‘Simpsons’ Celebrates 600th Episode With VR

Fox Broadcasting is teaming with the Google Spotlight Stories to create a special virtual reality experience for The Simpsons couch gag to commemorate its milestone 600th episode.

Facebook’s Oculus Loses VR Ground

Oculus hasn’t quite been the virtual reality home run Facebook hoped it would be: the hardware maker has been beset by shipping problems, a high-than-expected price and vigorous competition from the likes of Sony and HTC, among others. Founder Palmer Luckey’s controversial political views haven’t helped, and now Facebook finds itself in the rare position of being on the back foot in a space where CEO Mark Zuckerberg has soaring ambitions.

TVN TECH

Broadcasters Begin Experiments With VR, 360

It’s still early days for sure, but some broadcasters are beginning to stream over the top virtual reality and 360-degree coverage of news and sports to viewers equipped with VR headsets or touchscreens like smartphones and tablets. The goal is twofold: immerse viewers in an experience in a way that’s simply not possible with conventional television and to get a jump on the next wave in consumer viewing.

REVIEW

Sony Delivers Worthy VR Experience

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Sony isn’t the first to make virtual reality a reality, but in waiting, the company has delivered a worthy experience that’s cheaper, more comfortable and more convenient than the two high-end systems already out. That could help boost a technology that’s had a rocky start. After four years of anticipation, Facebook’s […]

Google To Debut Daydream VR Headset

Google’s Oct. 4 event isn’t just going to be about its new Pixel phones and OS news. It will also be trotting out its new Daydream virtual reality headset, which will reportedly be priced for as little as $79. The device can be used in conjunction with either of the new phones.

Entravision Launches Digital Content Initiative

Entravision, owner of Univision- and Unimas-affiliated stations, will launch a digital content initiative through an investment and partnership with Chanclazo Studios, a digital production studio that creates and distributes short- and long-form 3D animation, virtual reality and augmented reality content for Hispanics.

NBC News Makes An Early Bet On Social VR

NBC News is planning a wealth of election night virtual reality coverage of its Democracy Plaza events, and the company sees it as a first step to creating a community that can eventually be monetized. “The audience just needs to be big enough that we can get some response from them, both in terms of how they use it as well as talking to people who have used it. And that will [shape] the experiments to come,” says Nick Ascheim, its digital SVP.

Virtual Reality About To Take Over Hollywood

AP’s VR Lessons, One Year In

It doesn’t have to be expensive, for one thing: the Associated Press has used $400 cameras and partnered with outside specialists like Ryot for its own 20 video projects. And a very important takeaway is that most events don’t actually work for VR. How does one know? “The rule of thumb is ‘would you look around you in a certain situation?’ if the answer is yes, then maybe there is an opportunity to create a VR experience,” says AP’s Paul Cheung.

Sony Promises VR Music Video, Other Content

Sony Interactive Entertainment Japan Asia President Atsushi Morita appeared at a Tokyo event Tuesday, ahead of the Tokyo Game Show annual exhibition opening later this week. He announced the company’s preparing music, movies and other kinds of entertainment to augment games on its virtual reality headgear.

How VR, AR Will Strengthen Storytelling, Rev

Both augmented reality and virtual reality offer different results for publishers. Here’s a look at some of the best AR and VR practices and strategies currently being used by media. What works for one  might not work for another, but if your kids were hunting for Pokémon this summer (or maybe even you were), then read on to see what the buzz is all about.

IBC 2016

Harmonic to Showcase Virtual Reality At IBC

Powered by HEVC tiling technology, the UHD VR approach enables video resolution 10 times higher than existing technologies, the company says.

 

VR Technologies To Draw Big Focus At IBC

Global MSO investment in virtual reality platforms seems to be ramping up as providers look to be in on what could be the next wave of in-home entertainment. However,  VR is going to require a new set of technology and new thinking in terms of network infrastructure in order to deliver services like 360-degree video. Questions about how to do that will likely be a big focus at next week’s IBC conference.

