Introducing our featured artists

Reality Decks comes bundled with 10 tracks from some outstanding featured artists.

Inside the Playlists section of the app you will find tracks from a variety of genres covering house, techno, drum and bass and future bass.

Tracklisting:

  1. Andrew Consoli - Before We Touchdown
  2. Andrew Consoli & CSR - Prima
  3. Clement Spark - More Than That
  4. Dinosaur XS - I'm Hangin On
  5. Fuzzy - Modulate
  6. grownuplife - Present Tense
  7. Robot Riddims - Skynet Party
  8. Sabiani - Expanse
  9. Sabiani - Pyro
  10. Yesterday - Pinch (Peter's DnB Remix)

Check out the featured artists page to find out more about these artists and links to more of their music.

 

Philip Mackenzie
Reality Decks - Out this week!

I'm delighted to announce that Reality Decks is being released on the Oculus Store this week, 22 February 2018!

See below for the official trailer and here are the product specs that will appear on the store:

A new era in music technology begins. DJ, record and create in VR without physical audio gear.

Load your own music files as virtual vinyl or get started quickly using the 10 bundled tracks from featured artists.

6 instruction videos guide you through the basics. Includes 5 specially recorded tracks for learning/practice and 25 vocal hooks for scratching.

Record a DJ mix using only your Oculus headset and touch controllers while watching yourself perform in the DJ mirror.

In-app videos:

  • Introduction to the basic controls
  • Headphones
  • Playlists
  • Turntable fun with vocal hooks
  • Slip cueing
  • Beat matching basics

Features:

  • Virtual headphones with spacialised audio
  • Real-time waveforms
  • Vinyl grooves created from audio
  • Create/save/edit playlists
  • Coarse/fine precision controls

RDT-100 Turntable: natural direct drive/brake/slipmat modelling, heads up display, +/- 8% pitch, 33/45, power, scratch and spinback

RDM-100 Mixer: 2ch, 3 band EQ, gain, faders, crossfader, record, cue/mix

 

Philip Mackenzie
Reality Decks v1.0 - Store Version

I just shipped the final store version of Reality Decks! Here are the release notes - more details on the official launch soon!

Reality Decks v1.0
New content: 6 videos, 10 featured artists tracks, 5 practice tracks and 25 vocal hooks
Fixed bug whereby cue button did not work reliably
Fixed bug that caused buttons to double fire when a finger moved too far through them
Fixed audio noise when rolling record backwards past beginning of track
Fixed problem with record button changing position
Fixed bug whereby sliders did not feel natural when hand moved out of range
Fixed bug whereby vinyls not highlighting when hand close
Fixed frame drop when hitting record
Fixed playback of mono audio files

Philip Mackenzie
Reality Decks Beta 0.9

Reality Decks Beta 0.9 released today. I cut versions 0.7 and 0.8 internally but they had mixed branding which was a bit confusing, so this is the first beta update of 2018...and we're very close to a 1.0 for general release :-)

v0.9
* Now has playlists, add/remove/edit with on screen keyboard
* New fine touch control for knobs and sliders, use grip for coarse (highlights red), use trigger for fine (highlights green)
* For scratching you can now use the grip when touching the record - allows you to move your hand away while still manipulating the record
* Now ships with music from featured artists and practice tracks
* New branding and 3D logos
* Significant performance improvements
* Menu can be operated using standard Oculus menu button

Known issues:
* Artwork on vinyl temporarily disabled
* Sometimes frame drops when hitting record for the first time
* Headphones drop to the floor before returning to default location
* Occasional audio artifact when rolling the record backwards past the beginning
* Heads up display sometimes shows track position moving without needle on platter

Philip Mackenzie
Reality Decks Beta 0.6

I’ve just pushed out Reality Decks 0.6 to our beta testers. Here are the changes:

  • Scratching or playing with the vinyl should now feel more natural (e.g. try a spinback/spin forward while record playing)
  • Fixed an issue whereby some avatar eyewear disrupted the view
  • Fixed frame rate judder when loading a track or browsing large folders
  • Fixed some audio glitches
  • Artwork disabled on the record temporarily as it was causing some frame rate judder

I’ve spent lots of time over the past few weeks refining the core audio engine of RD. Sample accurate signal processing code can be grueling!, throw in low latency requirements and syncing to 90fps, it’s certainly been one of the more challenging parts of the project but also one of the most rewarding to see it now working well. In the process I’ve been able to develop some unit testing techniques built around mathematical principles rather than just listening for audio anomalies which means I’ll have a much better regression testing framework going forward. I’ve also been able to simplify the code greatly. I hate impenetrable signal processing code done in the name of performance, so I’ve put lots of time and thought to getting this part of the engine neat and easy to change in the future.

