Japanese Tea Ceremony VR Experience: 11.11 – 11.15 Progress Report

Japanese Tea Ceremony VR Experience: 11.11 – 11.15 Progress Report

Recap: For the final project in the Immersive Environments course (ACCAD 7103), I’ve decide to continue the virtual reality experience created by Sara Caudill and myself.

Goals

I’ve prioritized the following to further build upon the experience with my current skillset:

Environment
-Garden environment to welcome the user to the tea ceremony experience
-Provide an option for the user to enter the narrated “Guide Mode” or “Free Mode”
-Rebuild the sliding doors and create transparency in the paper

Lighting
-Create realistic interior and exterior daylight

Sound

-Realistic nature sounds for the garden
-Narrations made by Sara: The introduction into the tea room from the wall scroll + directions for making the tea
-Sounds from the objects when colliding with the table and other objects

Then, there are the things that are aspirational at this point and include new skills that I have yet to learn:

Interactions/Animations
-Incorporating water and its interact-ability; Being scooped from the kettle into the the teacup
-Matcha powder appearing when it’s scooped and creating tea when combined with the water from the kettle

I’m assuming that these involve some semblance of animation in Maya (such as the water pouring) and a series of hiding/showing the animations based on trigger interactions (showing “tea water” when the matcha and water are within distance of each other). But again, I’m guessing without an idea of where to start.

Progress

So I was able to make considerable progress in terms of lighting and the environment. I built a terrain and created a garden with swaying grass and trees.

I’ve also added an audio source with nature/forest sounds:

I’ve also used baked lighting from point lights for the tea room interior, making it look considerably more natural than in the first iteration. I positioned the lights to highlight the main points of interaction, the wall scroll and the table.

Before (First Prototype)
After

The sliding screen doors were previously images mapped onto cubes. I rebuilt them in Unity and made the “paper” slightly transparent to give the user a small preview of the tea room.

Although I’ve yet to test them, I’ve also added scripts and audio sources to the objects in the tea room. For the wall scroll, I’ve added a script where if the player enters the collider attached to the wall scroll, it would trigger to play Sara’s narration. For objects such as the tea bowl, I’ve added a script where a ‘clink’ sound would play on collision with the table or other objects. There is also a sliding door, conceptualized similarly to the wall scroll, for the user to enter the tea room from the garden. But I will consider separating the garden and tea room into different scenes. It may also provide an advantage in adding a mode menu for the user at the entrance from the garden to the tea room.

Challenges

One of the main issues had been side-loading my experience onto the Quest to test. When I was able to finally test on the Quest, using the terrain and its animations attached to had significantly slowed down the experience and created lag. At the suggestion of the instructor Shadrick and fellow colleagues, I will build the project on the available Oculus Rift moving forward. And for the sake of a faster experience, I may replace the terrain with a more compact skybox (although I am concerned for the loss of the subtle presence in the moving trees).
I’ve also lost the interaction of the hands/controllers when testing my experience, so I’ll have to investigate this further when I start testing on the Rift.

Remaining Tasks

Environment
-Garden environment to welcome the user to the tea ceremony experience
(Consider Skybox replacement)
-Provide an option for the user to enter the narrated “Guide Mode” or “Free Mode”
-Rebuild the sliding doors and create transparency in the paper

Lighting
-Create realistic interior and exterior daylight

Sound

-Realistic nature sounds for the garden
-Narrations made by Sara: The introduction into the tea room from the wall scroll + directions for making the tea (In Progress)
-Sounds from the objects when colliding with the table and other objects (In Progress)

Interactions/Animations (Tutorials Needed)
-Incorporating water and its interact-ability; Being scooped from the kettle into the the teacup
-Matcha powder appearing when it’s scooped and creating tea when combined with the water from the kettle

Other
-Build and develop using Oculus Rift

*BONUS IDEA*
I told my advisor Maria about this project and she posed the question of making the experience multi-sensorial. This could entail:
-the smell of the grass and a gentle breeze blowing on the user as they start the experience in the garden
-the scent of fresh flowers or incense when they enter the tea room
-an emergent aroma of matcha as they’re making the tea
-finally being presented with tea after removing the headset

So there is definitely an opportunity to increase the level of immersion for the tea ceremony. But I’ll focus on my core chores for the remaining time of the project and revisit the idea later.