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High Fidelity Project Wins Best VR Scene Award

Exciting times here at High Fidelity! We’re gearing up for our beta release and working hard to get bugs fixed, new documentation and learning materials, and providing a great initial experience. It’s definitely crunch time, and we’re loving every second. Part of providing a great initial experience is getting great content in place. That’s why we’re holding our first High Fidelity VR Hackathon this April. Since this will be High Fidelity’s very first time hosting a Hackathon, we decided we ought to get some hands-on experience under our belt before inviting the public. We were therefore delighted when our gifted Content Team members Eric Levin and Jazmin Cano went to Microsoft’s Reactor Space in San Francisco this March, to participate in the San Francisco VR Hackathon.

Eric and Jazmin’s VRVJ project is set in a beautiful Aztec-themed performance space.

“It’s a magical and powerful engine that everyone should start using!”

— Jazmin Cano on High Fidelity


We were delighted to see that High Fidelity would be represented as a platform. Most folks at the event were using the run-of-the-mill game engine solutions, and therefore were limited to creating single-user VR experiences. High Fidelity is unique in that it’s a developer-oriented platform as flexible as any game engine, but built from the ground up for high performance multi-avatar shared VR. You can easily iterate quickly with light and fast JavaScript, edit your scenes in-world, and share both the design process and end-result in-world while other avatars can participate or watch in real time. To our delight (but not surprise), Jazmin and Eric’s hackathon project, VRVJ, took the prize for Best VR Scene!

VR Scene of Aztec style pyramids to serve as a performance space in High Fidelity.
Artist Jazmin Cano designed these Aztec-style pyramids to serve as the performance space.

Programmer Eric wrote a very clever system that associates hand proximity to light sources and sound generator entities to adjust the sound mix between different synchronized electronic music audio loops. Any number of avatars can perform *together* in-world with clusters of these sound generators around them in space. High Fidelity’s unique sound mixing architecture makes this kind of collaborative, truly synchronous shared audio improvisation easy to implement. Meanwhile, our pixel and polygon pushing artist Jazmin created a luscious, luminous Aztec-themed performance space which made excellent use of High Fidelity’s emissive map support.

“I walked down the hall and cried for a minute. I did it, we did it, everyone’s gonna do it. VR is the future and the future of VR is going to be beautiful. ”

— Jazmin Cano

After the Hackathon, I bugged Jazmin with some good, old-fashioned interview questions. Here’s what she had to say.

Tell us about the event and what compelled you to attend.

Last year I heard about the “VR Hackathon” in SF. I had done a couple game jams and have always been interested in the difference between those and hackathons, and since I had just gotten a cardboard at GDC, I thought I may as well go make something and show it on my cardboard. I had already done small experiences for cardboard in Unity so I thought, what the heck. Learning new things about VR won’t hurt me! I’m always curious to see the new and exciting things people are building for VR so this was a cant-miss event.

What went well?

What went well is that my teammate Eric Levin and I had been brainstorming ideas and we’re both getting more excited as each day passed and got us closer to the Hackathon. We’re both big fans of music and VR, so working on this together was incredibly fun and easy. He’s one of the best teammates I’ve ever had for anything. Thankfully, we had access to multiple HTC Vives, so testing our multi-user demo was a breeze.

What could have gone better?

What could have gone better… when it came time to show our experience to the judges, things were just not working. Of course it would work all day and then when the spotlight was on us, we appeared to have been noobs. We had 10 minutes to present but thankfully Eric performed magic and everything went smoothly after that. Also I had a cold and was feverish and vomiting and sweating and coughing and sneezing… so if that wasn’t the case, I could have made so much more art!

Control discs influence the sound and light of the 3D performance environments in High Fidelity.
Bringing your hands towards these control discs influence the sound and light of the performance environment.

What inspired your project?

My inspiration… well a lot of times, it’s easier to describe games and experiences by its “look” so I thought we had to have a look. Since my family is from Mexico, I thought I’d look up ancient Mexicana and found that Aztec art has kind of like an ancient sci-fi look. I mainly get that vibe because of their weird alien looking blobby illustrations and linear art. I had been working a lot with emissive maps so it was a no-brainer that I should take the lines and aesthetic of Aztec design and build a neon Aztec rave space in the desert!

How was the project received? Were people surprised to see you were using High Fidelity?

Throughout the weekend, people were asking what engine we were using, so I took each opportunity to preach about the greatness of High Fidelity. People were mostly surprised and curious because they didn’t know what it was. Multiple times I had to say, no we don’t use unity with it. No, it’s not WebVR. It’s a magical and powerful engine that everyone should start using!

How do you feel about winning?

I was feeling really nervous right before they were about to announce the winners because there were many beautiful projects shown and the first category they were going to announce was “Best Looking VR”. When they said the winner was “VRVJ” (Virtual Reality/Virtual Jockey) I jumped up from my seat and screamed! About a year ago when I was new into the scene, I was on a panel and I was asked what I looked forward to in VR… and I basically described High Fidelity. I could not wait for a virtual world that was like a universe for my worlds to exist so I can just live in them. Who knew that within a year I’d be working with the greatest people on the planet doing just that. I really wanted to win the visual category because that would mean all the eyes and interest would go back to “the Aztec music thing” and hopefully have people try High Fidelity themselves! so when we won, I was extremely ecstatic! Our hard work paid off, my art was recognized, and HiFi got the recognition I was looking to give to the platform.

After a few minutes of handshakes and photos, I walked down the hall and cried for a minute. I did it, we did it, everyone’s gonna do it. VR is the future and the future of VR is going to be beautiful. I am proud that Eric and I made an impact at the San Francisco VR Hackathon with the incredible High Fidelity platform.

Huge congratulations to Jazmin and Eric. We couldn’t be prouder.

And don’t forget, we’re holding our own High Fidelity Hackathon later this April.

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Published by Caitlyn Meeks March 25, 2016

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