts came together to talk about the many burning questions. What do people mean by “virtual reality”? Is there still a place for a CAVE VR system in todays world dominated by head-mounted displays? And what do we need to foster VR development in Estonia? Luckily we got answers to many of those questions thanks to our awesome speakers and demo stations.

First up was Egert Ronald Parts from TTK University of Applied Sciences, introducing the new CAVE VR system they have on the premises in Tallinn. First he gave an overall introduction of the CAVE approach – that is immersing the viewer by projecting stereoscopic images around different flat surfaces in the room via projectors. In TTK’s case there are a total of five screens – three walls, the ceiling and the floor.

The setup is used to validate new engineering and architectural approaches in virtual space. Egert argued that the ability to share the virtual space with other spectators also wearing stereoscopic glasses is a major advantage over head-mounted displays. There was a brief debate about social VR and it’s ability to replace every possible CAVE solution soon. But as for now, CAVEs definitely win in terms of the users own full-body presence. Those who have a stronger urge to try one of these systems out should contact Egert via egert@tktk.ee.

The second speaker was once again Madis Vasser, this time sharing his tips and tricks on the topic of how to talk about VR to the general public through VR demos. As many know, talking about VR without showing it can be a lost cause, as people really do not grasp the idea behind say presence without having the experience themself. His recipe for a good 30-minute introduction included the following: VR Lab rats (to demonstrate the fundamental difference between playing the same game on the screen versus in VR), Deep Space VR (to show that the content has not size limitations), Back to Dinosaur Island (no time restrictions either, so yay for timetravel), Senza Peso (to highlight the abstract side of VR), Henry trailer (to show the power of interactivity) and Blocked In (to emphasize that VR can also be a standing experience and that the future of computer interaction will be so much more natural than today). He finished with a call to action to create more VR-compatible content, as the tools for this are freely available and require zero-to-minimal programming skills.

Lastly we had our host, Martin Aadamsoo from the digital crative media incubator Digix. Together with the audience we discussed the needs and opportunities of the estonian VR community and how to foster growth and progress in this sector. We got many answers to the question “what do developers need?”. First and foremost was hardware – different headsets and peripherals, as no single developer has the means to gather all of the new shiny toys (soon to be) out there. Yet, developing something for said hardware might be worthwhile, so a place to try these gadgets out before commiting oneself is badly needed. It was decided that a more formal questionnaire will be devised and sent to the dev community to work out the exact needs. But if this VR incubator dream comes true, the waiting line behind the door will probably be quite long!

In the demo area we had some interesting exhibits, as usual. People got to out try the legendary AntVR (sadly not having its best day), the GearVR innovator edition, some simpler mobile headsets/spectacles and also the mandatory Oculus. Content wise there were the usual Elite:Dangerous and I Expect You To Die (thanks Mario!), other demos from the web (thanks PsychoBus!) and also many homegrown experiments. One was an impressive mobile turret shooter by Maksim Vladimirovich called “Battle 360“, the other a quick Gear VR test scene by Karel Airapetjan.

Madis also showed his work with porting different Unreal demos to VR, namely Landscape Mountains hang-glider and the Matinee fight scene. He also organized a quick mini-game with his “spinning tunnel” demo (to be released) where people had to try as hard as they can to stand on one foot for as long as possible. Much harder than it sounds when your eyes tell you that the room is tilting! Much general netwoking and buzz also took place and many decided that perhaps our next local meetup before the actual phycial one in february will be held in VR! Many thanks to Digix for the awesome place and snacks, and to everyone coming out!

More pictures here.

Eevr 6 4

EEVR VI – recap

By Event Recap

EEVR VI marked the first successful year of Estonian VR meetups! The idea started around october 2014 and has steadily grown ever since, connecting people every second month. And to celebrate, people from all over the country gathered in Tartu at the newly opened Garage48 HUB to hear some great talks and experience many new home-grown VR demos, as usual.

First we had Mario and Madis on stage, sharing their year of EEVR as the organizers. Some statistics were spilled, memories refreshed and future plans discussed. Even though the community has exploded from 2 members to 212 over just a year, there has emerged a core group of about 30 people who actively develop VR software or hardware. We can only hope that EEVR has had some influence in increacing that number.

Next we heard from Kälver Kilvits and his work at Street-U, a company dealing with mapping city streets. He showed us the ropes of getting a VR app running with three.js and Oculus libraries. It’s a surprisingly simple undertaking, if you know the basics. The result was a live web-based experience to navigate through the virtual streets of Tartu. The potential for mapping cities with lazers to create massive point clouds was also discussed in lenght.

Link to slides.