Facebook Works On VR Creation For Masses

Many think virtual reality is still a hazy and distant media abstraction, but Facebook is working its development on all fronts, ready to have all the best real estate in place by the time consumers show up in droves. Kurt Wagner looks at the team working on VR tools that will put its content creation in consumers’ hands, adding to the VR arsenal it has been ramping up since its purchase of Oculus Rift.

Amazon Is Gearing Up For VR Content

Help wanted at Amazon: a “Virtual Reality Experience Development Executive” is sought for what looks to be a slate of virtual and augmented reality original programming on its Prime service. Janko Roettgers reads the tea leaves of the job description for clues to Amazon’s designs for the emerging technology.

VR Is OK At Olympics, But TV Is Still King

NBC, BBC and other Olympic networks around the world are offering the opening and closing ceremonies and selected events in VR, giving viewers a 360-degree perspective  that is, the ability to look up, down and all around  when they wear special headsets. It’s a first in Olympics broadcasting, and NBC itself admits that its more than 100 hours of VR coverage is experimental.

NextVR Raises $80M For VR Streaming

The Series B funding is coming mostly from Asia as the company looks to expand its global footprint for virtual reality streaming of various live entertainment events. Time Warner and Comcast were among the company’s previous investors.

CNN Convention Plans Include VR Experience

NBC To Produce Samsung-Only VR Olympics

NBC will provide 85 hours of virtual reality programming for the Rio Summer Olympics, but it will only be available to users of Samsung Galaxy smartphones with its Gear VR headset. The video will include opening and closing ceremonies, men’s basketball, gymnastics and track-and-field events.

Coming Next: Live Virtual Reality

The tech is already there via NextVR, which has been working with media companies to broadcast events live in VR for the complete immersive experience. Having made early experiments with sports events and the Democratic and Republican debates, NextVR has its own cameras and transmission equipment, but says there are cheaper alternatives available for publishers to begin trying it out.

The Real Cost Of Virtual Reality

Splurging on a high-priced VR headset is just the beginning. The computer hardware needed to run Oculus Rift and HTC Vive can cost several times as much.

Will Virtual Reality Change Your Life?

How a teenage Palmer Luckey created Oculus Rift in his parents’ Southern California garage, sold it for $2 billion and may have launched a digital revolution.

YouTube To Get Its Own Virtual Reality App

YouTube will be a direct beneficiary of parent company Google’s virtual reality endeavors. Its new VR app will be available on Daydream mobile VR devices later this year, and it’s giving VR cameras to some content creators to help nudge along immersive video. Monetization plans are also in the works. 

Expect VR, Artificial Intelligence From Google

Although Google keeps its plans under wraps until the big event, the agenda of a conference today makes it clear that virtual reality and artificial intelligence, or “machine learning,” will be among the focal points. That has spurred speculation that Google is getting ready to release a virtual-reality device to compete with Facebook’s new Oculus Rift headset, as well as the Samsung’s Gear VR and the Vive from HTC and Valve.

Content May Be Key For Google’s VR Strategy

Samsung Expands Virtual Reality Arsenal

Virtual reality specialist Oculus is trying to dazzle consumers by adding more entertainment and educational options to the Samsung Gear headset. They join a menu of more than 250 apps designed for the Gear VR since its consumer model was released nearly six months ago.

Facebook Loses A Leading VR Innovator

Mary Lou Jepsen, the executive director of engineering at Facebook and the head of display tech at its Oculus virtual reality arm, is leaving the social-networking giant after a little more than a year on the job to focus on curing diseases using MRI images in the form of a consumer wearable.

NEWFRONTS 2016

Hulu Plans To Release Virtual Reality Series

Hulu is set to debut a virtual reality series that lets users experience what it’s like to walk out on stage as the star of a huge concert. The series, a partnership with tour operator Live Nation, is one of several new initiatives announced Wednesday by the online TV service.

