The path to success may be reproducible, but it requires the right tools�?
On April 23, 2005, Jawed Karim Jawed Karim uploaded a 19-second video to the website built by him and his partners. This video called “Me at the zoo” shows Jia De standing next to an elephant in the zoo, facing the camera and saying that the elephant’s trunk is very long and “cool”.
Looking back now, this video is quite silly, but it does not prevent the Los Angeles Times from later commenting that it “changed the way people use the media.” The website created by Jia De is called YouTube, which was acquired by Google for US$1.65 billion a year after its establishment, and it will become the world’s largest UGC video website in the future.
But back in 2005, on the eve of the popularization of smartphones, in order to help users upload videos, the YouTube team had to go to the users’ homes, took the other party’s video tapes and ran back to the company to upload them in digital format, which was very laborious.
In contrast, Instagram, launched in 2010, absolutely stepped on the pulse of the times. With the outbreak of smartphones, photo uploading and sharing became a new muscle memory. It also made Instagram popular in a very short period of time, absorbing a large number of users, and quickly being recognized by Facebook. Purchase at sky-high price.
The popularity of smartphone cameras makes image content the mainstream of social platforms｜Pixabay
The popularity of smartphones and cameras allows ordinary users to easily share the content of images taken, and indirectly contributes to the success of social platforms and image and video sharing websites.
The current “Metaverse” field is facing the same challenge as the previous VR rise-insufficient content, especially the lack of C-side tools and applications, making UGC’s 3D content extremely scarce. From the experience of mobile Internet, without enough UGC content, it is impossible to support a large enough platform.
On the content level, the VR industry, the predecessor of the Metaverse craze, has gone through a detour. 360-degree video content that follows the camera route has been popular as a representative of the “reality capture” type of content, but was finally abandoned; another On the one hand, native 3D content and games made with professional 3D software have become the backbone of VR content. And this trend currently seems to extend to the fiery Metaverse.
01 The camera fell on the eve of the Metaverse
In 2015, in Los Angeles, USA, a beautiful girl screamed and ran across a brightly lit river, followed by a weird object. This is not the crime scene of the “City of Angels”, but the set of the Asian director Lin Yibin. He is not making a new sequel to “Fast and Furious”, but a short VR film that will be screened at the Google Developers Conference�?-“Help!”
This short film about girls and alien monsters is sponsored by Google’s Spotlight Stories. This small team born out of Motorola’s ATAP Advanced Technology and Projects is responsible for collaborating with artists. The production was still unknown to the public at the time. VR content. Obviously, because of being in California, Spotlight Stories chose the “bonanza” at hand-Hollywood, which is rich in film and television resources.
Lin Yibin’s “Help!” Filming Site｜BackChannel
The camera on the set of “Help!” is not a common Allais camera in Hollywood, but an array of four Red Dragon and fisheye lens cameras. With rocker arms and cables, this self-developed weird-looking machine is called by the crew. It is a “spider”.
VR video, also known as 360-degree video, is difficult to shoot. One is that you need to capture the top, bottom, left, and right images into the camera for later “stitching” into a 360-degree video. The other is that the director and photographer cannot stand behind the camera. That’s why a machine like “Spider” appeared.
With an investment of more than ten million US dollars, “Help!” set a benchmark for VR video, allowing Hollywood to discover the charm of VR as an experience tool, which then evolved into a promotional tool for major Hollywood manufacturers a few years later, but it also misled the industry. Let the practitioners think that the traditional content production that uses the camera to capture the light and shadow of reality can be seamlessly connected to a new medium such as VR.
Of course, it’s not only Google that got it wrong, but the competitor Oculus also fell into the mindset. Not only Facebook opened the upload and display of 360-degree videos and pictures, but also made two generations of 360 Surround cool camera hardware. The result is similar to the OZO launched by Nokia, leaving only a beautiful back for the world.
At the content creation level, the traditional film and television narrative principles are facing a fundamental challenge in the VR era-the free observation perspective of the audience is no longer dominated by the director. Creators who step into VR film and television production have to face several questions: What is the role of the audience represented by the camera? How can I keep the audience from missing the story and action? Without the concept of lens, how to edit?
At the same time, 360 video content cannot satisfy users’ “illusions” of VR. For those who are exposed to VR for the first time, when you turn your head and find that you can see images all around, especially when you have a well-made 3D image, it feels really different. But after a little familiarity with VR, the stimulation that simple video content can give is limited. The fundamental reason is that 360 video is 3 degrees of freedom content, that is, users can only watch 360 degrees at a certain point in the space, but cannot walk in it, and there is no avatar or identity, which is very confusing.
