Virtual Reality 2019
A whole new world: Virtual Reality is a tool for the art world and beyond
Jeffrey Alvarez waved his hands around while holding on to two controllers. He’d take a step forward, two to the side and another in the other direction. His hands waved out in front of him.
It was enough to make one wonder what he was doing.
Jeffrey was not demonstrating the latest dance craze. Rather he was using the new Vive HTC Virtual Reality headset and tools acquired by the Commercial Art and Multimedia class.
“I just love this,” Jeffrey said. “I don’t know why.”
With the goggles on and the controllers in hand, Jeffrey moved around a virtual world until he found “Mr. Froggy,” a digital character in the game he was playing. He and the frog moved around this new world, climbing up and down the sides of structures and jumping from one rooftop to another.
When Jeffrey, a student at White Plains High School, got bored with this adventure, he used the Virtual Reality tools to travel, making stops on the moon, taking a closer look at a solar eclipse from outer space, and visiting the Himalayan Mountains before coming closer to home with stops in New Rochelle and even the campus for the Center for Career Services in Valhalla.
Onlookers could track his progress as he moved from one area to another via a computer monitor.
“It’s fun,” José Mendez, a student at New Rochelle High School, said of using these virtual tools, while he watched what his classmate was doing.
Shamar Harris, who also attends NRHS, was also watching.
He was hoping the tool would become the centerpiece of the classroom.
“It’s mostly helping us think. You can print out screen shots of your work,” Shamar said.
Students, José said, can use it for not only their art work but for designing clothing or animation.
In order to use the Virtual Reality, users put on large, heavy goggles. They also hold two controllers in their hands, which are used to manipulate movements on a computer screen. The person using the Virtual Reality tool sees a virtual world they must navigate. Users see the world in 3D, while others can watch their movements on a computer screen.
“Things are coming at you, you are walking into a cabinet with the goggles on,” Shamar said.
Teacher Damian Powers said it does take some time to get used to wearing the goggles and learning how to move through the virtual world while moving through the real one at the same time.
“Once you get a feel for it, it’s intuitive,” he said.
José sees the potential in using this type of technology.
“You can really create anything. The only limit is your imagination,” he said.
“It’s going to be the future,” he said.
As students use the Virtual Reality on different projects, José is in the process of putting together a user manual for future Commercial Art classes.
“With Virtual Reality, it gets you out into a different world,” Mr. Powers said.
Students use it along with a software program called Tilt Brush, which is provided through Google.
“You can draw and sculpt in a virtual world,” Mr. Powers said.
The future of the technology, as he sees it, is it will become even more interactive.
“It’s no longer one-dimensional,” Mr. Powers said. “It’s a little disconcerting because you are in this different world. Because it’s unsettling, you have to become more familiar with it. Then it can be hard to separate.”
The one downside Mr. Powers sees with the technology is it could diminish the “hands-on, tactile” work an artist does.
“I encourage students to still create with a pen and pencil,” Mr. Powers said. “Then bring that into the virtual world.”
Whatever preference a student may have, hand drawing their work, designing on a computer or using Virtual Reality, this technology is only going to become more common and popular.