Designing VR Experiences | Anrick Bregman | Awwwards Conference Amsterdam


hello everybody
super nice to be here my name is Anrick and I’m a writer and
director I thought that the previous talk by Maria was super inspiring
something that actually touches my work quite a lot but it’s often not something
that we consider enough so I’m definitely taking some lessons away with
me from that my really quick intro my background I’m actually from the
Netherlands I’m Dutch born I grew up in Swaziland and I live in London in the UK
have been there for quite a long time and I’m coming here I come here quite
often but I’m actually from Holland hold on I live in London and I work with a
network of creative people all over the world so I tend to do a lot of my my
working remotely which adds another layer of complexity and it is
interesting but also is very valuable you get to take in a lot of that
talented people that happen to not be near you I work with a production
company called unit 9 who may hold a film information base work and vrn AR I
have done work elsewhere I’ve worked quite a lot with the Guardian VR team
you’ll see some of that work coming up in a second and I’ve worked with are
ga-eun PBS in the States so I have floated around quite a bit and one of
the things that I’m very interested in my work and I try to explore in every
way that I can is the borders between real and virtual I think that from a
technical perspective those borders are kind of disappearing and in terms of the
experiences that we have just as human beings in the world the virtual side of
our experiences the virtual lives that we have is gaining in prominence and
that’s me that’s me that’s mirroring I think a little bit what social
networking has done in the past ultimately I think what I’m really
fascinated by and I tried to bring into the work that I do and hope to do much
more than in the future is creating virtual memories the idea that that the
virtual version of you is persistently present in your life and that you dip in
and out of the two sides I’ve got a few projects to show you guys
and I’ve kind of grouped them together into these different three different
categories the first one is transforming our view of the real world I think all
of you will have been aware of to some degree of journalism and virtual reality
and increasingly now augmented reality I’ve definitely worked quite a bit in
that space in particular with the Guardian team I find it very interesting
how a virtual experience can change the way that you see the real world or
change your perspective on the real world ultimately we design experiences
that are tech agnostic that are where the story itself is bigger than the
technology bigger than a feature of the technology then it’ll touch you in a way
that’s relevant to your life everyday even if you may not work with that
technology all stories really are bigger than the technology that we use as a
writer and as a director I always begin purely with the narrative I’m trying to
tell rather than trying to fit it into a box a couple of examples of that work
there’s a project that I worked on with the Guardian called the party cinematic
virtual reality project we worked together with Cambridge University and
their research team and this is a project about about autism and what it’s
like on a daily basis to experience being autistic and in particular in a
social setting and so what kind of pressures do you get what influences do
you have and how does that change the perspective going back into the world
for an autistic person in these experience you meet somebody called
Laila she’s the center of the story you never see her because you see the world
through her eyes and and you hear what she’s thinking as the world around her
changes and as pressure and tension increases you hear her inner thoughts
and you can kind of begin to understand a little bit what she goes through and
hopefully understand a little bit more what that means for her as a person
we’ve did about we did about 20 hours of interviews we brought in a whole range
of people that have a particular perspective on on autism not necessarily
all people who are autistic but also people that are in the field and
research such as at Cambridge and we asked everybody sort of the same
questions how do you prepare for a social event what do you find most
stressful about it what goes through your head what do you
feel what do you think when things are beginning to become stressful when
certain triggers are happening and what could others do around you to help that
situation ultimately it’s about sensory overload which is really when stress
levels get too high and you may not perceive things in the same way it’s
very interesting certainly for somebody like myself who’s
neurotypical to begin to understand that that process of stress is a little bit
different what I want you to bring consistently it’s gone out when you’re in a tube so
and you know achievers really quickly a lot of different things happen and I
won’t go into too much detail now but I think one of the most surprising things
for me and that really made me understand a little bit what autism is
like differently than I had thought about it before are things like when
stress becomes quite high facial features even if somebody that you might
know well like your father or your mother become quite difficult to process
and so the processes that happen in in the brain in those moments of sensory
overload are are pretty complicated and that’s really what the film tries to
explore and ultimately I think it’s about understanding neurodiversity a
little bit better we really understand that idea of what that process is like
what that stress is like in the wrong way and hopefully this film is a small
part of changing that another project that is dealing with the similar theme
and not in terms of story but in terms of changing your perspective on the
world is crime scene quite a different project it’s technically a volumetric
scanned experience so it’s more like a game we built it together with the
Guardian and Google trading team and it’s really about what happens on a
crime scene what really happens on a crime scene where as opposed to what you
see on the TV and in the movies and so we spend quite a bit of time with
forensic scientists understanding the things that they learn and that the
things that they go through and what becomes important in the process of
forensic science or in other words dissecting a crime scene and in
particular what was very interesting for me
is the idea that do you do one thing wrong you might be the first person on
that set on that crime scene and you can do one or two things wrong and that’ll
have a massive impact if not a decisive impact later when the actual trial might
