- by John Luxford
This update focuses on usability improvements and bug fixes, making Flipside feel a little better all around.
Pressing the menu button (above the thumbpad on Vive, left controller menu button on Rift) now hides the palette menu, or if it's already hidden recalls it to your hand. If a recording is in progress, it continues to stop the recording as well before recalling the menu.
This should also help a few edge cases where users have experienced the palette menu disappearing. Pressing the menu button ought to recall it if it ever disappears.
Camera moves can now be controlled with two new settings: Camera Movement Speed, and Camera Easing. Movement speed determines how fast the camera moves between positions, and easing lets you choose whether the moves are linear or use one of a couple dozen easing options.
In addition, all cameras can now be grabbed and moved around, including using the thumbpad to zoom in and out, not just the handheld camera. To activate a camera position, grab it and press the trigger if it's not active.
Flipside already imported cameras embedded in your sets into Flipside's camera system, but now we've added the flexibility of Unity's new Cinemachine camera system as well. Any Cinemachine virtual cameras also become camera positions in Flipside, complete with all the capabilities that Cinemachine has introduced in Unity.
We looked through all of our shared characters and sets and realized we've reached over 100 shared characters and over 50 shared sets! And that list is growing daily. There's lots we can do to improve our categorization and browsing, but as a first step we've added a new Featured category as the first category under both characters and sets, so we can highlight specific ones for new users.
We don't see the Featured category as just about showing the "best" but rather about showing what's possible, so we're always looking for characters and sets that add something new or make a great example of a particular feature.
We hope you enjoy this update, and stay tuned because we have more updates already in the works!
- by John Luxford
Back in July, our CTO gave a talk at TEDxWinnipeg 2018 about how avatars are changing our sense of identity, and how VR and AR are quickly bringing about this change.
The video of the talk is now up for everyone to watch, so check it out!
- by John Luxford
We've got a fun new Wild West theme for you, including a collection of 6 Wild West characters and a Western town set complete with interactive props like guns and bottles. You know, Western stuff.
Bennett the Judge
Billy the Kid
James the Floating Head
Travis the Floating Head
Ethan the Cowboy
Harvey the Banker
This is Flipside after all, so naturally there's a bit of a twist.
Travis the Terrible was off robbing a train when James the Gentleman caught wind of his plan and devised his own plan to steal the spoils. Two plans collided with the steel of the train, and they both ended up in a pinch - literally!
Fortunately, the town doctor was close by and was able to save them, from the neck up at least. Now Travis and James get around in fancy glass jars that keep their head's alive, and with a little help from the town blacksmith they even have shiny new mechanical hands to help them go about their days with some degree of independence.
No Western town would be complete without a Saloon, but there's also the Trading Post, the Bank, the Jail, the Barber Shop, the Grand Hotel, and more. So saddle up for a drink, then head out on the town in search of a duel, or some partners to go prospecting for gold. They say there's gold in them hills!
Look for the new set and characters under the Historical category.
The town is based on the Western Pack by Synty Studios. The characters are based on the Toon Western Characters Pack by Parramon Paidotribo. All modifications and setup, such as the floating heads, facial expressions, lighting, and set interactions were made by Thomas Murphy.
- by John Luxford
The latest Flipside update is out, and has some cool additions as well as a few core bug fixes.
Grab any object while in Director Mode and its movements will be animated as if the object was moving on its own. This makes Director Mode into an invisible character that can still affect the scene.
Note: To enter our experimental new Director Mode, press Alt + D on your keyboard (same goes for exiting Director Mode too).
You can now upload 360 videos under Skies in your Creator Dashboard, and they will play in Flipside. 360 videos are also synchronized with the start of recording and playback in Flipside, so you can use them as part of your show productions.
360 video attribution: DCL Digital Construction Ltd.
Flipside supports monoscopic 360 videos only at this time, with resolutions up to 4K. Performance can be impacted on really high quality videos with high bit rates, so be sure to review the recommended specs in the Skies upload form.
