At the recent Virtual Reality Developers Conference (VRDC) in San Francisco VRFocus spoke with Aruna Inversin, Creative Director and VFX Supervisor at Digital Domain, discussing the company’s NBA app for the Google Daydream, how Digital Domain cater to directors wanting to get into virtual reality (VR) and how it’s accessing the Chinese market.
Digital Domain is well known for its special and visual effects in Hollywood Blockbuster films and have won numerous awards working on films such as Titanic (1997) or Benjamin Button (2008). Inversin explained that Digital Domain is always looking to be at the forefront of technological innovation and this is why he’s come to attend VRDC. To look at the latest technology and see what’s being showcased.
Inversin has most recently worked on the Google Daydream NBA app, where viewers get to sit five feet away from an NBA star who acknowledges their existence in the room. The first season was done last year and it looks like the NBA app will also be going to other VR platforms with the second season perhaps doing so as well. Inversin also said that Digital Domain not only focus on sports, but are interested in people who are looking at new innovative ways to immerse users in a virtual world. Digital Domain has three teams that perhaps offer the best experience and post-production background for various forms of VR. They have a live broadcast team that shoot 360 monoscopic, a team that works with pre-rendered components from Maya and Nuke for pre-rendered stereoscopic VR (which you can’t do in real time) and another team working on real time VR and augmented reality (AR) which Inversin heads himself.
Inversin is also working on developing Digital Domain’s original IP, or original content for the Chinese Market. This may be because Digital Domain is owned by the Chinese. He explains that due to the large number of people working for Digital Domain, it allows them to look at technologies and markets in a different way because they have a longer lifespan as a company – and they need to future proof themselves. He hints at the success of Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality or Lone Echo due to both videogames being experiences where players can choose to explore rather than a choose your own adventure style videogame. Inversin explains: “sometimes you don’t want narrative, just an experience.” Perhaps this is what Digital Domain are working on with regards to creating content for Chinese location-based entertainment kiosks. Where twenty pods with VR experiences of 5-10 minutes long with original Digital Domain content or licensed content are showcased such as the work they did together with Dreamworks on Voltron VR: Chronicles.
It’s interesting to see a huge company like Digital Domain steer its way through the early waters of VR and AR. With such a large company, so closely tied with Hollywood, licensed materials, and offering various VR and AR skills, Digital Domain is one creative business to keep an eye on in the future. To learn some more tips and tricks, watch the video below.