Huge thanks to the beta testers who have been feeding me a with a constant stream of feedback, bugs/improvements and encouragement! The only major issue I know of right now that requires a restart of the app is that occasionally someone’s touch controller will start to vibrate and never stop. I haven’t managed to reproduce it yet so didn’t manage to get it fixed for this release.

That’s it for 2017, will 2018 be the big year for VR?, see you on the other side!

Philip Mackenzie
Reality Decks goes a bit more public

Last week I decided it was time to go a bit more public on Reality Decks. I posted a video on reddit showing a first person view of me DJing.

I beat matched two of my favourite tracks (that I used to play out lots in my Electro Swing sets!). This gave people the opportunity to see lots of the practicalities of DJing in VR, e.g. grabbing a record, cueing up the track, using the headphones, faders, eq, etc.

The response was fantastic!, better than I had hoped and since then I’ve been inundated with messages, feature requests and people signing up to try the beta.

So far beta 0.5 is holding up well. During development I’ve been testing RD on two computers, a PC and a Dell Alienware laptop. Despite them both running Windows 10, having a 1060 GPU and similar CPU, I still experienced bugs that only manifested themselves on one computer and not the other. So I just wasn’t sure whether a bunch of ugly bugs might appear as people tried it on different configurations. So far so good.

The feature requests are rolling in with people interested in everything from having 12 decks, virtual crowds, and some more complex audio equipment in there as well as many small workflow improvements. I’m collating it all and once we get the first version out we’ll be starting to build these out.

Philip Mackenzie
New beta version

I’ve just released a new beta version 0.5 of Reality Decks with the following changes:

0.5
Improved UX from beta testing feedback – UI bigger, easier to read long album titles and remembers your selection
Headphones no longer disappear into mixer
Performance improvements
Can now deal with corrupted audio files
Bug fix to headphone/hand attachment
Bug fix whereby records got lost when left on the table

This is the first build to address the first issues noticed by our beta testers – thank you all for taking the time to give it a spin and writing our your feedback.

The app has proven quite robust on different hardware and random music collections which is awesome. Most of the issues so far are usability, which is to be expected as VR is hard to get right in this area and everyone has a different idea of what right is! Hopefully this release goes some way to address these – in particular for the file browser. It should now be much easier to find your tracks.

Philip Mackenzie
Beta Programme and Teaser Video

It’s been a busy month for Reality Decks. We’ve been working very hard on finishing the app and are finally ready to launch our beta programme!

If you’ve got an Oculus Rift/Touch and want to participate just e-mail your Oculus ID to phil@realitydecks.com

More details on the release coming soon, but for now here is a new teaser video…

Philip Mackenzie
Oculus Connect 4 – Good news for DJs

This week the Oculus Connect 4 took place in the Valley. This is where Oculus make all their announcements.

It has felt like an uncertain time for virtual reality. On the one hand it’s been positive with a flood of new headsets on the way. But meanwhile the incumbents like Oculus and HTC Vive have been the subject of negative press with reports that sales figures are massively under performing. So it was an important week to see how Oculus would respond.

The message from OC4 was loud and clear. Zuckerberg is 100% committed to VR and has set Oculus and Facebook a goal of getting 1 billion people into VR.

They announced a new lower end self contained headset, the Oculus Go and gave more information about the Santa Cruz project which is a completely standalone high-end headset. This means for both devices you won’t need a PC, just charge it, connect to WiFi and use VR anywhere.

These are exciting developments. The lower end headset priced at a relatively reasonable $199 (£199 in the UK) is likely to address much of the fumbling about you encounter when trying to use your phone for VR (e.g. Gear VR and variants). John Carmack (Oculus CTO) calls this reducing the friction of VR which I think is a good way of looking at it. A device like this may well have a similar effect to the iPad making it quick and easy to do tasks that feel overkill or awkward on a PC, phone or laptop.

The higher end device is extremely exciting, especially for Reality Decks. They have announced some fantastic looking controllers which look like they’ll work really well for DJing.

