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Innovation & Job News

StartUp Spotlight: Treefort VR



Film technology has come a long way from the first printed photographs. First we had pictures and we were amazed to see ourselves captured in 2 dimensions. Our society refined and improved, but it wasn’t enough. Pictures were the catalyst for the inevitable invention of moving-pictures.

Moving-pictures, or movies, were made by combining a series of photos taken consecutively. Movies got better and for the most part we have stayed on this medium. Ever improving quality movies are here to stay, but there are some who wish to push film even further. 

Virtual Reality seeks to replicate the perception of reality, by blurring the lines between film and sight.

Virtual Reality (VR) has been around for a few decades and has gone through its growing pains, but just as photos and film, it continues to improve year by year. Grand Rapids is home to one such company working on virtual reality in the heart of the city.

The duo of Craig Burgess (Manager) and Tom Adams (Art Director) make up Treefort VR. Rapid Growth caught up with the duo to hear all about VR, what they do, and how they do it!

RG: How did Treefort VR (Virtual Reality) get its start?

TVR: Treefort as a VR development company started about two years ago. We have a Co-Space on Division that we share with Snow Monster Studios who we work close with on various projects. 

RG: What is Treefort's mission? What kind of work do you do?

TVR: Our mission is to make inspiring VR experiences and support the local 3d artists and developer communities in Grand Rapids.

RG: Was there a particular moment that inspired the creation of Treefort VR?

TVR: I had pre-ordered an Oculus Development kit in 2014 and was amazed at the complete transformation from one experience to a completely different experience. After that I knew that I wanted to be involved with the VR development industry. 

RG: VR is making a huge jump right now and there are a lot of players in the space, why VR?

TVR: VR is a new medium that can be used to tell stories and present experiences that you have not been able to experience before. It can permeate into many industries and be used for a wide range of applications. 

RG: What projects are you currently working on?

TVR: Right now we are working on a couple internal projects. One is a VR Horror Mystery experience. You're in a cabin in the woods and you have to figure out how to escape the cabin when mysterious things keep happening.  We are also working on building tools for the education industry to teach and educate through the use of VR. For example, in a VR chemistry environment, I can mix chemicals and see the reactions. I can repeat this process multiple times to learn without danger and cost of materials. We also create training programs for a variety of business to train employees on dangerous or complicated machines.

RG: What is in store for Treefort VR’s future?

TVR: Next plans is to continue making great vr experiences. We dabble a bit in every field and with a wide array of experiences we have not picked a specific niche 

RG: Has the GR Entrepreneur ecosystem helped Treefort grow?

TVR: I have met and worked with some great people and companies in town. Right now we are working with Kendell Joseph from Elevator Up who I met at the Factory this year. We are creating a "lego programming language" where you simple arrange lego blocks to create object in a VR environment in real time. It's open source and can be found here. We are displaying it at ArtPrize hub this year Saturday and Sunday.

RG: Is there anything else you would like to tell us?

TVR: We support the Grand Rapids Virtual Reality Meetup group that meets once a week here. It's an open collaborative of like minded enthusiasts interested in Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, 3d Game development, electronics, and haptics to supplement immersive experiences and environments. Members are allowed to use the VR equipment to test their games and projects or simply to learn and try the new tech.

You can find Treefort VR on Instagram here and on Facebook here

Ken Miguel-Cipriano is Rapid Growth’s innovation and jobs editor. To reach Ken, you can email ken.miguel.cipriano@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

Images courtesy of Treefort VR.
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