Why We Need The VR Diversity Initiative

Hannah Blair
Dec 18, 2018 · 4 min read

It’s no secret that the Virtual Reality industry is lacking in diversity, (with the recent lawsuits at UploadVR highlighting such prominent issues).

My trip to Unite Berlin, which I had the pleasure of receiving a scholarship from Wooga for, also surprised me, with a startlingly low ratio of diversity in any given workshop or talk. In light of this, the VRDI is a great example of the efforts being made to tackle this issue.

The VR Diversity Initiative, a non-profit organisation, was founded under VRFocus by Kevin Joyce and Nina Salomons to encourage more diversity within the field of Virtual Reality. I had the opportunity of participating in VRDI’s third workshop at Plexal, which was a fantastic day of networking and learning about various aspects of Virtual Reality.

Photography by Cheska Lotherington

There were three workshops available to choose from: 360 Filming, led by Inition, VR Development in Unity, led by Kyaw Tun Sein, CTO of Ikigai Factory, and Accessible Product Design, led by the delightful Sean (virtualrealityartist.co.uk).

With experience in Unity development and a growing interest in 360 film, I chose to learn about the various 360 cameras that are on offer in the market today, and how to use them, as well as how to stitch together the footage to make a 360 VR film. The workshop was ran by the very talented Peter Collis and Imogen Hammond from an Immersive Production company, Initition. Peter Collis recently directed a VR film, This Is Progress, which won beat VR film at Shift Film Festival 2018.

A Capture of ProgressVR

Having had very little exposure to 360 cameras, it was a great opportunity for me to learn about the scope of such technologies that may be worth an investment sometime soon. We gained exposure to production from a theoretical and practical standpoint. Immersive media is becoming more and more adopted for a wide range of purposes – not only for entertainment but also for business training, company marketing, and empathy building. Being put in entirely different surroundings is far more impactful upon consumers of media than watching standard footage, so this was a very valuable session for me to understand how I would like to adopt it in the future. We got exposure to every step of the process of producing a 360 film — including narrative planning, filming, editing, and production. We also got to see two of their own VR productions, On The Road to Making Polio History and I Dream of an Empty Ward.

Here’s a short snippet of us filming

I also met some wonderfully talented individuals in my group, such as Azure Peace and Sidney Malik. It was a pleasure getting to know them, and I very much recommend checking out their content.

As for Sean’s workshop, VRDI attendees got to learn about designing a backpack specifically tailored to people with scoliosis. The process of product design can and will be far more efficient thanks to the VR modelling applications on offer today.

Photography by Cheska Lotherington

I also had the opportunity to try out the awesome Massless pen. The granularity of spatial detail that their pen is able to capture is mind blowing – and I’m very much looking forward to seeing their progress in the future.

I’d like to thank Kevin Joyce and Nina Salomons (as well as all the supporters and sponsors of VRDI) for organising it, and hope to be joining them again in the future!

For more information about VRDI, visit vrdi.uk.

I’m Hannah. I’m a recent Computer Science graduate, now a software and creative developer. I love Virtual and Augmented Reality, creative tech, and innovative entrepreneurship – especially when it’s #techforgood. 🌎

Feel free to reach out and connect with me! 🐙

Hannah Blair

Written by

Computer Science Graduate — Web & App Development | VR/AR Development | Gaming | UI/UX Design | Social Entrepreneurship | Business & Self Development

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