Rendering, Final Stages and Evaluation

Rendering 

Once my scenes were created, and all assets were animated it was time to begin the rendering process. As my piece consisted of three scenes, I decided to have each scene be 40 seconds long because the specified minimum length of the entire video was 2 minutes (120 seconds). It was also specified that it needed to be 24FPS which meant that each scene had 960 frames, meaning a total of 2880 frames were to be rendered.  

I decided to render each scene separately as I knew from doing a test render that it was going to take a long time and this way I would be able to control any problems should they appear. On average each render of each scene containing 960 frames took about 2 days, meaning the entire thing took me about 6 days to render. I felt that this was very excessive, and much longer than I was anticipating but luckily I did plan enough time for the rendering process meaning I didn’t miss any deadlines. I had to render using my own computer and due to it being a MacBook, I wasn’t able to change the CPU settings to GPU as was recommended, this may be a reason why the process took me so long. I also wasn’t able to access any of the university computers remotely to use the render farm as they had revoked access to the digital media computers and the regular ones weren’t installed with Maya. Also, as I was rendering them straight onto my computer, it also took up a lot of storage space. 

Final Stages

Some screenshots showing my final stages of creating the video and audio using Premier Pro and Audition

Next, using Premier Pro, I compiled all of the rendered frames. I created some ‘bins’ to separate each scene so it would be more organised. I then began moving the frames from each scene onto the timeline, at first the frames didn’t go in the correct order and then I realised it was because I hadn’t sorted them in the bins by ‘name’ so I was able to rectify this and then it worked. Between each scene, I then added a fade transition effect in between the clips. This was to help the transportation between the scenes seem more realistic, especially as it was supposed to look like the user is going through a door into each scene. 

After exporting the video, ensuring all of the settings were correct for a VR video, I then went onto Adobe Audition ready to create the binaural audio. I managed to source some sound effects which I thought would be relevant for my piece (these are referenced below). I then positioned each sound effect onto the relevant part of the videos timeline, and then went through and began converting them to binaural using the ‘dearVR micro’ application. I then added a fade effect to some of the clips so that they didn’t cut off too abruptly. I also did some mixing where I was able to sort out some clipping issues where the audio was peaking which made everything sound much better. I then exported the binaural files and compiled both the rendered video and binaural file into Premier Pro and exported it as the final video. I then uploaded it to Youtube and tried out the video using Google Cardboard to check that everything was working okay. 

Evaluation

Overall I found the process okay but very time consuming. I did end up enjoying some aspects more than I was expecting to such as designing the scenes and doing the binaural audio. I did go into this project expecting that I wouldn’t be able to create that many of my own assets, but in the end I managed to create the vast majority myself which I am glad about. I also thought that I would find the binaural audio difficult, as I have never edited any kind of audio before, but I actually found this part to be quite enjoyable and interesting. However, as stated, it took such a large amount of time to do the rendering which made things quite difficult as I wasn’t able to go onto Maya and get the next scene ready whilst it was rendering, I just had to wait for it which was a shame.

References for audio

Knocking on the door: ERH (n.d.) Knocking on door [Audio]. Available online: https://soundbible.com/1196-Knocking-On-Door.html#google_vignette [Accessed 7/12/21].

Pumpkin appearing sound effect: Koenig, M (n.d.) Pop cork [Audio]. Available online: https://soundbible.com/533-Pop-Cork.html [Accessed 7/12/21].

Ghost sound effect: Simion, D (n.d.) Creepy background [Audio]. Available online: https://soundbible.com/2165-Creepy-Background.html [Accessed 7/12/21].

Skeleton clattering sound effect: Koenig, M (n.d.) Spooky chains [Audio]. Available online: https://soundbible.com/1094-Spooky-Chains.html [Accessed 7/12/21].

Creaking door: stephan (n.d.) Creaking door spooky [Audio]. Available online: https://soundbible.com/1717-Creaking-Door-Spooky.html [Accessed 7/12/21].

Floor moving: Benboncan (n.d.) Rock slide [Audio]. Available online: https://soundbible.com/904-Rock-Slide.html [Accessed 7/12/21].

Development Approaches

To help me gain more confidence in the immersive design aspects of Maya, I decided to do some initial experiments into some of the effects and features that I was aiming for in my final piece. By experimenting with these effects, it has also helped me to adapt and improve upon my ideas and therefore hopefully to get a better immersive designed experience for my final piece.  

