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SIGGRAPH 2016 Launches ‘Summer of VR’

VR Village will celebrate ‘Summer of VR’ with unprecedented number of cutting-edge experiential virtual reality and augmented reality installations.

‘Parallel Eyes’ © 2016 Sony Computer Science Laboratories, Inc., Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media, and The University of Tokyo.

SIGGRAPH 2016, the world’s leading annual interdisciplinary educational experience showcasing the latest in computer graphics and interactive techniques, will celebrate “The Summer of VR” with an unprecedented number of experiential and cutting-edge Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality installations, during this year’s conference. A conference where attendees can “Render the Possibilities,” SIGGRAPH 2016 will be held at the Anaheim Convention Center, 24–28 July 2016.

Throughout the week of this year’s VR Village, attendees can explore the fascinating potential of brand-new VR and AR formats for telling stories, engaging audiences, and powering real world applications in the fields of health, education, entertainment, design and gaming. The 2016 VR Village will feature real-time immersion in tomorrow’s virtual and augmented realities, including Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and short-form immersive filmmaking.

The immersive, VR and AR installations and programming includes a wide range of both Juried and Invited Content which will offer a versatile, wide range of presentations from major studios, independent filmmakers, game developers and universities as well as non-profit institutions, such as research labs and planetariums. With the remarkable growth of VR and AR during this past year, content creators and manufacturers are rapidly making important and original contributions to consumer products and content. SIGGRAPH 2016 attendees will have the chance to experience amazing, cutting-edge VR/AR applications recently developed by the world’s top talent.

 “When attendees from our 2015 conference were surveyed, many of them stated that they would definitely like to see more VR and AR experiences in 2016,” said SIGGRAPH 2016 VR Village Chair Denise Quesnel. “To address this need, we have assembled a diverse array of VR/AR content that will captivate attendee interest throughout the week. Our 2016 VR Village will host a number of remarkable, top level, VR/AR installations, films, games, and presentations. The adjudicated and curated content was selected by a well-respected team of AR/VR specialists in order to fully demonstrate the versatile nature of interactive, immersive realities. Without question, SIGGRAPH 2016 will be truly celebrating the ‘Summer of VR!’”

SIGGRAPH 2016 VR Village Experience and Program Highlights include:


“Parallel Eyes”: Exploring Human Capability and Behaviors with Paralleled First Person View Sharing

This multiplayer VR attraction will allow attendees to play a game of “Tag.” During this social, scientific and game-oriented experience, each player will be able to “see” each other, as though having eyes in the back of their heads inside their VR headsets. Each participant will be untethered (Nomadic VR), and will have the ability to hide from other players. This installation, which takes VR into a physically tangible space through an incredible new scientific accomplishment, will be presented by Sony Computer Science Laboratories, Inc., the University of Tokyo and the Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media (Y-CAM InterLab).

MechVR: Interactive VR Motion Simulation of a “Mech” Biped Robot

A presentation from South Carolina-based Clemson University, MechVR allows participants to go inside a physical motion simulator while donning a VR headset. Each player can embody a giant biped robot machine that will walk, run and fly, while also prompting the user to utilize hand controllers in hitting practice targets. The physical movements of the players will match the visual presented on their VR screens. This themed-entertainment type attraction was originally developed for flight and training simulations, and explores VR user experience (UX), a custom software base and user interface.

“Synesthesia Suit”: The Full-Body Immersive Experience

Presented by Keio University, Rhizomatiks Co. Ltd., and Enhance Games, Inc. of Japan, this demonstration allows participants to wear a full-body, haptic VR suit -- comprised of 18 powerful micro-sensors -- synced to a selection of two VR environments. Called the TECHTILE technology, and implemented into the Synesthesia Suit, this was first seen in December of 2015 for the public demonstration of “Rex Infinite” PlayStation VR game. Users will be able to feel the beat and pulse of the music within the demo’d environments, taking inspiration from the sensations of “feeling and seeing” music and sounds. In addition to “Rex Infinite,” the creators will also showcase a custom game interface that takes full advantage of the Suit’s full potential.


