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Inside Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles VR Interview Experience

Last month at San Diego Comic Con, I fulfilled my childhood (and let’s be sincere, present) dream of stepping inside a NickToon. In Nickelodeon Entertainment Lab’s Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles VR Interview Experience, I interacted with turtles Mikey and Donnie—voiced reside by sequence expertise, Brandon Mychal Smith and Josh Brener, respectively.

I stood towards a inexperienced display screen, chosen an avatar (I selected Arnold from Hey Arnold!), placed on an Oculus Rift headset, and was transported onto a New York City rooftop. I inhabited a 3D type, however as I seemed forward, I noticed two 2D turtles. I interviewed the characters in actual time, and their actions completely corresponded to their solutions–there was no discernable lag.

Given that AI isn’t capable of match the conversational pace and nimbleness of actual people simply but, corporations like Oculus are experimenting with utilizing live actors of their VR experiences to approximate in-person interactions. However, this was the primary time I’ve skilled a reside melding of 3D and 2D worlds in VR.

Behind the scenes, this “magic” was made doable by 4 computer systems, two puppeteers, two voice actors and a group of eight individuals operating the varied stations. (The crew had been all sporting ninja bandanas, naturally). Adobe Character Animator, Epic Unreal Engine, and NewTeK NDI had been all used to create the interview expertise. The pièce de résistance was the brilliant purple keyboard that was piloted by two group members (one for every turtle). Each key featured a special animated pose, and so the actions of the turtles may very well be “animated” in actual time, akin to enjoying a logo piano.

According to Chris Young, SVP of the Entertainment Lab, the impetus of the activation was that his group was on the lookout for an modern method to assist socialize Nickelodeon’s Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles at SDCC and they also got here up with the concept of a VR press junket.

Mikey and Donnie in Nickelodeon’s “Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Live” digital actuality interview expertise

The Entertainment Lab has been exploring all points of digital cinema pipelines with animated characters; utilizing full physique and facial efficiency seize, and doing real-time playback in sport engines. Per Chris: “Whether it’s streaming live performances into virtual experiences or recorded for a more traditional linear output, these techniques create another tool that we can use to create compelling content for our audience.”   

Even with out the bandanas, the group had nice synergy: “The best part about my team is that everyone brings a different expertise. From artists to engineers, the combination of skills and background made this creatively and technically possible” stated Chris.

Although I teased the turtles for being “flat” in my interview, I like that this inventive selection was made. It would have been unsettling to out of the blue see what’s 2D in 3D.

For instance, I benefit from the premise and plot of Virtual Rick-Ality, however one in every of my essential criticisms of the sport is the connection between belongings. Rick and Morty the animated sequence is 2D, however the sport makes them into bulbous characters. This disconnect is off-putting and hurts the immersion of the sport.

Although the VR Interview Experience was created particularly for Comic-Con and Nickelodeon doesn’t at the moment have plans to launch a model to the general public, they’re toying round with different activations for followers.

However, VR isn’t the place exploration ends for Nickelodeon, they’re additionally dabbling in AR. Nick’s new SCREENS UP initiative, first launched on the Nickelodeon Kids Choice Sports Awards, permits viewers to carry their cellular units (or extra possible, mum or dad’s cellular units) as much as the display screen whereas watching to disclose hidden AR content material.

This app-driven TV and cellular expertise is likely one of the first within the U.S. designed for teenagers and households. Expect to see extra hybrids like this sooner or later, because it encourages the watching of reside TV in addition to app downloads; two fascinating outcomes for tv content material suppliers.

Overall, the very best a part of my Ninja Turtles Comic Con demo was how foolish and good-natured all of it was. With heavy headsets and an onslaught of first individual shooters, VR may be type of severe! This felt social and pleasant — the improvisational nature of the dialog allowed me to overlook I used to be in a digital house, I used to be simply hanging out with some dope turtles. It’s a credit score to Nickelodeon that they may make one thing this advanced appear like youngster’s play.

The “Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Live” digital actuality expertise was constructed completely in-house by Nickelodeon’s Entertainment Lab, which spearheads long-range analysis and growth efforts round new applied sciences for Nickelodeon and its viewers. Chris Young is the SVP of the Entertainment Lab, overseeing its creation. The new Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sequence premieres September 17th on Nickelodeon.

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