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April 01
2017

ISSUE

Spring 2017

FRAMESTORE’S ‘FANTASTIC’ VR BREAKTHROUGH

Fantastic Beasts (Photo credit: Copyright © 2016 Warner Bros. Entertainment. All other photos copyright © 2016 Framestore. All Rights Reserved.)

(Photo credit: Copyright © 2016 Warner Bros. Entertainment. All other photos copyright © 2016 Framestore. All Rights Reserved.)

By ED OCHS

Framestore VR Studio designed 2016’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them VR experience for the Google Daydream to make the user feel like a wizard with a wand, able to interact with the exotic objects in Newt Scamander’s magical shed – and J.K. Rowling’s fantastical Graphorn, Erumpent and Thunderbird. It marked the first time a handheld controller was used in mobile VR.

“Interaction is key for VR,” writes Framestore Global VR Technical Director Michael Cable in an email response to VFX Voice, “now more than ever with the proliferation of hand controllers available. It would have been very easy to ignore the Daydream’s controller, but that wouldn’t have played to the core of the device’s function. We’re long past the early days of VR where 360-video was good enough.”

It also marked the first time Framestore combined real-time interactive elements with high-quality prerendered environments. New, homegrown techniques allowed embedded real-time game-engine assets inside an environment rendered using an offline renderer. The enhanced interactivity, environments and visuals combined to create a fresh sense of “being there” for the user.

Michael Cable

Michael Cable

“Each scene was planned in advance as to the elements that would be pre-rendered and which elements would be real-time,” Cable explains. “It was quite a challenge to get all the elements in place – the viewport looked more like a 3D view from Flame than a game-engine view. This required a number of editor tools to be written to allow for easier editing of the scene.

“We are looking to expand this technology in the future as we feel it has a quite a few applications for mobile VR in the future. It has a smaller memory footprint than 360-video and is higher quality in general.”


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