Recently, I attended the fourth annual Oculus Connect conference in San Jose, where we were able to network and share ideas and innovations in the emerging VR industry. I was thrilled to attend the conference along with two students and their teachers who participated in our 360 Filmmakers Challenge, and captured their thoughts below.
From Teddy, a freshman at a Bay Area community college:
“Oculus Connect 4 was beyond awesome. Walking into the event, I had no idea what to expect. My only past experience with Oculus was with filmmaking and playing a few games with the Gear VR. However, as I witnessed at the convention, Oculus has and continues to expand the possibilities of 360° technology use.”
“During the keynote, the CEO of Oculus, a few of its developers, and Mark Zuckerberg spoke about the past, present, and future of Oculus technology. I was impressed with their goals to further improve and expand the applications of 360° technology such as Facebook Spaces. With this app, people in different locations will be able to meet up in an interactive, virtual reality room.”
“Overall, my experience at the convention was fantastic. Something I found really interesting were the developments underway for interactive 360° videos. I’d definitely be interested in learning even more about 360° storytelling, but for the time being, I’m thankful to have learned about the different cameras used in 360° films. I am also incredibly grateful for being able to attend the Oculus Convention and I look forward to experiencing their future developments.”
From Gathany, a junior at a San Jose high school:
“I went to the convention with my teacher Mr. Cavada. It was an honor that I had the chance to even go to an event like this. The convention itself had me feeling excited and on my toes the whole time. This event really opened my mind to what VR really is. I learned that VR is way more than video games, and that there are so many different categories that VR videos can fall into.”
“Connecting with numerous people from different companies was nerve-wracking at first, but I discovered that talking and connecting with people was a great experience. While I was waiting in line to try out a VR game, I met Brian Seth, the producer of the PBS Digital Studios film ‘My Brother’s Keeper,’ a Civil War-inspired narrative about two estranged brothers who, though fighting on opposing sides, unknowingly reunite one last time on the battlefield at Antietam. The whole time I watched this film I was emotionally touched. I would have never imagined how good VR and cinema would have worked together. I was so amazed at the quality of the film that it actually inspired me and gave me multiple ideas for how I can improve my own films through adjustments to settings and angles.”
“While at the event, I heard Paul Raphael and Ryan Horrigan speak about the making of Miyubi and how VR can affect the physical impact of film, creating a powerful moment for both the film and the viewer. The actors were very hesitant and didn’t know how to approach the film. It can be compared to theater where you have to make the performance for the back, front, and forward. In VR, you can’t be cut and you can’t be unseen.
The producers were trying to re-calibrate people’s minds for a new thing, because VR is its own thing. It’s not theater or film, and it’s sort of like reality. With VR, you forget that you’re watching a video. You can really focus on the story more than the actual video as if you are actually there. It’s really about being creative, not only on the story sidebar, but on the technical side, too.”
“My overall experience at Oculus Connect 4 was fantastic. I had so much fun. I got to learn so many new things and meet so many new people. It really opened my mind to what VR really is, and I’m very thankful I got this opportunity to go to this event. I have plenty of new ideas to bring back to the school for future films I plan on working on.”
We partner with Facebook and Oculus to present the 360 Filmmakers Challenge, which equips and supports teachers and students from more than 30 high schools across the country to tell their own stories in VR. Oculus made it possible for us to invite the teachers and students to attend the conference.
When youth are given the opportunity to directly participate in events like this, it furthers their ability to use new technology to solve problems they face and to tell stories important to them.