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“The soul of any kind of creative art form is freedom.” -- Glen Keane, 30-year Walt Disney animator and virtual reality sculptor.

In the Wizard of Oz, did you ever wonder how Dorothy felt when she stepped out of black-and-white Kansas, into the blazing colors of Oz?

Well you might have gotten a taste of Oz if you attended this week’s Tech Tuesday, where attendees got to experience virtual reality (VR) firsthand.  

At the event. LSU’s Director of Digital Media Arts & Engineering Marc Aubanel and his crew brought their Oculus Rift DK2 rigs for a live demo.

Marc also spoke about the mindblowing implications of VR on art, business, and life in general. Here are some of our take-aways from the event:

The Illustrator is Dead. Long Live the Modeler.

Sketching is out. Sculpting is in.

Artists are no longer confined to drawing left, right, up, and down.  Now there’s a whole new axis out there that artists can actually draw into.

And many creatives are overjoyed, including Glen Kean, a Walt Disney illustrator of more than 30 year. At Tech Tuesday, Marc showed a video of the Disney artist wearing a VR headset and equipped with a motion-detecting paintbrush.

Here is the video, depicting a gleeful Glen painting in three dimensions for the first time:   

Glen Keane is exactly like you'd picture a Disney artist. Here he is reveling in a virtual reality world. 

 A Whole New Dimension of Business Challenges Awaits

Most people think about VR in a strictly visual sense. But there’s much more to it.

Sound, for instance. In the VR sets we demo’d, there was an obvious problem: the stationary speaker. As you moved around virtually, sound stayed the same, breaking the immersion instantly.

But don’t fret: Marc says the next version of the Oculus will have a 360 degree speaker that will change as you virtually move.

Another challenge is orientation. If you stand up and look down in real life, you see your feet, hands, belly, etc. In the virtual world, however, that’s all gone, and it’s freaky and dizzying.

A third challenge is hardware. For example, how do you build a 3-d game controller? Paintbrush? Mouse? Are there tools we haven’t thought of yet? etc. etc.

One approach to 3-d peripheals. Notice the funky looking wands in their hands. 

The Little Guy Will Have a Place in VR

VR companies have seen the business sense in opening the door for boutique technology companies. 

We’ll likely see an easily accessible platform like the App Store for virtual tools. For games, we’ll get pre-built gaming engines similar to Unity.

Lowering these barriers to entry is essential for innovation, says, Marc. That way, developers can focus on what they do best: being creative and pleasing audiences, rather than building ridiculously expensive engines.

“I think it’s a great thing.” says Marc. “If you focus you’re time on an engine, you are giving your customer nothing.”

There Are Some Things Even VR Won’t Change

VR can’t survive by just being pretty.

It’s still got to innovate on new ideas, while honoring the old conventions as well.

Marc says that many of these time-tested rules are described in one of his favorite books The Theory of Fun, a design bible written by game design guru Raphael Koster.


Koster's book "The Theory of Fun" is full of comics like the one above. 

One of the hallmarks of The Theory of Fun is “edutainment.” All fun is essentially education. And a good game is "one that teaches everything it has to offer before the player stops playing."

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Stephen Loy