Looking at the Future of VR with Ronald van der Weijden
When you slip on that VR headset, prepare yourself for the same capabilities of a time machine. At least, that's how Ronald van der Weijden explains it, and we can't help but agree, especially when you think of the experiences VR can bring. As the Creative Director of 360Creators, a virtual reality video production company, Ronald's able to create empathetic experiences, bring you back to life's special moments, and help businesses imagine and grow.
Hello! Can you tell us about yourself and why you’re passionate about VR?
I left my home city six weeks ago to start living as a digital nomad.
I'm passionate about VR, because it's a new technology that amazes people. I love to show people what is possible today and how this can help them. VR is this medium that's like a time-machine: you can step inside and travel through time and places once it's being created. You can create worlds to tell your story.
What’s the mission driving 360Creators?
To amaze people with cool technology all around the world and stay creating new cool things.
Tell us about some of your favorite projects with 360Creators.
One of them is the VR Autism experience which I created with my friend Fallon Elkerbout who was graduating in her study of Applied Psychology. It's an experience where you step inside a person having autism. You're sitting alone in a room counting things and then people come inside the room. You'll notice how overwhelming it is that people start talking to you. And what is all happening around you, like sounds of doors that close, footsteps and cutlery being set up for dinner. You'll get to a point where your heartbeat is getting to the max, and all you want is to escape the situation. With this experience we've shown a lot of people what it's like having autism. Family and friends of people with autism now have a better understanding and act differently now.
Another project is VR Weddings where I record people's weddings in 360° VR so that they can travel back in time using the VR headset. But I wanted to offer something cooler, so I came up with the idea of a VR Wedding Room. That means that on the evening of the wedding, guests can step inside the VR Wedding Room. You put on the VR glasses together with your friend and you'll both see the ceremony at the same time. So if you weren't attending the ceremony earlier that day, you can still be there in VR and see how nice the bride's dress was. The reactions of the people were mind-blowing. And that's exactly what I'd love so much to do.
Where do you think VR is headed?
Beside VR Wedding Rooms, VR is mainly a solo experience where one person puts the VR glasses on and enjoys the experience. That's cool, but most of the fun is hard to share with anyone else. If you're wearing VR glasses, it's just people around you watching you experience it.
But VR is heading towards a more social experience. For example Facebook Spaces. In there you can enjoy 360° VR content together at the same time and see each other as avatars. At the MWC (Mobile World Congress), HTC Vive showed a multiplayer zombie game, and I was able to shoot zombies in VR together with three other people in the same room! There was also a company called BroomX, which creates VR projectors so you don't have to wear VR glasses at all! After the MWC I met them at their office and I was able to try my own VR content inside.
Communicating about what you see in VR is making the experience much more fun and so you'll be enjoying VR content much more.
What brings you to Barcelona, and what do you love most about the city?
I needed a country with nice weather. And a large city where a lot of things happen with preferably a beach. So that brought me to Barcelona.
Barcelona is this city with so many open-minded people and where there's so much happening. And at the same time they're always Tranquilo Tranquilo (take it easy).
What inspires you, and how do you find inspiration on a regular basis?
Open minded people inspire me the most. And I find a lot of them in Barcelona. I'm living in a coliving space, working in different coworking spaces via Croissant, going to different meet-ups via Meet-up, Eventbrite and Couchsurfing. And keep up-to-date with Facebook groups and other social media. So I keep meeting people and inspiration. And after a few months I start in another country and start all over again.
For me it's not the question how to find inspiration, but how to organize all the inspiration and make the coolest ideas happen. So I'm creating MVP's (Minimum Viable Product) to test which ideas work and which don't. One of the newest MVP's is organizing a workshop with Brenton Cooper (who I met last month via Facebook group) called how to create your own 360° VR videos so I can share the knowledge with others here in Barcelona.