Click goes virtual reality at the Commonwealth Games, where 360-degree footage is being live streamed. Sigourney Weaver returns as Ripley for video game Alien Isolation.
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Oh, no sugar.
This week on Click we're putting you right in the middle of the action
without leaving your seat.
You will need the goggles though.
We're at the Commonwealth Games where, for the first time ever,
360 degree footage of a major sporting event
is being live streamed to a virtual reality headset.
If that's the future of watching sport, we'll also be looking at
experiments exploring the use of VR to create immersive journalism.
Our dreams become reality as we sit down with screen legend
and sci-fi queen Sigourney Weaver to talk about her latest role.
Hint - may contain aliens.
And we'll look at how to plan your latest journey in Webscape.
Welcome to Click. I'm Spencer Kelly.
And welcome to the BBC's Broadcasting House in London.
But what does the future of TV look like?
Back in the '80s, the futurologists were telling us
that one day we'd all be wearing one of these,
exploring our own virtual worlds from the comfort of our own homes.
The problem was back then VR was rubbish.
So it went away, but not, as it turns out, for good.
These days the displays inside the goggles are much better
and the motion sensing technology is far more responsive,
and that means virtual reality is back.
And it's not just being used in video games.
Dan Simmons has been to the Commonwealth Games in Scotland
to witness a world first,
where the BBC is attempting to give you a ringside seat.
It's the biggest sporting event Scotland has ever hosted.
And for those responsible for broadcasting the Commonwealth Games
the aim is not solely to show what's here,
it's to make some lucky people feel that they are.
Inside the Hydro arena, camera operators have been practising
their own floor routines to ensure smooth coverage of the gymnastics.
But Stephen from the BBC's R&D team
is setting up a different kind of kit.
He's capturing and then sending a live,
360 degree video signal out of the arena.
To capture it all this camera has seven lenses.
Six around the side and one on the top.
Special software stitches together the seven video feeds on
the fly to create an image like this.
And to capture the roars and cheers a spatial audio microphone records
the sound from all directions.
The action in the Hydro is streamed live over the internet
to the Science Centre, in this case just half a mile away.
But, of course, theoretically, viewers could be anywhere
with a stable internet connection.
The camera's been deliberately positioned at head height to
give viewers a realistic idea of what it would be like to attend the event.
They did think about putting the camera above the action
or right in the middle of the floor,
but they found that that made people feel a bit dizzy.
Just how realistic will this be?
I just heard a roar there.
It's really cool. It's weird.
This is where the magic happens.
Creating the illusion that you're actually there
are two screens inside the headset
that show a small section of that 360 degree video.
Motion sensors work out your head movements to show you
what you'd be looking at as if you were there.
We've seen surround vision cameras before,
but getting the footage to the audiences live,
with minimal time-lag, around three or four seconds,
is the impressive part.
There's a trade-off there.
The engineers have found that the quality of the video
needs to be reduced so it can be stitched together faster
and sent across the net.
So the picture isn't as sharp as we're used to.
A problem exacerbated by the fact the screen is so close to our eyes.
In future, higher-powered processing and more bandwidth for each viewer
could allow for more detail.
For now, getting a smooth, reliable feed is more important.
This is the first time that a major sporting event
has been streamed live to a VR headset,
something that could be an everyday reality in the future.
We're sending the sound in a special format that lets us move that
when you move your head.
That can really add to the experience cos you'll hear something
that happens over your shoulder
and turn your head to look and see what's going on.
People usually just think of the video side of things,
but the audio really adds to the experience.
You can see everything.
We're running it in real-time so that we can do this live broadcast.
In order to do that we have had to reduce the quality slightly
from what you can achieve with that camera,
but we're also recording the raw footage of each of the cameras
so that at a later date
we can produce a higher-quality output to use offline.
Of course, with a lot of money going into this area from broadcasters
and web streaming companies
it's not just sporting events that invite our virtual presence.
The R&D guys have been playing elsewhere.
-In three, two, one. Cue.
