How We Managed an xR Prototyping Lab This Summer

How We Managed an xR Prototyping Lab This Summer

This semester, a team of MDM students have formed an xR prototyping lab. Rather than being paired up with an industry client for the semester, they are being matched with 5 different clients on a series of 2-3 week rapid xR prototyping sprints.

The idea is to adapt existing rapid development processes in order to rapidly prototype VR, AR, MR and hybrid reality projects.

The initiative is meant to serve as a practical benefit to those considering development in the xR space and the documentation and research that comes out of the lab is intended to support xR initiatives in BC and the rest of Canada.  

The team’s project manager Samantha Yueh is documenting their experiences throughout the summer. Read Part 2 and Part 3 here.

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Team xR is a rapid prototyping team with a goal of finishing each project in two weeks—one sprint per project. No one in the team has experience with 2 week rapid prototyping projects so it will be a big challenge in terms of project management. How do we manage a two week sprint project?

One of the goals of this project is to let the team self-organize, in other words, team members have to assign tasks to themselves. Another goal is to fully understand what rapid prototype is.

We are a 7 person team with diverse backgrounds. We are 3D artists, animators, 2D artists, concept artists, UI/UX designers and programmers. We also come from different countries and different cultural backgrounds. Each team member will have a main role and a sub role in order to complete each project and to also develop new skills at the same time.

Patrick arranged a kickoff meeting with all four clients. It was our first time ever having multiple clients in one meeting.

I was in a panic when I heard "four clients at the same time! In one meeting! TOGETHER!" I had never facilitated multiple clients at the same time before. It was worried that it would be crazy and intense. However, Patrick helped to facilitate and organize the meeting. I learned how to actually use an agenda in the meeting and how to be a good timekeeper.

Sam & Andy discussing SIAT's project.

During the kickoff with the clients, we got a chance to better understand the projects and agile statements helped us understand each clients’ problem:

The first client is Small Stage, which is a live dance producing company. They combine art and technology through their performances. Together with Small Stage our goal is to prototype an Augmented Reality (AR) pipeline to show one or more ways that virtual dance can be presented in a public space and to used AR markers to present a virtual dancer to complement a July performance and also act as a marketing tool.

The second client is Virtro, a game development company. With diverse characters, voice actors and stories, Virtro develops a different experience for users. Virtro is one of the best female-led companies, with a diverse point of view and an experimental approach to prototype development. They have built an AR street-fighting-like game and the goal is to prototype an Augmented Reality pipeline to try to improve the look/feel of the game aesthetics, and give it a reason for being an AR game.

The third client is UBC Film and Theatre in collaboration with Arts Club Theatre. UBC prepares their students for future careers, including set design, costume design, sound design, acting, directing, theatre production, teaching, curating, filmmaking, arts administration and writing. The goal is to prototype an Augmented Reality (AR) pipeline to show one or more ways that set designers can use AR to show their work prior to stepping into the theatre.

The fourth client is SIAT. Combining immersive, bio-responsive, and transformative experiences with Virtual Reality (VR) one of the reasons for this project is to give back to humanity and society in a positive way. The goal is to prototype both a pre-VR experience with Bernhard Riecke’s SIAT grad students and a VR pipeline of a specific water environment that will allow users to have an informed presence in VR.

Programmers brainstorming.

After our clients introduced their projects, Patrick grouped us with them based on our skill sets. We collaborated and tried to understand the goals of each client. Before the kickoff meeting, we thought it would be a disaster because we didn't know how to handle four clients at the same time. However, it turned it well and we left understanding the big picture of each project.

Next: Read Part 2 and Part 3 here.

Read more about the MDM program launching a xR prototyping lab.