October 11, 2016

Enhanced “Senza Peso” VR Release & Interview Video

TLDR:

  • Enhanced “Senza Peso” VR mini opera released to consumer platforms (Vive via Steam, Oculus, Samsung Gear VR)
  • Interview with K&L co-founder Cory Strassburger on creative process for “Senza Peso”

Hey guys,

We’re super excited to announce the release of a richer, more detailed edition of the celebrated “Senza Peso” VR mini-opera. It’s available on the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, and soon for Samsung Gear VR (Wednesday, October 19th).

This is the Senza Peso’s VR consumer release, which has become an overwhelming favorite among our fans and also won the Proto Award for Best Score.

senza

This final edition is the most vivid, visceral opportunity to experience the beautiful operatic journey through the afterlife. Cory reworked a lot of the textures and geometry, enhanced the journey through some of the levels, as well as optimizing the code for higher frame rate and a better overall experience. We also ported a version to Gear VR, making Senza Peso available on a mobile VR platform for the first time. It’s going to be rerendered to take advantage of the new 4K 60 fps capability of Gear VR.

For those that haven’t seen it before, the lineage of Senza Peso began as a creative journey with the genre-defying “Love Project” musical collaboration, which inspired the surreal short film, and finally evolved into the VR experience — a unique domino effect of creative collaboration across artistic disciplines. It’s been a deeply personal and intense journey for Cory through all these stages.

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The new VR release will be available for Vive headsets on Steam, for the Rift on the Oculus Store, and for Gear VR on the Samsung VR Platform.

The Senza Peso Backstory
Today we’re also releasing an interview video with Cory on the creative process and inspirations for the Senza Peso VR experience with details on the new enhancements:

September 6, 2016

GE Neuro powered by AMD now on Steam

TLDR:

  • GE Neuro has been updated and released on Steam for the Vive & the Oculus CV1

In gearing up to the release of Senza Peso, we wanted to also put out one of our other favorites: GE Neuro done in collaboration with GE & AMD. You can go to the store page now and give it a run.

As a refresher, Neuro takes you on a journey through the mind of musician Reuben Wu who scored an original soundtrack to this experience. You travel through his imagination to the amygdala while listening to his original scored soundtrack.

GE Neuro Screenshot 1

Using Reuben’s brain scan, we created a portal into the human brain. One of my favorite parts of the experience is poking your head through the volumetric MRI scan and watching his neurons fire. Thanks to AMD’s pioneering virtual reality technology LiquidVR™, we were able to create this high-end visual spectacle while still keeping it running buttery smooth in VR. Mad props to photographer and DJ, Reuben Wu, for sitting 4 hours in an MRI machine so Cory could scan his neurological responses to his thoughts, ideas, fears and memories.

GE Neuro Screenshot 2

Will K&L ever create a VR experience without going through portals? ONLY TIME WILL TELL

GE Neuro Screenshot 3

Scientists breaking new ground in understanding how the brain works through advanced imaging technology

 

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August 18, 2016

Senza Peso resurrection!

At last Senza Peso has risen out of the DK2 ashes and resurrected through the lenses of CV1 & Vive!  Today at the Toronto Film Festival POP exhibit peeps will experience the rebirth of what I’m calling Senza Peso 1.5 and within a few weeks the fully refreshed Senza 2.0 will be available on Steam and Oculus home.  It’s funny how the “quick pass” of getting it working on the latest UE4 turned into rebuilding assets, textures, timings, and other things that I shouldn’t be spending time on but It looks a lot cooler and stands up to the new tech.  We hope you guys enjoy it…and with some effort I think I can convince Ikrima to brush the dust off his UE4 Plugin and capture it for gearVR!  Of course we’re talking 3 levels deep of Inception time so it might be a while!

Screen Shot 2016-08-17 at 11.50.50 PM

GE Neuro Updated

Our GE Neuro experience is also hitting Steam and Oculus in the next few weeks so check it out if you haven’t already.  It was quite a fun VR project we created for GE last year where you shrink and enter the imaginary mind of a musician.  AMD came onboard with their latest and greatest hardware / software so we could push the visuals to the max.

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New Digs

Many of you guys know we spent the last year in Europe to escape the noise and get deep into the creative on our new VR game Bebylon.  We’ll we’re back in Los Angeles and set up shop right at the beach and even have some talented new folks coming on board to help us realize our ever growing Bebylon vision. And thanks to the massive reinforcements by our investor team we’re getting medieval on the production and have some fun details and BTS on all of this rolling out very soon.

Cory

Bebylon Mo Money
July 26, 2016

We Raised $2.5m Seed Round Lead By Raine Ventures For Bebylon

TLDR:

  • To the fans: THANK YOU
  • Raised a $2.5 million seed round from Raine Ventures, Courtside Ventures, Comcast Ventures Catalyst Fund, Social Capital, Outpost Capital, Boost VC, & Jason Rosenthal, CEO of Lytro.
  • Bebylon Battle Royale is secretly more than a game…shhhh!
  • We’re hiring! Our new office is right on the beach in LA

The Origin Story

We want to break from the typical seed round funding announcement convention and direct this post to all of our fans and people who’ve helped this two man team along this crazy VR journey. (Contrary to popular belief, K&L has been only two people full time this entire time 😉 )

TheCave_OneSheet_01

Three years ago, we tried our Oculus DK1 headsets for the first time. We didn’t know it then but it was in that moment where we decided that we were going to work in VR for the rest of our lives. We spent the entire weekend discussing VR: how it was a cinematic medium for unbridled creativity, how we can meld magical interactivity moments, and how to create inventive storytelling.

