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Adobe MAX

Adobe MAX: Hands On with Immersive Technology – AR, VR, ‘Dunkirk’ and Story

Immersive technology, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), were hot topics at this year’s Adobe MAX, last month in Las Vegas. The conference brings Adobe users, trainers and executives together to learn and to celebrate creativity. The session “Step Into The Story: A Look Into New Immersive Technology” combined insights from pioneers in the field and a chance to experience AR/VR editing.

VR and Story

Adobe MAX
Matt Lewis, left, creates VR’ amd Stefano Corazza builds tools to help him

Meagan Keane, the senior product marketing manager for Adobe Professional Film and Video, chaired the panel before the hands-on session. The discussion revolved around both the possibilities and the challenges of working with VR.

Stefano Corazza, a Director at Adobe Engineering, working on Adobe Dimension and founder and CEO of Mixamo which was acquired by Adobe, focuses on tools. “We try to design the tools of the future,” he said, “not just for the effect, but for what we want to achieve, to connect to other humans.  In VR, the story experience becomes less about interpretation and more about feelings. And that’s the shortest path for one human to get a story to another human.”

Olivia Peace, a Chicago based filmmaker/art director and 2017 Sundance Ignite Fellow, agreed. “When you’re watching a 2D film,” she observed, “your body just sits there. With immersive you are totally involved.”

Matthew Lewis, the president of Practical Magic, directed and produced Save Every Breath: The Dunkirk VR Experience, to promote Christopher Nolan’s recent film  He explained, “I’m on the tactical side of things, on the ground. When you’re working on Dunkirk VRE, no one cares how great VR is going to be in five years. People want to know what you can do now. Christopher Nolan is not going to accept shooting on a couple of GoPros. You have to push the limits of Adobe software.”

Adobe MAX
Olivia Peace found VR in film school. Gavin Miller found VR and postponed retirement

Dr. Gavin Miller, who runs Adobe Research, sympathized with Lewis’ challenges. He admitted that five years ago he was ready to retire, but VR got him excited about technology again. “We’re focusing on removing some of the headaches in VR, literally and figuratively.”

Sometimes too much or poorly implemented VR can cause people to have headaches or dizziness.

Miller continued, “Five years out, I expect to see virtual cities populated with imaginary people in a tourist experience. Maybe in 10 years, we will be able to experience the first footprints on Mars, rather than just watching it on TV like we did with the moon landing.”

Terminator: The Editor

After the discussion of possibilities, attendees got a look at the realities at the Adobe Premiere Pro demonstration editing stations. Approaching the demo area, you could see a distorted VR environment as one would expect on the monitor. After putting on the VR goggles, the game changed. It felt like AR inside of VR.

With the goggles on, you could turn your head and look around the VR environment. That’s VR. The surprise came as I realized that the controllers I was holding gave me feedback in the VR environment to allow me to edit the video within the VR experience. No taking off and putting back on the goggles to see if my edit worked as expected.

Adobe MAX
Trying to visualize VR on a flat screen distorts your vision

It took a little time to get comfortable in this new paradigm, but it did not take long for me to see the advantages to editing in an environment that was the same as your viewers would ultimately experience. If you want to edit VR, you will definitely want to check out Adobe’s tools.

Having seen the rise and fall of 3D movies (twice), I tend to be skeptical of new storytelling technology. I don’t think VR will replace watching stories on a rectangular screen, but I do believe it will become an accepted alternative and supplement to traditional storytelling. Filmmakers should invest the time to learn how to create VR.

Save Every Breath: The Dunkirk VR Experience is linked below. Go get your goggles.

 

About Leo Sopicki

Writer, photographer, graphic artist and technologist. I focus my creative efforts on celebrating the American virtues of self-reliance, individual initiative, volunteerism, tolerance and a healthy suspicion of power and authority.

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