What is Virtual Reality?
Virtual Reality is real-time three-dimensional interactive graphics on a computer that gives the user immersion into that world, and direct manipulation within it. Some video games are immersive and three dimensional. Learning is now also utilizing virtual reality technology to teach many different topics.
What is 3D?
3D is a computer generated environment that uses the three dimensions of Height, Width, and Depth, or X, Y, and Z coordinates. A cube for instance, is made up of these three dimensional characteristics, height, width, and depth.
What you need to access Video Production World (VPW)
To access any virtual environment, you need two items, both are free.
First you need a viewer, we use Firestorm. It provides the screen interface to the virtual environment. It also provides you all the controls to allow you to move around the environment, control all the settings, and take pictures or “Snapshots” of anything you can see. This is the ‘car’ with all its controls, to help you get around.
You also need a virtual environment, provided by a web server company, in this case, Kitely.com. This is where Video Production World “lives,” and Kitely hosts it. You will need to sign up at Kitely.com, and create an avatar.
What is an Avatar?
An avatar is a representation of you in the virtual environment that you control. You can control where your avatar walks, runs, or flies to, (yes, you can fly!) When you sign up in Kitely, you will be asked your sex, and accordingly, you will be assigned a generic male or female. You can modify the look of your avatar, but it is not necessary. I ask that you keep the form you are assigned to avoid taking the extra time away from the review.
Steps to Accessing Video Production World – Remember, take this one sentence at a time…
Step 1: To access Video Production World, you need a Firestorm viewer. Go to www.firestormviewer.org , and click the Downloads tab. Select your operating system, and choose between the 32 bit and 64 bit versions of the software. If you are not sure if you have a 32 bit or 64 bit machine, Click 32 bit. Be sure that you are downloading the version that says “SL & OpenSim.” Then download the software and install it. When it says “Start Firestorm now?”- say no. You don’t need to open it at this time.
Step 2: Open your internet browser and type www.kitely.com. In the upper right hand corner click “sign up.” You are given choices as to how you want to sign up. Don’t sign up with Facebook or Twitter. Use: “create an email/password account.” On the “Create Account” screen, put in your email, (the one we have been using) a password of your choosing, and in the First Name line, enter Reviewer. In the last name line, put your three digit assigned avatar name. So it should appear: (as an example) Reviewer X55. Please use it when signing up. You can use the password of your own choosing. Keep this info safe as you will use it several times logging in over the course of the review. Then choose your Gender and click “create.”
They will email you a verification. When you receive it, verify it. A welcome to Kitely screen appears. Disregard everything here and just click “close.”
Click “Explore Worlds,” and in the search box type Video Production World. On the next screen, choose Enter World. A screen called Start Viewer appears with the log on information you will use with Firestorm. Now you have to go back to Firestorm to point it to Kitely.
Open Firestorm. In the box labeled “Log into Grid,” choose Kitely. Log in with your assigned Avatar name (Reviewer XXX) and your password. For “Start at,” type very carefully, Video Production World. Click Remember user name & password, then click Login. This will bring you to the Island.
Working with an Avatar
Moving your avatar will seem strange at first. The key to learning how to move is to just do it. It seems awkward at first but have fun! Learn to fly, walk and hop around (teleporting).
Once you are in a virtual location you can:
- Click on the Walk/Run/Fly icon on the bottom menu and, in the menu that appears, first click on the desired mode (what you want to do) and then use the directional arrows to turn yourself, or the up and down dotted arrows to move up or down with in that mode; this 1.5-minute video reviews the moving options;
- You can use E on the keyboard to move up and start flying
- F on the keyboard to stop flying;
- Use the directional arrows to make yourself change direction;
- If you see typing instead of avatar movement, you may need to set the preference appropriately. Click Avatar in the top line menu > Preferences > moving over to the General tab and then click to be sure that the Affects movement (i.e. WASD) and then click Apply and OK (at the bottom of this menu; not shown) – as outlined in red in the image below.
Top part of the preference menu that controls avatar movement
Making large moves (teleporting)
You learned how to move your avatar from the keyboard. You may also move in large steps by using the map and teleporting.