The next two years were a blur of a blitz in the wild wild west of VR. There were a small smattering of us huddled in small meetups sprinkled all over LA. I kept thinking, this must be what it felt like to be part of the early days of the Homebrew Computer Club except now we would convene at small SVVR/VRLA meetups, on /r/oculus, and even IRC.

Kite & Lightning Station

We spent this time nervously and excitingly burning through all of our savings while having some of the most fun and challenging times of our careers experimenting in VR: from pioneering stereoscopic live action with realtime CG  to our fan favorite art house mini opera Senza Peso.

Senza Peso Space World Screenshot

And because of the awesome appreciation we had from the VR community, we had clients like Lionsgate, GE, AMD, & NBC reach out to us to create VR advertisements. This let us keep the lights on while having complete creative control and a sole focus on creating amazing VR. But without the fans, we wouldn’t have been able to get to where we are today.

Insurgent VR Mekhi Phifer

The Future: Raised $2.5 million funding

Looking to the future, we always said that we wanted Kite & Lightning to be a place that was the spiritual child of Valve & Pixar. And to help us achieve that, we found an amazing group of investors who have been following us from day 1, fully committed to VR and most importantly, believe in our long term creative vision of creating dazzlingly beautiful worlds driven by storytelling.

We’re happy to announce we’ve raised $2.5 million dollar seed round lead by Raine Ventures. Additional investors include Courtside Ventures, Comcast Ventures Catalyst Fund, Social Capital, Outpost Capital, Boost VC, & Jason Rosenthal, CEO of Lytro.

Bebylon Battle Royale: A Gentleman’s Game

Lord Cylon

So what are we doing now? We’ve been cranking away on Bebylon Battle Royale: A Gentleman’s Game. If you haven’t heard, BBRAG is a VR party brawler where you play as selfie stick wielding immortal babies beating up each other.

But we’ve been keeping a big secret about Bebylon under wraps since it’s inception:

Bebylon City Map

We’re actually building an entire virtual world!

While the Smash Bros-esque game is the fundamental core of BBRAG, we always envisioned a world that you could immerse yourself in. We want to create this amazing comedic world where you can craft your own personal character, cheer/boo/support your friends as a live audience member in the gladiatorial stages, or explore the world of Bebylon, from the shows it has to offer to the characters that inhabit it.

Basically, we want to create a mini-Sword Art Online…except in comedy…with adorable narcissistic babies….who love trolling each other.

With the new funding, we’ve doubled our team size (from 2 to 4 :P) with some exceptionally talented folks and we’ll continue to be hiring. We’re looking for multidisciplinary contractors or full timers who love to wear a bunch of hats and work in a bunch of different areas: programming, game design, art, producing, etc. So if you’re interested in working in VR with some scarily creative & smart folks, email us at hello@kiteandlightning.la. And, the nice perk is that our new LA office is going to be right on the beach.

We couldn’t be more excited about what’s to come and can’t wait for you guys to partake.

Finally, I want to give a big special thank you shout out to some people who have been crucially helpful to us over the years and especially during our fundraise process: Mark Linao from Technicolor, Jeffrey Greller from WME, Maureen Fan from BaoBab, Austin Clements from Ten One Ten, and Tom Sanocki from Limitless Entertainment.

InternetOfImages
February 24, 2016

Software Royale

and Introducing S&M Fridays

We all love the megatroplis called the internet, particularly it’s inhabitants of artists & technicians who fill it with wonderful things. For decades I’ve plundered this treasure for inspiration, information, insights, how-tos and everything in-between and lately i’ve started feeling little tinges of guilt…  so it’s with this guilt and mountains of appreciation i’ve decided to create S&M Fridays and actually “try” to give something back on a regular basis.  Time will tell if my duo of guilt and gratitude can topple my seemingly boundless procrastination!

 

appDoc

Everyone seems to like software, me included, so to warm up I decided on a boring but easy run through of software I’m using to evolve the creative world of our game Bebylon. Beyond the usual software, we all know finding the right program for this or that task can be a fucking constant annoyance.  Especially if your like me, extremely picky about every nuance of how an app fits my work style and more importantly, how it feels to spend time in…  does it inspire me to want to use and so on.   So the following is the results of years of hunting with a few new discoveries, though what I really dream about is a team of programmers who can write exactly what I want.
Hopefully a you’ll find a few nuggets.

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November 2, 2015

Bebylon Battle Royale

After 3 months in stealth mode, we’re excited to announce we’re making a wild VR comedy game called: Bebylon: Battle Royale, A game of Vehicular Melee Party Brawling!