I’m really excited about running Reality Decks on a device like this. This means us DJs will be able to take our turntables, mixer, entire music collection and personal nightclub anywhere in the world with us.

It’s a great time to be alive!

Philip Mackenzie
What is Reality Decks?

So lets give some more detail about what Reality Decks is all about.

Reality Decks gives you a completely virtual DJing setup. Apart from your virtual reality equipment, you need no DJing hardware whatsoever in order to mix music.

 

FrameAnimationDJ.gif

When you put on a VR headset you see virtual turntables, a mixer and headphones. You’re in a virtual world, a private night club we call the sphere.

Reality Decks can load music from your hard drive and each track appears as a 12 inch vinyl which you place on the turntable and play. I love the idea of having virtual dubplates without the hassle of cutting them!, and so in Reality Decks each track appears as one 12 inch.

Our aim has been to make this feel as close as possible to a physical turntable. You can move the tonearm, move the record while playing, scratch, adjust the pitch, spin back, slow, nudge, select 33 or 45rpm, even throw away the record if you don’t like it.

The mixer should feel very familiar to DJs. You’ve got standard controls for gain, EQ, fader for each channel. A cross-fader and headphone controls let you cue and mix with precision.

We’re very excited about the headphones. Early on we didn’t quite have an answer on how to cue up a track, i.e. how can you cue up a second track while listening to the first. After much experimentation we realised that the best way was to create virtual headphones. So in Reality Decks you can pick up the headphones and hold them to your ear as you would in the real world. We use spacial audio techniques so that the sound appears to come directly from the virtual headphones. The result is that you can move around the headphones, from ear to ear, or even put them on your head and you’ll hear what you would expect when DJing in the physical world.

screenshot_172900_040035-cropped.jpg

We’ve gone to extreme lengths to make Reality Decks feel as lifelike as possible. We’ve been through many iterations of each possible function on the turntable and spent months on the details. We’ve also road tested with DJ and non-DJ friends alike and had to go back to the drawing board many times on simple things like pressing a button! I think we’re finally settling on something that feels as natural as possible.

I’m really looking forward to having more of you try it very soon.

Philip Mackenzie
Realities Centre AR/VR Demo Night

Last night we demoed Reality Decks for the first time in public at the Realities Centre AR/VR demo/pitch night.

They had quite a decent sound system so we plugged Reality Decks into the house desk and got the the music on as people arrived at the venue.

IMG_1268-smaller.jpg

 

There were lots of interesting pitches from people working on a variety of VR/AR projects from tools to healthcare. I spoke briefly about my journey so far developing Reality Decks, demoed some capabilities and invited people to try it for themselves. We had lots of people keen to get on the decks and a few non-DJs even managed to do a decent job of beat matching!

IMG_4251-1024x768.jpg

I’ve found that for VR it’s immensely useful to watch people interacting with your world. They always surprise you whether its a novice or advanced VR user. Last night was no exception and we got tons of useful feedback from seeing people operating the decks, twisting knobs on the mixer and browsing for music.

Thanks to Tom and John at the Realities Centre for having us and to everyone who tried out RD on the night.

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Philip Mackenzie
Welcome

18 months ago I tried VR for the first time and was blown away by the experience. We all knew VR was coming at some point, but the real thing was better than I imagined. As most people do, I started to brainstorm about all the amazing possibilities of this new medium.

Meanwhile I was running short of space for my music studio and DJing setup at home (I DJ and produce as Phil Mac). When I had a gig coming up I'd have to pack away some studio gear to make room for the decks to practice! It occurred to me that perhaps I could create a DJ setup in VR that I would be happy to use instead of my home setup.

It also occurred to me that if I could get the decks right then a floodgate of possibilities would open; in particular DJing in different spaces (Ibiza?, the local pub?!) and creating lots of weird and wonderful equipment without having to physically build it.

I got an Oculus Rift and started with a bunch of experiments in Unity. I got a basic turntable working, tried some different spaces and started to build out the core of a low latency audio engine that would work well in VR. I soon realised that it was not only possible to do this, but it's also ridiculously good fun to DJ in VR! Reality Decks was born.

Since then the project has taken on a life of its own. I'm working on it full time now and have Kat helping me with 3D modelling. Together we're working really hard to get a beta version finished and out there for you to try.

Phil

Philip Mackenzie