A 360 photo album, two new VR demos and my report from...

A 360 photo album, two new VR demos and my report from Burning Man 2015


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Hi there!

For those who don’t want to read, let’s get the links to the demos and the 360 photo album out of the way first.

The demos are simple and were made in a very short amount of time.

Deep Azteca was created entirely by James Blaha. Check out his virtual reality music visualizer made with Unity. Although James could not be at Burning Man this year, figments of his consciousness came along with me in my hard drive. James is still working on Deep Azteca so follow him on twitter for more updates. @jamesblaha


Deep Gold was created by James Blaha and me, Cris Miranda. I took the photo and did some QA. James did all the programming wizardry. Deep Gold is a simple experience. It’s a peek inside a 360 photo of the Golden Gate Bridge injected with Google’s Deep Dream and a couple of CG objects.


The 360 photo album can be viewed in VR with your Smartphone thanks to VRChive and WebVR or in your browser.


Here it goes

I’ve been meaning to write an article about what it was like to help bring virtual reality to burning man this year. Growing up in SF, I would hear about this ‘Burning Man’ thing that came and went every year just like fleet week, or Bay to Breakers there’s always something going on in the city and after a while if something doesnt resonate with you, it just becomes noise. I wouldn’t pay much mind to Burning Man until I became closely intertwined with the tech world through virtual reality in the last couple of years. To be honest, I’m not sure what propelled me to go in the first place but I’ve always been compelled to try new things so. This year’s Burning Man had the right concurrence of events that made it epic. Bugs, Sandstorms and virtual reality. For those who might not know, Burning Man is a music and arts festival clusterfuck that takes place in the middle of the desert for 7 days. It’s so much more than that but we’ll have to leave it at this.

To some people Burning Man is a place of healing and self discovery. To others, Burning Man is a giant party the likes of which humanity has never seen before. Even the Romans in their orgy filled bathhouses would get jelly by the next level debauchery burners can pull off and I felt right at home among it. To me, Burning Man was a bit of both. Through the art installations, I was able to feel the full spectrum of human emotion. in that one week I was brought to tears, filled with Joy and felt more human (whatever the fuck that means) than I’ve ever felt in my whole life. I learned to meditate better, I learned some useful Japanese bondage techniques and partied listening to Major Lazer live.

However to me, it’s the little things that made me like the experience even more. The fact that people would greet each other through hugging, I’ve never felt so welcomed wherever I went. Waking up every morning and realizing that I don’t have to stare at a fucking screen for 11 hours of my day also felt good.

The best analogy that I can come up with in describing my Burning Man experience goes like this:

I feel like Burning man swallowed me in and then it shat me out. Some how Burning man manifests itself in the form of giant beast, a beast that swallows you in with its dust, its drugs and its people. As I went through its 8 days digestive process, I ran into all sorts of folks in all sorts of circumstances.

Crepes off a random van in the dead of the night in the middle of the desert. Spontaneous orgasm competitions. Art installations that challenged my imagination (the good ones felt like virtual reality experiences). Partying with and getting to know my friends from virtual reality at a place that feels like you’re inside Second Life, like we’ve all stepped into a new reality. Reality is more malleable than I thought it was.

I went into Burning man feeling so energetic, so positive and hyped up. Overtime you begin to realize that the desert itself doesn’t give a fuck about your energies or your positive vibes. I remember fighting constantly to keep my shade structure from being blown away while a dust storm would merciless batter us with wind, sand and cold weather. The desert just, is, and just like that, Burning man can behave in the same manner at times. Don’t get me wrong Burning Man was 97% amazing and that’s pretty good for 8 days in the desert. The negative 3% I consider it as necessary and sometimes unnecessary human friction. At Burning Man I encountered some of the nicest people in the world, strangers looking out for strangers. This really has inspired something in me. The thought that, there is goodness in mankind? Who would have thought!? I found it amazing to go a place where people put down there defenses, set aside their differences and embraced each other when we say hi. Burning Man would be nothing without the people who attend it.