360 cameras launched by Samsung, Nikon, Ricoh and other companies｜YouTube
Although camera manufacturers such as GoPro, Ricoh, and Nikon successively launched consumer-grade 360 cameras that year, the poor sharing method and the not-so-popular price did not allow users who already have smartphones to go out and bring another 360 camera-Double Fish Eye The lens still lost to the traditional lens of the mobile phone.
Of course, more importantly, because it doesn’t require “Krypton” like VR games, and the number of VR users cannot support advertising, 360 video content cannot make money through the platform like ordinary videos, and the general team can only use one by one. Project support moves forward. In the end, as the VR industry gradually entered a trough in 2017, the 360 video industry also fell apart and became lifeless.
The failure of 360 video certainly has problems in the VR industry, but under the existing technology, the content produced by the way of capturing reality with a camera is not compatible with the new medium of VR. In contrast, native 3D content represented by VR games has begun to become the “pillar” of VR.
02 3D content is “top stream” but still lacks tools
When the traditional lens to capture reality is frustrated in VR, native 3D content represented by games has become the mainstream content of the VR platform. If nothing else, it may also become the main content form of the future Metaverse.
Unlike Lin Yibin’s “Help!” which also pays attention to the inheritance and transformation of traditional film and television techniques, in the early stage of the VR outbreak in 2015, the keywords of VR games and experience were excitement. “Big pendulum” and roller coasters are the most popular content among the two generations of Oculus Rift DK developer kits. These early experiences do not pay attention to graphics and design, but pursue a fierce attack on the “vestibular” system of the user’s brain in order to leave a deep impression or psychological shadow.
Yang Dong, the technical director of Unity Greater China, clearly remembers that the first experience of playing the Oculus DK2, which was brought back from the United States, was a skiing game. I don’t know if the optimization is not good or the frame rate is not enough. It may also be both. Yes, the result is “dizzy.”
Yang Dong did not expect that after Oculus launched the consumer product Rift CV1 a few years later, he took this set of equipment to his children’s kindergarten and gave the children a taste of the charm of VR. He did not expect that the favorite of these children was the most exciting. The “roller coaster” experience.
The hottest content in early VR was a roller coaster｜YouTube
Early VR users are very similar to those children, who have a natural liking for VR games, because in a sense, most early users are fans of deep games themselves, and VR content creators are game developers. This is why the developer conferences of two important game engines, such as Unity and Unreal, are also a grand event for VR developers. Yang Dong still remembers bringing hundreds of box VR glasses with his team to experience VR scenes for game developers.
Compared with 360 video, VR games and experiences allow users to move around in the game scene at will, and can simply interact with objects or characters in the game. Even just having a 3D avatar has doubled the user’s immersion. This is why 3D native content such as games has become the mainstream of the VR platform and first helped a few studios to get millions of dollars in sales, while the number of VR users at that time was pitiful.
Zhou Xudong, the co-founder of Sandman Studios, who once focused on the production and distribution of VR content, believes that just like traditional movies and VR film and television content, there are both needs for reality capture and 3D native content, and because the latter is more in production process Conducive to secondary development, so the 3D native content may be larger.
The product “Vast” currently being developed by the Sandman Studios team, has built a virtual show and exhibition space in VR for exhibitors and professional teams. At the same time, the team is also trying to design exclusive VR for professionals such as DJs and stage control. Tools allow them to control stage effects in the virtual world, similar operations, but the effects that can appear in the virtual world are several orders of magnitude higher than the real world.
The virtual stage effect in Sandman’s tool “Daqian”｜Sandman Studio
However, for ordinary users, it is too early to use professional software and engines such as 3D MAX, MAYA, and Unity to produce 3D content. Yang Dong believes that in the short term, it is unlikely that there will be a tool that allows ordinary users to create 3D content with one click, like taking photos with a mobile phone camera. However, in some vertical areas, the team can put the functions of professional tools in the cloud, and the application side can be simplified to be available to ordinary users.
From this perspective, the popularity of many virtual idols and two-dimensional social applications at present just confirms this truth. Yang Dong believes that instead of creating virtual objects, the first thing people need to virtual is actually the person itself. “Everyone can become their own virtual anchor, they can bring goods or do whatever they want.”
For Metaverse, Yang Dong believes that it does not become a reality at once, but “a little bit of entry into people’s lives.” Just like furniture and electrical appliances manufacturers such as IKEA, users can view the 3D of furniture and electrical appliances on their mobile phones. The effect of the model displayed in the physical space. The Metaverse concept may allow real-time rendering of 3D content to be quickly popularized at the public level.
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