LancasterThrivingFallWinter2017 - 18


Rob Beal from RLPS
demonstrates virtual reality using
the firm's mobile VR station.
"There is something about this that evokes a lot more
response. People have cried. Often times, it's the first
time where they've seen where their support is making a
difference, and the reaction is powerful."

For HOPE, VR has been a powerful tool, helping donors to
better understand where their money is being put to use.

Though the experience is most immersive with the use of VR
goggles, HOPE also has the 360 videos available on their
website in a standard browser.

Two years ago, Rob Beal and a few of his associates at
Lancaster-based architectural firm RLPS approached the
firm's partners with a proposal to try virtual reality. The
proposal was approved and since then, virtual reality has
become a critical part of the workflow for several early
adopters at the firm. Though some customers have viewed
their projects in VR, Beal says the real progress has been
seen internally.

See the digital version at
to view HOPE's 360 videos.
Users can still pan and tilt, but are unable to switch chapters
of the experience. In this manner, the investment of creating
the content can be offset by the multiple distribution points.
HOPE has packaged their VR videos (there are currently four
experiences) into an app which is available on both iOS and
Android systems.
Tordoff feels that the investment into VR is in line with high
quality traditional video production, though acknowledges
that HOPE also purchased VR goggles for development
officers in the field. Either way, cost hasn't been a reason for
or against VR for HOPE. Rather, it's been to explore telling
stories in a manner altogether different from
traditional video.
"Because the user has a lot of control in what they see
and what they do, we've stayed away from being overly
descriptive and using VR for education. Rather, we want
the user to feel as if they've had a real experience. We're
less concerned with what they've learned at the end of the
experience and more interested in how it made them feel,"
he said. In fact, rather than an on-screen narrator directing
the viewer, HOPE has opted for a narrator speaking in the
background, further allowing the viewer to feel in control of
their experience.

18 | LANCASTERTHRIVING! | Fall/Winter2017


"We're using VR consistently for internal design meetings,"
he says. "We'll actually pull up the VR for review and then
make changes in real time." Beal feels that even architects
who are trained to be able to envision the world in 3D can
make better decisions with the help of a VR model.
Tim Checchia, a LEED Green Associate at RLPS, explained
that architecture has an inherent challenge that VR can
"Architects are tasked with using two dimensional tools
to create three dimensional buildings. Even for those of
us who've been trained to do this, VR allows us to quickly
understand the real-life implications of design changes."
RLPS has a dedicated VR station at their office, including
a large monitor, computer, goggles and controllers. The
station is built on wheels so that it can easily be moved
to wherever the assigned project team is meeting. That's
worked out well for RLPS, as adoption of the technology has
been swift but somewhat uneven.
"Some of our team want to use it on every project whereas
we have other architects that aren't interested at all. The

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of LancasterThrivingFallWinter2017

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