Virtual Zone: Exploring Facebook Spaces

Facebook Spaces, virtual selfie in virtual reality

Virtual selfie within a virtual selfie.

Lately I’ve been spending more time in the virtual world that is Facebook Spaces.

Spaces is the social network’s VR app that launched at F8 last April, and operates on their Oculus Rift headset. It’s currently not available on GearVR or HTC Vive, although, there are workarounds for the latter.

Spaces is the future of social media. It allows users to hang out in VR with a limit of three Facebook friends (who are also on their Rift headsets), take virtual selfies, make calls to your friends on messenger, draw in 3D, and go live within VR, to your personal Facebook page, where your friends in the real world will wonder what dark arts turned you into a cartoon.

I became such a fan of live streaming from Spaces that I started the first Facebook Group for Spaces Live so creators could connect and share their broadcasts, tips and experiments. It’s also a group for curiosity seekers and VR believers who want to know more about this powerful new communication tool.

After logging into Spaces with your Facebook account, you’ll find yourself in either a park during the day, or a campground at night, under the stars. Whatever algorithm determines your default background I don’t know, but since I never go camping I find the glowing virtual bonfire cozy and welcoming.

Facebook Spaces VR

Who brought the virtual marshmallows?

If it’s your first time in here, you’ll appear in front of a mirror to set your avatar. As a somewhat uninitiated social VR explorer, the simple, cartoonish appearance options made it easier for me to adopt my virtual self. I didn’t feel overwhelmed with choices or spooked by nightmarish combinations. The motion tracking is top notch.

Once you’ve set your avatar, which you can alter at any time by pushing the Appearance button on your main menu, you’re ready for take-off.

Oh, and before I forget to mention it, your avatar doesn’t have legs. So no need for pants or shoes.  It feels weird at first, but then liberating. Everyone you meet in Spaces is bottomless including you.

There are many instances in VR where you just don’t need legs. I suspect at some point legs, paws, or tentacles may be optional.

Facebook Spaces, virtual reality,

Look ma! No legs!

Among these state of the art features you can also change the background media in Spaces with 360 photos and videos that you access through a media tab in your main menu, a panel anchored to a round, translucent blue table.

Changing out the background is essentially, the only way to travel.

You can select media from several sources that will appear before you: Saved, Timeline, Following and Explore. Before I go into Spaces, I’ll spend some time loading 360 videos I’ve made to my timeline, that I’ll be able to bring in, and I’ll save 360 video links from other creators, that may appear in my Saved media folder within Spaces. I haven’t been able to figure out yet why some saved media links show up and others don’t.

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Holding my destination – art by Louis Dyer

Once you’ve selected the 360 media with your hands, i.e. your Oculus Touch controllers, it appears as a globe before you. To activate the image or video, pick up the globe and place it in the center of the table or, bring it to your face. Accompanying the transition is an audio “stinger” that sounds like a future re-mix of piped merry-go-round music.

You have arrived.

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Inside a 360 video globe – art by Louis Dyer

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Inside CNN’s 360 video about the solar eclipse.

In July, Facebook’s social VR team added live-video streaming to Spaces, that allows you to broadcast within VR to your friends and the world.


When you’re live streaming and a viewer makes a comment in the real-world, it appears next to your camera, where you can pick it up and show it to your viewers. It’s a simple yet surprisingly awe-inspiring experience.

Here’s my first Spaces Live stream that kept dropping out while I was changing my appearance.


Ultimately, I appreciate some of the glitches in my first broadcasts. I’m Max Headroom re-imagined, skipping through the early days of a new medium that can teleport me wherever my imagination leads me. I can go far or I can go local.

Over the summer I took my Ricoh Theta S 360 camera to Berkeley’s UC Botanical Garden and edited together a short montage which I brought into Facebook Spaces and presto! I’m a leg-less, animated version of myself, inside a video that I can jump into, anytime I want to chill out at my favorite Berkeley garden.

I’m hooked.