Oculus Rift Delays Flatten VR Fan Fervor

It’s too soon to say how the four-week delays will affect Oculus, much less the overall acceptance of virtual reality, a technology that submerges users in realistic artificial worlds. The delay, naturally, has sparked online grousing and even some data-based activism, including the creation of a crowdsourced spreadsheet for tracking who received their prized VR gear and when.

COLLISION 2016

For Marriott, VR’s Moment Is When, Not If

Marriott International’s Creative Director Marc Battaglia says the company has already been aggressively testing the virtual reality waters. He says that within two years, it’s going to be a “key part” of the company’s marketing strategy capable of producing an emotional connection with consumers like nothing else.

Oculus Reacts To Virtual Reality Privacy Questions

BURBANK, Calif. (AP) — An executive from virtual reality company Oculus says consumers shouldn’t be concerned about an invasion of their privacy when using the Oculus Rift. Jason Rubin , Oculus’ head of worldwide studios, is downplaying questions raised about the VR system’s privacy policy. “It’s a new medium,” said Rubin during a Thursday interview. […]

REVIEW

Reporter Spends A Week With A VR System

AP reporter Derrick J. Lang spent an entire week with the consumer edition of the Vive, an $800 room-scale virtual reality system released this month by smartphone maker HTC and game pioneer Valve. It uses a pair of wand-shaped controllers to mimic hands in virtual worlds displayed within goggles. Here’s his account.

NAB 2016

Talking OTT, VR, 4K At The NAB Show

Gavin Mann, Accenture’s global broadcasting industry lead, examines media industry trends ahead of the NAB Show April 16-21 in Las Vegas. With topics ranging from OTT video, 4K, to virtual reality, the show is no longer just for broadcasters, attracting speakers and attendees from cable, telco and OTT companies.

NCAA Final Four Will Be Broadcast In VR

The NCAA has decided to broadcast the most important part of this year’s college basketball tournament, the Final Four, in virtual reality, for the first time. Presented as a partnership between the NCAA, CBS and Oculus, the live stream event will be produced by VR production house Voke.

COMMENTARY BY JOSEPH LICHTERMAN

Oculus Rift A Step, Not A Leap, Into VR News

Deep breath, publishers: you won’t need to be cranking out VR stories for the new Oculus Rift headset overnight. Joseph Lichterman writes that based on the spate of early reviews, it’s an impressive and positive step in the VR revolution, but widespread adoption will likely be hampered by its price tag ($599) and the high-powered PC it needs to run (no Macs yet). In short, it’s also just thrilling enough to get critics revved up for the 2.0 version.

Viceland Creates VR Content For Samsung

VR On The Cheap: How To Watch Without A Headset

NEW YORK (AP) — Hollywood studios, news outlets and consumer brands are all dabbling with virtual reality. Many everyday folks will soon join them using 360-degree cameras coming soon from Samsung and LG. But headsets to view VR video can cost more than $1,000 once you include a high-end personal computer with fast-enough graphics. And […]

VR’s Future To Become Clearer At Conference

Before the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive debut in a few weeks, VR is back in the spotlight at this week’s Game Developers Conference, the 30th annual gathering of the video game — and now VR — industry that kicked off Monday at San Francisco’s Moscone Center.

Report: Critical Year For VR Journalism

The new report from the Knight Foundation and the USA Today Network surveyed 10 news organizations that have been experimenting in the form, and finds that while proliferation is expected this year, there are also a number of concerns. Those range from production burdens, headset availability and ad metrics to whether people will actually embrace the experience.

VR: Advertisers’ Dream In 360-Degree Video

Advertising could likely, as in TV and on the Web, form the financial backbone of VR’s universe, and the technology’s dazzling visuals, boundless worlds and captive goggles-wearing clientele have turned what once seemed like a passing fad into an advertisers’ dream. But that rush into VR ads and 360-degree videos — their less-involved technological cousins — means advertisers will likely define the platform before it hits mainstream audiences, much in the same way pop-up ads shaped the early Web.