VR Practice 

My short initial test render video to see how scene 1 was going to appear 

Some screenshots showing how the wraparound texture appeared in the rendered VR video

First, I decided to do a small test render on one of my scenes that I had created but not animated yet. This was to help me visualise how my environment was going to look in VR, it also helped me to see that the rendering would take a long time. I didn’t end up rendering very much of it because of this, but I did render just enough footage to be able to turn it into a Youtube video where I was then able to look through the Google cardboard and have a look around my environment. Here, I realised that some aspects didn’t look exactly how I wanted, particularly the wraparound tree texture. I really liked how this looked when the user is looking straight on (see fig 1) as it adds lots of depth to the scene, but when looking up in the video (fig 2), you can see where they end. I am going to be considering ways I can alter this in my final video, particularly as it is very important to consider the entire 360 view within immersive design.

Ghost and Pumpkin Animations

My test screen recording of the ghost animation

Then, to refresh myself in animating and using keyframes I decided to animate some of my assets. I decided to make the ghosts look as if they were floating and achieved this through key framing their positions. I do feel that the ghosts move slightly too fast in this practice video and therefore I will ensure to slow down their animation for the final piece. I also decided to animate the pumpkins and wanted them to all appear near the door. I used keyframes for this, and altered their visibility. Similar to the ghosts, I think in my final piece I will slow down this animation so they don’t appear too abruptly.

Bottle Animation

My test screen recording of the bottle animation 

I then wanted to experiment with some different styles of animation. In scene 2 which takes place in the hallway of the house, I wanted the bottle that is placed on the table to make its way to the user as if they are drinking something from it. To achieve this, I created a curve and attached the bottle to it as a motion path. The curve that I created here was a very basic one, in my final piece I plan on making it go up to the users face level and it will tip up at the end to replicate the drinking process, I will also slow down the animation slightly as I feel that it is too fast.

Appearing Ghosts

My test screen recording of the appearing ghosts 

Next I decided to have a go at animating the ghosts appearing. I wanted them to look as if they were appearing through the walls and the small Alice in Wonderland style doors that are on the wall. This animation ended up being straightforward to create as it mainly involved key framing the ghosts position.

Movement/Transition Through Door

My test screen recording of the camera movement 

This experiment was slightly more complicated than the others. I created a curve for the camera to follow and then attached a camera to it as a motion path, similar to what I did for the bottle animation. For some reason I couldn’t get the camera to face the right way along the path despite altering the axis in the motion path settings and rotating the camera around. After more experimenting after filming this screen recording, I realised that the camera needed to match the scenes setting and axis so I was able to rectify this issue ready for my final piece.

MASH Floor Effect

My test screen recording of the MASH effect

I then had a go at using Maya’s MASH feature. I used this feature briefly in one of our lab tutorials and managed to gain an understanding of the basics. I then had a go at using it myself, where I gained confidence in using it, I experimented with the randomise and colour settings in particular and I really like the effect these give. I plan on incorporating this effect into the flooring of my final scene as I think it looks really effective, but it actually surprised me as the MASH feature on Maya was really straightforward to use.

Lighting Experiment

Finally, I did some experiments with other types of lighting, as from doing some test renders shown in my Individual assets and environment development blog post, I realised that I didn’t like the look of the directional lighting that I had initially used as they seemed to create too many shadows and I wanted something more natural looking. 

Some renders showing how the lighting will look and the new skydome light sky

In scene 1, I added a skydome light which gave it a much more natural effect, especially since this scene takes place outdoors. To give it an even moodier look, I made sure to turn down the exposure on the settings to make the overall scene darker but ensuring the assets were still visible. I then added a sky texture to it which I had edited using Photoshop – the texture image of the sky was originally blue so I altered the settings on it, particularly the saturation, which made it more grey toned to add to the spooky atmosphere. I also decided to be more creative with the lighting for this scene and I created a sphere mesh with a mesh light added to it. I added two of these into my scene as seen in the renders above – one inside the pumpkin to light it up from within and one on the street lamp which gave that area of the scene a golden glow.

For scenes 2, I also utilised the mesh lighting method as it seemed to produce the more natural look I was after. For this scene, the mesh lighting was added to the ceiling mesh. I was able to alter the intensity, exposure and colour of the light mesh using the render view which gave me much more control and freedom to get to the levels I desired. Finally, for scene 3, I also used a skydome light. 

A comparison of my first render of scene 1 (left) to my current render (right) with the improved lighting 

Overall, I found out just how important it is to do test renders throughout the development process. They enabled me to see parts of the scenes that didn’t look as good as I thought they did and gave me a chance to rectify these issues and therefore improve my piece. As seen in the above comparison of the different renders of the same scene, the lighting now looks so much better on the right compared to my first test render on the left which was too shadowy. The addition of the mesh light inside the pumpkin helps to light up the scene but also emphasises the face and adds to the atmosphere.

Individual Assets and Environment Development

Sketches of Assets:

Initially, I knew that I wanted to aim for designing as many of my own assets as possible for my production piece. I sketched out some initial ideas for possible assets using ideas from my initial moodboard and by thinking about my storyline. Overall, I didn’t end up including all of these assets in my final scenes, as I felt that some of them were not needed.