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Holding my UC Botanical Garden globe. Background art by Louis Dyer.

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I made the colored dots on my avatar with my virtual pen, and attached them to my hair. I can save the dots as a drawing and access them from my Drawings folder which is filled with pre-made objects like chess pieces, animal faces and other photo booth-like props.

My favorite pre-made drawing of all is a spoon. I hold it and laugh. There is no spoon.

Facebook Spaces virtual reality Oculus Rift

Facebook Spaces UC Berkeley Botanical Garden, virtual reality

My virtual garden.

Below is the original, 360 UC Botanical Garden video I posted to Facebook. If you have an Oculus Rift headset, and want to check out a 360, low-res garden chill zone, you should be able to save it and bring it into Spaces.

For more details about Spaces Live and 360 video scene-scapes that you can save and bring into Spaces, join the Facebook Spaces Live Group and connect with our community of VR creators and explorers.

Dive into a new way of experiencing life.

OffPlanet VR #6: Building Virtual Communities

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Join OffPlanet VR for our 6th VR meetup in Downtown Berkeley!

Connect with industry pioneers, developers, and immersive media explorers, talk shop, and have fun. Demo the latest premium and independent VR experiences on Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Gear VR and more. 

All skill levels welcome.

Eventbrite - OffPlanet VR #6


TALKS in the Moose Lodge:

BUILDING VIRTUAL COMMUNITIES 

with Erin Summers, Software Engineer, Social VR at Facebook 

VR SUSTAINABLE CITIES

with Sheridan Tatsuno, Founder, One Reality AB


FEATURED DEMOS:

FacebookSpaces

Explore Facebook Spaces on Oculus Rift! Launched at F8 last April, Facebook’s social VR plaform recently added live streaming to the app, which allows users to engage with viewers on Facebook from VR, and virtually hold comments – a simple but profound feature. Social VR is one of the leading paths to mass adoption of head mounted displays (HMDs), with Facebook’s 2 billion strong network, Oculus tech, and now Spaces, VR is here to stay – and play.

*demo spots limited arrive early.

Visit Spaces Live Group on Facebook


OneRealityAB

One Reality AB is a VR platform for Sustainable City design, healthcare, energy, sports and tourism. Our mission is to reduce carbon emissions using Smart Cities tools. We’re beginning in Sweden and California.

Our mission: “Healthy Cities for Healthy People.”​


SnowAngel

Renowned electric Sitar player, Gabby La La and her psychedelic-punk band, Snow Angel take you on a rainbow-fueled virtual reality experience through four songs from their Kickstarter-funded, debut album.

Bounce from Trampoline of Emotion into Big Group Hug, Fifteen, and We Love, the Oakland band’s first 360 music video, directed by Siciliana Trevino, and DP’d by 360 filmmaker Kevin Kunze.

The app also features original album art from Bud Snow.


Kevin Kunze

Kevin Kunze is an award-winning director with over a decade of experience in feature and commercial filmmaking. In 2014, Kunze’s first documentary MOBILIZE premiered at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco winning the Best Documentary Feature award at the California Independent Film Festival.

Kunze served as Director of Photography for the 2015 Singularity University GSP PROJECT VIDEOS, featured on TechCrunch.

He teaches the Academy of Art’s first-ever course on 360 filmmaking. 


Geopogo demos at OffPlanet VR, NextSPace Berkeley

Our team of architects, software engineers, and 3D animators from Pixar, DreamWorks, and Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) is building virtual models of exterior and interior spaces to engage users in this immersive new way, at scales ranging from individual buildings to entire cities.

We aim to be the platform of choice for people to explore the world, engage in e-commerce, and connect with others in virtual space.


VirtualBytes

Hack the brain-body connection. Virtual Bytes is showcasing their interactive VR demos including, MindMoVR, an experience that expands your sense of self with movement: dance with a ballerina that will activate your mirror system and more!!


U-Turn

What happens when a young female coder joins a male-dominated floundering startup that’s deep in an identity crisis?