SIGGRAPH 2016 has also announced a new initiative called “VR Storylab” that blends narrative-driven, 360-degree, VR content in a physical lab environment. Located within VR Village, this diverse assortment of art, entertainment, academic, scientific, and experiential VR content will entertain and immerse attendees. Through participation in this groundbreaking lab, attendees will have the opportunity to help SIGGRAPH shape the future of an immersive programming venue. Films to be shown in the VR Storylab include:

Injustice VR film Presented by Carnegie Mellon University

“Injustice” is an interactive VR experience themed around racially motivated police brutality. Users witness an act of racial discrimination, forcing them to make moral and ethical decisions on the spot. Users will have the ability to select a variety of dialogue choices - each line of dialogue decided upon will change the path of the film’s storyline. Participants can actively engage with, and alter, the actual storyline itself.

PEARL VR film -- Google Spotlight Stories

Google’s Spotlight Stories team, which is part of Google’s ATAP R&D Unit, will demonstrate “PEARL,” on the HTC Vive virtual reality system, and Google’s own VR platform. This animated short “coming of age” film follows a father and daughter’s lives through the “eyes” of their beloved hatchback in immersive 360 video. “PEARL” was created and directed by Patrick Osborne, the director of Disney’s Academy Award winning short animated film “FEAST.”

Invasion! VR film

“Invasion!” is a narrative-driven interactive VR animated short presented in real-time. It is directed by Eric Darnell, well-known director and writer of the four “Madagascar” films. Darnell formed Baobab Studios together with co-founder Maureen Fan, with “Invasion!” as their debut project, featuring narration by Ethan Hawke. The film explores ideas around character empathy and immersive VR “presence” within a storyline, promising a close alien encounter.


Agents of Change

A look at the creation of VR experiences for health and social advancement featuring presentations by distinguished scholar Walter Greenleaf, PhD, of Virtual Human Interaction Lab at Stanford University; Jeremy Patterson, Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital; Alice Grishchenko and John Luna, Ohio State University

Art & Science of Immersion

An advanced, high-tech look at the topics of programming, interaction design and shaders for immersive, interactive mediums. From bringing Google Earth to Virtual Reality, to high quality character shading from Pixar, and also a look inside the science that enabled the artistic vision of a specialized virtual reality drawing tool, attendees will take away high-level knowledge.

Production for VR Storytelling

This powerful session will feature three, high-profile, diverse presentations:

“Invasion!” Exploring Empathy and Agency in VR -- Director Eric Darnell and Maureen Fan will use their VR film “Invasion!” to tackle the questions of how best to tell a story in VR and how we make the viewer an active participant within the VR experience.

“Kanju”: Integrating HCI to Tell Better Stories in Immersive Environments -- Presented by Stephanie Riggs of Sunchaser Entertainment, the short VR documentary “Kanju” showcases cutting-edge concepts around Human Computer Interactive (HCI). Riggs aims to teach participants how to tell better stories within a virtual reality environment through incorporating a human-computer interaction techniques and basic design principles, which will be key to the future of narrative experiences.

“The Jungle Book” Through Mowgli’s Eyes, Part 1 – Kaa -- This is a real-time game engine virtual reality experience created for marketing Disney’s “The Jungle Book” feature film. Presented by Joe Farrell, Visual Effects Supervisor / Concept Designer, Tangerine Apps was tasked with creating the experience for the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, having utilized high end film assets and also paying special attention to the VR storyline, target frames per second output, and visual style in just eight weeks. Farrell will present the “making of’ the VR experience and discuss project outcomes.


Jennifer Wolfe's picture

Formerly Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network, Jennifer Wolfe has worked in the Media & Entertainment industry as a writer and PR professional since 2003.