take place it could be a deal breaker for trial in this experience you are a
rookie forensic scientist Hey hello can you hear me
sorry this line is terrible there you are it’s Louise I’m the crime scene
officer on duty tonight I’m stuck on another job I’m afraid so
you have to do this one by yourself your controller lets you move to start
examining the room aim and click at the floor the victim’s name is Mark and the
police have confirmed he lives here he’s a known drug dealer
firstly let’s get this room better lit click and point at the floodlights by
the body to turn the scene lights on that’s just a very intro and then you
have about a 10 minute experience where you slowly take steps to break down what
happened in this particular scenario and and how you’re gonna uncover really who
took who took someone’s life there were quite a lot of interesting UX challenges
here this is just one example of how you might explore fibers that have been left
by the killer on the body but yet there’s a range of those and and then
the audio side of this is valuable just because that gives you the narrative
layer and the understanding all those different steps that you are supposed to
take in all the care that you have to take in terms of processing information
and we worked with the Metropolitan Police in London to really map out that
script that scenario to try to create an accurate representation of forensic
science ultimately I think the lesson in takeaway for me for this project was to
give people a mission allow them to be free to explore from a UX perspective in
terms of design then at the end the satisfying moment I think is comparing
your experience of that scene with the reality of what might happen really much
later we give you an overview at the end a conclusion what happened in this trial
and what ended up having happened on that crime scene
we scan this with lidar scanners so we’ve really built a set and had an
actor who lay down for probably about four hours in a pool of fake blood in
order for that whole scene to become a volumetric space that you can explore in
your own time another layer of the narrative of how the borders between
real and virtual emerging as team skills and tools for me it’s particularly
interesting as a director I work with a lot of people that have either
experiences in one or the other and and and I’ll explain a little bit more that
means specifically with virtual and real and merging those teams is quite an
interesting process I’ll tell you little bit about this particular project that
we did with say at in Barcelona and and in particular why this is interesting
for me as a director because I think insecurity as a as a creativity tool is
is really a it’s a killer to the process until you accept that that chaos happens
and when you put teams that have very different experiences and very different
ideas of how processes work together that particular issue
becomes a problem that can be a blocker say it’s a haptic 4d virtual reality
film we made that with unit 9 and we from the in Barcelona using a whole
range of different technologies drones 360 cameras and ultimately allowed for
allowed that allow for people to sit in a chair and move with the camera
physically as it’s traveling through the most famous places of Barcelona in a
kind of like car chase experience so so again in terms of bringing this
project together there are two very different teams that work here there are
teams that understand the virtuality part experience making that comfortable
allowing people to experience this sense of movement and intensity without
getting sick for example and then there are very traditional teams that have
done films and commercials for many years and those two those two teams
operate very differently so gelling them together and creating a communication
level of flow in terms of production which was one of the fun and interesting
challenges it’s something that I face very often can having one foot in the
live-action and one foot in the in the game engine or in the the more digital
space and it’s key because when you shoot something on set you won’t be able
to change it later it’s a lot of the work that we went into erasing the
cameraman was filming the skateboarder things are set in stone and at the same
time you don’t yet know what the outputs gonna be how it’s gonna work innovation
versus experience the essence and again the same thing here huge number of
unknowns in terms of making it something really quite straightforward a drone
flying past somebody with a jet ski so planning that upfront and trying to
create a sense of how that might play out was an interesting challenge it
creates a creative flow where everybody really gets past the chaos in essence
another project that deals with similar challenges that had similar challenges
of very diverse skills and and and processes a C prior so tilt brush
experience made for the guard mid with the Guardian in UNHCR and it’s really
about Syria it’s an interesting story it’s very different from sad clearly
it’s a father’s goodbye to a son at the eve of the Sun traveling over the
Mediterranean and trying to imagine what that journey
might be like for a son and possibly a journey having a very bad ending we’ve
written by Claude Rossini who’s the author of Kite Runner Thousand Splendid
Suns and his words really were the beginning of this journey of creating
something that visualizes that he wrote a long letter just imagining what it
he’d say to his son and letter he’d he’d give to his son as that journey starts
and it deals with both happy memories and and quite scary ones of what’s
really happening in Syria and has been happening over the last years we started
looking at your early sketches based on his words and just mapping out a
essentially a 360 canvas journey all around you that slowly visualizes or
becomes visual as the as a narrative plays out the whole illustration into a
brush was probably done 30 40 times and it took it about two hours each time at the core for me what’s reactive about
this story already powerful about this story is how it elevates a human element
over the numbers that we often hear related to that particular topic that’s
in the news very often or more broadly generally elevating the human story over
the numbers ultimately that early test became color we didn’t really know how
the output would work this became a 360 motion graphic process at the end that
was fairly intensive and we’d spend a lot of time experimenting testing and
trying different techniques in order to get that 360 illustration into format so
as many people as possible could watch it
both those projects say ad and C prayer really benefited from not necessarily
the fail-fast philosophy which you hear often in