With a comedic twist, UTURN is an immersive live-action VR series, by Native VR, where you get to experience both sides of the gender divide.

A 360 video Virtual Reality comedy series offering full immersion into the daily life of a woman working in tech. At any time during the story, the viewer chooses which point of view to follow: a female coder or her male boss. It’s like editing your own version of the story.

We aim to raise engagement towards gender diversity through this inclusive and fun VR experience. 


SCHEDULE:

  • 7pm VR demos in the Main Gallery 

  • 7:30pm “Building Virtual Communities” with Erin Summers, Software Engineer, Social VR at Facebook

  • 8:00pm “VR Sustainable Cities” with Sheridan Tatsuno, Founder, One Reality AB

  • 8:30pm Talks end

  • 10pm Demos end

Eventbrite - OffPlanet VR #6


Enjoy fresh, local bites, beer and wine. 

With support from AR VR Women and Allies on Facebook

NextSpace is across the street from Downtown Berkeley Bart, Allston Way Garageand one block north from the BART Bike Station.


Peace. Love. VR.

Monday June 19th, SF Design Week: The Future of AR/VR at Cloud4Wi

downloadJoin Quirkeley’s Siciliana Trevino and industry panelists for SF Design Week’s conversation about the future of business and immersive media Monday June 19th at 6pm. Presented by the San Francisco Fashion And Merchants Alliance, Inc.

Get Tickets


Is Augmented Reality or Virtual Reality the Future of Businesses? Businesses are changing rapidly day by day by embracing various technological innovations. These innovations are making it possible for customers to experience as well as envision a product personally without being present physically. Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are 2 powerful technologies capable of making a huge impact on industries.

Cloud4Wi                                                                                                                                                 363 Clementina Street                                                                                                                       San Francisco

Saturday June 3rd: Chance for a Change benefit for the Women’s Daytime Drop-in Center, 6:30pm

Enjoy an evening of live music, an exciting auction and delicious food and drink at the 29th Annual Chance for a Change benefit  for the Women’s Daytime Drop-in Center, Saturday June 3rd, 6:30pm, at the Berkeley Yacht Club. 1 Seawall Drive, Berkeley.

Tickets are $40 advance / $50 at the door and $25 for students and volunteers.

Click here to purchase tickets or make a donation.

The Women’s Daytime Drop-in Center offers free services to any homeless woman and her children. Women can access WDDC services by dropping in Monday through Friday between the hours of 8am and 4pm.


Like WDDC on Facebook and Follow WDDC on Instagram


The Women’s Daytime Drop-In Center (WDDC) is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit program, in the San Francisco Bay Area, empowering women and children to move from the streets to a home by providing ongoing and intensive counseling, case management services, daily support groups, a comprehensive children’s program, a variety of referral services, and a transitional housing program for four single parent families.

The WDDC has evolved from its original mission of providing emergency and crisis response to a program of on-going support services. The WDDC serves an average of 150 women and children each month in a nurturing, home-like environment. Services are available at no fee to any homeless woman or child.


Chance for a Change benefit: Saturday June 3rd, 6:30pm – 9:30pm 

Quirkeley is a proud supporter of the Women’s Daytime Drop in Center.

Tonight! Friday May 12th: Snow Angel @ The Uptown, Oakland

17973452_1881109195492070_7290092638357032372_oTake it to the dance floor with the funk-pop girls of Snow Angel at Turnt: the hella inclusive monthly dance party, happening every second Friday at The Uptown, 9pm-2am.

Snow Angel joins the awaited return of PAYAM Imani, resident mixologist and party-starter, KR3TURE (“Creature”), a multi-instrumentalist, producer, and scientist from Santa Cruz, CA, Lua Sol and D’Stark.

We’ll be demoing Snow Angel VR on Gear VR between sweats, SETS! Get ready for lift-off. SnowAngel-GearVR-Button

Free before 9:30 | $7 Presale | $10 at Door

Tonight! May 2nd: California Raga Association @ Empress Vintage

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Set May into motion with First Tuesdays at Empress Vintage May 2nd, 6:30pm – 9pm.

