The iPhone is a pretty useful little tool for lots of different creative endeavors. It’s a great still camera, it shoots some pretty spectacular video, and there’s plenty of editing tools available on the device as well. What it hasn’t really been well known for is its usefulness in virtual reality, but that may be about to change. VR guru and game trailer creator Kert Gartner just combined an iPhone and an HTC Vive controller to create an awesome VR camera rig that looks like a blast to play with.

If you’ve ever wondered how game makers working in rendered environments get the camera to behave like they want, the answer is that it isn’t always easy. Shooting video from within a game, or even a 3D animated movie can be a challenge due to the fact that the virtual camera can’t be physically held in the same way a real one can. By using an HTC Vive controller for positional tracking, some open source software, and an iPhone, Gartner is able to move around and film a virtual space just as though he was holding an actual camera.

A player can equip the Vive headset and play the game while the camera is in use by a second person as well, allowing Gartner to film whatever happens just by pointing his iPhone rig around the room, and without needing to wear a headset.

As TechCrunch points out, this is roughly the same idea behind the “virtual camera” rigs that filmmakers like James Cameron rely on to film in CG-heavy films such as Avatar. The difference here is that Gartner’s handheld cam is far cheaper to produce, and is catered to shooting in VR environments.

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