You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Mindshow Wants to Help VR Users Make the Next ‘South Park’

Three years ago this week, visual effects veteran Gil Baron joined up with virtual reality (VR) pioneer Jonnie Ross a handful of other VR enthusiasts to build the nascent medium’s version of Final Cut Pro. But a few months in, the team threw all of its preconceived notions about serious production tools over board, and instead opted to just go crazy — complete with fart jokes and talking Twinkies.

Instead of the Final Cut Pro for VR, Baron, Ross and their co-conspirators ended up building Mindshow, an animated storytelling tool for VR that currently works with HTC’s Vive headset. Mindshow lets users easily pick avatars and record short skits by acting them out while wearing VR headsets. “If you tell stories in VR, you should do it from within VR,” said Baron during a recent interview with Variety.

And if you already have the ability to be an animated character, why not be a green-skinned alien, telling lewd jokes to a drunken audience in a VR comedy club? “Ridiculous nonsense is actually the best place to start,” Ross said.

Mindshow had been in private beta for the last couple of months, and already attracted following of dedicated fans. Some have even begun to upload their creations to YouTube, where a few genuinely funny clips have attracted hundreds of thousands of viewers. Earlier this month, the company publicly released the Mindshow app on Steam as part of a so-called early access release, and the number of video productions have gone through the roof ever since. “We can no longer keep up with the volume of content being created,” said Baron.

The Mindshow software gives creators a number of avatars, sets and props choose from. “Everyone has the same set of virtual Legos,” said Ross. Scenes can be played out and edited over and over again, giving one creator the chance to play multiple characters. What’s more, any video shared within Mindshow can be remixed by the community, leading to recurring themes and running jokes.

Mindshow’s software is still very much a work-in-progress, and the company wants to keep developing it with input from the community. Future features will include the ability for multiple users to act at the same time, and possibly also a real-time component that could be used for live streaming.

Animation created in real-time for a worldwide audience — that’s something Baron couldn’t have imagined when he began
working in visual effects in the mid-nineties. His bio includes a 13 year stint at the visual effects powerhouse Method Studios, but his goal for Mindshow was always to go completely the opposite way, and make it a tool that allows anyone to produce animated content. “For creative people, this gives them superpowers,” he said. “I wish this existed 20 years ago.”

Ultimately, Mindshow wants to enable a new generation of creators who aren’t just using technology for technology’s sake, but reach an audience far beyond the world of virtual reality. Said Baron: “The question is: Who is going to create the next ‘South Park’ in their Mom’s basement?”

More Digital

  • Magic leap Is Hiring to Build

    Magic Leap Plans to Expand to Mobile AR

    Magic Leap is getting ready to embrace augmented reality (AR) on mobile devices. The company is currently looking to hire a senior software engineer for mobile AR, who will be tasked with “expanding Magic Leap’s platform to mobile devices,” according to a new job listing. A Magic Leap spokesperson declined to comment. Magic Leap released [...]

  • Microsoft

    Microsoft Hints at Mixed Reality Update for Mobile World Congress

    Microsoft may give us an update on its Mixed Reality ambitions at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona next month: The company sent out invites for a press conference Wednesday that list Alex Kipman, who leads its augmented and virtual reality efforts, among the speakers. Kipman will speak together with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and corporate vice [...]

  • Sinclair Enters Streaming Arena With Local

    Sinclair Enters Streaming Arena With Entertainment Bundle and Local Channels

    Sinclair Broadcast Group is diving into the increasingly crowded streaming platform arena with the launch today of Stirr, a free OTT entertainment bundle offering local news and general entertainment, sports and lifestyle channels. Sinclair aims to leverage the near-national reach of its sprawling station group with its strong local presence in markets across the country [...]

  • variety digital innovators

    Variety's Digital Innovators 2019: The Trailblazers Pushing Media Boundaries

    A decade ago, when the streaming-video revolution was in its infancy, the internet was more complementary than disruptive to Hollywood. Those days are gone. New platforms have risen up as Silicon Valley players have bulldozed onto the scene, and the media biz is rebuilding the ways it reaches audiences. With the inaugural Variety Digital Innovators [...]

  • MODEL RELEASED Hand holding iPhone with

    Netflix Q4 Preview: Price Hike Signals Strong Year-End Quarter

    Netflix is feeling its oats with a price hike across all streaming plans in the U.S.: Coming just two days before it reports fourth-quarter 2018 results, the timing of the fee increases may indicate the company will report a big beat on Q4 expectations. The streamer is scheduled to report earnings on Thursday, Jan. 17, after [...]

  • IMDb UnMade - Rainn Wilson, Nick

    Amazon's IMDb Launches Original Series 'UnMade' About Comedians' Rejected Hollywood Pitches

    IMDb, the Amazon-owned entertainment database, has premiered its latest original show: “UnMade,” featuring Rainn Wilson, Nick Cannon, Kristen Schaal, Reggie Watts and other comedians discussing early pet projects that were never produced, until now — sort of. In each episode, one of the guest comedians recounts a project they created and pitched back when they were [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content