Introducing…

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Raybeem! The first virtual reality concept from Sokay. It’s a step towards my longtime dream of creating a music visualizer. I spent countless hours gazing at the Milkdrop visualizer in Winamp back in the day. I had no clue how it worked – back when I just starting to dive in Flash ActionScript.

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Here’s my homie giving Raybeem a shot on the Samsung Gear VR.

My concept for Raybeem started with imagining how great it could be if you didn’t need another person to give you a personal lightshow if you were at a rave. And what if you could take all of that great visual and aural stimuli with you anywhere? What if you never had to leave your couch to experience a spectacular show?

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Above is a screen-capture of the playback controls. In the prototype, you can cycle through 5 embedded tracks. I tested using some of my favorite copyrighted tracks. I also got permission from the homies Eezir and Cryptic Circuitry to use their music in the final build. Each track has a different effect on the environment around you. Eventually I’d like the user to be able to load in their own library.

Here is a rough video demonstrating what it looks like on a 2D screen, from within Unity:

Themes & Environments

I designed Raybeem with the intention to allow the user to cycle through different themed environments on the fly. This allows the user to match their mood or the mood of their music at any a given time. My first idea was to create a relaxing environment for meditation or laying back and gazing at the stars.

Here’s a concept I sketched out:

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I mocked up a prototype of this scene, roughing out the objects to get a sense of the scale and to validate the idea. It was promising.

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I wasn’t quite sure what the exact visual style should be. Here’s a vector drawing I mocked up in Adobe Illustrator. I was leaning toward an abstract direction. I wanted shapes and colors to define the space rather than more distinct objects. I wanted to make use of negative space. The homie Gus suggested I take a look Psychonaut’s Black Velvetopia level for inspiration. It was a great suggestion since the blacklight stylized textures gave me ideas about how to appoach a grass texture for the scene. I’ll dive into it at a later time.

Eventually I ended up with this blue theme…

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This is the final look of the “default” theme.

I started out by mimicking the one of the default XBMC/Kodi visualizers, which is 2 vertical audio waveforms on a solid black background. Once I had that, my twist was making the waveforms wrap around you in 360°. White wave lines on a solid black background was too harsh on my eyes after a while so I softened it up with a vibrant (familiar) blue color. A dash of soft gradient to add a bit of depth. I dropped in the particle system from my temple scene. I then added a flashing wireframe and some floating triangles to liven it up a bit.

Here are some other concepts I had to get my brain churned at the beginning of the project:

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This is a concept using 3d models for controls.

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Above is an example of flat styled controls

Leap Motion 3D Jam

I submitted the Raybeem prototype to the Leap Motion 3D Jam a few weeks ago. If you aren’t familiar with Leap Motion, it’s a hand tracking device similar to the Xbox Kinect.

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This is an example of the Leap Motion being used in unison with the Oculus DK2.

I ended up implementing the Leap Motion at the last moment. I waited until I got an app into an acceptable state as a standalone VR application before jumping into the Leap Motion stuff. I used the pass-through footage capability to superimpose your hands into the scene. I ran into some left/right-eye misalignment issues and some visual artifacts that a user pointed out to me with this screencap:

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Here’s a screengrab from a Raybeem user.

I’m guessing there’s a straightforward fix to it, everything I built had this kind of artifact, I can probably find out info on a fix digging through their forum.

The hand support was optional, moving your hands will leave a yelllow trail. Pretty neat. But the scale was way off! Haha. I had to just submit it as is because I had to sleep at some point! 😉

The competition was a good goalpost to shoot towards. I got enough work into it to prove out the concept without getting overly burned out on it. As for the other submissions, there are a lot of strong projects that make much better use of the Leap Motion tech than Raybeem so I haven’t gotten cocky and started popping bottles up in here. But we got a mention on the Leap Motion blog! With 189 entries, that’s worth something, right? Haha!

Inspirations

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Child of Eden(left) and Rez(right) a la Tetsuya Mizuguchi.

In addition to all the Winamp music listening, Milkdrop gazing, years of reckless raving… my heaviest influences aside from those is easily Rez and Child of Eden. I was 18 years old when I first played Rez and it has left a crater sized imprint on me. I wasn’t able to get my hands on an Xbox to replay Rez HD (although I do have Rez for PS2 buried somewhere). I did the next best thing and replayed Child of Eden on PS3 for a healthy dose of motivation. Child of Eden has some jaw-dropping effects that I’d love to attempt to replicate. I was ecstatic to see just today that Tetsuya Mizuguchi‘s porting Rez to PlaystationVR as Rez Infinite. Overjoyed!

Links:

About the author:
Bryson Whiteman (http://www.sonofbryce.com)
Bryson is the guy behind all of the Sokay creations. Heading artwork and development, he's determined to make sure each game has a "distinctively Sokay" quality to them. He's always looking forward for a chance to experiment with new technologies to explore exciting ways to achieve fun.