Alternate Reality Travel Guide

Alternate Reality is an expanding universe. Each year brings new ways to explore regions previously unheard of – curious perceptions of our actual world represented within a vast digital cosmos. Alternate Reality reaches from two-dimensional experiences into variations of three-dimensional. 4D experiences in themed entertainment reach even further with sensory effects wrapping back into actual reality – the world we live in every day.

This guide brings the essence of Alternate Reality into focus on a single webpage. GPG navigates the Alternate Reality universe on a daily basis so we encourage your questions. Appropriate applications of Alternate Reality technology are important to effectively communicate your story in the most compelling manner. After browsing this guide you’ll hold valuable knowledge in your adventure across emotionally engaging terrains of communication.

Tracking follows a participant in their Alternate Reality travels. Some Alternate Reality visuals are referred to as “3D”, though lack true Z-axis depth. High Resolution delivers believability within an alternate experience. To be believable, elements of Tracking, Dimension and Resolution must be high quality.

COMMON TERMS

Virtual Reality (VR)

Platforms: Oculus Rift, Sony PlayStation VR, HTC Vive, Samsung Gear VR, Google Daydream

Viewed on a digital screen and heard on speakers or through headphones.

Immersive simulation of three-dimensional environments and characters.

Created through sensor-interpreting interactive software and hardware.

Experienced and often controlled by participant body movement.

Realism is established through the design and style of pre-made media.

Three-dimensional visual impression may not present true Z-axis depth.

Participant physical movements are electronically tracked to match the environment.

 

Augmented Reality (AR)

Platforms: any standard computing/display device (smartphone, pad, laptop, desktop display)

Viewed on a digital screen and heard on speakers or through headphones.

An improved, enhanced or expanded visual representation of a real-world space.

Overlay of synthetic elements on the real world which anchors to and interacts with the real world.

Elements may be sound, video, graphics or combination thereof.

Physical and computer elements are often controlled through GPS data.

Live data may influence the computer-generated elements (i.e. weather).

Three-dimensional visual impression may not present true Z-axis depth.

Participant physical movements are electronically tracked to match the environment.

 

Mixed Reality (MxR)

Platforms: Microsoft HoloLens, Canon MReal, VOID, HoloViz, Magic Leap (retinal display)

aka: Hybrid Reality, holographic computing

Variation of Augmented Reality

Viewed on a digital screen and heard on speakers or through headphones.

Overlay of anchored synthetic elements on the real world which a viewer may interact with.

Elements may be sound, video, graphics or an ever-changing combination thereof.

Physical and computer elements are often controlled via GPS data.

Live data may influence the computer-generated elements (i.e. weather information).

Three-dimensional electronic media impression may not present true Z-axis depth.

Participant physical movements are electronically tracked to match the environment.

 

Video Mapping

Platforms: architectural manipulation, theme park attraction settings and characters

aka: projection mapping, architectural activation, 3D video mapping

Viewed without a personal delivery device.

Solid, stationary objects become fluid; a result of precisely cropped, projection-animated imagery.

Changeable object color, texture and perspective somewhat dependent on on viewer’s position.

Media may be pre-rendered or manipulated live by a viewer and/or data stream.

Dimensionality is produced by the target architecture, not the mapped media.

Generally no participant tracking.

 

Telepresence

Platforms: corporate conference rooms, medical procedure rooms

aka: videoconferencing, teleconference

Viewed without a personal delivery device.

Combines flat two-dimensional video with stereo sound and matched lighting at each location.

Telerobotic communication enabling participants to sense others are present in the same space.

To a lesser degree Skype, Imo, FaceTime and other web apps represent telepresence.

No participant tracking.

 

Hologram (in modern context)

Platforms: live stage performance, theme park attraction settings, retail and museum displays

aka: Pepper’s Ghost

Viewed without a personal delivery device.

Generally two-dimensional video imagery visually placed within a three-dimensional space.

Holographic subjects may be three-dimensional by applying more complex setups.

Subjects may be pre-recorded or live, and fully responsive to an audience.

Computer-manipulated subjects may be audience-interactive via sensors and software.

In some cases deceased actors may be ‘brought back to life’ to interact with live performers.

No participant tracking.

 

360˚ video

Platforms: Oculus Rift, Sony PlayStation, HTC Vive, Samsung Gear VR, Google Daydream

aka: immersive video, hemispherical/ spherical video (180˚ x 360˚ / 360˚ x 360˚), omnidirectional

Viewed on a digital screen and heard on speakers or through headphones.

Viewer can see still or motion picture imagery in any horizontal direction at any time (180˚ x 360˚).

Viewer can see still or motion picture imagery in any direction at any time (360 ˚x 360˚).

Displays two-dimensional media viewable through special hardware such as a head-mounted device.

Optical stitching combines multiple, synchronized video camera feeds into a seamless 360˚display.

Participant physical movements are electronically tracked to match the environment.

 

LESS COMMON TERMS

Extended Reality (XR)

aka: Alternate Realty: Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Augmented Virtuality (AV)

Viewed on a digital screen.

Experience extension relating to one’s sense of existence (VR) and cognitive acquisition (AR).