Interacting with Objects/ Sitting
Many items in virtual reality are “interactive,” such as the couches, seats and benches. Sitting on items is the most common type of interaction; here is a 2.5-minute video on working with interactive items. If you see a chair, seat, or bench you may be able to sit on this items, depending upon how the items was created; to find out if an item has a seat:
- Bring the mouse over the item and right-click the item, then click Sit Here – if there is a “sit” established for the item, you will sit properly as you see in the figures below;
- Right mouse click and a Stand button will appear on the screen. You would click it when you want to stand.
- If the item does not have an actual “sit” or if the sit is not working properly, you will sit at a strange angle – you would simply click Stand and find a better item on which to sit.
Move and Camera Controls
If you do not see these menus on your screen, go to the Avatar Menu, choose ‘Move Controls’ and ‘Camera Controls.’ I suggest putting them at the bottom right of the screen, like the image above.
Controlling the view with the cameras / adjusting graphics quality
Your avatar has a default “view” of the environment, the camera angle that is displayed effectively shows what the avatar would see. There are several ways that you can control the focus of what the avatar can see; this 2.75-minute video reviews the camera movement process. Click the Camera Control icon on the bottom of the screen
- A menu with a double set of arrows appears on the screen – figure to the right;
- Click the different directional arrows and/or the assume control (with the plus and minus) to see the different views that are possible for your avatar;
- ALTERNATIVE: You may also zoom-in on items quickly by bringing your cursor over the item and holding-down Alt on the keyboard – a magnifying glass icon appears;
- Then by left clicking the mouse you will bring the focus on to that item and you can use the scroll wheel on the mouse to zoom in and out.
The quality of the graphics and the speed of your movements are dependent on the speed of your computer. If your computer has a lower speed, you will want to reduce the graphics. This 2-minute video shows you how to adjust graphics quality vs. speed of drawing.
For Assignments for the Review of Video Production World
Taking Snapshots– to your computer
You have the ability to capture the images that you see in virtual reality by taking Snapshots that you can store on your computer. View this 1-minute video that reviews the camera features.
When you have adjusted your camera and have an image that you might choose to save:
Click the “Snapshot” icon to the right in the bottom line menu;
In the Snapshot Preview menu that opens, you have a number of different options available, you can save the Snapshots:
To your computer (click the “Disk” tab),
Click the” Email” tab to email it to others, as you can see on the figure to the right;
When you have completed your assignments you would click Save or Send as appropriate to the options that you have selected.
Visiting Video Production World
On an on-going basis, you will reach Video Production World by simply launching Firestorm, and logging in. If need be, log in to Kitely as well, but usually not necessary.
When you first arrive, you will be given a HUD which will be appear as a small white button with the letters "VPW" on it in the upper-left corner of your screen.
A HUD is a Heads-Up Display, or simply, a custom user interface that appears on your screen. I know, it sounds a little weird, but that’s the way some things can ‘stay’ with you, just like hair or your clothes, but in this case, it ‘stays’ with your Firestorm interface. It will allow you to control the different activities, like moving the lights to light your subject, or adjust the reflector to bounce the sunlight.
Once the HUD has been attached to your screen the first time, it should always reappear the next time you visit. Please leave it attached while you are at Video Production World. If there are modifications that are made to the HUD during the review period, an updated HUD will be given to you and attached in place of the old one, and you will be notified of this. You may delete any other copies from your inventory objects folder that are not showing as being "worn".
To attach the HUD (in case of accidental detachment):
Click the Suitcase icon at the bottom of the Firestorm viewer, which is your Inventory. Scroll to your Objects folder, and locate an object named "Video Production World HUD vX" where X is some number. You may either double-click the object, or right-click it and then choose wear at the bottom of that menu. If there is more than one copy of it in your inventory, the one on the top of the list is the latest one, and you may delete the others by selecting them and pressing the Delete key, or right-clicking and selecting "Delete". It will ask for confirmation.
To detach the HUD:
If you need to detach the HUD, you can either right-click on the HUD and choose “Detach”, or you can navigate to your inventory Objects folder as described above, then look for the HUD object that is highlighted and has the text "worn on top left" to the right of the name. You can then double-click the name, or right-click it and select "Detach" from the pop-up menu. It will disappear from the upper left.
IMPORTANT NOTE: In any menu or panel you are presented with, NEVER click on "Block"! It will block you from ever seeing any objects/features owned by its owner again unless you specifically UNblock it! Please be careful here. If you do accidentally "Block" something, the process to unblock is not complicated, but you should request assistance because we need to check to be sure that you have successfully unblocked the object/owner.