In the 2D camera switcher, there's a new settings icon that opens a settings panel. Here you can enter your slideshow links, teleprompter text, Twitch channel ID, and other settings.
Your slideshow links and teleprompter text are automatically synced with your account, so you don't have to update them through your Creator Dashboard as well.
Shadows are costly on performance, and performance is a no-compromise situation in VR due to simulator sickness. For that reason, we left shadows disabled in order to support minimum specification VR setups. But some users have higher powered rigs, so we've added settings to let you control your shadow settings.
You can choose between no shadows, hard shadows, and hard + soft shadows, and you can also adjust the shadow resolution from low quality to very high.
Just like the slideshow and preview monitors, we've added a screen that shows you your computer screen in Flipside so you have a window into the outside world. This makes it easier to do things like stream your games as your character, without needing a complex green screen-based setup.
Known issue: The desktop view may not work on first launch and just show a flat grey. The solution is to relaunch Flipside and it should work after that.
The Flipside Creator Tools have been updated to version 0.13. You can find info to install or upgrade here:
We've been working with the folks at Wolf3D to integrate their avatar system into Flipside, and while Wolf3D is still in closed beta, the import process into Flipside is now completely automatic.
We've added a ScreenElement component which replaces the main material on an object with either Flipside's slideshow or main output. This can be used to animate TVs and other objects with screens.
- by John Luxford
This project was made from start to finish in just four weeks, including:
This was a great test of what Flipside can do as a real-time animation tool for filmmaking, and we learned a ton of things that we'll be sharing in future posts and also using to make Flipside even better.
- by John Luxford
Director Mode is an experimental new feature that makes you an invisible director, hiding you from both video output and motion capture recordings. Director Mode also lets you move and scale the world with your hands like you can in Set Builder mode.
Moving and scaling the world while recording makes it possible to capture shots from any angle, and even move the world with one hand and the handheld camera with the other to simulate jib arms and other complex shots. So many new possibilities!
Press Alt + D to toggle Director Mode on/off.
Now when you enter Set Builder mode, you'll see your character disappear and your hands replaced with controllers, so you can see you're in Set Builder mode. This will help make more precise placement and interactions easier too when arranging your sets.
The Flipside Creator Tools have been updated to version 0.12, and include some really cool changes too.
The Flipside Creator Tools are now in their own window in Unity, instead of appearing as an overlay to the Scene window. This avoids problems where the Scene window may be too small, cutting off visibility of some of the Creator Tools buttons.
In the Flipside Creator Tools menu, choose Open Creator Tools to open the new window. You can dock it anywhere in the Unity layout that works best for your workflow.
The new Animation facial expression mode triggers Unity animations to control facial expressions. This not only makes bone-based facial expressions possible, but anything the Unity animation system can do too!
It's also saved us a ton of time importing characters with bones but no blend shapes. Double win!
Learn more in our user manual about connecting facial expressions to Unity animations.
Any auto-playing animations and audio sources in custom sets will now be synchronized to restart on Play, Record, and Add Role, and to pause/resume when playback is paused too, so they stay in sync with recorded parts.
Any cameras that you add to a custom set are now automatically added to the Flipside camera system. You can even attach animations to cameras to achieve any camera movements imaginable.
Trigger your own custom Unity events in your sets! Unity events can do things like enable or disable objects, trigger sounds and animations, particle effects, and more. There are three new ways of triggering Unity events in your sets:
These changes open up so many new possibilities for interactions on sets, and we can't wait to see what you guys do with them!
- by John Luxford
Pixels was a live animated improv show by the internationally acclaimed improv duo Stephen Sim and Caity Curtis. They used Flipside Studio to create an animated show in real-time in front of a live audience, wearing HTC Vive headsets to perform the characters while the audience watched on screen.
It was also the first public test of our upcoming cross-platform multiplayer that's going to completely change the way we make animated shows forever.
They sold out 9 out of 10 shows at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival 2018, and the response was incredible! The opening night of the festival experienced severe thunderstorms, so a big thank you to those who braved the weather to see the show that first night.
