Why You Need a Specialized Virtual Reality Agency Now

Four years ago, I got the unique opportunity to try VR for the first time, long before most people. The demo was given to me by none other than Chris Milk (With.in, Here Be Dragons).  The experience was shown on an Oculus DK1 and when I put the headset on, I was magically transported to a concert where I was standing right next to Beck on stage.  This was the moment when I said “I am ALL in on VR” and from there I formulated my plan to sell my previous company (Emulator) and get into VR full time.  I studied the landscape of VR for a little over a year before deciding what to focus on and it lead me to fully understand the massive scope of VR.

Because there is an unlimited number of things you can do with this technology, I did not want to be tied down to any one technology or project and I wanted the flexibility to do multiple projects simultaneously.  After much deliberation, I realized that creating a VR/AR focused agency was the best possible idea and thus began the foundations for MetaVRse.  Now after two years working full time in VR and one full year with MetaVRse, I can tell you with 100% certainty that our business model of being a highly specialized VR/AR Agency was the best decision we could have ever made.

Over the past year, we have shot a ton of 360° videos, created VR retail solutions, AR menus, built and developed a 360° Photo Booth™, and spoken at a plethora of conferences on VR/AR and Enterprise.  We’ve worked with amazing companies like Microsoft, HTC, Samsung, Corus, HBO and more. In essence, we have built the demand for VR/AR with corporate clients from zero to now…in Toronto, Canada at least. Here’s our highlight reel:

This experience of being an agency in VR has given us a unique perspective on an industry that is growing faster than anyone can keep up with.  Below I am going to go through just a few of the different technologies that fall under Virtual and Augmented Reality and a couple ways they can be used.  You will soon realize that brands who use their traditional agency for VR/AR will be missing a ton of opportunities that this incredible communication medium allows for.  

NOTE:  If you are interested in learning more about VR/AR and how it can revolutionize your business, feel free to contact me directly and I will have one of our team work with you to devise a plan on how best to leverage the power of VR & AR with both short and long term objectives.  

From social media to experiential marketing, to brand and digital, most large companies understand the need for specialized agencies and VR/AR is no exception.  Here are just a few ways this technology can be used.  

360° Video (3D/Stereoscopic, 4K, 8K, Livestream)

The easiest way for brands to get into VR is by using 360° video.  This can be filmed in-house using consumer-grade or professional cameras for social media posts and really cool things like Tiny Planet shots and Facebook 360° posts (both of which get really great engagement).  Once you start putting these videos into VR, it is VITALLY IMPORTANT to make sure you use 100% stable shots.  This can be accomplished using gimbals and/or post production software tools such as Mettle, Kolor Pano and others. Adobe Suite is introducing new tools for 360° every day.  

SIDE NOTE:  OG 360° videographers will remember the headaches that you had to go through with stitching each frame by hand and 3D printing the camera mounts from plans released on Reddit.

Example of Tiny Planet Image (taken in the MetaVRse 360° Photo Booth™)

Cameras

Professional 360° Camera Rigs

Eye 360, GoPro Omni, Jaunt One

360° Camera rigs vary in price from thousands to hundreds of thousands.  It is important not only to know which camera to use for each application, but more importantly, to know who are the best in the world at exactly what you need.  Our global database of approved partners gives you the ability to leverage existing technologies while exploring new ones with limited risk.

Professional cameras are not always necessary.  When doing 360° content for social media, consumer cameras may suffice.  We teach all of our clients how to harness this technology internally to conserve resources.

Consumer 360° Cameras

Samsung Gear 360, Insta360 Air, Nikon Keymission 360

Brands and agencies can use these simple point and shoot cameras to get 360° photos and videos for social media (YouTube, Facebook, Instagram). The price for these cameras are all under $1000 now and most photos can be edited directly on your phone.

Light Field Captured 3D VR Video

360° Light Field Capture (Lytro) – This camera was just used to produce the musical piece “Hallelujah”

While still in its infancy, light field capture for 360° videos you can actually move around in.  This is the dream of many a Hollywood Director (filming and having agency is the ultimate storytelling experience)  This technology requires massive server racks and a ton of post processing, but the results are stunning.

