Why We Built A Mixed Reality Studio

Since we started working with virtual reality over a year ago, we constantly ran into one main problem. It’s hard to share with others just how incredible virtual reality is without them experiencing it for themselves.

Every day, someone would ask me about what we’re working on. I could describe the experience and what it feels like for hours, but it wouldn’t do it justice. I know this sounds cliché, but when it comes to virtual reality, seeing is believing. Unless you experience TRUE, fully-immersive, room scale virtual reality for yourself, you won’t fully appreciate just how incredible the technology is.

So, we asked ourselves, how do you show someone what virtual reality is all about without actually giving them a demo? We brainstormed solutions to this problem for hours. Creating a video where you’re showcasing first-person footage from the head mounted display is the traditional method people have been using, and it gets you part way there. However, it doesn’t provide the viewer with a sense of scale or sense of immersion of room scale virtual reality.

We researched a lot of different options, but we weren’t happy with the outcome of most of the options. However, we did find one solution that was pretty close. The best solution that we could come up with is creating mixed reality content.

Why mixed reality?

Because it’s the best way to convey what it is actually like to be in virtual reality on a 2D screen. Translating the feeling of being in a fully interactive virtual environment onto a 4.7″ screen on your iPhone is a difficult problem.

When you see someone immersed in the virtual reality headset and interacting with their virtual environment, something clicks in your brain and the viewer understands it in a way that just isn’t same with first-person footage.

How do you create mixed reality content?

Once we were sold on the idea of creating mixed reality content, we had to figure out how to turn our crazy idea into reality. Our hyper-focus was set on this idea, so we had to make it happen.

The next problem that we ran into is that like most people, we didn’t have access to a green screen studio. Nor, did we know of anyone with a green screen studio available to use. We did a little bit of research online and didn’t have any luck. This is the point where most people would just give up, but not us. We were determined to create mixed reality content.

Since we didn’t have access to a studio with a functional green screen room, our only option was to build our own mixed reality studio.

We spent the next couple of days researching, how to build a green screen studio. We watched probably 15 different tutorials on how to build a green screen. Some of the videos were helpful, others offered contradicting advice. At that point, we decided to just go for it. We were basically winging it. Yeah, we absorbed some of the advice, but we’re two smart guys so we figured that we should just do it. What’s the worst that could happen?

We hopped in TJ’s Audi S4, drove to Menards, and purchased all of the materials (that we thought we needed). However, we severely underestimated how much time and resources were needed to make this a reality. We had to make at least four additional trips back to Menards.

Mixed Reality Studio Transformation

Before – Black walls and limited play space.

Middle – Applying second coat of green paint.

End – Paint dried, but still need to finish up the trim.

Building A Mixed Reality Studio Conclusion

We went through six gallons of paint in the process and had to repaint a few areas (twice).

It was a lot of work.

After many long hours and a lot of paint, the mixed reality studio is operational. The studio isn’t completely finished, but it is at least 90% done.

Looking back at it, I never thought that it would take this much time and effort, but seeing the finished project justifies all of the extra work.

If you’re in the Cedar Rapids area and you’d like to see what all the hype is about, reach out to us or just stop by. We’d love to give you a demo.

If you made it this far, I want to say thank you for reading the whole thing, I’m considering making a build guide for anyone looking to create a similar setup. Let me know in the comments, if you’d like to see that!

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