Some sketches of my initial asset ideas

Assets I have created:

Detailed here is a list of all of the assets that I created myself in Maya and used within my final production piece. Many of them ended up being fairly straightforward to create, so I didn’t have to resort to using many found objects. I’m also pleased with how they have turned out since it has been quite a while since I had used Maya for asset design.

Pumpkins

Screenshots showing my process of creating the pumpkins using Maya

A render of my pumpkin assets

I knew early on in the process that I would like to include a pumpkin in my piece, as it fitted into my Halloween theme perfectly but I also felt that a carved pumpkin face is very reminiscent of the Cheshire Cat’s grin in Alice in Wonderland, therefore, merging both themes together.

Cobweb

Screenshots showing my process of creating the cobweb using Maya

A render of my cobweb asset

My cobweb asset was simple enough to create but when adding the cobweb to the scene, I had to carefully move the vertexes so each part of the cobweb was touching walls or corners of other assets which was fairly time consuming, but it definitely makes it look more realistic compared to the very perfect looking shape in the original render here. 

Ghost

Screenshots showing my process of creating the ghosts using Maya

A render of my ghost asset

The ghost asset was very simple and quick to create, it was also really easy to manipulate the ghost into different shapes and sizes throughout my piece. The only problem I had with the ghost asset was that despite turning the transparency down on the material attributes in an attempt to give it a realistic look, for some reason unfortunately it would never appear transparent in my renders. 

Trees

Screenshots showing my process of creating the trees using Maya

A render of my tree asset

The trees were quite tricky to create as it involved lots of extruding faces and manipulating rotations to create the branches and roots. I didn’t want my trees to have any leaves on them as I felt that bare branches can look very spooky and atmospheric and I felt that this would fit in with the darker, desaturated colour scheme that I wanted to go for. I also tried to make the tree shape and wood colour fit in with the wraparound forest texture. 

Mushrooms

Screenshots showing my process of creating the mushrooms using Maya

A render of my mushroom assets

The mushrooms were created so that the floor didn’t appear too bare, and to fit in with the spooky, woodland style environment. They were also a nod to the Alice in Wonderland story. Mushrooms are a fairly basic shape to begin with, so they were quite straightforward to create in Maya.

Witches Hat

Screenshots showing my process of creating the witches hat in Maya

A render of my witches hat asset

The witches hat again was straightforward to create. It involved extruding the lower edge to create the brim then manipulating the top part to create a slight bend on the point of the hat. 

Bottle

Screenshots showing my process of creating the bottle in Maya

A render of my bottle asset

The bottle was created from a cylinder, which I then manipulated the edges to create the shape that I wanted. I then made sure to use the smooth tool to make it look more realistic. 

Table

Screenshots showing my process of creating the table in Maya

A render of my table asset

I decided to add in the table when creating scene 2, as I felt that the room needed a piece of furniture, I was also then able to place objects on and around it. 

Hat Stand

Screenshots showing my process of creating the hatstand in Maya

A render of my hatstand asset

The hat stand was also added in when I was creating scene 2. I was a bit unsure of where to place the hat, and then I thought a hatstand would be perfect within a hallway. 

Stairs

Screenshots showing my process of creating the stairs in Maya

A render of my stairs asset

I didn’t initially plan on having any stairs, but when piecing together the environment for scene 2, I decided to create some because I wanted the room to be like an entrance hallway of a house and felt like stairs would be perfect to show this. However, I did still want it to be unusual to fit in with the Alice in Wonderland theme, and I decided that the stairs would actually lead to nowhere. 

Found Assets References:

Some of my assets used in my final piece were found assets sourced online. All of the found 3D assets were used in scene 1 which was outside the house, as I wanted this first scene to be really striking for the user. These assets consisted of the house, lamppost, fence panels and skeleton. I also sourced some textures which were used for the walls and flooring throughout my piece. All of these found assets are referenced below. 

Wooden House: abhijithcheruvery (2021) Wooden house 3D model. Available online: https://free3d.com/3d-model/wooden-house-752597.html [Accessed 24/11/21].

Lamppost in the street: rv125 (2017) Lamp post 3 3D model. Available online: https://free3d.com/3d-model/lamp-post-3-44967.html [Accessed 24/11/21].

Outdoor Fence Panels: printable_models (2018) Gothic wood fence pane V2 3D model. Available online: https://free3d.com/3d-model/gothic-wood-fence-pane-v2–156666.html [Accessed 24/11/21].

Skeleton hanging from house: Kim (2013) Skeleton 3D model. Available online: https://free3d.com/3d-model/skeleton-81335.html [Accessed 24/11/21].

