TIFFxPOP: Hands-on with Oculus Medium and Google Tilt Brush

The POP 01 exhibit at TIFF featured a wide variety of different VR experiences focusing on art and music, here’s a rundown of the art tools I tried out after the featured keynote panels:

Oculus Medium

The Oculus developed 3D illustration tool with the Touch controllers is incredibly precise, allowing me to create a labyrinthine free form structure with deformations, contours and colour in a few minutes with minimal guidance from the Oculus guide (who did provide a lot of insight when I quizzed her about the advanced features). Each controller has the look and feel of a flight stick segment, pairing a remote form factor with triggers, high hats, joysticks and motion tracking to create a light and intuitive illustration tool

The 3D body positioning was striking, using a pair of the Oculus tracking cameras on tripods that were placed next to each other at different angles instead of in opposing corners as the HTC Vive requires. This setup was just as accurate for movement and illustration for Medium specifically; it didn’t have a bounding box to warn users when approaching the perimeter, but it works surprisingly well considering the lack of space required for this approach.

Google Tilt Brush

Illustrating in 3D with a full range of physical movement is really cool. I did this before the Medium demo and the biggest advantages that Tilt Brush has over the Oculus version is the bounding box and the heavier Vive controllers to simulate the feel of holding an actual spray can or painting tool. It takes some adjustment to figure out the inertia and aiming particularities of the controller, but it only took me a minute to dive into adding star backgrounds and whip around to add and subtract various geometry from my artistic work.

The Vive headset has a slightly lower visual quality in the sharpness and contrast of the on-screen image, but it doesn’t have an impact on the user ability to create or navigate the freeform world while creating structures that the guide informs me can be easily exported to leading tools like 3D Studio Max or Maya.

Unlike Medium, the Google Tilt Brush app is available right now and affordably priced: if you already have the hardware, don’t hesitate to get it.

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