Tag Archives: Vincent McCurley

What’s Next after Cardboard Crash, VR Cinema? Talking to NFB’s Vincent McCurley

11 Jan

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By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)

Virtual Reality (VR) is making further steps into the mainstream this year, and Vincent McCurley, Creative Technologist of the National Film Board of Canada (NFB), knows how to make an experience in this field matter. His work, Cardboard Crash, is only a beginning in exploring what this technology can do. It is not always about smoke and mirrors. The applications range from use in drawing in the third dimension to medical imaging — one day, doctors might be able to perform emergency surgery in the virtual space because they can’t get to the hospital in time. While its use in the entertainment forefront is getting the most attention at shows like the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show which wrapped last weekend and at film festivals there’s more to this technology than meets the eye.

“It’s really about putting the audience in a position where they feel like they’re actually in that world. My program came out of that core idea of what makes VR different than any other medium,” said McCurley.

Ultimately, VR is the computer mediation of our senses. A truly immersive experience makes what’s presented by wearing that headset completely indistinguishable from reality to an image on a computer. A suspension of disbelief is required and a willingness to be entertained (or shocked) by the computer program creates part of the fun. For this particular application, this software engineer and filmmaker created, it explores a topic that academia is interested in. It’s a subject worth exploring when considering Google wants to put self-driving cars on the market. The future is looking dangerous.

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Taking NFB’s Cardboard Crash VR App for a Spin

1 Dec

550575449By Shawn Trommeshauser
(Dreaming in Digital)

Would you trust your safety to a computer algorithm? What about to the people who programmed it?

Cardboard Crash for iOS and Android is a deceptively straightforward Virtual Reality (VR) experience by Vincent McCurley and the National Film Board of Canada. Mid last month, it won the Digi Award for Mobile Entertainment and this award is the 11th to an NFB production. This app was first previewed in the DocLab program of the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) in 2015.

This title has a cute stylised world filled with cardboard people, buildings, and cars. The cardboard textures add a lot of detail to keep the world simple and angular. The music is pleasant and fitting for the game’s contents. Nothing overstays its welcome as the scenario is only a couple of minutes long.

The game has a very simplistic interface. It doesn’t require any additional controllers or hardware beyond a VR headset such as Samsung Gear VR or Google Cardboard to play. All you need to do is look at an available button for a few seconds to activate it. A voice clip will play when you highlight one of the many buttons and if you only want to hear the description before you decide on anything, you have to look away just before the selection is finalized.

I had no problem with the motion tracking or response time using an iPhone 5s. The game was a little choppy at times, but I believe that’s simply due the age of my phone. However, I experienced a huge drain on the battery, approximately 20% in less than 5 minutes of play time.  I’m not sure if it’s this particular game, the Unity engine that it runs on, or it was simply too much for my phone to handle. So if you give this title a try, please make sure that your phone isn’t overheating as you play.

Spoiler Alert! I’m going to go into detail on what happens during gameplay. If you’re interested and have a VR-capable iOS or Android device, I suggest taking a few minutes to play through Cardboard Crash before reading any further. it is only about two or three minutes long.

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