Grass Texture: Naldz Graphics (n.d.) Absolutely free seamless grass textures. Available online: https://naldzgraphics.net/free-seamless-grass-textures/ [Accessed 25/11/21].

Stone Texture: My Free Textures (n.d.) Pavement texture of old tone pavers on the road or path background. Available online: https://www.myfreetextures.com/stone-pavers-road-path-background-texture/ [Accessed 25/11/21].

Forest Texture: Peppersquad (2018) Spooky forest trees sticks dark scary fantasy. Available online: https://pixabay.com/photos/spooky-forest-trees-sticks-dark-3851395/ [Accessed 25/11/21].

Alice in Wonderland card suits pattern: Liu, S (2016) Alice in Wonderland (pattern). Available online: https://www.behance.net/gallery/44363397/Alice-in-Wonderland-(Pattern) [Accessed 27/11/21].

Wooden floor planks texture: P, Juric (2014) Tileable old wooden planks texture. Available online: https://depositphotos.com/40619711/stock-photo-tileable-old-wooden-planks-texture.html [Accessed 28/11/21].

Sky Texture: bgfons (2015) Seamless sky texture. Available online: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/476114991835021544/ [Accessed 2/12/21].

Developing my environment:

Scene 1: Outside the house

Screenshots showing my process of creating scene 1 in Maya

Scene 1 required the placement of all of the assets into an environment. I was also able to decide upon and add the textures here, which really helped me visualise the environment better. As stated earlier, some of the assets used for this scene were found objects, but I did try and add plenty of my own too. Here, I added a wraparound forest texture so that there wasn’t a big void, but to create the feeling of depth I creating my own ‘forest’ by duplicating my tree asset. 

Scene 2: Hallway 

Screenshots showing my process of creating scene 2 in Maya

First, I tried to get the shape of the room correct and match the interior structure with the outside of the house by placing the door and window in the correct place. I then created the holes for the window and doors using the booleans difference method and then I added the window and doors. Then, I worked on piecing together the rest of the room by adding in more 3D assets, all of which were created by me in this scene. As stated earlier, I decided to add in some additional assets in this room that I hadn’t initially planned on having, such as the stairs that lead to nowhere, the hat stand and the table. 

Scene 3: Pumpkin room

Screenshots showing my process of creating scene 3 in Maya

My final scene environment didn’t take long at all to create as it was a very basic room. I made sure that one of the walls had the door in the correct position to match up with the previous room so it would flow correctly. I also added the outdoor forest texture that I had used to wrap around the house in scene 1 as wallpaper because I wanted the viewer to be slightly confused whether they are in or outside here, to fit in with the way Alice in Wonderland challenges reality.

Test Renders of my environment 

Scene 1: Outside the house

Some renders showing scene 1

Scene 2: Hallway

Some renders showing scene 2

Scene 3: Pumpkin room

Some renders showing scene 3

Here are some test renders of each scene with the environment of my piece, in my final piece I ended up changing the lighting in each scene as I felt that these renders looked much too shadowy. I also decided to get rid of the wraparound tree texture in scene 1 as I didn’t like how it looked when rendered, I will go into more detail about this in my ‘Development Approaches‘ blogpost. 

Embodiment

Embodiment helps to bring in a sense of presence even more intensely within an immersive environment. It is where the user feels a full embodiment inside the body of another virtual being, and they will therefore feel that the events that are happening in the virtual environment are really happening to them.  

Certain things can be done within immersive design to help the user feel even more embodiment such as being able to see a virtual body. However, this would only really work within VR types that use full body tracking and not ones like mine which will be just be a visual experience and only respond to movements of the head. This runs a risk of the user feeling very disconnected if the movements of the character within the experience are not mimicking theirs – for example it the character is walking in the experience but in real life, the user is sat down on a chair they would feel disembodied, therefore this is why I have decided to not add any body parts in my production piece and I also won’t be including any body parts. 

Another aspect of embodiment within immersive experiences would be the initial aspect of gaining an understanding of how to use the controllers, or essentially how to work your new ‘body’. When I was able to use the Oculus VR headset for the first time in the university lab, I found the ‘First Contact’ application to be very helpful in teaching me how I will be interacting with things in the new virtual world. This introductory tutorial was really crucial in helping me get acquainted with the controls and it didn’t take long at all until I was used to these new controls, I really did become embodied into them to the point where the actions I were performing felt natural and I didn’t have to think about what I was doing. 

Audio Considerations

Types of sound

Audio can be used in many ways within immersive design, this could be through the use of music, dialogue, ambience, environmental sounds, internalised sounds and interactive feedback. Some immersive design experiences or games may use all these types, but it is possible to limit which forms of sounds are used depending on the situation. For example, an atmospheric, scarier experience may just utilise ambient sounds to create lots of tension whereas something with lots of action may use all of the mentioned types. 