startup culture and it’s true I think that you grow very often as a team when
you might fail and so that pressure is very high so what I try to do with my
teams and that’s true for the traditional film teams and the
interactive teams or motion teams design teams suspend as much time as possible
upfront thinking about everything that could go wrong the research and research
again and then research again and we really fight for time to have that space
in the beginning to not just take a few steps but to take almost all the steps
you might take later in the full production new technology like VR is
often a bad excuse not to do that you might say oh it’s all new we don’t
really know how could we know but if you really really research at least half of
the time you might not fail and you’ll still learn and then finally as the
borders between the real and virtual are blending it’s even more important for
experimentation I spend quite a bit of time on this I hope every month or so to
have about 30% of my work time free to experiment and to develop projects that
I can put out there for maybe not necessarily very specific reasons I’ll
go through a couple of those just very briefly rock is one that we released
recently it’s a daydream
combination between live-action and CGI we took at 360 drone over to Ireland and
spend about three days filming landscapes with a drone flying through
them and then we built on top of that and web via our fairytale
so essentially 360 drone footage together with a CGI character we had
Simon Callow who’s an awesome Shakespearean actor in London worked
with us on the voice of our character and then we built that that raven that
you’ve just saw briefly has an early preview out into a 3d character and
mapped it into the live-action footage it’s really a story about the mythology
of rock rock is an old mythological story I remember hearing that story even
as a kid who’s interesting to explore ultimately you can experience this
through the browser either with a Google daydream or with your phone or with your
laptop and a whole range of different devices it’s a story about them the
memories you may have a view at your greatest moment just a quick view of
what that looks like ultimately and then interactively as you
experience this using the daydream if you have a controller you draw these
shapes you draw these character these are these these shapes throughout the
journey in order to complete and get all of your points Sensar is a social for
our platform ever work quite a bit with sensor I’m working on another project at
the moment which I think I’m going to release in a few months it’s really
awesome at if you have a asset at home an ocular to revive play with sense or
it’s a lot of fun we build one of the things that I built is an old sort of
strange abstract Monkey Temple type place of worship and what happens in
samsara is everybody from the world can drop in doesn’t really matter where you
are or what you look like in particular in sense our people have all kinds of
this is actually pretty safe image at the time that I spend and censor people
come in all shapes triangles giant blue Smurfs miniature raccoons
there’s a lot of fun and in particular the connection between people all over
the world really shrinks very quickly and finally symphony of sound is
a prototype stage project that isn’t finished yet and so you’ll see a couple
of images here it’s up creative and closing Co collaboration between them
and me and essentially this is a project together with a musician called Matthew
Herbert who uses found sounds and found music and collects them and creates
music out of that and and so we’re creating a lot of environments where you
can discover audio and mix them together inside a virtual reality in the room
scale space and it’s based on Matthew Herbert’s poetry which is really fairly
abstract it’s been very interesting as a challenge to try to build visuals and
visuals that reflect those words and those images and that he just has to
write on the page and try to make that journey feel logical and interesting and
challenging at the same time what a type so everybody only spent a
small amount of time will develop that well a lot more in detail as we go
forward and try to get it funded I think with the experiments what’s interesting
to me always is you don’t necessarily always know what you’re looking for an
opening the design process to me has always been very valuable takes a lot of
time and effort and investment but ultimately you end up with super
interesting surprising results as a result of not specifically being so
goal-oriented to start so the themes all collect into some thoughts that I take
forward into the future I think the virtual experiences that
were having are really at least for me increasingly connected to the real those
two are blending quite quickly and I think as opposed to in the past and a
lot of these experiences that I’ve made where you drop into something a world
and learn something and then maybe go out again those connections are now
becoming a little bit more strong and so it’s interesting for me to think about
designing virtual memories experiences that stay with you over time and that
might much later feel like a real memory to you fighting back over my life things
have happened that I’ve taken with me as lessons or I’ve taken with me a thing
that I just think are the funny or embarrassing or became important and
shaped me in terms of Who I am and having those kind of memories and
carrying those memories with you over time in the virtual space it’s very
powerful idea it might create behavioral change as a result of the experiences
that you have I formed a research studio as a result of that with some funding
and really hope to explore that more we’re working on a project at the moment
called drift which is really about a connection where somebody was living in
25 years project is at the early writing stages not much to show yet but we are
working on ways in which those connections between
the 25-year timelines can be created with these augmented reality puzzles and
what information you can learn from that this project is about climate change and
what happens over twenty five years from today going forwards these early
experiments already exist today but we’ll be doing a lot more work coming
forward in the future follow us as we develop this project from scratch is a
world building project so I’ll be expanding that quite a bit over time I
think that virtual reality augmented and mixed reality spend our human abilities
hoping with my work going forward and hoping everybody that is inspired to do
work in this space does it add some value to the world thank you

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