Lastly we got to be a part of Karel Airapetjan’s trip to Oculus Connect 2. His talk was mostly centered on different demo experiences that he had the chance to try out. Now we know that the fur textures in Henry are really nice and the Bullet Train metal surfaces look gorgeus 🙂 We also heard many “first hand” experiences with Oculus Touch and a comparison between Touch and Vive controllers. In summary – both are good, depending on what you want to achieve.

The demo round was especially rich this time around. Those interested could for example pop their head inside the long anticipated OSVR HDK 1.2 and we also took a look under the hood, as the HDK is easily hackable to pieces. Another cool hardware gadget was a rally seat by Keijo, who let people try out Dirt Rally and Assetto Corsa with maximum immersion. Turning to the game scene, our local prodigy Ats Kurvet was showing off his Mythos of the world axis, and also a new demo for the Epic Megajam, Teleported. Madis demonstrated the glory of Oculus 0.7 runtime with Showdown, Henry trailer and some of his own random experiments. One of those was an asymmetric Leap Motion demo, where one player was controlling the “hand of god”, while the other player inside the rift was climbing up said hand. Great for a bunch of mini-games, stay tuned for more 🙂 Hendrik Proosa showed his quick demo about rendered lightfields in Unity, which left many scraching their head in hopes of understanding the tech behind the cool experience.

Also, check out the pics! (Thanks Karl)

Eevr 5 5

EEVR V – recap

By Event Recap

EEVR V saw two awesome game industry events EEVR and IGDA Mixer join forces to bring a fun evening dedicated to games, virtual reality and making new connections. Although the meetup was held in Tallinn, at the Saku Suurhall convention center on august 8th, the event was a chilled out meeting of 27 like-minded enthusiasts.

First we heard from Ott Jeeser and his borderline-VR experimentation “Puppet Master” that allows you to control a game character that is an actual human walking around in the room. The Master has the controls, while the Puppet sees nothing but a smartphone display that occasionally lights up with instructions. Ott and his team have cooked up some great mini-games that people can try out, like sending your Puppet for a walk, playing soccer against other Puppets or engage in a cardboard box fight. This experiment is great for inducing the feeling of telepathy, when you see your thought being carried out in complete silence. Try it for free here – http://puppetmaster.ee/.

Ott also revealed his 360-degree videos and drawings that everyone fell in love with instantly. The videos were shot with a custom cardboard rig and with only one camera. This worked great with rather still scenes. But shooting every angle separately produced some interesting effects in moving shots – depending on where you would look, you’d see a different storyline. His workflow to create immersive drawings is to first capture the scene in reality, then print it out as a cube map, draw over it and then scan and merge all the pieces again. The results were looking incredible and we can’t wait to try them once they appear online.

Next we had Rene Rebane, presenting Rikai Games’ “Bit by Bit”, a game teaching the fundamental mindset of programming to children. Although not directly relater to VR, the presentation was still useful to many. His project was a great example of how to create something beautiful with only free weekends at your disposal. We also learned about extensive prototyping and playtesting, choosing the universal communication language (tip: avoid words) and the best distribution platform. With visual scripting making it’s way to many game engines, Bit by Bit should interest anyone who wants to get their programming concepts down.  For more info check here.

Last on stage was Madis Vasser, a regular at EEVR, this time venturing into Open Source VR. Madis and his Virtual Neuroscience Lab recently became a partner with OSVR so it was only appropriate to shed some light on the whole open source vibe in VR. He began with a bit of history and some commercial software that promise to unite many different VR platforms under a single Unity plugin. When it comes to 2015, we have two big keywords: Valve’s OpenVR (that is not open source) and OSVR (that is not released). In theory one open master-platform would be good for the consumers and the developers. However Madis had concerns if maybe it is still too early to find a single standard for every headset, as this format war has not even properly begun yet. Before the event there was a chance of actually getting some Razer Hacker Developer Kits on the show floor, but sadly they didn’t make it this time around.

The evening was rounded up with the legendary demo sessions. In one corner we had the impressively detailed Displacement Theory, where the player must try to escape a sinking U-boat. The task is made difficult by the overwhelming amount of knobs and cranks to pull, and the claustrophobic environment is not exactly helping either. Get the demo from here.

Madis showed his prize-winning Nuclear Juggle, where players must use their hands via Leap Motion to catch falling plutonium rods from a overhanging refrigerator. People quickly adapted to the limits of the current Leap Motion sensor and worked out ways to save the innocent people working below. Get the game from here.

We also had Ats Kurvet, who amazed everyone with his many small Unreal Engine demos, ranging from motion capture experiments to controlling a tiny character exploring a dungeon or a wobbly box sliding down a deadly hill and mostly crashing into pieces. Expect great things from this talented developer!