Forms of audio 

Immersive design will most likely utilise a type of audio called ‘spatial audio’ this ‘involves the manipulation of audio signals so they mimic acoustic behavior in the real world. An accurate sonic representation of a virtual world is a very powerful way to create a compelling and immersive experience’ (Thakur, n.d.) which is fundamental within immersive design. The sounds surround the user and can be positioned specifically within the space. Within VR, the form of spacial audio which will most often be used would be binaural this is where ‘a different audio signal is fed to each ear in order to create the perception of a three-dimensional sound field’ (Crute, 2019) this is due to the fact that someone experiencing VR will most likely be doing so through a headset and headphones which use binaural audio. I plan on using binaural audio within my piece, as I feel that it is one of the most immersive aspects to VR. 

Immersing the user

One way that audio can completely immerse the user would be that it is possible that audio can trigger a physical response in people. Audio can make someone feel intense emotions which will have a big impact on their experience. For example, this could be done through altering things such as pitch and dissonance which could then release stress hormones and alter the listeners heart rate, this would work well within a horror immersive design experience. 

Audio use within my piece

For my production piece, I will need to ensure the audio matches well with the overall spooky aesthetic of my piece. I plan on achieving this through just having sound effects and environmental sounds in my piece. As I would mostly like to focus on creating lots of atmosphere within my production piece, I don’t plan on including any dialogue, internalised sound or any music. I personally feel that this will be much more realistic and therefore will help to immerse the user deeper into the experience. There may even be some parts to my production piece which are silent, to again add to the tension in my piece. I will, however make sure I include some sounds to alert the user to events that are happening or objects that may require interaction to help with the navigation aspects. I will most likely be sourcing the audio online on audio libraries and I will then go onto editing them into binaural audio through the DearVR application on Adobe Audition.  

References:

Thakur, A (n.d.) Spatial audio for cinematic VR and 360 videos. Available online: https://creator.oculus.com/learn/spatial-audio/ [Accessed 17/11/21].

Crute, A (2019) Recording and mixing audio for virtual reality. Available online: https://musictech.com/features/trends/vr-recording-and-mixing/ [17/11/21].

Digital Affordance and Navigation Considerations

What is digital affordance?

Digital affordance ‘is a readily perceivable interaction possibility. It occurs when an object, whether physical or digital, has sensory characteristics that intuitively implies its functionality and use’ (Coyle, 2015). In the digital world, digital affordance will often be cues to functions which we are able to relate to the physical world such as the ‘add to cart’ button on online shopping websites having a shopping cart symbol and the recycle bin having a bin symbol – these are often cues which we can easily recognise and understand how to interact with them using our intuition. 

Within an immersive environment, however, it may not always be quite as clear that a specific object is interactive and the user may even miss out on important aspects of their experience because they might not notice something, therefore, within immersive environments the cues may often need to be more obvious. Some examples of cues that could be used within immersive environments could be through lighting – this might be things such as spotlights shining on objects of interest or objects glowing/becoming highlighted. Another style of cue may be through the use of audio, particularly binaural audio to capture the users attention – an example being a phone that needs interacting with on the left side of the room may have a ringing phone sound effect that it projected through only the left earphone to lure the user to that correct part of the experience that should be explored but it might not be so obvious otherwise. 

My digital affordance considerations

As my production piece is going to be immersive but not interactive, I will need to find ways to catch the users attention when any important things are going to happen. As mentioned above, I will also be using lighting and audio cues for this. 

A small storyboard outlining the three scenes in my piece

First, the experience starts outside the house in a street, the majority of the street will be fairly dark, but then I will ensure the doorway to the house is lit up through a well positioned lighting, there will also be pumpkins around the doorway which will have light sources inside them, this will hopefully help the user to face in the right direction ready to start their experience. Next there will be a knocking sound ready for the door to open. 

Once the user is inside the first room of the house, they will have the opportunity to take in their environment and the halloween decorations will make noises and appear around the room. Then, the ‘drink me’ bottle will appear along with a sound effect for this and it will seem as if the user is drinking something. 

Next, there will be a creaky door sound and they will make their way through to the next room. Here, the room will be completely dark but pumpkins will be placed surrounding the user and their carved faces will light up so the user will know to focus on them. Again, I will also be adding in sound effects here to make sure the user notices the pumpkins. Finally, the user will ‘fall’ through a void into the new world that they have been transported into.

Navigation considerations

I am also going to need to strongly consider the ways the user will navigate around my environment as I don’t want the user to feel disorientated. Again, as this is only going to be an immersive video, there are limitations as the user isn’t going to be able to physically move theirselves through my world, but I will need to make sure it seems like they are. 