Imagine Burning man as a giant beast. This beast tries to eat you as you go through its 7 day digestive process. Every toll on your body is one point for the beast. Being swallowed by the beast is death and being shat out by this beast is rebirth. Your state of rebirth depends on what kind of shit the beast took. This is where you should make your own inferences. Me personally, I felt like I was shat out like explosive diarrhea. I have my own reasons for feeling that way and I’m okay with it. I’ll surely be back to see and live inside this beast once again.

The beast takes you in as you are and like clock work, it will shit you out. Sometimes the Beast is constipated and it might take a while for you to be “rebirthed” for no one is meant to live inside the beast all year long. Unless you’re a water bear, those motherfuckers can live anywhere.

Did you go to burning man? How did you feel you were you shat out by the beast?

Burning Man and Virtual Reality

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While working with the VR Camp, some of us(me) were kind of worried at first about how VR would be received by Burners. Would they view us as tech industry invaders trying to bastardize their community with our proto mind control devices? Would people see the value in virtual reality at all?

Well, i’m happy to report that virtual reality was really well received at Burning Man. People hugged us, kissed us, a couple of people cried. It was beautiful. Every night that we demoed kept reinforcing in me the thought that this VR thing, might just work out.

As someone who is working on becoming a VR content creator I went into Burning Man looking to absorb as much as I could about real world experience crafting. I wanted to see how it is that people use art installations to craft real world experiences because I figured that there might some crossover in lessons. I learned a lot.

Drugs and virtual reality

Let’s talk about the reason why you’ve been reading this blog post in the first place. The drugs! How do drugs and virtual reality interact? We’ll, I have a lot of anecdotal evidence for ya! (take everything I say on this subject for a grain a salt. duh)

Here’s 7 takeaways about psychedelics and Virtual reality.

1) Don’t demo virtual reality to others while high or drunk.

2) Drunk people were not fun to demo for. Only one guy got kicked out from VR Camp this year and it was because he could barely stand from the alcohol he’d been drinking.

3) Mushrooms and virtual reality mix really well. I had this one guy who didn’t want to leave. It seems like to some people psylocybin mushrooms mixed with the proper VR experience can enhance the feelings of presence.

4) Don’t demo scary shit to people on Psychedelics. I demoed Celestial Song to a lady and the next morning she approached to tell me that the experience had scared her and moved her like nothing before and she wasn’t even high on anything! I apologized profusely, while she thanked me. In the planning process of the VR camp it was decided to not bring horror experiences. It was probably for the best.

5) Weed and virtual reality go hand in hand. In fact, everyone on earth should dose themselves with an MJ edible and go inside Titans of Space as soon as consumer VR rolls around.

6) Virtual reality does not seem to be a thing people want to do while on MDMA or LSD, then again, it’s Burning Man so it is the worst petridish one could use to study the complex and individualistic relations between psycho active compounds and the human mind.

7) VR porn might as well be a drug. Thank you Ela Darling and Hatsune Miku for your contributions to the progress of humanity.

Conclusion on the subject of psychedelics and virtual reality:

More science needs to be done on the matter! (Like, real science)

Final thoughts

Many people talk about how Burning Man changed their lives. I recently had a conversation with someone that told me :

“I’ve been to Burning Man, it was alright but It wasn’t the life changing event I thought it would be.” To which I replied; “that’s probably because you didn’t do enough drugs” . She agreed.

So did Burning Man changed my life? A little bit. It was mostly just a giant party where I got taste the sweet illusion of what means to be a free human in the 21st century.

My biggest takeaway from burning man as it applies to VR is that the virtual reality industry needs to foster the creation of sustainable and thriving communities for people passionate about the Metaverse to express themselves and connect with each other. Don’t just build a business, be a part of a community and if there isn’t one then that’s your calling to build one.

Thanks to everyone who took part in the VR Camp this year. These are the good ol’ days after all.

Take part in the effort to bring a next level virtual reality experience to burning man next year. Send an email to entervr01@gmail.com and let us know how you’d like to help for next year.

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