10 tips to get started in virtual reality

Oculus Rift

VR will be a hot topic at the forthcoming VFX Festival

Everyone in the world of 3D is talking about virtual reality right now. And that will certainly be the case at next year's VFX Festival, created by Escape Studios, part of Pearson College London.

Run from February 23-25 at London's O2, the festival will bring the best in VFX, games, animation and motion graphics to industry professionals and anyone considering a career in visual effects. In the meantime, here are Escape Studios' top tips on getting started in VR...

01. Start simple

Working at screens

Every vastly detailed VR landscape begins with simple objects

Don't try and create entire worlds at the start: everyone begins with small projects.

02. Focus on quality over quantity

VR isn’t a medium for feature films and the immersion level means you can tell a story or explain a concept in a fraction of the time. Perfect and polish this and you’ll stand out.

03. Show you understand visual language

All VR engages our senses, but the images completely fill our field of view, so understanding how to use colour and composition in particular is vital.

04. Understand 3D space

Looking around and moving in VR can either be amazing or disorientating or even worse, nauseating. Simulator sickness is something you MUST understand! Think about how much you are demanding of your audience and adapt the experience accordingly.

05. Test, test, test

Working at screens

It's an evolving field so everything needs testing

The rules haven’t been defined in Virtual Reality yet so try new things, work out what works, what feels right and make a stamp on the storytelling rules within VR. Keep your assumptions light and flexible and be ready to scrap and start again.

06. Appreciate different technologies

VR combines elements of film, games, UI, audio design, etc. You may not be an expert in all these, but having an understanding of what they involve will help you immensely. The lines between mediums will continue to blur and game engines such as Unreal, will no longer purely be for game creation.

07. Build tools

Working at screens

VR software is undeveloped, so new tools are a must

A full Nuke workflow is on the way but software solutions for VR are in their infancy and there are countless interface layers, SDKs and plugins to be built. Great content won’t happen without them.

08. Think of the audience

Think what makes an engaging experience, whether it be a game, a film or a piece of theatre, and then think how this can be translated into VR. What would be easy, what would be difficult, what would be better and what would be worse? Then think HOW you’d do it. What tech exists, what is being developed, what is still in the imagination? Now you’re beginning to think like a VR developer...

09. Explore what’s out there

Best Practices homepage

The Oculus Best Practices Guide is a must-read

There are thousands of articles, videos, demos, events, case studies and published VR projects online. In particular, you must read the Oculus Best Practices Guide: let it be the foundation for everything. Read, watch, experience and take inspiration for your own work.

10. Learn from the experts

This is an emerging discipline and things are changing all the time. Come to the Hamilton+Kidd talk at the VFX Festival to see how you can craft VR experiences for different brands and how they see the future of VR unfolding.

The VFX Festival, created by Escape Studios, part of Pearson College London, will run from February 23rd - 25th 2016 at London's O2. Bringing the best in VFX, games, animation and motion graphics to industry professionals and anyone considering a career in visual effects. Find out more here: www.thevfxfestival.com

Join the VR revolution with 3D World

Out today, issue 203 of 3D World is a must-read for any artist looking to make the leap into VR. Leading artists from Chaos Group Labs, Epic Games, Allegorithmic reveal what the future has in store for artists wanting to model, animate and create for VR. Learn how to enhance your workflow in Unreal Engine 4, create VR renders using V-Ray and discover the 10 rules every game artist must know. Plus tutorials cover high-poly creature modelling in ZBrush, rending in Arnold for Maya, advice to remove tracking markers in Nuke and tips for a perfect 3D-printed model. Buy your copy today!

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