After presenting our idea to Mads on Monday, we created a shopping list of equipment we’ll need for the project. The first, of course, is the 360° camera. Though we were originally looking at the LG 360, additional research showed that the Ricoh Theta S has a far better picture quality and is better suited to our needs. We also requested the Easy Movie Textures plugin for Unity that allows 360° videos to be played on Andriod and iOS, as this is not yet a native capability (we’re really on the cutting edge here!). Finally, we requested a stabilizer rig for shooting the 360° video, though the technology is so new that there are few rigs on the market for it. Many are made for GoPros or smartphones, but are not made for a 360° scope, and therefore the hardware is often very apparent in test footage. The LUUV stabilizer rig bills itself as “the first 360° video stabilizer,” but as a Kickstarter project it’s not yet in production. Though it lists a July 4 ship date, we have concerns that it will meet the timeframe we need for this project. We’ll have to test the camera when it comes in and see what kind of stabilization is necessary for the video and decide from there.
Unity and Tech
In the meantime, we’re continuing to focus our energies on testing the technology, generating content, and thinking about user interaction. This week, Enda set up a tech demo on his phone to show how users are able to interact with navigation icons that animate on selection and then transport the user to a new scene. He’ll elaborate a bit more on the tech piece himself as it’s over my head, but I do know it looks cool!
UI and Design
These scripting requirements are heavily influenced by our choices in design and user interaction, however, so we’re really trying to nail those down. For example, how do we demonstrate to users that a certain spot will trigger an interactivity? As this is VR, there aren’t established standards for UI yet. We were playing around with maybe having a building or object within the scene “glow” if it would trigger an interaction, but felt like that limited our options too much. We experimented with using light sources within Unity to highlight interaction points, but it didn’t seem intuitive enough, and we really wanted clear interaction that didn’t require much explanation. Good UI is innately understood UI, and that lead us to the conclusion that we should use what
people are already familiar with. Cue Google-inspired icons and material design à la Easter Rising tour. We want to be sure not to impede the views, however, so in the coming weeks we’ll be exploring different animations where the icons begin as small, colored 2D dots, growing slightly and revealing a photo/video/narration icon as a users’ gaze moves towards them. We’ll have to test this within the Cardboard environment before making any final decisions, however.
Content and Research
A huge part of this project will be establishing the exhibit routes, researching for the POIs, developing scripts for narration. After Jill and I (Hailee) went on a walking tour of campus
to try to establish the stopping points and exhibit routes, we realized it was a bit more complex than we’d originally thought. Visually, the angles didn’t line up as we’d hoped they would, especially for exteriors like the Museum Building and Library Square. We’d also need to think about how to deal with interactions that weren’t directly tied to objects within scenes–for example, how do we relay information on the founding of the
school, or general historical overviews of certain areas? Perhaps we’ll put those in narrations during the video transitions, or set up a “hear more” interaction within the scenes. After taking everyone on a walkthrough of the route we had determined, Adrian and myself took placeholder 360 stills of the stops we had all agreed upon using the Google Street View app. While these images are nowhere near perfect (with all the tourists around, lots of people wound up stitched together with the wrong legs or faces!), it did give us the ability to print out each of the scenes and start compiling information for each using a sophisticated system of Sellotape and Post-It notes. Not only does this help us manage the multitude of information on the history of Trinity, but by covering the walls in images and content, it really helps give our little “office” some personality and focus!