Virtual Tours (Real Estate, Recruiting, Pre-Construction, Office Tours)

Virtual office tour we did for Symbility Intersect

Virtual Tours for real estate, pre-construction, virtual office or facility tours are all amazing ways to leverage this technology.  Google, Matterport and YouVisit all offer ways to do these tours and each has its own unique pros and cons.  Knowing which technology to deploy and when is the tricky part.  VR/AR strategy is important so that you not only provide value to your organization in terms of direct ROI but also provide value to your customers and employees.

vCommerce

Virtual Reality Retail Analytics Platform

Virtual and Augmented Reality commerce are heating up and according to CITI Financial, this industry will be worth $1.3T by 2035.  There are a ton of startups working on everything from VR shopping to Web-based VR and AR shopping.  

  • vRetail & vCommerce 
  • WebVR
  • Indoor AR Mapping

3D Products (Rendered vs. Photogrammetry)

3D Product imaging for vCommerce is going to be a very big part of the VR revolution.  Brands will have to find easy ways to scale their products into 3D format for both 2D and VR viewing.  Products can be scanned by either photogrammetry (hundreds of single images mapped onto a final wireframe) or Rendered (made only using computer graphics without taking a single photo)

Guess whether this shoe was shot in photogrammetry or computer render?

 

Communications & Meetings in VR/AR

Facial Scanning for Security & Emotion

Communications in VR/AR are going to be a very competitive and exciting market.  I recently heard that a large company we work with does over 1 million minutes of video conferencing per month!  Having a full presence in VR to communicate with others in different parts of the world is really incredible.  The biggest challenges right now lie in the fact that the avatars for these worlds consist of orcs, robots and Minecraft characters.  What is required is a fast, easy and scalable way for companies to onboard their teams into VR and then secure their personal avatar using biometrics like retinal scanning to make sure someone isn’t pretending to be you.  There is a lot of work being done in this space and while it is still nascent, progress is happening very quickly.  Here are some of the parts required to make this happen.

  • Avatars
  • Volumetric Capture
  • Social VR
  • Security
  • Eye Tracking
  • Data Analytics

VR/AR Content Delivery

Once you have a great VR/AR product or service ready, how do you get this out to the public or your team?  What platform(s) are right for your needs?  How do you scale your offering?  These are not simple questions to answer.  By knowing all the platforms and how they work, you will have a much better uptake of your project.

  • VR/AR Platforms
  • HTML5 360° website players 

VR/AR Education & Training

One of the most incredible applications of VR/AR is education and training.  Giving completely immersive training scenarios to new employees saves money and increases information retention dramatically.  

  • VR/AR Education Companies and Platforms

VR/AR Creation Tools

There are many tools used to create virtual and augmented reality and knowing which tool to use when is very important.  Unity boasts that 70% of ALL VR projects are made using Unity, but more than 70% of all the revenue is made using their competitor, Unreal Engine.  This section could be a book all unto itself, so let’s just say there are a LOT of VR tools and it gets confusing.  I recommend learning Unity until you figure out what other tools are right for you.  The three big companies in the space are Unity, Unreal Engine and Adobe.

  • VR/AR Tools 

Depth Sensing Augmented Reality (Mixed Reality)

The difference between VR & AR is easy, VR puts viewers into a completely different world, blocked out from the real world and AR augments the world you are in using some sort of screen or projection.  Where things get really interesting is when you use AR in a specific context to the world you are in (ie. putting a Pokemon Go character on your table, or face recognition).  This next level technology uses a number of cameras (infrared and regular cameras) to literally map out the world you are in so things can be placed in context around you.  Imagine having an artificial intelligence robot that follows you around giving you the answers to any questions you have (like a holographic Alexa/Siri/Bixby).  Google has already introduced this in the form of their Tango phones and tablets and Microsoft is using the technology from their Hololens in the next generation of VR headsets to give what is known as “inside-out tracking”.  Trust me, this is REALLY cool stuff.  While no one knows what is going on with Apple, it is only a matter of time before they introduce their version of this technology.

  • Depth Sensing Cameras

As you see there is A LOT to learn and understand and hopefully I have given you a better understanding of why you will need a specialized company like MetaVRse to help you not only navigate the world of VR/AR, but to dominate your competition, by harnessing this technology faster and more efficiently.

Feel free to email me if you have any questions, alan@metavrse.com