Experiencing day and night sun settings
Virtual islands can simulate day and night. Sometimes the island will become darker or lighter automatically depending upon the time when you are working on the island. The Outdoor Lighting Corral will always be bright daylight, and cannot be adjusted.
Activities you will encounter
When you arrive, you will be in front of the Welcome Booth. It has a video to play. (I already sent you the link as a preview!) The Amphitheater is directly behind it. The TV Studio is to your right, and the Beach Area is at the end of a path that starts at the Gift Shop. The Indoor and Outdoor Lighting areas are down the street, as well as the Camera Support Corral.
You will see a globe/orb with a spinning halo in either green or red. These are located at all the activities on the island. If it is green, that activity is available to you. If it is red, someone else is using it at that moment. Make sure to finish each activity so the orb turns back to green for the next person. In addition, when you are in range of an activity, certain buttons on the HUD will blink with a yellow border. Clicking on these buttons will show you what activity you are near. You may only start the activity you are closest to, so if you want to start an activity that is not blinking, move closer to the activity orb for the activity you wish to start. When the oval "Select Activity" button turns green and says "Start Activity", you may click it to begin the activity.
When you are in an activity, the HUD will show controls specific to that activity as well as a "Done" button in the upper-left. Make sure that when you are finished with the activity you click the Done button, so it frees up the activity for others. If you happen to get disconnected from Kitely while in an activity, the activity will be on hold for up to 15 minutes while you reconnect so you may continue from the point you were interrupted. After that time, the activity will reset for someone else to use.
Note that some activities require "people" as subjects. When you start these activities, named actor avatars will "spawn" or appear near the activity orb and move towards seats or spots. You may need to wait until they finish their movement/orientation before manipulating equipment. When you finish the activity, they will "de-spawn" or disappear.
Click on the Welcome Booth screen to play the video. If the video is not playing, click the little camera icon in the upper right corner of the Firestorm viewer, and click “Enable,” then “allow,” then “allow now.” Then click the screen again to play the video.
When you enter the Amphitheater, a welcome audio will play. When it talks about the menu on the left, it’s really on the right. Disregard the mention of left.
There are 6 sample videos to watch. To access these videos, you must sit in any one of the chairs. To do that, you Right Click on a chair, and choose Sit. A blue menu will appear in the upper right of your screen. Click Select, and a new menu appears with the six videos: Discovery, Concepts, Scripting, Organizing, Media Ingest, and Editing #1.
Two of the videos are at the beginning of the video production process, namely Discovering a good idea and developing a working Concept, and 4 are part of the Post-Production Editing series.
You should watch each video to the end, as there will be a short quiz at the end. If you go back or choose a different video, left-click your chair, and the original Select menu will reappear.
Indoor Lighting Pavilion
Enter the Pavilion.
Position yourself in a good spot to view the screen, either by moving your avatar closer, moving separately your camera view, or Alt-Clicking the Projection Screen to make it front and center for you. Then click the screen. If it doesn’t play, click the little camera icon at the very top right of the Firestorm viewer controls.
If you haven’t already, choose Indoor Lighting from the HUD menu in the upper left. Click the “Three Point Lighting” activity button, and click “Start Activity.”
If you click any light button, that light will have a green halo circle below it, to highlight the light you are controlling at that time. You can only control one light at a time. Clicking the little Light Bulb button on the menu will turn the light on and off. To move/turn the light, click the green direction arrows. This button control has two functions, selectable by clicking the inner grey box with the red arrows. When it shows the four red directional arrows, clicking the green arrows moves the lights. When it shows the single circular arrow, clicking the green arrows turns/tilts the lights. Clicking on the center grey area toggles between the two functions, moving and turning. In the moving setting, you can move the light forward, backward, left or right. The turning setting allows you to turn the light around in 360 degrees. Also note that the closer to the tip of the arrow you click, the faster the movement/turn angle you will generate.
Position any combination of 3 or 4 lights provided, to light the executive sitting in the chair. Then take a snapshot! (Snapshot procedures below) Make sure to “finish” the activity by clicking the "Done" button when you are finished.
The Outdoor Pavilion is a place to learn about Scrims and Reflectors. You will learn how to tame the sun and use it to your advantage.