For my scenes, the user will actually be stood still but will be able to look around the room so I don’t need to worry too much about the movement. However, I will be considering the navigation aspects more when the user is being transported to the various rooms through the doors. I will be using the teleportation locomotion method for my production piece by applying fade to black transitions to make it seem that the user is travelling into another room. I feel this will work the best within my piece as teleportation locomotion is less likely to give motion sickness which is a very important aspect within VR as this could potentially ruin someones experience.

References:

Coyle, A (2015) The evolution of digital affordances. Available online: https://uxdesign.cc/affordances-ad4fff2ff6c8 [Accessed 14/11/21].

Story Structure and Development Considerations

Story

Overall, my immersive design experience will be influenced by the Alice in Wonderland story but I want it to have a scarier edge, for this, I would like to incorporate a Halloween theme. I feel that having a spookier theme will work well within a VR environment to really immerse the user into the experience. As well as having an overall spooky aesthetic throughout my experience, I aim on creating lots of atmosphere within my prototype which will be achieved through sensory aspects. 

I decided to start my experience in a dark street, outside a spooky looking house on the night of Halloween. My experience will be the initial transportation stage of the going ‘down the rabbit hole’ concept. It will be viewed through the eyes of a trick or treater – they will knock on the door which will open and then they will enter and then be immersed into a room in the house that is decorated for Halloween. Here, the user will be able to look around the room and take in their new surroundings. Ghosts will appear around the room and the other halloween themed objects will be animated. Then, similar to the traditional Alice in Wonderland story, a ‘drink me’ or ‘eat me’ object will appear in the room. As the user won’t be able to fully interact with this due to my piece only being VR, I will most likely have them come up to the user’s face as if they are consuming it. Finally, the user will then enter into another room where pumpkins which will be carved with an unnervingly creepy face like the cheshire cat will keep lighting up all around the user and the experience will end where the user is falling into their new wonderland world. I am imagining that my experience would be the opening sequence of a game – a way of showing the journey that the character went on to get into the world that the game is set in. 

As I haven’t created any VR work before, I know that I will find this module quite challenging, but hopefully I will be able to create the narrative and experience that I am aiming for and will be able to completely immerse the user into the environment and take them on a journey.

A birds eye view/map of the scene 

Aesthetics 

As mentioned above, my production piece will have an Alice in Wonderland/Halloween theme. To help me before designing or sourcing my 3D assets, I decided to create an inspiration collage and a Pinterest board to help me get together ideas of how I would like the overall aesthetic of my piece to be. 

My Inspiration Collage I created to help me gather inspiration for the aesthetic I am aiming for

As seen in my inspiration collage, I would like to go for a colour scheme of black, white and red. I feel that these colours work really well for both the Alice in Wonderland theme and the Halloween theme. I also think that by sticking to a colour scheme, it will help my piece to be distinctive and consistent. I’d like to incorporate the harlequin style patterns and playing card suit patterns as seen in the background of my inspiration collage, these may work well as wall coverings inside the house. Overall, to add to the spooky atmosphere I would like my piece to be quite dark, this will enable me to utilise atmospheric lighting throughout my piece. 


My Pinterest board (Please click on ‘Dark Alice in Wonderland’ to view the board on Pinterest or click here)

References for inspiration collage: 

Gate:

Kelloween (2013) Iron gate metal tree architecture. Available online: https://www.halloweenforum.com/threads/dark-alice-in-wonderland-party-this-year.126363/page-2#lg=thread-126363&slide=2 [Accessed 17/10/21].

Illustrations:

yoh_monochrome (2021) Yoh’s monochrome circus. Available online: https://www.instagram.com/p/COdNEQKrXdW/?utm_medium=copy_link [Accessed 17/10/21].

yoh_monochrome (2021) Yoh’s monochrome circus. Available online: https://www.instagram.com/p/COfsP4krvfl/?utm_medium=copy_link [Accessed 17/10/21].

yoh_monochrome (2021) Yoh’s monochrome world. Available online: https://www.instagram.com/p/CUz_KWWPdCx/?utm_medium=copy_link [Accessed 17/10/21].

American McGee’s Alice:

Shepherd, A (n.d.) AMR cover. Available online: https://alice.fandom.com/wiki/Alice:_Madness_Returns?file=AMR_cover.png [Accessed 17/10/21].

Looking up at gate:

Albinwonderland (n.d.) ALB. Available online: https://albinwonderland.tumblr.com/image/65698943043 [Accessed 17/10/21].

Girl with wine glass:

Hiera12 (2019) Eightstudio illustrator. Available online: https://twitter.com/hiera12/status/1175027320433700865 [Accessed 17/10/21].

