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We’re pursuing the future of musical theatre and for us that means we dive into the deep waters of all the best bleeding edge technology that can revolutionize what we do. We’ve been exploring set design with augmented reality, testing audience analytics models, even exploring new models for the musical development process through our THEatre ACCELERATOR. We dream of a day where we will be able to invite people into the experience of a musical from anywhere in the world: A fully virtual space where you can walk on stage right from your living room. That meant adding a new set of tools to our already growing arsenal of bleeding edge technology. Finally, on Friday, the time had come: we needed a second VR kit to start developing our ideas in California – we already had a VR kit at our Florida offices. With budget approved, I went to the Microsoft store to pick up a Vive.  Excited like a kid on Christmas I walked out of the store with a comically huge Microsoft bag scraping the floor as I walked because of how close to the ground it was.  I raced home, skipped dinner, and ripped open the Vive’s beautiful packaging.

I was met by a (also beautifully packaged) mess of wires and cords, strange cubes, odd controllers, and the Vive headset.  I’d heard that the setup process could take a while, but armed with lots of experience and my Computer Science degree, I figured how hard could it possibly be?  I knew what I was doing !  I’m a “professional tech person”!  I was wrong.

To save you all time and frustrated shouting into the void that is endless Google searches, I present:

The five things I wish I had known before setting up the HTC Vive

There’s A LOT of different pieces.

Be prepared to spend some time just sorting through the various things that come in the box – there’s a lot of them.  Luckily, HTC provides a nifty foldout to help you understand what everything you’re looking at is and where everything you need is located in the box.

While I love digging through newly opened boxes and taking off those plastic bits that hold wires neatly wrapped,I acknowledge that it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea so, fair warning, you’ll have to do a good amount of this before even starting setup.

Plan the Space for Room-Scale experiences.

If your PC is in a room with lots of furniture and not much free space and you would like to use the Room-Scale functionality of the Vive, be prepared to get creative.  The Vive setup guide suggests having a space at least 6.5ft x 5ft.  This means having that much space with no objects from the floor up to the ceiling.

My home office posed the first hurdles: 1) it wasn’t a big room to begin with and 2) it had a lot of things that someone could trip on if they were wearing the Vive.  I had to pull out everything from desk chairs, to the printer and its stand that would have put bruises on my shins, to the bean bag chair.  My hallway ended up looking something like this:

And my office, like this:

You want me to do what to my walls?

The Vive comes with two sleek-looking cubes called Base Stations which are used to track the Vive headset and controllers as you move around your playing space.  These two cubes need to be somewhere high up (where they can still be reached by power cables) opposite each other and angled downwards towards the play space.  They come with stands that can be mounted into your walls, but the screws are hefty and will definitely leave a mark.

Living in an apartment, I didn’t want to drill holes into the wall with screws this size so I, again, got creative.  The Base Stations are equipped to fit on to tripods and, luckily, I happened to have two lying around.  I setup the Base Stations on two separate tripods and set the tripods up in opposite corners of the room.  After powering on, they worked perfectly with no issues.

If you don’t want to deal with drilling into your walls, invest in two tripods that you can set up in your play space to save time.

I need HOW much power?

The Vive, with all of its working parts, requires access to electricity for quite a few things.  Specifically, the two Base Stations and the Vive itself need power at all times while the Vive is being used.  Additionally, the controllers both come with chargers that can either be used via USB or electrical outlets.  In total, that’s three things that you’re guaranteed will need power with the potential of that three growing to five if you want to simultaneously charge the controllers.

Access to outlets will help you decide what corners of your space to place the Base Stations in.  Luckily, the cords they come with are pretty long – they easily fit into the Base Stations in my office and I had a fair amount of cord to spare.

Count your ports and be prepared.

The Vive needs constant access to an HDMI port or DisplayPort in order to be used – this means you can’t start up a Vive program, unplug your display’s HDMI cable and plug in the Vive’s – it needs constant access otherwise programs won’t work.  I wasn’t aware until finishing setup and trying to start the Vive, that my graphics card (a Radeon R9 390) only had one HDMI port (which I was using for my Display).  The Vive only comes with an HDMI cable and doesn’t provide a DisplayPort cable.  It was with a heavy heart, after ALL that setup, that I realized I’d have to stop for the evening, order a cable from Amazon and wait for it to arrive before I could actually start using the Vive. (I used this cable, it’s working great for me: DisplayPort to Mini DisplayPort cable).

Be prepared for this when setting up your Vive – check what kind of ports your graphics card has open.  If you have an open HDMI port, you’re good to go as the Vive comes with an HDMI cable for you to use.  If you have an open DisplayPort port, you’ll need to purchase a DP to Mini DP cable to use your Vive.  If you only have an open DVI port, you won’t be able to use your Vive at all – it needs either an HDMI or DisplayPort port – a potential solution in this case would be to purchase a DVI cable and use that on your monitor, then hook up the Vive via HDMI.

New technology has its quirks and oddities, but if you can make it through the tough things (like setup!), it’s completely worth it.  The Vive offers unique and exciting experiences unlike most platforms that exist today.  We hope this will help you better prepare for setting up the Vive.  If you’re interested in learning more about what we do at Apples and Oranges Studios and the experiences we’re working on creating, feel free to browse through our blog and subscribe to our newsletter!

If this helped or if you have any questions, please feel free to comment below!