Sway to a live performance by Gabby La La and the California Raga Association – gel with the psychedelic video projections in your fab 60’s attire. Peace, love and all that Raga.

Like California Raga Association on Facebook.com/pg/CaliforniaRagaAssociation

Visit Empress Vintage https://www.empressvintage.com

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Gabby La La / Snow Angel VR

OffPlanet VR #5: Explore Berkeley’s VR demo scene at NextSpace Friday April 7th, 6-9pm

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Try Snow Angel VR This Friday at NextSpace

Quirkeley presents the 5th OffPlanet VR demo mixer in Downtown Berkeley

Re-frame your reality and explore the latest experiences on Oculus Rift, Gear VR, and HTC Vive. Hear from local filmmakers, designers and industry pioneers who are breaking new ground in the rapidly evolving VR industry and learn what it takes to produce content beyond gaming. And have fun trying new games too!

Eventbrite - OffPlanet VR #5

FREE Google cardboard viewers for the first 50 attendees, courtesty of Kunze Productions!


DEMOS

Berkeley Premiere of UTURN by Native VR – Creative Director/Executive Producer NATHALIE MATHE will talk about 360/VR production at 8pm.

What happens when a young female coder joins a male-dominated floundering startup that’s deep in an identity crisis?

With a comedic twist, UTURN is an immersive live-action VR series where you get to experience both sides of the gender divide.

A 360 video Virtual Reality comedy series offering full immersion into the daily life of a woman working in tech. At any time during the story, the viewer chooses which point of view to follow: a female coder or her male boss. It’s like editing your own version of the story. We aim to raise engagement towards gender diversity through this inclusive and fun VR experience. 


SNOW ANGEL VR – Debut album experience for Gear VR

Rainbow Rocker Gabby La La and Director Siciliana Trevino joined forces to create their first music video app. Embark on a flower-powered trip through 4 songs from Snow Angel’s debut album available on bandcamp. Thanks to our Kickstarter backers for bringing our first 360 videos to life!


MORE EQUAL STUDIOS – Project Ather

works with Vive and Rift to bring you the latest earth shattering player vs player combat. Master all the elements through immersive gameplay! Abilities are tied to gestures rather than buttons, inspiring a wholesome VR experience. We are a team from UC Berkeley passionate about immersive VR experiences. As the project matured, we brought on new team members to create our own art assets and music. We look forward to hearing your feedback!


 KUNZE PRODUCTIONS + ACADEMY OF ART

Award-winning 360 filmmaker and Academy of Art instructor Kevin Kunze will take us through the recent history of VR cameras, and have demos from the Academy’s first 360 video class.


THE VIRTUAL RAVE

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Dive into underground electronic music from San Francisco to Havana. Experience Ascendant Sun, a new experience produced by Kevin Kunze and Fifer Garbesi, flying above firedancers on the California Coast with music from DISSØLV complete with booming haptic’s from Subpac.


OCULUS RIFT new releases and games including – Mission:ISS

Created in collaboration with NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency, this true-to-life simulation lets you explore space and experience the sensation of microgravity in VR.


 GEOPOGO

We create and host models that deliver immersive 3D experiences tied to real-world locations. Our team of architects, software engineers, and 3D animators from Pixar, DreamWorks, and Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) is building virtual models of exterior and interior spaces to engage users in this immersive new way, at scales ranging from individual buildings to entire cities. We aim to be the platform of choice for people to explore the world, engage in e-commerce, and connect with others in virtual space.


THERAPY OS

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app prototype for childeren with autism made with InstaVR


VR PRODUCTION TALKS in the Moosewood Conference Room

  • 7pm VR apps made easy with InstaVR, Siciliana Trevino, Quirkeley and Ripley Clipse, Therapy OS
  • 7:30 pm 360 camera review and live-streaming with award-winning filmmaker Kevin Kunze
  • 8 pm U-Turn Creative Director/Executive Producer NATHALIE MATHE

Eventbrite - OffPlanet VR #5


Drinks and refreshments sponsored by Quirkeley and the VR/AR Assocition.

