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Virtual Reality - The Real Thing

Two Flemish companies lead the way in the latest thing to hit the entertainment business: Virtual Reality 

New technology has been one of the main drivers in Flanders’ economic growth, and the film and animation business has been no exception. In Mol, Wilfried van Baelen of Galaxy Studios is designing new sound software specifically for Virtual Reality (VR). And Antwerp-based Cyborn is spearheading the region’s drive into the VR field, with work ranging from games and a Star Wars franchise to an App for a children’s hospital. “You can walk around the hospital and have realistic 3D doctors come and talk to you,” says Cyborn boss Ives Agemans. “It’s a way of trying to prepare kids for operations so they are less stressed. And that will help their recovery. It’s a great cause, but it’s also an interesting way for us to use our system to invent really realistic characters in VR.”
Antwerp, says Agemans, is a good place to be for this. “In Flanders, there’s a lot of money for future technology. And it pays back really quickly. The busier you are, the more people come to you for jobs.” It is, he insists, a win-win situation.


Virtual reality test at Cyborn Studio, Antwerp

In Flanders, there’s a lot of money for future technology. And it pays back really quickly.
Ives Agemans - Cyborn

Equally committed to establishing Flanders’ lead in the VR field is Wilfried van Baelen, who invented Auro 3D, the “first truly immersive 3D sound system” which adds a vertical stereophonic field to the left ear/right ear horizontal set-up that limits other 3D sound systems. Auro 3D is now standard, from Hollywood mixing desks to the stereos fitted to top-of-the range Porsches, with much more yet to come. VR is also very much on van Baelen’s to-do list, he says, since the existing sound set-ups are so disappointing. “When it is all so close to your ear, it is even more obvious that the sound does not match what you see.” To show what can be done, he is currently co-producing the first narrative Hollywood movie in VR. He cannot, he says, reveal details, but the result will be out for all to see later this year. “The biggest challenge is to make VR more real,” he says, insisting sound is 80% of the solution. “Without doubt, our sound is more natural.”

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