Kids’ workshop using Mozilla Hubs

About me

Hi, my name is Liudmila Bredikhina. I’m a virtual intern at GREE VR Studio Lab, and I’m a Master’s Degree student at Geneva University. I’m currently majoring in Asian Studies, and I research Japanese Virtual Beings, such as VTubers.

Introduction

From August 8th to August 16th, KIDS’ WORKSHOP2020 (https://www.roppongihills.com/en/sp/workshop/2020/) was organized by Mori Buildings in Roppongi, Japan. This year, there were 36 workshops of 24 different types (online and offline). GREE VR Studio Lab participated in the KIDS’WORKSHOP 2020 with an online workshop in Hubs called “Let’s study about Live Entertainment production in WebVR!”. Kids were offered to experience cutting edge live entertainment production using the “Mozilla Hubs,” and while wearing a 3D avatar. You can see kids playing together and talking to one of the staff members in Figure 1. Kids could make VTuber-style videos with researchers and creators from all around the world. The event was streamed live on YouTube.

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The program

Let’s study about Live Entertainment production in WebVR!” was separated into two sessions, each having 14 kids. Kids connected to Zoom, where they were then guided to the virtual venue. Once they arrived in Hubs, the workshop staff taught them how to move, change their avatar and name. Children were then separated into teams and encouraged to discover the virtual environment with their new “buddies.” Akihiko Shirai, Toya Sakaguchi, and I demonstrated how to create a 60-seconds video for family members or loved ones. Kids were then given a bit of time to prepare their short video messages with their buddies before recording.

In Figure 2, you can see the teaser video that we made for this workshop. Our goal was to promote and explain the workshop with a teaser. Mori Buildings also made a video report about all the workshops (Figure 3). You can get a good impression of the workshop by watching the teaser and the report video.

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Goal settings as a workshop design

Our goal for the workshop was to create a virtual environment for hubs’ simultaneous learning. Kids could experience cutting edge live entertainment production in Hubs while wearing a 3D avatar and make VTuber-style videos. As I will explain in the next sections, our other goal was to develop a step-by-step spatial method for simultaneous interactive learning in Hubs. We had two goals: provide kids with an entertaining workshop, and create a technical method for hosting such a workshop.

Participants

As mentioned above, there were fifteen children per session. They were between 9 and 15 years old. The ratio between female and male participants was 1:1. Children's’ parents could help them during the workshop.

Mozilla Hubs space and “Sugoroku” method

We created the virtual space in Mozilla Hubs. The background photo was virtual Roppongi with the Tokyo Tower. We wanted to design a step-by-step spatial method for this workshop. We organized the space into three zones: the first zone was used for introducing the workshop, the second zone for preparing the video script, and the third zone for filming the video. To advance to the next zones, kids had to finish the zone they were in. We designed the virtual environment to adapt to kids’ different participation speeds and needs. We called this spatial network method — “Sugoroku.”

“Sugoroku” is the name given to a traditional Japanese board game invented several centuries ago. There are two forms of “Sugoroku”: one similar to the Western backgammon, and the other identical to our snakes and ladders. Both ways of the game are famous for their network organization: the board is divided into distinct zones played one after another. In other words, the player has to follow a particular path to achieve their goal. We adapted the network play system of “Sugoroku” to Web3D conference spatial design. We designed the virtual environment into three zones, as you can see in Figure 3: zone(1) introduction and character design, zone(2) scenario design, zone(3) filming area. Once kids completed each step, they moved to the next zone.

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Audio

One of the issues in Hubs is cross-talk. People can hear what other people are saying on the opposite side of the virtual world, and it can be of a nuisance. Unfortunately, in real-time processing, environmental effects were not possible to implement. To resolve this crosstalk issue, we used “Linear” in PannerNode. PannerNode is a spatial audio model available in Spoke, the program used to create Mozilla Hubs rooms. We adjusted the audio volume based on the distance between dynamic moving users. We also controlled the speed of volume reduction. The essential conversational voice was set to a linear model, and the endpoint of the attenuation was set to 15 m, which was based on the radius of the zones. Kids could speak freely, and we resolved the cross-talk issue.

Conclusion

Not only did we develop a step-by-step method called Sugoroku, but we also reviewed the spatial audio system in Hubs. Moreover, children learned how to navigate in a virtual environment during a collaborative learning experience. At the end of each session, children took a photo together (Figure 4).

As for personal impressions, I was a bit nervous about the workshop, as I have never participated in this event. We rehearsed the workshop procedures several times, and I was starting to feel more confident; however, things were different on the workshop day. Several aspects of the sessions were different between each session and others from the rehearsal. I was not expecting things to go that much different. The kids’ workshop served as an excellent experience to know that things might not go as were rehearsed and that you should be ready for everything.

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Web3D conference

We proposed a poster paper for the Web3D conference about the kids’ workshop’s design and procedures. The Web3D conference will be held from November 9th until November 13th. The goal of the Web3D conference is to share innovative and creative ideas that enable the development of 3D applications for a wide range of user environments including the Web and other mediums. You can find more about the poster session at this link. Our presentation is on November 12th, from 8 AM till 9:30 AM UTC.

The poster paper explains how we developed a step-by-step method called “Sugoroku,” spatial design, and effective audio calculations. We clarify that the “Sugoroku” method makes it easier for participants with different participation speeds to advance through workshops. We conclude by saying that the “Sugoroku” step-by-step method can be implemented in other workshops.

Web3D Conference 2020「Web3D Live Distance Workshop for Children in Mozilla Hubs」 (2020/Nov/12)
https://web3d.siggraph.org/web3d-live-distance-workshop-for-children-in-mozilla-hubs/

Written by

R&D division for Creating a new future with XR entertainment research and VTuber industry with REALITY, Inc. in GREE Family.

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