Stephen and Caity had a dozen different characters and a dozen different locations they could choose from, as well as any of the characters and sets created by our community, which resulted in some hilarious moments.
The sets were simple photograph backdrops, and the characters were all ordinary people, but it became immediately apparent when the first live audience members gasped at the opening of the show why this was something truly different.
There are several things that real-time animation makes possible, whether for live theatre audiences, live streaming audiences watching from home or anywhere, or both.
Virtually unlimited locations you can jump to at a moment's notice enables you to take your show anywhere, including to dynamically react to the audience's suggestions and reactions.
Locations can also be dynamic themselves, like the driving scene shown above. As you can see, we've barely scratched the surface of what storytellers are able to do now as a result this technology.
Just like locations, an actor can instantly become any character of their choosing to augment the experience of the show.
Improvisers have always had to inform the audience through verbal or physical clues as to what their character's role was, but now for the first time they can become that character in an instant.
Creating instant immersion like that frees improvisers to go deeper and explore new directions that were only previously possible through elaborate stage design and costume work.
The director can also dynamically affect the production as it happens. With the power to control cameras and more, the director can present the audience with something more akin to an edited TV show or movie with dynamic shots that theatre could never do live before.
Picture not just actors as part of the stage performance now, but also virtual camera operators getting close-ups and otherwise impossible shots, and still others animating environmental elements of the scene like lighting changes, sounds, moving props, or animals.
Real-time animation gives superpowers to improvisers and sketch comedy troupes, turning them into real-time immersive storytellers. With the democratization of motion capture brought about by the combination of consumer-ready virtual reality hardware and software like Flipside Studio, real-time animation is going to explode both online and off.
All of this also brings a level of audience participation to animated content that only live theatre could do before. Suggestions can come to life right before the audience's eyes, and audience members can even be invited "on stage" (live or online) to be part of the experience.
And as computer graphics continue to make leaps and bounds over the coming years, real-time animation is also going to grow to encompass every style from the Simpsons to Toy Story, and even photorealistic animation like Planet of the Apes or Avatar.
There will always be new worlds and new stories to bring to life, and for years that's been getting faster and faster to do.
Now, it's instant.
- by John Luxford
Meet the new Crocodile and Lion characters. Along with our existing Elephant and Giraffe characters, these two round out our jungle characters collection nicely.
We've added a Vlogger Living Room set you can use to quickly make vlog-style recordings. This set is already setup with cameras and everything so you can jump right in and get creating.
HTC Vive users can now press the index finger trigger to switch between open hand and pointing hand poses, making button pressing easier and adding more expressiveness to hands.
When you're in VR for long you can easily lose track of time. Our new clock prop will help you keep track of time back in the real world.
We've added the ability to scale preview monitors just like you can with ordinary props. Just grab a monitor with two hands and make it any size you want.
We've also made loads of small fixes and quality of life improvements throughout the app:
- by John Luxford
Hey there Flipsters!
Here's another update we think you're going to love, so let's jump right in!
We spent a ton of time honing our lip syncing and we're finally ready to unleash the results of those efforts. With some clever hacking, Flipside's lip sync responsiveness is now more than double what it was in previous releases!
This is a huge leap forward for improving the quality of Flipside's output, and will make a noticeable difference for everyone.
This is another feature that's been requested several times, and it makes a big difference in using the handheld camera. Just press up/forward to zoom in or down/backward to zoom out. It feels very natural to use.
Thanks again to all our users. We're working hard to bring a level of polish to everything in Flipside in order to make your productions faster, smoother, and better.
Every week we say this, but we're still just getting started. There's so much coming in time that Flipside is only going to get better and better until it's just the most natural way to create animations, period. So thanks for coming on this journey with us!
The Flipside Team
- by John Luxford
As you may remember, we recently renamed our company Flipside XR from our former name, The Campfire Union.
As The Campfire Union, we experimented a lot with VR as a medium to really understand its strengths, constraints, and particularly, its creative potential. We experimented with everything from games, to virtual relaxation, training, and 360 video, but we just kept coming back to what we all were outside of VR, artists and performers.
