I first met the LIV team back in 2017 where LIV’s CTO Ruu brought a gigantic green box to a VR showcase that was being held at YouTube Space in LA.
That gigantic green box was the LIV cube, an extremely portable, easy-to-setup mixed reality recording studio. It was an all-in-one turnkey mixed reality solution. At every event I saw the cube at, people lined up to play in VR and see themselves inside the game itself.
I didn’t pay much attention to LIV at the time, but a few months later a few clips for a very early version of Beat Saber went hyper viral on Reddit and YouTube. The original video today has cleared over 10 million views:
I was still going to school at San Francisco State at the time, and I was thrilled to hear a few months later that I’d be allowed to play Beat Saber early at a bar near college. A classmate of mine even wanted to cover the event, so I went with her and cut together this segment for the school news channel:
One of LIV’s original goals was to distribute LIV cubes out to location based entertainment venues (like VR arcades), malls, and enthusiasts. Unfortunately, that never happened, and there are only a few of those official LIV cubes out there in the wild.
What started out as a small office of 4 people that I would hang around at after class has expanded to a team of 20+ people around the globe. Even though the LIV cube was never released, we’ve had tons of other products 4 years later serving the same purpose: connecting people with their audiences and helping you level up the content you make in the metaverse.
Here’s what we’ve been working on since that first LIV cube!
Gamechanger and StreamerKit
Twitter was ecstatic when they heard that we had hired one of the best Beat Saber modders and most beloved community members to work on LIV’s StreamerKit: Nate!
StreamerKit was built to solve one simple problem: how do we make it easier to read the chat in VR?
A few very primitive solutions existed, like taking off your headset to read a monitor or having a friend read the chat to you, but we wanted something a bit more elegant.
StreamerKit is the ultimate all-in-one Twitch chat tool: it can tell you about raids, donations, new followers, it’s just as good as having a second monitor playing a normal PC game! You can read more in-depth about StreamerKit’s many features here.
This powerful chat tool was also behind one of LIV’s most fun community experiments of all-time: cosmetics!
The year was 2019. April Fools Day, the LIV team was gathered together watching a Discord channel run by a bot who would post a link every time someone started a stream using StreamerKit. On our own Twitch accounts, we would all click the link, hop into their channel and type a secret command that activated a mixed reality cosmetic!
As viewers donated, the cosmetic got more and more flashy, with only a few streamers reaching the bit donation goal required to evolve the cosmetic we placed on peoples’ heads to the max.
One day we might revisit cosmetics in VR, everyone who we blessed with bits seemed to enjoy it!
The cosmetics experiment was inspired by !bomb, a Beat Saber modification that would distract the streamer with colorful bombs that when slashed popped particles everywhere on their screen along with the donor’s name. Viewers loved messing with their favorite streamers when they were about to finish a particularly difficult song and the frustration that came with the streamer having to start from scratch.
!bomb was developed at LIV to test how audiences interacted with their viewers. Namely, we wanted to see if people were more compelled to donate if it had an actual impact on the gameplay.
People had a ton of fun using !bomb! Streamers who let their chats...interfere…with their gameplay saw a notable spike in donations and chat activity. This validated our theory, people will pay for audience-driven, in-game interaction with content creators they enjoy.
Want !bomb for your own Twitch stream? Pop into our Discord and ask in the #get-gamechanger channel, you'll need it to run the mod!
The Rotato Express
Before I worked for LIV, I was hired to fly from California to Missouri to act at Splitverse headquarters. The commercial we ultimately ended up shooting was the announcement for Beat Saber on the Oculus Quest 1!
It was such a fun shoot to work on, except for the last shot. While we were taking many different shots of the talent on set playing Be There For You, LIV’s Sox was hard at work in the Splitverse garage on The Rotato Express.
Rotato was quickly cobbled together and never released for public consumption, although Sox does give people access if they ask nicely in Discord.
When all the other shots were wrapped up, we had to film one last shot using Rotato. This was one of the first instances of a simulated virtual camera moving, but the camera wasn’t actually moving! Rotato turns your playspace while the camera stays stationary, giving viewers the illusion that the camera is spinning.
Don’t believe me? If you’re ever watching someone use a camera movement mod for a VR game, their feet are constantly moving to keep up with the fact that the room is literally spinning!
I have some pretty strong VR legs, but Rotato threw me for a loop. After playing in it for only 10 minutes, I had the hand-eye coordination of a blind giraffe after 5 shots of vodka. I stayed in this uncomfortably dizzy state for an hour, because that playspace was spinning pretty fast.
Sox tried it himself and ended up falling over. Good thing the green screen room had padded floors.
After the explosive popularity that was the LIV PCVR app and mixed reality videos, we took a look at some of the things that made PCVR difficult. Many of our creators like LSToast and Naysy blew up to millions of viewers around the globe, with similar tech setups. They both boasted a large area to record and setup green screens, expensive gaming PCs, headsets that cost anywhere from $400 to $1,000 (and multiples of them!).
The space, budget, and technological know-how needed to make incredible PCVR mixed reality videos was a barrier to get people into making VR content, even if they were already inspired by one of these bigger creators.
With the LIV Mobile app, we’ve managed to lift a lot of these barriers! You no longer need a green screen at all, just a phone instead of a gaming PC, and the very affordable Oculus Quest.
Ultimately, we want people to be able to create mixed reality content with whatever they have at their disposal, whether that be just a phone and headset, or an entire suite of studio equipment.
We started off with LIV Mobile for iOS, which is available now! Using only an iOS device and a Quest headset, our app cuts people out of their background with machine learning technology, you don’t need any green screens!
The demand for LIV Mobile for Android was heard loud and clear. In fact, we noticed that most people who watched our streams on the official LIV Twitch channel using a phone were on an Android device!
The team is hard at work on LIV Mobile for Android. Sox even may already be leaking previews of the Android APK in our Discord...
Segmentive: Automatic Background Removal!
We powered the automatic background removal in the LIV Mobile apps with Segmentive, a company that works with machine learning technology to identify people from objects in real time.
But why limit automatic background removal to just our mobile apps? The engineers at LIV were able to implement automatic background removal in the PCVR app as well!
Despite starting off as a company showing off our green screen cubes, you no longer actually need a green screen at all when using LIV thanks to Segmentive! Whether you’re on mobile, PCVR, if you don’t have the space or budget for studio lighting and a green screen, you can still enjoy mixed reality.}
You can read more about Segmentive here or you can check out see how well it works in MrLiveProducer's messy setup:
A complete history of LIV products over the past few years is quite the endeavor to write about. I have more to show you!
Come back to the LIV blog next week, where we’ll tell you about LIV Spaces, the beginnings of the original mixed reality app, the LIV Game that never came to be, and Quest-on-PC!