I took the afternoon off work to catch the electronic violinist, Lindsey Stirling, perform a live show in Wave at 2:00 p.m. Central Time.
Lindsey wore a full-body 3D motion capture suit and special VR gloves, which allowed her to completely animate her avatar in Wave, from her head down to her feet (including each individual finger on her hands), as she played and danced!
The concert was wonderful! She played several of the songs from her soon-to-be-released album, Artemis, for the first time before a live audience. As she played, the stage around her would transform itself into different designs, and sometimes, particle effects (like red leaves) would swirl around her. It was a mesmerizing performance!
Here is the entire performance captured on YouTube. The special effects were wonderful, and they really added to the overall fantasy atmosphere! (They updated this video, so I reposted the link below so that it should start at the very beginning of the video. If it doesn’t work for you, just scroll back to the very start of this video to catch the start of Lindsey’s performance, thanks!)
I especially liked how people’s comments were displayed as bright lights at the intervals between songs, while Lindsey talked to the crowd in attendance (you can see all their avatars in parts of this performance). I’m assuming these were the comments posted by the YouTube viewers, but I’m not sure. It was a wonderful experience!
While I was busy blogging about other platforms, the music performance social VR platform TheWaveVR has renamed itself to, simply, Wave. (I will retag all my blogposts about TheWaveVR to date with the new tag Wave so they will still be easy to find.)
In the past, innovative musical artists such as Imogen Heap have performed in concerts on the social VR platform:
Electronic violinist Lindsey Stirling is putting on a new kind of interactive virtual concert, performing live to fans in avatar form. The concert, put on in collaboration with streaming platform Wave, will take place at 3 p.m. (EST) on Monday 26 August.
Stirling will perform through her avatar, powered by art body motion and face capture technology. Fans will also be able created their own avatars and attend the virtual show by downloading the Wave virtual reality (VR) app, supported by HTC Vive and Oculus Rift…
The show, streamed live from Wave’s Los Angeles studios, will be available to watch live via the artist’s YouTube channel and Facebook page, or Wave’s Twitch channel. Fans that miss the live performance can watch it back for 24 hours after premiere time.
In a video posted to Stirling’s official Twitter account, the musician can be seen wearing what appears to be an XSens 3D motion capture suit and Manus VR Gloves. This device captures Stirling’s movements and translates them into VR in real-time, allowing her to perform complex dance routines just as she would in real-life. While Stirling will be performing the entirety of the show, she’ll be doing so as her character “Artemis,” goddess of the moon and the protagonist of her latest album.
There’s been a very interesting discussion taking place today on the RyanSchultz Discord server. One of the regular contributors to the many conversations that take place there, Michael Zhang, pulled together the following information from Crunchbase:
Today I Learned: Building social VR, MMOs, and virtual worlds are a lot more expensive than I imagined!
-High Fidelity raised $72.9 million over five rounds and is struggling with their recent pivot to enterprise. -Rec Room raised $29 million over two rounds, $24 million only recently, so they lived off of $5 million for several years. -Altspace raised $15.7 million over three rounds, went bankrupt and shut down, then revived when bought by Microsoft. -Bigscreen raised $14 million over two rounds. -TheWaveVR raised $12.5 million over three rounds. -vTime raised $7.6 million over one round. -VRChat raised $5.2 million over two rounds. -JanusVR raised $1.6 million over two rounds. -Somnium Space raised $1 million over two rounds.
-Epic Games raised $1.6 billion over two rounds, $1.25 billion coming after Fortnite. -Mojang’s Minecraft launched in 2003, started making profits in 2007, earned $237.7 million in revenue by 2012, and sold to Microsoft for $2.5 billion. (Wikipedia) -Roblox raised $187.5 million over seven rounds. -Linden Lab’s Second Life raised $19 million over two rounds.
Then, another contributor named Jin put together this graph to illustrate how successful the various social VR platforms have been in raising venture capital (please click on this picture to see it in full size on Flickr, or just click here). As you can see, High Fidelity is far and away the leader in raising money!
(In comparison, Decentraland raised 24 million dollars in their initial coin offering. Jin also made a second chart including Decentraland, but I have not included it here because, unlike the other platforms, it does not currently support VR, and it is unlikely to do so anytime in the near future.)
Thank you to Michael Zhang and to Jin for their work!
I was very recently invited to join a Facebook group called Cefima, which was started by the Norwegian Film School. The purpose of the group is to explore immersive narratives, and a recent post to this group alerted me to a great editorial blogpost by the Norwegian architect, 3D artist and VR designer Kim Baumann Larsen.
This afternoon I spent an hour hanging out with legendary French electronic music pioneer Jean-Michel Jarre, and together we watched an amazing never seen before and impossible to do in real life VJ set with other fan girls and boys. It was a social VR experience in TheWaveVR and the DJ and VJ was Sutu Eats Flies, famous in his own right for his gigs on this emerging social music VR platform. You would think there would have been hundreds, if not thosuands of fans of Jarre’s music attending such an event that enabled anyone to walk up to the legend, to become virtually friends with him and to casually converse, but the instance I was in contained merely a couple of dozen of people.
With both Sansar and VRChat recently available on Steam, the latter being the by far largest platform for social VR, figures are emerging that show just how few people are in a social VR at a given moment. While Steam is not the only distribution platform for VR, there is Oculus of course and several of the apps can be launched outside of Steam and Oculus, the numbers are quite telling. On Steam this past Sunday 9 people were seen in High Fidelity, 12 in Altspace VR, 62 in Sansar, 79 in Bigscreen (Beta), 340 in RecRoom, and 8098 in VRChat.
He goes on to speculate on the reasons for this:
Ask most any one who is working in virtual reality where the future is for VR and most will say that while it is hard to speculate and give a definitive answer it will most certainly involve some kind of social VR. So why aren’t people flocking to these experiences then? The first problem is that VR gear is still rather expensive and the power of VR and of social VR in particular can’t be understood unless it is experienced first hand. The problem with that is that there aren’t many places one can experience it in public and most people doesn’t happen to have a friend or colleague with VR gear nearby.
The second problem is that we have become accustomed to asynchronous communication via platforms like Facebook, Twitter and SMS being the de facto way of communicating long distance and media-on-demand is how most people fit entertainment into their increasingly busy life. Meeting up virtually at specific days and times it seems requires too much of an effort.
And, I must admit, I myself had not thought too much about the synchronous nature of social VR and how we have as a society become more accustomed to asynchronous forms of communication like Facebook and Twitter. As for the cost, I do believe that that is only a temporary problem, as the cost of VR equipment keeps decreasing over time.
UPDATE Dec. 18th: Tech blogger Robert Scoble commented on a cross-posting of this blogpost to the Virtual Reality group on Facebook, raising another good reason that people don’t like social VR: the obnoxious behaviour of trolls.
I got offered a sex act within seconds of arriving in one. Most people are tired of interacting with strangers. For that reason and others.
I have blogged about this topic previously: Why Women Don’t Like Social VR. Culture and behaviour researcher Jessica Outlaw has done market research which shows that some women avoid social VR precisely because they feel vulnerable and, at times, unsafe. This is still a topic which is not really getting the attention it deserves, in my opinion.