The VR/AR Association (VRARA) is an international organization designed to foster collaboration between innovative companies and people in the virtual reality and augmented reality ecosystems. It accelerates growth, fosters education, helps develop industry standards and connects member organizations. The SF chapter of VRARA brings this mission to the geographic epicenter of VR and AR.

Additional support from the East Bay Virtual Reality Alliance


See New Mo’ Cut at Moe’s Books April 1st, 7:30pm

Saturday April 1st is the 20th anniversary of the death of Moe Moskowitz, the pioneering founder of Moe’s Books, and a true Berkeley original. While we never met him, he drew us into his world through an unlikely appearance at the city dump that made the local news, and inspired us to make a film about a film about a bookstore.

Join us at Moe’s Books at 7:30 pm for a special free screening of our award-winning documentary, New Mo Cut: David Peoples lost film of Moe’s Books followed by David Peoples’s found footage of the opening night party of Moe’s original Telegraph Avenue location, shot in 1965, and discovered at the Berkeley dump in November of 2014.

“I went and looked on the internet and my mind was blown. How could that be? How could my film be on the internet when it’s supposed to be in my garage?” – David Peoples

In New Mo’ Cut serendipity and a love of books bring together an odd lot of locals that include Moe’s daughter, and store owner, Doris Moskowitz, Kevin Laird, an artist, salvage worker and self proclaimed “yeoman of past lives”, Oscar-nominated screenwriter David Peoples (Unforgiven, 12 Monkeys, Blade Runner) and Moe, the radical bookseller dressed in top hat and coat tails, as their silver-screened ring leader.

New Mo’ Cut: David Peoples lost film of Moe’s Books reminds us that beauty and value are in the eyes of the beholder and how happenstance can occur anywhere, at any time, and interconnect lives in deeply meaningful ways.

The Kickstarter funded short won Best Editing at Tempe Arizona’s 2015 Filmstock Film Fest, and was an official selection at the 2016 Mill Valley Film Festival. It screened at BAMPFA as part of the 2nd Annual Area Book Festival’s Auteur, Author: Film and Literature seriescurated by Tom Luddy, co-founder and co-director of the Telluride Film Festival. 

Moe’s Books is located at 2476 Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, California. 

10 date night films for the apocalypse

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Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Walter Wanger Productions, 1956

This Valentine’s Day love is in the air, #FlynnResignations is trending and the end of the world feels like a tweet away. Celebrate the first month of living in a post-truth, alternative fact universe with these ten movies that will really kill the mood, if not help explain WTF is going on. Thanks Hollywood.

1. American Psycho

2. Donnie Darko

 3. They Live

 4. Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

 5. Invasion of the Body Snatchers

6. Aguirre, Wrath of God

7. Children of Men

8. La Jetée

9. Twelve Monkeys

10. The Terminator

BONUS: Night of the Comet

#Berkeley: Restaurant Week Gather, Easy Creole +La Marcha

Bite into the best of Berkeley!

There’s no time like the present to bring together friends and family for a night out. With over 25 restaurants participating in Berkeley’s 5th annual Restaurant Week, offering three-course lunch menus for $20 and dinner menus for $25 or $35, there’s plenty of dining options sure to please a variety of palates, and your wallet.

On our 2nd video for #BRW17, we take you to three more neighborhood restaurants that serve up some of the best bites anywhere.

We start at Downtown Berkeley’s Gather Restaurant where co-founder Eric Fenster takes us through the restaurant’s unique design, and Executive Chef Charis Wahl, shares what’s on the special menu.

Next, we land in the Lorin District for Jess McCarter’s quirky, Creole-Cajun hybrid, Easy Creole. We close out at West Berkeley’s intimate La Marcha Tapas Bar with Chef / owners Sergio Emilio Monleón and Emily Sarlatte.

Make reservations and dig in!