(Courtesy of Tech Fair in the Heights)
Virtual reality (VR) pro Filip Baba swears that a great VR experience is just like jumping into your favorite sci-fi novel.
“It’s what you used to read about in sci-fi books or watched on Star Trek. It’s pretty close,” Baba says.
A self-taught expert, Baba is the CEO and founder of the virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) agency Anyworld, which creates VR and AR experiences for clients like real estate companies and artists.
Recently, Baba and Anyworld worked with R&B singer, Tangina Stone, on her latest music video. The virtual reality music video, called the “Anxious 360 Experience,” debuted at her album launch party in New York City.
Baba talked with Parade on how he created the VR music video, why people are fascinated by VR and what the future holds for the industry.
What was it like creating a virtual reality music video for Tangina Stone?
It was a really fun experience. The whole screenplay and story was all hers. It was about Tangina dealing with anxiety. So, we tried to put the user in the type of anxiety she’d be feeling. We sat down with her and got her creative vision, and then we went ahead and technologically did it. We did all the 3-D environments and screenplayed the whole thing. She came up with the concept on that, so she had a lot of fun doing it, as well.
Tell us about the scenes of the music video and how you created those.
In the beginning, you see [a sign post that says] Canton and Brooklyn. Since the whole beginning scene is VR and 360, it forces you to look away. But [when] you look back, that spot isn’t the sign post anymore—it’s actually a burning tree. The burning tree symbolizes the odd one out of the whole forest, and under it is an old TV playing a 2-D version of the music video. Then, there’s a glitch effect. We use that to glitch into another scene. In VR, it takes you by surprise. Then in the second scene, you’re in a room and it starts to grow big around you. You start to feel smaller, which is a lot more pronounced when you’re in VR. All of a sudden, you start flying up. We very slowly start lifting the person up, and it gives you the sensation of flying, and you’re getting pulled out of this room. The third and last scene is a mental ward. Around you are whiskey bottles, which is one of her things she’s dealt with—alcoholism. All of a sudden, the display breaks. When you’re in VR, it seems like the glass shards are coming at your face. Then, you look down and the floor falls under you. You’re floating in darkness, and you see the room above you just fading away. It was a bit of a trip to create.
How would you say VR has grown through the years, and where do you see it going in the future?
The hardware has definitely gotten a lot more polished. Now, a lot of the mobile [devices] are becoming more affordable. Most of our smartphones can be used as VR headsets. It’s all getting more mainstream. Now, it’s up to the content creators to create content and distribute it. I believe that in the future—now, we have 2-D screens, monitors, phones—things are going to meld and be more augmented. More and more consumers are going to demand these experiences. I think it will become as common as how people go to the movies or watch TV at home.
Why do you think there’s a growing appeal for virtual reality experiences?
When you try some good VR, it’s what you used to read about in sci-fi books or watched in Star Trek. It’s pretty close, I would say. I’m a gamer. I used to play classic PC games, but I play some VR games now. They’re competitive, too. They get you up on your feet. You’re actually moving—it’s got that Wii appeal. If you get someone in a VR experience, you could take full control over what they’re going to experience.
In what ways do you think virtual reality could be used in other forms of entertainment, like movies and TV?
It’s already happening. I know some movies have VR experience booths. I don’t think that’s going to be the main thing. It’ll probably start with artists and specific genres. Maybe the horror genre—I can totally see them capitalizing on something like that. Events are going to play a large role. People love installations at events, and a VR installation gets a lot of attention. Sometimes at Anyworld, we’ll do a tradeshow and people respond positively. They love coming up and trying something.
Do you have any other projects coming up?
We’re starting to teach AR classes with the new Apple AR kit that’s coming out. We also do things with real estate, so we’re going to have some AR and VR solutions for real estate coming soon. I think [AR] is going to be even bigger than VR is right now.