Mike Balzer: Taking People to the Moon with VR

Fri, Dec 18, 2020, 3:00 PM (PST)

About this event

Mike Balzer from Owl Creek Technologies will present the tools and techniques he used to create and market "Apollo 11: One Small Step For...", a series of immersive VR experiences that give players a taste of what it's like to be on the moon.

From built-in plugins like Kite & Lightning's Panoramic Capture and NVIDIA's Ansel, to low-cost third-party solutions like Surreal Capture, Mike will discuss the best tools he's found that allow anyone to capture 360 images in Unreal Engine 4.

Check out this selection of videos captured with various tools for "Excursion: 137 Minutes on the Moon", part of the "Apollo 11: One Small Step For..." series.

About the Speaker

Mike Balzer is the founder of Owl Creek Technologies and has been involved in personal computing since the Altair 8800. He found his niche in computer visualization by designing consumer audio & video digitizers for the Commodore Amiga and, more recently, cutting edge unbounded mobile tracking systems for smartphones and standalone HMDs. When he's not creating the "next big thing", he spends his time creating VAMR (Virtual, Augmented & Mixed Reality) content using Unity and Unreal Engine 4.

In 2020, Owl Creek Technologies received an Epic MegaGrant for Mike's work on "Apollo 11: One Small Step For...", a series of VR experiences initially created for OMSI to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11 landing on the moon.

The series made its first appearance at a VR cafe with "Excursion: 137 Minutes on the Moon", an experience that uses an HTC Vive Pro HMD, Vive Trackers, and late developer versions of the "Knuckles" Index controllers to allow patrons to experience what it was like to wear the A7L lunar excursion suit and watch firsthand as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin go through five reenactments of the historic event.

Another installment of the series, "Ascent: Eagle Has Left the Moon", utilized two custom 3D-printed controls that integrated with Unreal Engine's Microsoft Custom Input system to allow patrons to take control of the Eagle lunar module as it ascended from the moon to reach orbit. It made both kids and adults feel like they were in command.

Since then, Mike has been working to bring these experiences to people's homes on Valve OpenVR (Vive, PiMax, Index), Oculus and WIndows Mixed Reality platforms as well as custom versions for HOTAS-based joystick systems, and even a unique hardware attachment to turn Valve Index controllers into joysticks!

"Excursion: 137 Minutes on the Moon" is set to release before Christmas 2020 for free on SteamVR, Oculus, VivePort and the Microsoft Store, followed by "Ascent: Eagle Has Left the Moon" in Q2 2021.


Friday, Dec 18
3:00 PM - 5:00 PM (PST)


  • Nick Pfisterer

    Nick Pfisterer

    Blue Void Studios


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  • Jessica Lang

    Jessica Lang

    Blue Void Studios

    Unreal Community Leader

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