NEW YORK — Framestore’s VR Studio recently collaboration with VR neuroscience advisor Walter Greenleaf, PhD Stanford University Virtual Human Interaction Lab, to create Lumen, a new launch piece for publisher Time Inc., and their new VR platform Life VR.
The experience begins in a mystical clearing surrounded by mountains and a night’s sky aurora display. Users navigate their experience through gaze tracking, a VR technique which measures the direction of one’s headset device. The viewer’s gaze, represented by the sacred geometric shape the Metatron Cube, works as the cursor for the experience and simulates tree growth in an interactive bioluminescent forest by holding focus on tree limbs and new fruit.
“We wanted to reward the user for allowing their focus to put them into a meditative state,” says Framestore’s executive creative director Aron Hjartarson. “Wherever you put your attention something positive happens to the world around you. The cyclical aspect of existence is in there, from birth to regeneration.”
Participants choose their color by gazing at the sky’s aurora display. The color palettes were informed by color theory and a set range of hues and engineered offsets to define a theme. These themes are used across every object to make a well-rounded experience.
“The color harmony is analogous but uses accents at complementary intervals,” says Hjartarson. “This scientific approach to design gives a serene feeling to the world and helps with relaxation.”
The tree growth was coded through procedural generation in the Unity game engine, using a data algorithm to create unique patterns and shapes for each experience. Under the participant’s gaze the trees continue to grow and sprout new fruit, ultimately transcending into space to make room for the new.
The audio track is also procedurally sequenced, based on the mood defined by each color theme. The binaural stereo background music and sound effects are located in space and also change with the speed and movements of the user’s head.
Lumen’s same visual coding which applies nature’s principles of repetition, symmetry and spacing, also translate to the formation of its music.
"Procedural generation was the perfect process for Lumen’s creative concept of meditation and rejuvenation," says Johannes Saam, senior software developer at Framestore. "Just by the way you interact with the world you can make your own version of the experience, and every experience is unique. You will not get the same experience twice."
This is Framestore’s second foray into VR media publishing, having won the 2016 Cannes International Festival of Creativity’s Grand Prix in Mobile with their experience “Nature of Industry” with GE as part of the The New York Time’s #nytvr launch.