Last month at San Diego Comic Con, I fulfilled my childhood (and let’s be honest, current) dream of stepping inside a NickToon. In Nickelodeon Entertainment Lab’s Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles VR Interview Experience, I interacted with turtles Mikey and Donnie—voiced live by series talent, Brandon Mychal Smith and Josh Brener, respectively.

I stood against a green screen, selected an avatar (I chose Arnold from Hey Arnold!), put on an Oculus Rift headset, and was transported onto a New York City rooftop. I inhabited a 3D form, but as I looked ahead, I saw two 2D turtles.

I interviewed the characters in real time, and their movements perfectly corresponded to their answers–there was no discernable lag. Given that AI isn’t able to match the conversational speed and nimbleness of real humans just yet, companies like Oculus are experimenting with using live actors in their VR experiences to approximate in-person interactions.

However, this was the first time I’ve experienced a live melding of 3D and 2D worlds in VR. Behind the scenes, this “magic” was made possible by four computers, two puppeteers, two voice actors and a team of eight people running the various stations.

(The crew were all wearing ninja bandanas, naturally). Adobe Character Animator, Epic Unreal Engine, and NewTeK NDI were all used to create the interview experience. Read more from…

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