MEGA Update Apollo 11 VR
Download 0.7 Demo HereHi Backers
David here. I’m the Director and Producer on Apollo 11 VR and I’m also the guy responsible for all the music and audio you hear inside the experience.
We are getting very close to releasing Apollo 11 VR so we thought we would publish this mega update with lots of info for you guys as none of this would have happened without your support. First off we would like to officially announce that Apollo 11 VR will be a launch title on the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PSVR. We are working very hard to ensure that we hit the submission deadlines and quality checks for each platform but we are now getting to a place with development where we feel quite confident that we should hit these targets barring any changes requested from the main platform providers. For those of you with DK2’s we will also create a playable version for you guys.
One question we keep hearing is when is Apollo 11 VR available on the Gear VR. We haven’t looked at porting Apollo 11 VR to the Gear VR yet as we are trying to make the best possible experience we can without hitting hardware limitations. Once we finalize the experience we will look at mobile in more detail. We are going to release a short snippet of Apollo 11 VR as a 360 video for free in the very near future. We will update you more as soon as we have a definite date.
Apollo 11 VR is primarily an educational tool to inspire both parents and students throughout the world. We believe that somewhere on this planet alive today is a kid that will one day follow Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin and take that next big leap for humankind and set foot on Mars. We want to help inspire this next generation of space travellers so we are offering Apollo 11 VR free to all schools and colleges worldwide. It is our sincere hope that kids all around the world get to try out Apollo 11 VR and this sets them on the path to becoming astronauts, engineers and scientists. This academic version of Apollo 11 VR will be slightly different to the retail version and will require verification. More details will be available post release.
For our Kickstarter backers you guys will be given the choice of what platform you wish to download Apollo 11 VR for. We will send you more details on this closer to the Oculus Rift launch.
We are only at the start of our journey with Apollo 11 VR and it has already won 3 international awards and has been chosen as one of the final 3 finalists for the Best Film/Interactive Story at the Vision Awards which are taking place on the 10th – 11th Feb in Hollywood. This is an amazing achievement especially as we haven’t released the completed version yet.
The final version has quite a lot more content then what has been seen already. We hope you enjoy your journey once released as much as we have enjoyed making it for you guys.
Kind Regards David Whelan Director / Producer / Wannabe Space Traveller
Nominated for Best Film/Interactive Story ( Winner TBA 11th Feb ) http://visionsummit2016.com/news/vision-vrar-awards-2016-finalists-announced
TimeWarner - Future of Storytelling
Award Apollo 11 VR - Overall Winner http://futureofstorytelling.org/prize/
FIVARS – Public Choice Award
Apollo 11 VR - Winner http://fivars.net/
Apollo 11 VR Winner – Best VR Animated Education Film http://www.virtualrealityfestival.com/
Hello backers! Drash here.
I thought I would give a short update on Apollo 11 development.
Right now, the end-to-end experience is now pretty much done, and the focus is now on additional refinements, performance, and being nitpicky as possible, and we will probably be doing this right up until release. It has been a rewarding experience to work with talented team members, to incorporate the fruits of their work, and then see how it makes Apollo 11 come to life.
One never stops learning new things, and I've learned a lot throughout the process, and am very grateful for this opportunity. I'd like to share a handful of things that I've run into along the way:
1) A while back, we switched to linear lighting, as opposed to gamma-corrected lighting that is intended for viewing on a monitor. This not only looks better and gives a cleaner view of the darkest parts of an environment, it also improves the clarity of the scene when lens distortion happens. However, there was quite a bit of pain having to go back through so many environments and adjusting all the art, materials, and re-baking the lighting. To avoid some of that pain going forward, I learned to set things up so that there's no confusion on how a scene's lighting should be baked in case I don't remember.
2) Diffuse lighting is very safe for VR, as it avoids the immersion-breaking sparkly specular highlights that stick out like a sore thumb in VR's hyper-sensitive headtracking + relatively low resolution. In addition, producing realistic looking scenes that perform well at 90hz generally requires lightmapping, and this typically means everything is going to be diffuse.
On the other hand... it's a little bit sad to see surfaces that are obviously metallic become dull! Turns out there's a bit of middle ground here, and that we can bake in the direction to light sources, which then gets sampled as a texture (same as with the realistic shadows). It's less accurate but it sidesteps the mathematical pinpoint that we get with realtime specular lighting. Some scenes are seeing a dramatic improvement to aesthetics as a result!
3) I also learned to bake the lighting for different sections of a scene at different lightmap resolutions in order to improve performance and keep the program's file-size down. It's still a big program, but there's no sense in being wasteful about it.
4) Some sections of the experience can be viewed in either cinematic or interactive mode, and this has been a fun challenge to figure out the right structure for the scene's inner workings in order to support both. My feeling is that these scenes are better for it.
5) In cinematic sections, syncing the visuals with the audio is critical. Lots of things can interfere with the synchronization, such as frame drops, focus being lost, etc. To combat this, work has gone into being able to pause both the visuals and the audio whenever that happens, and this feature also enables the player to pause the experience at any time. Turns out being able to pause the experience is hugely important. To fully enjoy an experience like this, players need to be relaxed and not on the edge of their seat worrying about something going on outside of VR. Being able to pause means not worrying that you're going to miss something if someone in the room needs to interrupt to talk to you about something.
6) Along the same lines, there's no pressure to finish the whole experience in one sitting. You can pick up where you left off next time! I learned this one from Titans of Space when I discovered that many players were interrupted and then discouraged from having to go through the whole thing again just to pick up where they left off.
7) Upon getting my hands on the new Oculus Remote (previously known as Simple Input Device if you remember that leak from just before E3 last year), I now understand that this is an absolute brilliant move to include it with every Rift. It is far less intimidating than a gamepad, so that should be great for enticing players that it might not otherwise. I can't tell you how many times I've demo'd VR to someone unfamiliar with gamepads and having to move their fingers to the correct button - it must be a panicky feeling to be them, and that's not something we want. In support of our aim to make things as comfortable and easy breezy as possible, the Oculus Remote will be supported as a first-class citizen. That's all for now. Ever thankful for your support, and I'm hoping you all enjoy this when we're done!
Nick Pittom our animator has created this short preview showing some of the process involved with animating the astronauts inside Apollo 11 VR.
Mario Matovina is our 3D model maker and he has created most of the models you see inside the experience. He has poured his heart and soul into their creation to ensure that they are as accurate as possible. Some new screen shots below.
Finally Lee from Infinite Realities provided the below info and images talking about the scan process.
IR provided a 50 camera Photogrammetry rig for this unique project. What makes this process stand out for Apollo 11 is that IR's rig is synced to a spherical global illumination system called the GI-LITE. We can capture cross and non polarized albedo skin texture data to build the RAW scan, which we augment with photometric normals to emboss on the scan data to provide accurate bump information. All captured in under 1 second.
More info at http://ir-ltd.net/
Thanks from all the team @ Apollo 11