Frontline Marketing

Reggie Watts Will Perform Live Comedy Act In Virtual Reality

Funnyman Reggie Watts is combining his passion for music, comedy and virtual reality with an unprecedented show that will give fans an opportunity to livestream his stand-up act in VR through AltspaceVR’s social platform.

Set to take place on May 26 at 8 p.m., Watts and his ubiquitous afro will be performing in the flesh from AltspaceVR’s studio in San Francisco. Bay Area denizens interested in attending in person can sign up here, or livestream the hijinks through YouTube in 2D.

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“I’ve always been a fan of virtual reality, or at least the idea of creating another reality with technology that’s relatively believable,” Watts told the Voices of VR podcast. “I got into VR because I like being immersed into other realities, and having the ability to create those realities.”

Watts experimented with VR in the short-form 360 comedy Waves, a project that made the circuits at Sundance and Tribeca Film Festival earlier this year

The comedian’s shenanigans will be made possible Thursday through Perception Neuron’s motion capture technology.

[a]listdaily caught up with Susy Ferrer, Noitom’s public relations director, to discuss how they’re ushering in technology that mirrors the one used in Hollywood.

How did the collaboration between Reggie Watts come about? Why is a stand-up comedy show a great way to promote Perception Neuron and the motion capture technology system?

We work often with AltspaceVR and they have been using our system for some time and are familiar with it. When the opportunity came up to do a live-in-VR show with Reggie, Perception Neuron was their go-to product to track Reggie’s movement within the VR environment that AltspaceVR will provide. Perception Neuron is a very flexible and versatile system and there are many people who have found a multitude of creative ways of working with it. The chance for Perception Neuron to be used in such a unique show featuring one of the most exciting comedy talents of today is a terrific way to get some exposure in the entertainment realm (as we typically attract people who work in gaming and virtual reality). Plus, we just thought it was a very cool concept and we can’t wait to see what Reggie does.

What kind of an experience can viewers expect?

The cool thing about a show like this is that you can be anywhere and experience it. Since the show will take place in a virtual environment, audiences can log-in from anywhere in the world and enjoy. They can expect to feel they’re sharing the same space as Reggie and seeing him perform right before their eyes just as in a regular venue, except that it will all be virtual. Also, anyone who has ever seen one of Reggie’s improvisational performances knows to always expect the unexpected. 

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How do you explain Perception Neuron for the first time to those who are unfamiliar with it?

Have you ever seen Planet of the Apes? Lord of the Rings? Avatar? All of these movies—and many more—use motion capture technology to create the life-like movements of the animated creatures and characters in the story. Hollywood uses very expensive systems in which the actor wears a special suit with trackers that connect to cameras in order to record the movement, and later transfer it into the CGI or animation creating a realistic, human-like effect. Perception Neuron offers a similar technology except that the system works with a tiny IMU (inertial measurement unit) that is housed within a ‘Neuron’ and the IMU is able to capture and record the body’s movement without the use of dozens of cameras, or even a cumbersome suit. The Neurons are placed on a series of straps that are then put on various parts of the body (arms, legs, head, torso, hands) and the movement is then easily captured and can then be transferred to an animation, special effects, video games, used for analysis, training and many other uses. Perception Neuron is the most adaptive, versatile and affordable system of its kind. Where the Hollywood motion capture systems run well into the hundreds of thousands, Perception Neuron can be purchased for $1,500 or under, making it accessible for anyone with an interest in motion capture. Though Perception Neuron may not readily compare to the costly Hollywood systems, it is a robust and highly accurate system that produces professional results right out of the box.

How is Perception Neuron different from any other virtual reality experience on the market?

Perception Neuron is the most affordable and adaptable system of its kind in the world. We have made it possible for any gamer, small studio, school, researcher or hobbyist to use motion capture in their projects. Our versatility also means that we can be used with a variety of platforms from Maya Motion Builder, to Reallusion, Unreal Engine, Unity, and more.

Perception Neuron is under the Noitom umbrella, which features other experiences like Project Alice. What is the vision company founders Dr. Haoyang Liu and CEO and Dr. Tristan Dai have implemented?

It’s always been to make motion capture [technology] accessible to anyone, anywhere, and to eventually seeing it used in some way in every home. They and their team of engineers remain committed to making motion capture a universal technology.

Where is the future of motion capture technology and application development headed? What can consumers expect from Noitom moving forward?

As VR continues to expand, and as video games become more elaborate, we will see much more of a need for motion capture technology. Beyond that, we also see a need for this technology in the fields of medicine, sports, government projects, corporate training … there are many foreseeable uses for motion capture. As we now continue to focus more on the consumer market, people can expect to see more innovative products that can help them in their creative and professional endeavors. We will begin rolling out new products later this year, including a motion capture glove that can be used in virtual reality.

What are some of the ways brands can use VR activations in their integrated marketing campaigns?

VR is the next big movement in technology, and now that companies like Oculus and Samsung are developing consumer products, we can see it becoming more and more a part of everyday life. Soon Facebook will be adopting VR in their social network and people will now have the chance to experience things they could have only imagined right from their living room. This will give brands the opportunity to get really creative with immersive marketing campaigns that can take audiences right into the action of what they want to share.

Follow Manouk Akopyan on Twitter @Manouk_Akopyan