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How To Create Original VR Content: Everything You Need To Know

If you want to learn how to create virtual reality (VR) content, look no further!

VR content is created through an authoring tool used by a developer or development team. VR content is created through these three steps.

  • Step 1: Create an outline, program goal, and detailed flowchart for the program. This establishes the steps a learner will experience and where the visual elements will be placed.
  • Step 2: Create assets that meet your learning goals, like 3D modeling, 2D graphic design, video elements, and voice over.
  • Step 3: The developer loads these assets into the authoring tool, writes custom C# scripts, and makes the project playable on its intended platform (VR headset, computer, web, etc.). 

Organizations can choose to have their VR content developed in-house with their own team and equipment, or outsource this work to an external source.  

Among high-consequence industries, 45% of people consider VR simulations important for achieving business goals. 

With VR training on the rise, the ability to create custom VR content has never been more critical. When developing a VR learning program, creating content in-house or through an external vendor can give your program a customized edge that ensures your organization’s specific learning goals are met.

You may be asking yourself, “How can I create my own VR content?”

In this article, we’ll dive into what an authoring tool is, the three steps to creating VR content, and two real-life examples of how to create VR content.

What Is A VR Authoring Tool?

A VR authoring tool develops content, resources, and learner support and assessment for a VR program. VR authoring tools combine the visual elements, like 3D objects, 2D images, and 2D/3D texts, with programmed scripts that tell the headset and controllers what to do when learners interact in the virtual environment. These custom C# scripts provide interactions within the virtual environment and build the project into a playable program. 

The two most powerful and notable VR authoring tools are Unity and Unreal. Professional developers with high levels of training and knowledge use these two tools because they aren’t always intuitive; however, the quality and depth of the VR experiences they can create are vast, making their use worthwhile. 

How To Create VR Content

Creating VR content typically involves these three steps.

  • Step 1: Create an outline and goal, then turn it into a detailed flowchart with clear learning objectives. In this stage, instructional designers and L&D teams craft a flowchart that maps out the steps learners will experience and understands how visual elements will create a simulated environment.
  • Step 2: Create assets that meet learning goals. These assets include 3D modeling, 2D graphic design, video elements, and voice over. During this step, assets must be created that align with learning goals.
  • Step 3: Developer writes custom scripts and makes the content playable through authoring tools. The last step in creating VR content is developing custom C# scripts for interactions that build the project. This way, the project becomes playable on the intended platform (VR headset, computer, web, etc.).

These three steps can be developed in-house or outsourced. The main differences are saving time and having access to expert experience. If you are building a team in-house, you’ll need a developer, programmer, and 3D artist at minimum. When you outsource, you can access more experienced professionals, but may have to pay a higher price. Whether you create a program in-house or outsource, it’s important to develop a VR program that aligns with your custom learning goals. 

Two Examples Of Creating VR Content

In-House 360° VR

Your organization can create its own VR content by recording a 360° video in-house. This is the simplest way to create VR content. By headset, desktop, or mobile device, 360° VR immerses your learners in an environment made from a recorded video. This video can be shot with an omnidirectional camera that provides a 360° view, which your organization may already own. 

Users are placed in a fixed location, can look around them, watch the recorded video, and make selections through hotspots and interactive buttons. For example, learners can develop their soft skills by navigating different social styles during HR training or work through troubleshooting products and repairing equipment by outlining step-by-step guides.

When shooting your 360° video, you should consider the following questions:

  • Is this location relevant to the learner’s experience?
  • How can you prompt the learner to look around?
  • How will learners access this video?

360° VR training programs typically range from $30,000 to $75,000 or more, but many factors can affect the price, including: 

  • In-House Budget for Instructional Design and Program — If you already have a budget for hiring an in-house instructional design team, you can better anticipate the cost of your 360° VR program. 
  • Filming — The video production, actors, travel, and other costs to film on location can cost $8,000 to $12,000 a day. These costs depend on the equipment and other production elements that an organization may already have. 
  • VR Headsets — VR headsets and their associated setup and shipping fees can cost well into the mid-hundred range. Cardboard headsets can be a more affordable option, or you can use other platforms like a computer.

Outsource Full VR

Your organization could partner with an outsourced organization to develop a Full VR learning program. Outsourcing your program can give you access to emerging technology solutions, like Full VR and augmented reality (AR). A Full VR program allows a learner with a headset to move freely and organically in a virtual environment and move objects. 

The main benefit of a Full VR program is that it allows for safe experiential learning for soft-skills and more complex technical processes. Your learners are immersed in a real-life simulated environment and are assigned tasks to complete that are custom to your organization. An example includes allowing your learners to practice properly stacking and wrapping pallets in a warehouse. This way, learners can avoid workplace hazards and won’t damage actual products.

A Full VR program typically costs more than 360° VR. With a Full VR program, you can expect to pay, on average, between $50,000 and $150,000 or more. The price of a Full VR program is affected by many factors, including:

  • Outsourcing Instructional Design and Programming — It can cost between $100 and $200 an hour to hire a 3D designer and anywhere from $150 to $300 an hour for a developer or programmer. 
  • Equipment Costs — You can expect to pay your vendor $500 to $1,200 per headset plus a setup and shipping fee of $150 to $200 per headset. The plus side is that working with a vendor can help an organization get a better deal and ensure that the VR equipment works appropriately upon arrival. 

How A Learning Partner Can Help

With an expert learning partner, you can create a comprehensive VR program that benefits your organization’s learning and development efforts. An expert team can positively affect your VR program in the following ways:

  • Scalability — You want your VR program to be scalable to ensure your learners can receive training from anywhere. Training programs can be scaled through an Extended Reality System (XRS), affordable equipment, expert instructional design, and more. 
  • Consistency — Training programs should be consistent. Regardless of the facilitator, learner, or location, training consistency is key to ensuring goals are accomplished and metrics are met.
  • LMS Integration — To have efficient management of your VR program, a learning partner can help you integrate an XRS into your existing learning management system (LMS). An XRS, like Mercury, can connect with your existing LMS, keeping your program on track. 
  • Set Metrics — A learning partner can help an organization set, collect, and interpret key training metrics. Metrics can be pulled from remote VR programs with an XRS that displays metrics in an easy-to-read online dashboard. 

Read More: A New World For Managing Extended Reality Training

At Roundtable Learning, we take several steps to ensure a collaborative partnership that delivers measurable results. We have a team of experienced instructional designers, graphic artists, and technology experts that can take your VR program to new heights. Our team can help develop learning objectives, solve business challenges, and create a customized, interactive program that accomplishes goals. 

No organization is the same in terms of their partnership and development process. Regardless of who you partner with, a partnership with clear goals will lead your L&D program down the right path.

Are You Ready To Create VR Content?

We’ve covered the necessary steps for creating VR content, two examples of creating VR programs either in-house or externally, and how a learning partner can help.

Now, it’s time to ask yourself, “Is my organization ready to develop a VR program?”

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