In the BBC newsroom, viewers can see their usual presenter,
but also the remote controlled cameras
and glimpse into the director's gallery backstage.
And out in the field with reporters - literally -
as part of BBC TWO Springwatch.
Could this be the future of nature programmes?
Whether it's broadcasters or other big internet players, ultimately
these steps are about putting the viewer where the action is
and allowing them to take a look around just by moving their head.
If viewers truly invest in its use then these experiments today for
the Commonwealth Games could be offered up for real
in time for the next Olympic games in just two years' time.
Dan Simmons experiencing the Games in the round.
As well as sport, there are virtual reality experiments right now
which could help us to experience real events that are normally
only brought to us through newsrooms like this.
And they can be quite extreme.
The sighs and sounds of Aleppo in Syria
experienced through a virtual reality headset.
The participant is transported to a place where anything can happen.
BOY CONTINUES TO SING
But this isn't a video game.
Journalist and filmmaker Nonny De La Pena
specialises in creating virtual worlds based on real life.
The bomb is from an actual event
and we had to collect multiple sources to both figure out
what the buildings looked like before the bomb hit
and what happened in the aftermath.
This included mobile phone videos, a video camera
and various audio that people on scene had gathered.
Just tell us what you were trying to achieve
with this really immersive journalism.
It's really extraordinary how easily the mind can be tricked
when you use really good virtual reality goggles
and you use very believable audio
and fast cameras that track anywhere you look.
You can really have a sense of presence
that you're in another place.
It's also part of something called Project Syria.
To create it, Nonny deployed a team
to gather material at a refugee camp on the border.
That sense of being there, the sense of empathy,
the sense of deeper understanding of a story, I think,
really makes these pieces valuable for the future of journalism.
How do you build it?
Well, the first one I built,
which was called Hunger In Los Angeles,
which we recorded audio at food banks
and we recorded a day where a man went into a diabetic coma
because the food line was so long
and his blood sugar dropped too low before he got sustenance.
That piece I built for 700 of my own money.
I had to learn a lot of things quickly.
I begged and borrowed favours.
Now I tend to get bigger teams,
we're actually outsourcing some of our model making now.
How have people reacted who have experienced this?
It has been really astonishing to me.
I've had people down on the ground crying. When he falls to the ground,
I mean, this virtual human, non-existent, I mean, it's a ghost,
it's nothing there,
they've literally reached in their pocket for their cellphone
to call for help before they realise where they are.
It's like an instantaneous reaction.
NONNY: What do you think?
NONNY: Oh, you're crying.
It may not look like reality just yet, but it's clear that
the scenes she recreates can still have a very powerful effect
on those who experience them.
That was Nonny De Le Pena.
There's certainly a lot of talk at the moment about VR being able to
put you in the moment, but, of course,
there are some moments none of us would rather be in.
Why not give us your thoughts about the applications of virtual reality
we've shown you so far.
E-mail us [email protected] or tweet us @bbbclick
Next up, a look at this week's tech news.
The UK government has announced that driverless cars
will be allowed on public roads from January next year.
Previously, concerns about legal and insurance issues have restricted
the machines to only being allowed on private roads.
The government has also invited cities
to compete in trials of the tech.
While a review of road regulations has been ordered
to provide guidelines for their introduction.
Next step, flying DeLoreans. I promise.
A highly sophisticated cyber attack on
Canada's National Research Council could take up to a year to repair
according to its government.
The attack which temporarily shut down the research council's
computers has been blamed on a Chinese state-sponsored actor
by the Canadian government.
The Chinese Embassy in Ottawa dismiss
the report as a groundless allegation.
It's unclear which information was compromised.
Games publisher Electronic Arts has announced a new Netflix-like
subscription service for its games on the Xbox One console.
Called EA Access, the plan is to ask gamers to stump up £3.99 a month
for unlimited gaming on a selection of titles,
providing they keep paying, of course.
Initially only four games were up for grabs, but the company says
more will be added before the full launch later this year.
The service will offer early access and 10% discount to new EA games.
