Wednesday, October 14, 2015



Watching the broadcast in VR is terrific. The feeling of being there is very powerful.

There is still a way to go before VR streaming to a cellphone in the GearVR headset achieves the same technical level as a network TV broadcast, but even now it has its special pleasures, with promises to be a standard for viewing live events as the technology matures.

In many ways this broadcast improved on NextVR's streaming of the Republican debate and the Oculus keynotes.

Among the improvements were better camera position than in the Republican debate, more cameras, full spherical viewing and, at the end, a framed closeup interview (more on these last two points later).

The chief technical glitch was that (at least two) splash screens on the Oculus home page did not work.  Selecting the screen only brought up a demand for an upgrade ro the NextVR App, but without any suggestion for how to get it. Finally, another splash screen, on the Store, provided the ability to upgrade the App to run the broadcast.

As in previous NextVR broadcasts, the distance from the camera to the speakers meant that faces were small and badly pixelated. -- A solution was suggested by the interview at the end. On the rear side of the sphere, there could be an optional frame which shows (preferably in 3D) a close-up of the person talking.  It is (often) nice to be able to see the full sphere, but sometimes there are more interesting or useful things to project on the back than what happens to actually be live at the event behind you.

And, generally, when there are multiple cameras, it would be nice to have a simple way to select the camera view rather than depend on the stream to select it for you.

There was some minor tearing in the image sometimes as you looked around.

Also, after about half an hour the Galaxy 6S overheats. -- One can turn the phone off during a break (if the event has breaks), but you need some other viewing screen (such as the TV) to know when the VR has to go back on.  Also, during a break, if the phone did not need a rest, it would be better to have some live commentator or other programming, rather than a dead screen that just says it will return after the break (with no estimate as to when that will be).

As for the debate itself, it was very well done with clear, sophisticated, and impassioned commentary on many of the next important challenges for the country.

I liked viewing the event in VR.

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