How to get large (unsanctioned) videos onto your Oculus headset

For the last 8 weeks I have been playing around with the Samsung Gear VR headset –  the first commercially available Oculus powered headset. If you don’t have one already, go buy one immediately. It is game changing!

The experience is superb, and you can start to get a feeling for what our friends at Oculus are working on:  the true feeling of virtual presence.

The Oculus store already contains some interesting games, demos, and experiences.  The Oculus Video app in particular gives a glimpse of times to come. There are some mind blowing 360-degree-video teasers from “The Force Awakens”, and fascinating videos that put you onto a surfboard in Hawaii or skateboard in San Francisco.

However, one might want to experience content that is not officially available in the store. So here is a short tutorial on how to get unsanctioned video content onto an Oculus headset.

First of all:  you will need some patience. Right now this process is not for the faint of heart; but things will certainly get much easier in the months to come.

I found that Samsung’s own Milk VR application works best for downloaded or private videos. The trick is to get the video onto your phone AND into the right folder, so that the Milk VR application sees the video.

Here is how to do it:

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Locate the “My Files” app on your Galaxy phone

Locate the “Google Drive” app on your phone (might require download)

For convenience, place the two app icons next to each other on the screen. You will be using them a lot.

Create a folder in “Google Drive” called “My Oculus Videos”. You will be able to access this folder from your desktop, and place videos in here that you downloaded elsewhere. This folder will be a holding area. Since you can access it from both your phone and desktop, it is a convenient way to transfer large files from desktop to phone.

Note: Some of the 180 degree or 360 degree video files are well over 1 or 2 GB! So don’t forget to turn on WIFI.

Create a folder in the “My Files” app called “MilkVR”. (The folder name needs to be exactly like this. See graphic). Any file this folder can be seen by the MilkVR app, and accessed through the headset.

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Download files from the internet and place them into your designated Google Drive folder. Next go to Google Drive on your phone and find the file you want to download. Click it and hold it. At the bottom of the screen a new menu should appear (See last graphic). Click the download button on the menu. Now this file is being downloaded from the cloud to your phone. This takes time.

Once downloaded, you will need to move it into the right folder.

Open the “My Files” app and go to “Downloads” (This is where the phone placed your file).

Now copy and paste this file into the MilkVR folder. To do this, click “Edit” on the top right. Select your file. Click “More” on the top right and then select “Copy” from the drop down menu. This will take you back to the main screen. Click Device Storage. Locate your MilkVR folder, and click “Paste Here” from the top right.

Now the downloaded file is in the MilkVR folder. Strap on your headset and open the MilkVR app from your Oculus library, the file is located in the “Downloads” section in the main menu of MilkVR.

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Three critical points:

a.)   Since the files are so large, it will take time for your computer to transfer the files back and forth between cloud – desktop – cloud – phone. About 30 min on my 50 Mbps fiber optics line. Certainly a cable or memory card can speed this up

b.)  Don’t forget that the files are visible to anyone that tries your headset. So before you hand it over to your grandmother, you might want to “temporary” rename the MilkVR folder. If you change the name to “aMilkVR” on your headset, the app will not see your videos anymore, and grandma will not be shocked what she might or might not see. 😉

c.)   There is no way to hide video folders in the “Gallery” app for your phone. So even if you rename the folder, it will be still be visible (with thumbnails) in your “Gallery”. So best not to hand over your phone to anyone after this process.

This might seem overwhelming at first, but once you have done it a few times its pretty easy.

Have fun.

Honi soit qui mal y pense

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