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Owlchemy Labs is changing the way viewers watch VR gameplay

Owlchemy Labs is changing the way viewers watch VR gameplay

October 3, 2016 | By Alissa McAloon

October 3, 2016 | By Alissa McAloon
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More: VR, Console/PC, Indie, Production

Job Simulator and Rick and Morty Simulator: Virtual Rick-ality developer Owlchemy Labs is working on a way to fuse VR gameplay and green screen footage in-engine and without the need for any video editing. Known as depth-based realtime in-app mixed reality compositing, the process uses a stereo depth camera, custom shader, custom plugin, and green screen to place users directly and seamlessly into a VR environment. 

Typically, watching someone play a VR game is a strange and jittery second hand experience. Viewers either experience the game through a shaky first-person perspective or watch someone else experience VR against a flat, and clearly green screened environment. Technology like this in-engine mixed reality process aims to change that and show potential users a smoother and more immersive side of virtual reality. 

Owlchemy Labs’ mixed reality tech is able to sense depth and show users moving throughout the environment naturally.  Anyone viewing the footage sees the VR player moving behind and under objects in real time, without the need for any external programs or editing. 

The process uses a stereo depth camera to record video and depth data of a user against a green screen. The data is then sent through a custom Unity plugin and shader, which produces the in-engine footage of the user in the game environment. 

Owlchemy Labs notes that using the technology with its game Job Simulator was a particularly difficult application. “Essentially, Job Simulator is the worst case scenario for mixed reality, as we can’t get away with simple foreground / background sorting where the player is essentially static and all the action happens in front of them (a la Space Pirate Trainer). If a solution can work for Job Simulator, it can likely be a universal solution for all content.”

It isn’t quite ready to make its way out into the wild yet, but Owlchemy Labs is still in the process of developing their take on mixed reality and has plans to share some of the technology in the future. 

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