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Building film experiences through WebVR with Powster

September 22nd, 2017

Editor’s Note: When you build with WebVR, anyone can explore VR experiences with Chrome and Daydream View. Ste Thompson is CEO and Creative Director at Powster. In this post for developers, he explains how Powster uses WebVR to create immersive experiences in film environments that reach as wide an audience as possible.

Web-based VR experiences are key to making virtual reality accessible for everyone. Using a standard internet browser with WebVR technology, anyone can visit virtual worlds. At Powster, we’ve been using WebVR to create immersive film experiences. By taking 360º settings from actual movie scenes, we create environments that give audiences a sneak preview of that world.

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Looking around the WebVR experience

It’s straightforward to create native WebVR experiences on Google Chrome thanks to Google Origin Trials. Native WebVR enables Google Daydream users to access the experience directly inside Daydream View. To do it, we had to set up HTTPS on our server and apply for a token, which provides access to experimental features. We also modified our code to fit the specifications of WebVR; the polyfill is less strict than the native WebVR, especially regarding the way a new frame is requested.

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A sci-fi interface to select showtimes at a movie theater

There’s another way to enable WebVR by using the Google Chrome flags: chrome://flags/#enable-webvr. This is generally more convenient during the development phase of your WebVR project, as you may not have an HTTPS server ready when developing. For the Valerian VR experience, we also updated our copy of Three.js (a 3D JavaScript library ready for WebVR) to the latest stable version in order to be compatible with the WebVR 1.1 specification.

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Viewing the trailer takes you to your own private WebVR cinema

The result is a native WebVR experience that’s fun, immersive and accessible to many. One recent example is STX’s “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets,” created in partnership with RealD. For the Valerian experience, you’ll find yourself on board the epic Intruder spaceship, looking out of its massive viewing window where the movie trailer plays. Check it out here.