Cauldron:

Desire soaps and candles (n.d.) Witches brew cauldron mug. Available online: https://desiresoapsandcandles.com/products/witches-brew-cauldron-mug?epik=dj0yJnU9NUpLZlBlcnR2ZGxRWFFEQm5QaDRYNXBfbzdWXzhBeEQmcD0wJm49Qzl5alFPTUFMb1lEc0hWYTQzRks2ZyZ0PUFBQUFBR0ZzQVNB [Accessed 17/10/21].

Cheshire Cats:

Zoeyfd2005 (n.d.) Chessur. Available online: https://aliceinwonderland.fandom.com/wiki/Chessur?file=7623346620_1572cf505a_b.jpg [Accessed 17/10/21].

Waterwecna (n.d.) Chessur. Available online: https://aliceinwonderland.fandom.com/wiki/Chessur?file=Ches4.jpg [Accessed 17/10/21].

Skull:

Saplakoglu, Y (2019) The human skull obeys the ‘golden ratio’ study suggests. Anatomists say that’s ridiculous. Available online: https://www.livescience.com/golden-ratio-human-skull.html [Accessed 17/10/21].

Broomstick:

Chiccostume (2021) California costume collections 60620 witch’s broom – black. Available online: https://www.ebay.co.uk/p/1828711911 [Accessed 17/10/21].

Ghost:

Ehrlich, D and Blauvelt, C (2021) The best movies about ghosts, from ‘the haunting’ to ‘the others’. Available online: https://www.indiewire.com/gallery/best-ghost-movies/ [Accessed 17/10/21].

Eyeball sweets:

Wicked Uncle (n.d.) Giant gooey chocolate eyeballs. Available online: https://www.wickeduncle.co.uk/childrens-presents/gooey-chocolate-eyeballs [Accessed 17/10/21].

Drink me bottle: 

Little Gem Girl (n.d.) Drink me Alice in Wonderland glass bottle charm necklace with blue liquid shimmer shrinking potion. Available online: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Wonderland-Bottle-Necklace-Shimmer-Shrinking/dp/B00YIH47F0 [Accessed 17/10/21].

Pumpkin:

Rice, E (2018) 100 genius pumpkin carving ideas for Halloween 2018. Available online: https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/whats-on/whats-on-news/gallery/100-genius-pumpkin-carving-ideas-15297516 [Accessed 17/10/21].

Alice Sketch:

drj1828 (2012) “Drink me” Alice in Wonderland ornament – product image #2 – sketch. Available online: https://www.flickr.com/photos/68105287@N03/7941244642/in/photostream/ [Accessed 17/10/21].

Mad Hatter’s Hat Illustration:

The Mad Hatter (n.d.) Mad-Hatter-Restaurant-Blog-Hat-Image. Available online: https://www.madhatteranoka.com/mad-hatter-restaurant-blog-hat-image/ [Accessed 17/10/21].

Playing Card Suits Pattern:

Liu, S (n.d.) Alice in Wonderland (pattern). Available online: https://www.behance.net/gallery/44363397/Alice-in-Wonderland-(Pattern) [Accessed 17/10/21].

Harlequin Pattern: 

Black Gryphon (2019) Harlequin pattern. Available online: https://fineartamerica.com/featured/harlequin-pattern-black-gryphon.html [Accessed 17/10/21].

 

What is Immersive Design?

For my immersive design assignment, I am to design an immersive experience prototype surrounding the story of Alice In Wonderland. As I am new to the world of immersive design, I decided to do some research before I began designing anything to help me gain a better understanding of it. 

What is Immersive Design?

Immersive design basically enables the user to feel as if they are physically interacting with things within another world, it ‘pulls a person into a new or augmented reality, enhancing everyday life (by making it more engaging or satisfying) via technology’ (Karnes, n.d.). Immersive design is also known by the umbrella term of extended reality or ‘XR’ which can then be narrowed down further into the three segments of augmented reality ‘AR’, virtual reality ‘VR’ and mixed reality ‘MR’.

My graph showing the types of extended reality

Augmented Reality 

‘AR adds digital elements to the real world and projects them onto your line of sight’ (Autodesk, n.d.). An example of this could be the mobile game, Pokemon Go in which the user virtually captures Pokemon on their phone screen which via the phone camera, look as if they are appearing in whatever environment the user is in. 

Augmented reality can also be used this way for companies trying to sell things such as the furniture company, IKEA who have an app in which you are able to ‘virtually place true-to-scale 3D models [of IKEA furniture] in your very own space’ (Apple 2021). This is really interesting to see how through the use of AR it can not only help a company to sell their items but also helps the consumer to make sure they are making the right decision with their purchases. 

