Inside Javad Khajavi's VR Animating as Volda University College Prototypes Shine at Future Fest

Three exciting prototypes from Volda University received a warm welcome during TekLab's FutureFest, which was held on the 17th of August in Media City Bergen. The event offered a unique opportunity to showcase various prototypes to a wide audience, and among the outstanding demonstrations were the innovative contributions from Javad Khajavi, Rebecca Nedregotten Strand and Isak Horgar. TekLab talked to Javad Khajavi about his experience and project.
M. Javad Khajavi presents his prototype 'The VR Animator'. (Foto: Janina Wildermuth)
Publisert: 12. september 2023

"I became interested in Virtual Reality while writing my PhD in Singapore, back in 2016", explains Javad in his modest office in Volda, with as its statement piece a blue lit up desktop computer which seemed to be taken right out of your favorite sci-fi flick. "Using these VR devices for the first time was a fascinating experience. "Since 2016, Javad Khajavi has built himself a career as creative director, animator, multidisciplinary designer, developer and researcher in Singapore, Ireland and now in Norway at Volda University College. "I work at the intersection of art, design and technology, so I'm very interested in projects where these three meet."

Animating in the Age of Metaverse

Enter 'The VR Animator', A project part of a collection of initiatives that delve into the future of animation production, wherein the manipulation and construction of fictional worlds occur within the realm of augmented or virtual reality. This overarching endeavor includes the publication of a book with the working title "Animating in the Age of Metaverse," the theoretical exploration of tools and techniques that can be developed to facilitate immersive animation creation within mixed reality environments, and the actualization of virtual reality experiences utilizing said technologies.


Javad Khajavi. (Foto: Karsten Quix)

"Technology evolves very quickly, so my plan is to talk about the foundations, the aspects that will not change along the way", says Javad when asked about his book, which is supposed to be published in 2025. "So in a way I'm predicting the future, but also I'm predicting those areas that won't change all the time. That is also why I need to have first-hand experience." Therefore Javad also explores different avenues and projects, such as personal artistic activities and creating a VR experience for people with heart issues.

Future Fest: Animating as a mixed reality experience

At Future Fest, the audience could get a taste of the wonders of VR animating. "It was possible for people to experience one of the programs for animating in VR. I didn't make that program", Javad continues. "People could experience how it works inside VR to draw and animate. There was also an animation that was made using the same tool, that people could experience and watch."

"I got a lot of feedback that I need for my project, so it was a very good experience", Javad reflects on the Future Fest event. "I also think it's good that people got to know about these possibilities, because most of the people there were not media creators. But they were interested that it is possible to create things", says Javad. "I would definetely recommend it to others, for example PhD students, to present their prototypes in such a great environment."

Foto: Janina Wildermuth

"There was a lady who came by with her son, who was around 18 years old and he was very interested in drawing and experimenting with technology. He came and was trying the program for maybe 10, 15 minutes and he was so enthusiastic about this and, you know, seeing that people like him understand it and like it and would like to try it... It's really rewarding, dnd shows me that the book has an audience."

The future of VR animating

But ofcourse we are only scratching the surface when it comes to the possibilities of animating in Virtual Reality. "Personally I think that there is a lot of potential here", Javad concludes about the future of VR animating. "And I believe that when this VR technology in general becomes more popular, and if companies like Apple and Meta and others become successful in convincing the mass public into using these devices, then I think XR-based anination making tools will become important in the industry." Read more about Javad Khajavi's projects here.


Javad Khajavi. (Foto: Karsten Quix)

Pastfinder & Aarsille the Museum Ghost

The other two projects from Volda University College that were presented at Future Fest, also received a positive response.

Pastfinder explores how radio archives can be utilised in location-based dissemination of vulnerable landscapes. It gives the user access to cultural heritage sites in a protected landscape area at the Dovre mountain plateau. At specific locations, sound clips from the radio archive of the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation, NRK, are curated to reveal hidden stories of the past and augment the full-body experience of walking here. Pastfinder wants to combine the sounds of the past with emerging technologies can revitalise the archives, provide users with a deeper understanding of cultural heritage and identification with the landscape.

Pastfinder is currently being created by PhD Rebecca Nedregotten Strand at Volda University College. Read about Rebecca’s doctoral project here (in Norwegian).

Rebecca Nedregotten Strand. (Foto: Karsten Quix)


Foto: Janina Wildermuth
Rebecca Nedregotten Strand. (Foto: Janina Wildermuth)

Aarsille the Museum Ghost is a story-driven experience conveyed through mobile augmented reality. "Aarsille" is a ghost from the early 17th century who guides the user through four locations at Sunnmøre Museum. The user is introduced to characters and stories that communicate Sunnmøre's rich folklore and history. The adventure is activated by scanning a QR code at the museum. Through the experience, teenagers are supposed to become more engaged in the museum’s exhibitions of notable personalities, artifacts and activities from the past.

Aarsille the Museum Ghost was created in 2023 by master student Isak Horgar at Volda University College in collaboration with the AR company Hidden and supported by Møre and Romsdal County Council.

Isak Horgar. (Foto: Karsten Quix)
Isak Horgar. (Foto: Janina Wildermuth)

Publisert: 12. september 2023
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