Be sure to check out all the pictures from the event here

Eevr 4 2

EEVR IV – recap

By Event Recap

The 4th edition of EEVR brought together some 30 VR enthusiasts from all over Estonia to discuss the latest news, share experiences and spread VR know-how. This time the menu was extra-packed with four different presentations and two demo sessions!
First up was Kristi Ramot from Mainor, introducing the all-new game designer course starting this spring. The basic outline of the study program was given and many interesting questions and new ideas were raised. The overall goal of the new program is to train people who would be capable of leading a game project from beginning to end. This entails some knowledge from programming, design in general, business etc.

Next up was Criffin‘s Peeter Nieler, sharing some insights from a recent trip to Unite 2015 in China. The conference had a dedicated VR day, where Peeter also took the stage. After trying many different tech demos, the general conclusions were as follows: China is flooded with Oculus knock-offs and haptic chairs. On the one hand there is no real innovation, but on the other hand everyone is doing their own thing, so it definitely an interesting scene up there. And the ergonomics of chinese headsets is terrible for westerners (-: (emphasis on the nose).

After Peeter we heard a talk from Siim Raidma on VR game design and porting. He has been hard at work developing his still unnamed “hamsterball-death-ray-battle” game and porting some other beautiful (and terribly un-optimized) experiences to VR. He shared some key point for avoiding cyber sickness – avoid any g forces! His own project is a perfect example how this can be achieved with smooth floors, no walls and gentle turns. Yet the gameplay stay engaging. The bigger idea behind the battle game is of a VR e-turnament. Stay tuned!

The last presentation was about VR video by Rein Zobel. He attended a “quick and dirty VR video” workshop in neighboring Finland and brought back some interesting insights about 360 video capture. His project was about making a 360 film with just a single DSLR camera (Canon C-300 in his case). Sounds impossible? Rein and his team solved the problem by first capturing the whole panoramic scene as a still frame. Then they captured all the moving portions one by one with the same camera, always following the action. The last step was to merge the two into a semi-seamless whole. It worked amazingly well! This technique will obviously not work in every situation, but as a low-cost entry point to VR video it sounds perfect. The most expensive bit was the software used to make the panorama in the current project. Check out the end result here.

During all the talks it seemed that the VR lingo is expanding at a mind-boggling pace. Here’s a quick test to see how hard-core VR enthusiast you are. Try to find the hidden meaning in the following sentences: “I think this lighthouse thing is awesome. Have you seen the magic leap motion slam? I don’t believe in tango.” Check your answers from our dictionary 🙂

The demo sessions featured some local software (curtesy of Psychobus), triple-A titles (on behalf of Mario) and also interesting mobile headsets straigh from China (thanks to Criffin).

Eevr 4 10

EEVR IV – preview

By Event Preview
Eevr 4 10

The next EEVR is closing in! The fourth gathering of the fellowship of the Rift takes place june 6th in Tartu, Estonia. This time we have partnered with Estonian Entrepreneurship University of Applied Sciences Mainor, both in terms of content and location. The program begins already at 11 am with the introduction to Mainor’s upcoming game design course by Kristi Ramot. At 12 we’ll have a short demo session to bring all the new people on board the VR train. At 13 sharp we’ll venture into the VR geek territory with cool talks from Siim Raidma (“VR: porting and game design) and Rein Zobel (“VR video”). After that we’ll do another round of demos until 17 pm, roughly. We welcome everyone – developers, artists, students, academics, entrepreneurs, wantrepreneurs or simply enthusiasts!

Full address: Pepleri 6, Tartu, fourth floor penthouse.
Sponsors: Mainor, Criffin, Psychobus

Recap of the last event – http://www.eevr.ee/?p=269
The community – https://www.facebook.com/groups/estvr/
FB event – https://www.facebook.com/events/892588827446459/
Meetup – http://www.meetup.com/EEVR-Estonian-Virtual-Reality/events/222501538/

Eevr 3

EEVR III – recap

By Event Recap

In the wake of EEVR IV it is only appropriate to finally do
a recap of the previous event. It was a sunny saturday in april that many of us decided to spend indoors (physically at least) with some great talks and interesting demos.

First up was Madis Vasser and his travel journal from the IEEE VR 2015 conference in France. Throughout his talk Madis tried to find the answer to the question: “Where lies the correct perception of reality?”. Is it in the brain, does it show up in academia, or is it possible to produce it through technology? If these questions sound interesting, see the hour-long video (in estonian).

Next we had a spontaneous speaker Filipp Keks, who shared his thought about game design, programming and life in general. Can thinking like a painter benefit us all? Yes, yes it can:

Just Creative