So if you ever dreamt about possessing the body of an eccentric superstar baby driving a Rolls Royce hovercraft armed to destroy the giant ego of your baby opponent in front of screaming fans… we have the perfect game world for you;

A perfect game world is after all not a jolly round of chess in the park, or shuffleboard with the neighbors. It’s a dirty, rotten showdown; a monumental roasting of egos, a fan-screeching, game of greed, status, envy, humiliation bombs, sucker punches and bitch slaps. It’s the uncontrollable desire to crush your opponents self-worth into a vaporous ash! It’s the battle to be the richest most badass beby in Bebylon.

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August 31, 2015

Download GE Neuro + UE4 360 Stereo Render Plugin Details

Ride The Mind Of A Musician

TLDR: Download @
DK2: https://share.oculus.com/app/neuro
Note: 0.6.01 Runtime Required!

We’re excited to publicly release our latest VR Experience: GE Neuro – a musical journey through the human brain.

Working with GE, we created an experience that draws you into the musical mind of Ladytron member and DJ, Reuben Wu. With a jolt of magical tech you shrink to nano scale and enter Ruben’s brain like a Tie-Fighter entering the Death Star. Reubens musically powered imagination is the warm up world which leads you into a beautiful visualization of his amygdala surrounded by neurological responses to thoughts, ideas, fears and memories.

Reuben composed an original score for the experience and stands before you in VR as a full CG digital double. You even get to peer into his actual brain via a volumetric MRI scan he was gracious enough to endure!

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May 13, 2015

Senza Peso VR: Open Sourced

TLDR: Download @
UE4.5 Project: 
https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/kitelightning/SenzaPeso.Clean.DK2.Src.UE4Marketplace.zip

Hey guys,
We’ve been wanting to do this for awhile but we’re finally releasing the UE4 Senza Peso project!

We want to give back and by sharing the Senza Peso project, we hope others can learn and use some of our techniques to make even awesomer VR. We want to accelerate how quickly VR enters the mainstream and the fastest way to do that is by fostering and sharing the learnings we’re all discovering in these early days so more people can create stellar content.

We wanted to release it on the UE4 Marketplace for maximum exposure but it proved too complicated since each major revision of the engine broke the project. So instead of waiting until the video support stabilizes, we’re going to just release it out in the wild.

Some quick release notes:

  • Senza Peso was built in a mad dash and our first project using UE4 so keep that in mind if you’re learning UE4 (e.g. *don’t use it as a guide for best practices*)
  • This version of the project is built against UE4.5. YMMV for any other version
  • Music has been removed b/c of licensing rights
  • The UE4.5 version of Senza has a worse performance profile b/c of having to use the still unstable built-in movie playback support. The original version had a custom movie playback plugin that was pretty sweet.
  • All the code for the Stereo Billboards is packaged in there as well (probably the most useful part for a lot of people since we get that request quite a bit. Again, code is prototype/exploratory quality but has the relevant bits to extract out)

Hopefully this will inspire other people to create some amazing VR experiences and in turn, share their awesomesauce!

Cheers,
Cory & Ikrima

P.S. If you’re coming to SVVR Expo in May, let us know! Maybe we can round up people to go for some drinks

K&L-Station-Poster-image-02A
April 22, 2015

KNLStation/Batcave: DK2 Remix

TLDR: Download @
DK2: 
https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/kitelightning/KNLStation-1.1-x86.zip

Hey guys,
We’re ramping up on our next project, our upcoming UE4 Stereo 360 Export, and Alembic Importer plugins, but we wanted to re-release an old favorite: a DK2 Updated version of the K&L Station + Batcave!

It’s crazy to think that only a year ago, we released the KNLStation to our newsletter of 194 subscribers. A year & a facebook Oculus acquisition later, we just crossed over 5000 subscribers.

It’s still just the two of us working full-time but we wanted to thanks: to all the people who’ve helped us along the way and to all of you guys and your support! We couldn’t have done it without you.

So take a trip down VR and re-enter a mashup of Hugo, the 5th element, and Batman…in High Def!

Cheers,
Ikrima & Cory

P.S. If you’re coming to SVVR Expo in May, let us know! Maybe we can round up people to go for some drinks

ShatterReality_MED
March 10, 2015

Download Insurgent VR: Shatter Reality

Be a Divergent in Insurgent

TLDR: Download @
DK2: https://share.oculus.com/app/insurgent-shatter-reality
Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.lionsgateapp.cb_insurgentvr
iOS: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/insurgent-vr/id971609992?mt=8
Gear VR: Oculus Home on GearVR

Hey guys,

I’m excited to finally be able to share with you guys what we’ve been working on for the past 4 months – our first movie tie-in VR experience!

How would you like to be a character in a scene from a blockbuster movie? This was how Lionsgate approached us back in September when they asked us to create a VR experience for their upcoming Insurgent movie.

Since the movie revolves around a VR simulation tie in, we thought it would be perfect for VR and right up our alley – combine cinematic narrative with surreal and epic visuals. Lionsgate’s support allowed us to film the principal talent such as Kate Winslet & Mekhi Phifer on set during film production. We also got a chance to introduce them to VR with Senza Peso.

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