A participant’s experience within a Blended Space. (see below)

Participant physical movements are electronically tracked to match the environment.

 

Augmented Virtuality (AV)

Platforms: Oculus Rift, Sony PlayStation, HTC Vive, Samsung Gear VR, Google Daydream

Viewed on a digital screen.

A blend of Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality. (see above)

Merges real world objects and elements into a computer-generated virtual world.

Real world objects/elements can be manipulated as functional objects in a virtual environment.

Viewer can see their own hands, arms, feet and legs in the virtual environment.

Participant physical movements are electronically tracked to match the environment.

 

Mediated Virtuality (MV)

Platform: in beta within R&D labs

Viewed on a digital screen.

A participant-manipulated virtual world beyond normal real world conventions.

Participant stands in a real world setting holding a virtual object while affecting other virtual objects.

Equivalent to stepping into and interacting with virtual objects in an augmented reality world.

Participant physical movements are electronically tracked to match the environment.

 

Mediated Reality (MR)

Platform: in beta within R&D labs

Viewed on a digital screen.

A superset above Augmented Reality

Participant can enhance or reduce objects/elements.

Equivalent to a real-time matte painting where a synthetic element enhances the overall space or…

Diminishes the overall space due to seamless integration of synthetic and real world environment.

Participant physical movements are electronically tracked to match the environment.

 

Modulated Reality

Platform: in beta within R&D labs

Viewed on a digital screen.

A subset within Mediated Reality, sharing similarities with Mixed Reality.

Multiple identical virtual objects/elements observed in the same environment.

Objects/elements may or may not act in tandem with each other or be the same size or color.

Participant physical movements are electronically tracked to match the environment.

 

Diminished Reality (DR)

Platform: any computing device with DR software

Viewed on a digital screen.

Replaces real world elements with virtual, and vice versa, or simply removes elements from the space.

Web browser ad blocking is an example of Diminished Reality (removed ad diminishes page graphics).

Participant physical movements are electronically tracked to match the environment.

 

Blended Space

Platforms: theme park attraction, museum gallery

Viewed without a personal delivery device.

An extended presence from participant’s physical location into digital worlds.

Seamless integration of a digital system within a physical environment to create a holistic space.

Example: Digital media portraying a landscape as seen through a physical window in a real world room.

Generally no participant tracking.

 

DIMENSIONS

2D

Two-dimensional

Comprising X (horizontal) and Y (vertical) axes.

A normal photographic image is 2D even though its subject may present perspective.

 

3D

Three-dimensional

Comprising X (horizontal), Y (vertical) and Z (depth) axes.

Real life is observed in 3D when an observer’s eyes simultaneously see two separate views.

The brain combines the two views into a volumetric sensation conveying true depth.

This abbreviation is also applied to flat 2D imagery representing perspective.

 

3DS

Three-dimensional stereoscopic

aka: S3D

Comprising X (horizontal), Y (vertical) and Z (depth) axes.

Synthetic representation of 3D elements and settings conveying a full volumetric visual sensation.

3D cinema is 3DS, reconstructed by passive, active or chroma-separating eyewear.

An old fashioned stereoscope or mid-20th century Viewmaster® produce 3DS still images.

 

3D CG

Three-dimensional computer graphic

Comprising only the X (horizontal) and Y (vertical) axes.

A flat, 2D representation of three-dimensional settings and objects.

Dimension is represented via light, shadow, reflection and other visual clues, though not true 3DS.

 

4D

Three-dimensional environment with added physical effects

Tactile stimulation combined with three-dimensional media within a physically 3D environment.

Includes water spray, water droplets, seat/floor vibration, blowing air, vapor, smoke, confetti, scent.

Commonly represented within an entertainment venue or theme park attraction.

 

DELIVERY DEVICES

Head-mounted display (HMD)

Very close proximity-viewed digital screen with integral magnifying optics.

aka: headset, head frame, goggles

May be tethered by a physical cable (most common), or wireless.

Wireless HMD tends to be heavy and bulky due to signal receiver and image processing equipment.

Participant tracking is often integral to the hardware.

 

Automatic Virtual Environment (CAVE)

An immersive cubic physical space interfacing stitched, projected imagery in real-time.

Computer-generated or photorealistic motion imagery is displayed projectors or flat panel monitors.

Participant generally wears a tethered head-mounted device (HMD) or non-tethered eyewear.

Can be 2D or 3DS and may include a treadmill conveyance allowing participant the freedom to walk.

May include 4D effects such as air movement, floor vibration and/or smoke.

 

Eyewear

Conventional glasses frames holding filters (polarizing, dichroic, liquid crystal [LCD], color).

aka: glasses, passive or active

Interfaces with the computer technology to materialize an alternate reality.

Generally no participant tracking.

 

Dome (hemispherical)

A planetarium is a classic example. Some dome displays are tilted together with audience seating.


Gaining extensive Virtual Reality system and custom Alternate Reality media experience at Walt Disney Imagineering, Geoff Puckett served there as an Imaging and Effects specialist across the 1990s. He has designed and led more than thirty Alternate Reality projects across the United States, Europe and Asia.

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