And finally, it turns out Facebook isn't the only site
to experiment on its users.
Lots of them do, including dating company OKCupid.
The matchmaking site released analytics showing how it made up
compatibility ratings to influence how people viewed
The result, well, love is just as complicated
now matter how compatible you're told you are.
So just like real life.
Last year we saw this...
the Android based shield handheld console.
Well, this week I got the chance to try out graphics chip guru
Nvidia's latest stab at launching a handheld games machine.
This time it's an Android tablet called the Shield tablet.
As tabs go it's got some pretty meaty guts,
it's probably the most powerful Android tab around,
boasting a new powerful K1 processor.
It needs the processing grunt this chip provides
along with an optional games controller.
The Shield can play normal Android games
or it can play a range of older PC games
which have been optimised for play on the K1 chipset.
Finally, the Shield can stream and play games from a PC
as long as that PC is running a high-end Nvidia graphics card.
One of the questions you may be asking is why
would I want to take a perfectly good PC gaming experience
that you can play on a nice big screen like this
and transfer it to a much smaller screen?
Especially when these two devices still have to be
quite close to each other, certainly on the same Wi-Fi network.
Well, in well, in truth,
gaming PC are great big towers or they're hulking leviathans
of a laptop like this one,
so it might be that you don't want to carry it into the kitchen
or the bedroom for example.
So in that case I can understand why you'd want to play this
on a smaller screen in bed instead.
As long as you have an understanding other half, of course.
The tablet can also be plugged into a TV,
meaning it can play its own Android games on a much bigger screen
than its own eight inch display.
Fans of sci-fi movies and TV shows are an incredibly loyal bunch.
Just ask Sebastian here.
Which means if you make a video game of their favourite movie
and you don't get it right, they will not forgive you.
And that's why the team behind the latest attempt to adapt
the sci-fi franchise Alien really had its work cut out for it.
Marc Cieslak has been finding out if anyone can hear him scream.
-I don't know if you can hear me.
An abandoned space station.
I think there's something here.
Murderous, paranoid androids.
And the prospect of a close encounter which won't end well.
Alien Isolation remixes the ingredients from the 1979 movie
to create a first-person survival horror video game.
Set 15 years after the events of the sci-fi classic chiller
the player adopts the role of Amanda Ripley,
the daughter of the movies' original heroine.
And in a nod to the big screen incarnation of
cinema's unfriendliest ET,
two bonus missions which these exclusive shots reveal
reimagine key points from the film.
-Whatever it was...it was big and...
-You sure it took him under?
-Disappeared under one of the cooling ducts.
And the movie's cast have returned to lend their vocal talents to the game.
We should never have landed on this.
Me and Parker, we told them that.
Brett, over and out.
Which is why I've come to New York to meet the actress who played
the only surviving crew member of the commercial shipping vessel
Sigourney Weaver returns to the role that made her famous,
this time playing a virtual version of herself in 1979.
Why return to the role of Ellen Ripley?
The movie, you know, is...
..still, sort of, means something to people.
I still meet people,
young people who are still discovering it for the first time.
And I thought, it's such a specific cool,
claustrophobic world that the idea of giving everybody
the opportunity to come into that world
and make some of those decisions
and have that adventure, personally, I get it.
I dig it and I think it's very immersive and really scary
and also, in its odd way, very beautiful.
As soon as I open my mouth it was Ripley's voice.
And I really didn't...
It was like she'd been sitting next to me for 35 years and...
I guess if you played a part that many times that they, sort of,
become part of your DNA.
So there she was. And we had quite an interesting day.
Alien is one of cinema's great horror movies.
Do you think this video game can compete
in terms of scaring the player?
You know, in an odd way I think they take the scare
in a really new visceral direction.
I notice that when we did Avatar
that people really hated leaving that world.
I feel with this that after, probably,
so many of the fans watching this movie so many times
that the opportunity to actually trade places
with one of the characters and be in that world that has haunted you for
so long will be very satisfying.
I've only dabbled in video games,
but I actually think they're a very interesting, creative, new world.