Officially, we started Flipside in spring of 2016, but its conception goes much further back than that. All the way back to Peg Jam 2014 in fact, where Les and some friends made Party Sketch 3D, which is kind of like Tilt Brush meets charades (the charades concept would become one of our first experiments in Flipside).
In 2015, we ventured into our next creative VR experiment with a dance / music performance app called Lightshow. Lightshow was inspired by art forms like fire spinning, poi, hooping, and gloving. Lightshow recorded your dance movements and people could watch your performances over the web.
Lightshow was made on the Oculus Rift DK2 with a pair of Razer Hydra controllers. Because the Hydras used electromagnetic sensors, they used to freak out when you moved your hand too close to the metal edge of our whiteboard, which happened a lot because we were crammed into a tiny little office back then.
We learned a lot from that experiment, let it stew for a while, and turned that learning into Flipside about a year later by combining the performance elements of Lightshow with the basic multiplayer code from our Lost Cities VR game, which was midway through development at that time.
Here's a video of Les and John demoing Flipside in May 2016:
You can even see Lightshow's light streams on my hands in the Flipside demo around the 0:50 mark. But this time, we had also decided to focus more on characters, because we realized that the performer is at the center of any performance. We knew we needed to go deep on characters, so we started down that path right away in Flipside.
The next thing we built was Flipside's Magic Pencil, which lets you draw your own props and use them to improvise. We even built a timer and a random drawing suggestion that would appear only for the person in VR, and we played a big guessing game with the Winnipeg Alternate Reality Club (our local AR/VR meetup). Super fun night!
We definitely knew we had a long road ahead to achieve our vision for Flipside, but that's life for what was then a team of four people bootstrapping a startup with service work, creating a 360 video experience with the CMHR, and finishing their first VR game (with multiplayer no less!). So I'm rather proud of what we accomplished that year :)
Here’s the earliest blog post we could find about Flipside:
That was also the year that Les won a whopping $100,000 pitching Flipside in a local pitch competition, which was the spark that enabled us to shift from service work to working on Flipside full-time. That led to us joining Boost VC’s Tribe 9, where we met lots of other awesome sci fi startups (as Boost VC likes to call us), and a seed funding round in 2017.
At Boost, we met San Francisco comedian Jordan Cerminara and created a YouTube series called Earth From Up Here together, about an alien newscaster named Zeblo Gonzor who delivered weekly updates about the strange things happening down here on Earth. That show proved what people could do with Flipside, and helped us learn from working in collaboration with a writer and actor to help shape and improve the app for future users.
Fast forward to March 2018, we were finally ready to take all that learning and share it with the wider VR creative community. We first released Flipside in early access on SteamVR and soon after on Oculus Home as well. The positive reviews and the response was amazing!
Since then, we’ve made over a dozen updates with tons of improvements and new features to help Flipside’s creators. Custom character and set importing evolved into shared characters and sets. Our early camera controls evolved into a complete in-VR camera switcher (and we have lots more up our sleeves too).
Most recently, we brought Flipside on stage in the form of a TEDxWinnipeg talk that John did in June about how virtual avatars are revolutionizing our sense of identity. And hot on the heels of that, we partnered with local improv duo Stephen and Caity to put on a live animated improv theatre production called Pixels that uses Flipside to render the show in real-time as they act it out in a pair of HTC Vive headsets. The show opens for 10 days starting this Thursday, July 19.
It's safe to say that at this stage of VR and AR (or just XR), no one knows how to define an "XR show" or "XR entertainment" yet. We have some examples of it, but we've barely scratched the surface (just like two years in, we’ve barely scratched the surface of what Flipside is going to grow into).
And certainly no one company should solve that all by themselves, either. We don't live in an echo chamber, and we're going to discover more and faster if we all put our heads and hearts into it.
That's why our philosophy centers around the believe that the more the merrier in figuring that out. It's a big world, and we believe there's room for all our voices as we discover how to create beyond reality’s limits, together.
Join us in discovering new formats, techniques, and rules for storytelling in a whole new immersive medium.