Filmmaker blazing new digital, creative trails in virtual medium

Virtual reality movies created by Oculus Story Studio that dazzle headset-clad viewers with a 360-degree view of a filmmaker’s computer-generated world were discussed by Chris Horne, computer graphic supervisor for OSS, at a Nov. 28 F. E. Giesecke Lecture.

In his lecture, “Oculus Story Studio: Inspiring the VR Revolution,” Horne, a 2011 MS Visualization graduate from Texas A&M, explored the technology, art, and storytelling techniques used to create VR films and what it’s like to blaze trails at the dawn of a new medium.

F.E. Giesecke Lecture Series VR technology promises to transform the cinema experience and have an even greater effect on the people making them, said Steven Zeithchik of the Los Angeles Times.

“Mapping a headset wearer’s movements in virtual reality, or positional tracking, is one of the biggest challenges we’ve faced at Story Studio,” said John Ballantyne, the studio’s lead game engine programmer.

“Positional tracking has great immersive power,” he said. “It connects your body directly with the virtual world.”

The studio has produced two short films to view with the Oculus Rift, a consumer VR system. Its first,  “Lost,” is about a missing robot’s hand that finds its owner. The studio followed up with “Henry,” an Emmy-award winning movie about a hedgehog that has a hard time making friends.

Horne and his associates are creating a third short, “Dear Angelica,” which depicts a teenage girl’s memories of the childhood stories she heard from her mother.

Horne’s talk is one of three funded in fall 2016 by the Dr. F.E. Giesecke 1886 Lecture Series, founded in 2006 by Preston M. Geren, Jr. ’45, Giesecke’s grandson, and his wife Colleen ’45 to bring outstanding, world-class speakers to the Texas A&M College of Architecture.

This fall’s Giesecke lectures included a panel of African-American planning and design professionals discussing how race impacts community development, and a talk by John Carmack, chief technology officer of Oculus VR and a legend in 3-D graphics and gaming.

To learn more about Giesecke, who founded the Texas A&M architecture program in 1905, visit http://archcomm.arch.tamu.edu/archive/news/fall2006/giesecke.html

posted November 22, 2016