People who make games are discovering that there's
a much bigger audience for games.
It's much more interested in content and in story
and in subtlety of character and things like that
than just shoo 'em up.
I know my husband just directed a video game that's based
and inspired by a play.
So I think there's a whole huge world that video games are heading
into that I think will be fantastic for the audience.
They'll be the stars of their own picture.
And gamers will be able to find out if they have the stomach
to star in their own version of this deep space scare 'em up
when the title's released in October.
Back here at Broadcasting House,
this is Studio A where the A stands for...anything you want it to be.
Because this is the virtual studio, and all these green walls
and the green floor can be replaced with any virtual set you fancy.
The cameras are fitted with these special markers,
which means the system can track its exact position and then add that
virtual set at the precise angle it needs to be viewed at.
And I'll let you into a secret,
not only does this place double as a news studio...
..(it's also the Webscape set.)
Talking of which, here she is - Kate Russell.
You'd better not make a mess in there, Spencer.
One of the things I love about virtual space is that
you can reinvent your own reality any time you like.
Take public transport, which we all love to complain about
when it holds us up, but could you do any better than the city planners?
Transitmix lets you test out your mettle by creating your own
complex network in whichever city you fancy.
As you map out your lines and routes, the operating statistics
and costs of each line will be shown in the control panel.
Eventually giving you an overall operating budget
for your transit network.
You'll have to go to the real city records
if you want to compare this with reality.
Some cities, like San Francisco, have existing networks already added,
so you can choose to edit those routes
and see if you can make the network run more efficiently.
Once finished, save and share,
preferably with your local planning department
so they can take some wisdom from your work.
If you have or witness an accident or serious illness
you call the emergency services.
But while you're waiting for them to arrive there could be
a qualified medical first aider close by to offer immediate support.
If you have the presence of mind to use it, the GoodSAM emergency app
aims to help people alert any registered first aiders close by
so they can provide immediate assistance.
Another potential live saver I found this week is
courtesy of the British Red Cross and YouTube gaming star Ali-A.
Lots of games come with epilepsy warnings,
but according to research by Epilepsy Action almost nine in ten people
wouldn't know how to help someone who is having a seizure.
That's the purpose of this video
that plays out like a first-person shooter game.
Captain Located. Uh-oh.
He does not look like he's in a good way right now.
Let's head over and see how we can assist the captain.
A few problems here - rigid body,
arching back, jerking movement.
Despite a lot of work being done to try and encourage girls
to think about careers in computing there remains a massive gender gap.
New initiative Made With Code has put together a brilliant series of
videos and practical coding projects that aim to appeal to girls across
the globe by making computer science relative
to their lives and interests.
The projects include coding a 3D-printed bracelet,
making a platform to accessorise your selfies,
coding a 2D avatar from scratch, creating a unique animated gif
and putting together your own Beats soundtrack.
And while the target audience is girls,
I would think most boys would enjoy coding these projects too,
and even a couple of parents.
If you send messages within Facebook
and don't use the dedicated messenger app on mobile,
you're about to have your hand forced as the company is
separating its chat service from the main platform.
This means you will have to download the free dedicated app
to keep chatting through Facebook.
But should experience faster messaging
untangled from the main timeline.
Talking of talking, you can now download the first free app for iOS
that encrypts voice calls - Signal Private Messenger.
Made by the same open-source security specialists that made
RedPhone Secure Calls for Android,
you can make and receive encrypted voice calls cross platform
with anyone who has either app installed.
That's Kate Russell's Webscape.
Your contributions to Webscape always gratefully received.
You can e-mail them to [email protected]
Tweet us @bbcclick
You'll find us on Google+ and Facebook too.
And for more from us check out website bbc.co.uk/click
I'm afraid that's it for now though.
Thank you very much for watching and we will see you next time.
Click goes virtual reality at the Commonwealth Games, where 360-degree footage is being live streamed to a VR headset.
And Sigourney Weaver tells Click why she is returning as Ripley for video game Alien Isolation.