If you haven’t seen mixed reality streaming from the developers of Fantastic Contraption, it’s one of the best things that could happen for VR.
The streaming shows a live view of a virtual world while mixing in a player’s actions as he or she creates a machine. The stream is accomplished with a webcam, green screen, a powerful PC and some code inside the game Colin and Sarah Northway are working on with Radial Games. The steps separate the VR scene so it can be combined with parts of the real world and shown as live video.
It’s the same concept weather anchors use to show the animated maps behind them live on TV but, with Fantastic Contraption, it’s done with a fully interactive 3D world. The end result is practically the best way to share what a VR experience feels like. The developers are considering releasing the tools they use to make this possible as a plug-in for Unity so other creators can enable this functionality as well.
“One of the things we are looking at, since almost all of us [VR developers] are using Unity…is to get some kind of a Unity plug in,” said Sarah Northway. “That will allow you to do the two camera system that we have where you have everything in the foreground in one camera, everything in the background in another camera and you can sandwich a live feed in the middle and you can make your mixed reality stream.”
If the Northways are able to help make this a standard feature of VR experiences the vibrant community of YouTube and Twitch streamers could grow into something larger and even more compelling. It won’t be two views anymore — a player’s face and the game they are playing — but a single view of a person in a fantastic virtual world. Even though VR systems will cost a lot initially, a broadly adopted feature like this could allow VR experiences to be shared with the millions of people who can’t afford VR headsets just yet.
It’s still in the early days, but Sarah Northway said as they work with other developers to iron out the technology they hope to release the plug-in for free.
“Anything that’s good for VR is good for every one of us,” she said.