When you enter the corral, the lighting will change to bright midday sunlight. Click the Outdoor Lighting button on the upper left menu, to change to the outdoor lighting controls. The controls are similar to the controls for the lights in the Indoor Lighting pavilion. Click the reflector button, and the move and tilt controls (depending on the setting of the inside grey button) will allow you to pretty accurately position the reflector for maximum sunlight bounce. Or click the Scrim button, and the scrim has the same type of controls, allowing you to accurately position the scrim for maximum sunlight reduction. This activity also taps-off with a Snapshot assignment. When you leave, the lighting turns back to the current time of day light settings.
(Hint) This is roughly where you want to position the Scrim and Reflector to produce a similar Snapshot, like the right image above. Make sure to “finish” the activity at the end.
Camera Support Corral
Across the way is the Camera Support Corral, with an 11 foot Boom and a 22 foot Boom on display, ready to be loaded with a camera of your choice. Your assignment then is to find the right amount of weight to counter balance the camera you chose. The goal is to achieve proper balance. Try it with all three cameras!
First: Click “Camera Support” on the HUD menu in the upper left. The Camera Support Corral Menu opens. You can choose to control the 11 foot or 22 foot booms. You can also choose the Camera Dolly activity, to control the camera and dolly movements there. When you’re ready click the “Start Activity” button.
For both of the Boom activities, choose one of the three sized cameras, and click on it to place it on the end of the boom. Now choose between three different size weights, in any combination, to counter-balance the camera so that the boom is relatively level. To remove weights, use one or both of the Red buttons on the face of the Equipment Bench. (See below)
When you’ve reached the right balance of camera size and counter-balances weights, your boom is levelled and ready to use. Try moving the boom left and right with the arrow controls.
In the same corral is the Camera Dolly activity, where you can either play the role of the Cameraman, controlling the camera, or the Grip, pushing the dolly at just the right speed to follow the actor, who is pacing back and forth. In both instances, you need to ‘Sit” on the item. For the camera seat, right mouse click on it and choose “Sit.” For the Dolly, right mouse click on the Dolly, and choose “Sit,” but here you will be holding the handrail(s). This is a tricky one. Please provide comments on this activity in the survey later on.
When you enter the TV Studio, sit in one of the seats in the audience. Click the TV Studio button on the menu, and click “Video Director Activity” and then “Start Activity.” A simple menu appears with Cam 1, Cam 2, Cam 3 and a None button. These allow you to switch between camera views of the interview taping. If you have problems getting to one of the three camera views, press the “Escape” key, which gives you control of the cameras, or exit the menu completely and start again. You have to click the “None” button to get out of camera view mode. See if you can get accustomed to following the conversation, and switching cameras when it is most effective. Make sure to finish the activity at the end, by clicking the "Done" button at the top of the Menu.
This is the last place where a Snapshot is requested. It is lighting with the golden setting sun as your main source of light. You will find a Reflector, similar to the one at Outdoor Lighting, and you control it in the same way. Click beach area in the Menu in the upper left. Position the reflector to counter-light the Model. Take a Snapshot and send it in, as with all the rest, to Assignments@VideoProductionWorld.com. Make sure to finish the activity at the end.
On the other side of the island is the Mountain area. It is an interesting out-of-the-way place, and a Snapshot from there brings bonus points! Nearby the Welcome Booth is The Focus Lounge, a gathering place, just to your left across the plaza. Here you can meet other students to discuss your project. You can participate in discussing the ‘Topic of The Hour,’ where each hour a different question is presented on a large display board, to help quick-start your conversations!
Two areas, the Chapel, and the Gift Shop, are still under construction, and will be completed in the spring or summer of 2016. The Church will have different ethnic ceremonies to choose from, each with their own unique filming positions and customary shots. The Gift Shop will have many resources available, from articles to books and videos, and will be an ever-evolving source of information.
Thank you for visiting Video Production World. Please let me know when you have completed all the exercises on the island. There will be an on-line survey when you’ve completed all the exercises. Please email me when you have completed all the exercises.
Your participation and feedback will help make this type of learning as realistic an approach as possible to learning video production techniques virtually. All feedback is appreciated. Email your thoughts and comments and any questions to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call me at: 732-207-8658. If you get voicemail, please leave me a message. Sometimes I can’t get a signal at work. I will make myself available as much as possible, also “in-world,” during the 2 week review period to help or guide you if needed.
Let’s get started! Looking forward to working together.