The Social VR lobby is an immersive environment that allows audience members to discuss about the opera, extend the contents by meeting the cast, and interact with some of the assets used in the performance, among others. This experience takes place in Social VR after watching the Opera performance.
Several social VR platforms support virtual entertainment events. However, their value for post-show activities remains unclear. Through a user-centered approach, we designed a social VR lobby experience to enrich four motivations of theatre-goers by proposing a design that consists of four rooms: 1) a Bar for social engagement, 2) an Info Booth for intellectual engagement, 3) a Photo Zone for emotional engagement and 4) an Interactive Stage for spiritual engagement.
Based on this work, we ran a series of user studies to evaluate audience experiences in each room to create a social VR lobby template for theatre experiences. After analyzing the results of the studies we decided to focus on only 2 rooms: Interactive Stage and Photo Booth. In the next sections we describe these rooms.
The interactive stage offers users the possibility to interact with some elements of the opera and apply changes like light colors, seasons, and spaces to discover how these changes would affect the atmosphere or the mood.
The Photo Booth allows users to play with some assets that appear in the opera (like hats and umbrellas) and use them to take pictures with the characters or with a changing background. It also gives them the opportunity to send these pictures to their real-world email addresses by placing them in a virtual mailbox.
The VR Lobby has been developed on top of the VR2Gather platform. VR2Gather is a volumetric video pipeline for photorealistic social VR experiences. It performs real-time capturing, reconstruction and delivery of volumetric videos of users in the form of point clouds. Users who are at different locations are captured by multiple depth cameras and their volumetric captures are instantly delivered to the application, allowing distant users to be present in the same virtual space with their photorealistic representations.
The volumetric video pipeline allows for low-latency capture and reconstruction of 3D volumes as point clouds, based on a setup of several RGB-D cameras. It also enables the compression and delivery of the point clouds and the rendering on the receiving side. Further details about the infrastructure can be found in the award-winning article “A Pipeline for Multiparty Volumetric Video Conferencing: Transmission of Point Clouds over Low Latency DASH” (Jansen et al., 2020).