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Mushroom VR – The World’s First Virtual Reality Review and Approval Tool

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Developed by Los Angeles based Super 78, Mushroom VR is the first virtual reality collaborative media review and approval tool for the Oculus Rift. Mushroom VR and the Oculus Rift deliver collaborative multi-user media review experience, especially for immersive multimedia content. Below is our interview with Dina Benadon, CEO and Brent Young, President and Creative Director of Super 78:

Dina Benadon, and Brent YoungQ: How did the idea behind Mushroom VR come about?

DB: At Super 78, we’ve been designing and developing media-based attractions for theme parks, museums, and all kinds of special venues for almost two decades. Because we are both story tellers and media creators, part of our mission is to find and invent new technologies to make the development process as collaborative and as streamlined as possible. We also want to make the guest experience as incredible as it can be.

Virtual Reality has been on our radar for as long as Super 78 has been in the themed entertainment business, but until the Oculus Rift came along, VR was still a just a promising dream. The moment we saw the first Kickstarter campaign for the Rift, we were intrigued; it sounded like Oculus had cleared a major hurdle with their claim of “ultra-low latency head tracking.” So we pre-ordered the first developer kit right away. As soon as it arrived, we were very impressed.

BY: Developing immersive theme park attractions has given us a lot of insights into the specific challenges of designing “macro” virtual reality experiences, how to make them exhilarating without being disorienting, or worse, physically nauseating. For the Oculus Rift, we were able to apply our understanding of how to effectively harmonize audio, visual and kinetic input and scale it down to a “micro,” single-user VR experience.

We also saw the huge potential for using VR and the Rift as a collaborative review platform during the pre-production and production phases. We could create a virtual space, gather multiple project team members from around the world together in this virtual space, and look at any form of digital media in real time, concurrently. And so we started working on the software we needed to make this happen.

Mushroom VR and the Oculus Rift

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Q: What is Mushroom VR?

BY: Mushroom VR is the first virtual reality collaborative media review and approval tool. Using the Oculus Rift headset, multiple users meet in a shared virtual space with a comprehensive array of media control and annotation tools at their disposal. The host of the session can pause, rewind and fast-forward the media at any time. Every participant has a virtual laser pointer tracked to their sightline so they can make precise notes and comments. They can capture their own POV screenshots at any time and instantly output a jpg file. And, of course, it works on both Mac and PC hardware.

Mushroom VR can be used to review media in 2D or 3D, and the media can be projected on any kind of screen in the virtual space: flat, curved, domed, whatever screen geometry is required. For one of our own projects, the new SpongeBob SubPants Adventure, an interactive 4D digital puppetry experience at Moody Gardens in Galveston, TX, we built the entire theater in VR, using the architectural CAD files. We were then able to project the 3D media on the main screen, and synchronized 2D media on four “porthole” side screens inside our virtual theater. With Mushroom VR, we could then review the entire show, with both pre-rendered animation and the live interactive digital puppetry, and all show effects, sitting in any seat in the theater. And this is all before construction began.

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Q: How does it work? What are the biggest benefits of using it?

BY: Mushroom VR is a desktop application with a set of predesigned virtual theaters, including the standard 360-degree VR format, cinema formats and themed attraction theaters (“flying” theater domes, “immersion tunnel” torus screens, etc.). Each user wears the Oculus Rift headset and holds a game controller to activate the annotation tools and media playback. For collaborative reviews, participants log into the secure Mushroom VR network for the shared experience.

DB: The collaborative feature is one of Mushroom VR’s greatest benefits. The system is an amazingly efficient and precise way to review media, with all project team members in the “real” theater space, watching together.

And because Mushroom VR allows users to review every detail of an attraction prior to physical construction – media, 3D architectural spaces, scenic elements, and live show effects – it saves a huge amount of time and money. There is no need for expensive physical mock-ups or international travel.

Super 78 - Mushroom VR

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Q: What are your plans for the future?

BY: We have many plans to expand Mushroom VR’s capabilities in future updates, with new collaborative review features and creative tools. Eventually, users will be able to build multimedia shows directly inside the application.

DB: It’s been so stimulating to see VR advance as much as it has in recent years. We’re having a lot of fun in this new playground.

Last Updated on February 13, 2016

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