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Love Yourselves: VR experience

This is a VR project for raising the public's awareness about judgement against women's appearance.

360-view

The text doesn't shown up well in the 360 video but it looks fine through the VR and screen-based view. 

Screen-based view

Project Planning

This is a 6 months VR project: 

3 months for planning, organising the proposal;

3 months for making, launching the VR experience and user testing.

Week 1

  • ​Finalising ideas

Week 2-3

  • Ethics application

  • Finalising storyline

Week 4

  • Replanning timeline

  • Work preparation

Week 5

  • Browsing & collecting assets (ie. environment elements, character models & objects) online

Week 6-7

  • Creating Unity scenes

  • Object/character modelling (if required)

Week 8

  • Looking for characters and objects animation

Week 9

  • Using timeline to animate and adjust the position of the assets

  • Creating outline for essay

Week 10-11

  • ​Adding subtitles & introduction

  • Adding voice and audio if required

  • Research for essay & complete introduction

Week 12

  • Add coding to switch scenes

  • Wrapping up the VR film

  • Exporting the VR film to Oculus

  • Research for essay

  • Complete method & methodology

Week 13

  • User testing

  • Complete literature review

  • Create development blog

Week 14

  • Analysing data and complete essay

  • Complete development blog

  • Get everything done for submission

Working progress

There're 4 steps in building this VR project: 

Research & ideation

The idea of this project is from a work that I have done in my 2nd year, which is an activism immersive project – WOMEN ARE JUDGED BY THEIR APPEARANCE. This is a Unity game experience which enables the players to interact with the characters from a first point of view. It’s aimed to stop people from judging women’s appearance by allowing the audience to undergo as a victim. As this project is also an enhancement of one of my posters work, the whole project is called "LOVE YOURSELVES".

(click the underlined text for more information)

Numerous research has been done before and during producing the VR project to ensure that I have understand this social issue very well. This has helped me to get inspiration on what should I build for my final major project and having a concept on how should me storyline be.

Creating storyline

The storyline of this VR project is about a girl who’s unconfident and insecure about having a birthmark on her face. No matter how hard the main character is trying to look good on her appearance, her birthmark still lowers her self-confidence and has caused her to have social anxiety and isolation from people around her. As a plot twist, she feels overwhelmed by the love and kindness around her. People surrounding her are not as bad as she thought but they’re trying to make friends with her by treating her well and talking with her. 

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In addition, in the last scene of the whole VR film, the main character’s senior, Sofia is a person whom the main character admired. The main character likes the way she looks, her personality and how she treats the main character in their workplace. However, although she looks perfect in her appearance, she’s suffering from harassment in the office. At the end of the story, the main character has stood up bravely to help Sofia from her struggle. This is formed to alert the users, especially women that this common problem shouldn’t be ignored by people and action must be taken if they find something isn’t going on the right path. This story setting aims to remind people that it’s normal to be imperfect and that we shouldn’t use people’s beauty standards to judge anyone, including ourselves.

Design & produce VR experience

In the beginning, I’m not familiar in uploading Mixamo’s animation to Unity, but thanks to Miss Buket providing me a useful tutorial to solve all my questions. It has taught about the usage of Unity such as animator controller tool, keyframe animator and timeline. While arranging the animation with Unity timeline, I’ve met a lot of trouble and technical issues. For example, the character has disappeared or moved away from the initial position after hitting play. Luckily, it’s not hard to solve it after seeking help from my lecturers. I would just need to create an empty parent for the object and add a rigid body component but untick the gravity. 

(click the underlined text for more information)

I've never used the software Blender before but I'm forced to use it to adjust the hands posture. The assets that I installed online are in Blender file and it could only be edited in Blender. There're 2 kinds of rigged hands in the VR film, which are teenage girl's hands and adult woman's hands.

The picture on the left shows the teenage girl's hands which appear in the park scene. It's made to ensure that its in a holding love letter posture.

These hands are shown in the office scene, and they have been edited in 2 postures: resting pose and stopping pose. The players could find the difference of the main character's emotion by looking their own hands.

Moreover, switching scenes in Unity required a C# script to function as the picture shown. This code is given by one of our lecturers, Mr Ashley Brown and the tutorials that given by him are all very helpful for my current project.As I wanted to create a fade in effect in every intro of my scene and a fade out transition before switching every scene, I used a tutorial about making UI to look good to achieve my requirement. The reason why I insert all the effect one by one is because Unity doesn’t have this effect in their software so that I need to create all of them on my own.

(click the underlined text for more information)

Creating a VR film is somehow similar with a usual 3D game experience, but the exporting steps and format are different. I’m very glad to have Mr Jaimz to help me export my project. In the beginning, Android Studio (AS), which is an external software that we downloaded cannot be opened and the VR project couldn’t export successfully. After several testing, I found that the AS has been installed in a wrong version, and it works well after reinstalling it. Other than that, the canvas with text and subtitles aren’t showing properly on the Oculus headset but it looks fine in the game view. I tried a few methods to resolve it and I found that ??? overlay would not work on Oculus so I need to change it to the specific OVR camera and also adjust the canvas distance from the camera.  

User testing

The initial draft of the questionnaires is more focused on the users’ opinion and life experience on this social issue, which require the users to describe in detail. After reconsidering my aim and objectives, the current survey form is mostly asking about the player’s watching experience their awareness on this issue after watching the VR film. 

I'm quite surprised with the reaction and feedback that given by the user testing's participants. Most of them are very happy with the VR film and has piqued their interest on taking research about this social issue, and explore more about VR from the Oculus headset.

At first, I thought we're supposed to exhibit our work in a showcase for user testing, but in the end I found that we need to do it and find some users to test on our own. This sudden change does not affect my development progress and planning a lot as I still have some time to manage.

How I feel...

I'm glad to have such a great opportunity to do what I want before I graduate. Although it's a tough task, I still make it till the end! I can proudly say that I'm a game developer, filmmaker and also a digital media designer! I realised that my working progress is not following the timeline that I previously made, and this reminded me that I should work harder and pay more attention on my time and plans management. My supervisor, Miss Buket had been worrying about my work during the development progress, but I'm grateful to have her all the time. She has trained me on creating something that I didn't think I can complete and gave me a lot of helpful suggestion to enhance my project to another level.

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