A GIF showing an example of augmented reality game Pokemon Go

Virtual Reality

‘VR replaces the real world with a simulated one in 3d’ (Autodesk, n.d.). The games industry is probably what initially will spring to mind for most people when they think of the term VR, from the rise in popularity of Virtual Reality headsets such as the Oculus Quest, HTC Vive, Playstation VR and Google Cardboard in recent years. The user will wear a headset which covers their eyes completely (blocking out the physical world) and secures at the back of their head, and hold controls in their hand. Through the use of screens inside the headset, the user will be able to see their new virtual world, which generally will surround them to a 360 degree angle. When the user moves, they will also move in the virtual world and through the use of hand controls, they will be able to interact with things. There are many games that have been made solely for VR, such as Half-Life Alyx. There are also many games which were already popular on other consoles that have been transformed onto VR platforms such as Minecraft, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. 

The games industry certainly isn’t the only industry that uses Virtual Reality, according to ‘Virtual Speech’ there are now 21 other industries that utilise this technology. One of these is the healthcare industry, where VR can have a very positive impact: ‘healthcare professionals now use virtual models to prepare themselves for working on real bodies and VR has even been used as pain relief for burn injuries’ (Thompson, 2020). This shows that VR isn’t just used for leisure, but also can change people’s lives for the better. 

Similar to the augmented reality IKEA app mentioned earlier, VR can also be used to help sell products to consumers. This is seen in the architecture and real estate industry who both use 3D models to show customers how their building work may look once complete or in the case of the real estate industry, prospective buyers of houses can virtually take part in house viewings. 

VR is also used in the motor industry to help create prototypes of cars, this ‘is saving the automotive industry millions by reducing the number of prototypes built per vehicle line’ (Thompson, 2020). This is also an example of how VR can actually help the environment too.

Finalising the list of the 21 main industries that use VR, the rest are retail, tourism, gambling, learning and development, recruitment, entertainment, education, sports, art and design, events and conferences, wellbeing, social, charity, marketing, recreation, law enforcement and finally news and journalism. This extensive list is proof that VR will have an impact in most peoples lives somehow. 

A GIF showing some users experiencing virtual reality games

Mixed Reality

‘MR is a hybrid of virtual reality and augmented reality’ (Autodesk, n.d.), a ‘blend of physical and virtual worlds’ (Microsoft, 2021). This type is quite often seen on mobile devices, for example ‘people may not even realize that the AR filters they use on Instagram are Mixed Reality experiences.’ (Microsoft, 2021). These types of face filters on apps such as Instagram and Snapchat react with the physical world, for example, some of the filters react to changes in facial expressions or movement. 

A GIF showing an example of Snapchat face filters which respond to movement

My Personal Experience 

As I had personally never experienced any type of extended reality before, early on in the module in one of the labs I was given the chance to try out the university’s Oculus headset which is a VR gaming headset. I found that having this first hand experience to be very useful, it certainly helped me understand Immersive Design more and helped me to start gaining ideas for my prototype. 

During this experience, I first tried out some of the introductory orienteering games which are designed to help new users get acquainted with how to use the head set and controls. Initially, I did feel a bit confused by how to use the controllers but by doing small tasks within the new world such as picking up blocks and stacking them, throwing paper planes and inserting game cartridges into a console, I was able to gain much more confidence with how to use the controls. These tasks all sound like very basic things, but in a way when using VR for the first time it is almost like learning how to use your hands again, so I found this part of it crucial and very helpful. 

Overall, I found my experience using the VR headset to be very fun, I was able to see and experience how immersive design is such a sensory experience, and that this important aspect is what ultimately helps to literally immerse the user into the experience. I will be now take what I have learnt from both my experience using VR and my research into it to create an interesting immersive prototype. 

References:

Karnes (n.d.) What is an immersive experience and how do you create one? Available online: https://clevertap.com/blog/immersive-experience/ [Accessed 16/10/21].

Autodesk (n.d.) Introducing immersive design. Available online: https://www.autodesk.co.uk/solutions/virtual-reality [Accessed 16/10/21].

Apple (2021) App store preview: IKEA place. Available online: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/ikea-place/id1279244498 [Accessed 16/10/21].

Thompson, S (2020) VR applications: 21 industries already using virtual reality. Available online: https://virtualspeech.com/blog/vr-applications [Accessed 16/10/21].

Microsoft (2021) What is mixed reality? Available online: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/mixed-reality/discover/mixed-reality [Accessed 16/10/21].

GIFS:

Pretty Little Bakers (2016) Pokemon-go-gif. Available online: https://prettylittlebakers.com/poke-ball-cookies/pokemon-go-gif/ [Accessed 10/01/22].

Product Hunt (n.d.) Virtual reality gif. Available online: https://giphy.com/gifs/producthunt-virtual-reality-mixed-xTiN0AVV7Ebad21L7q [Accessed 10/01/22].

Primogif (n.d.) Filter gif. Available online: https://www.primogif.com/p/11lBqvULyT9C36 [Accessed 10/01/22].