OTOY “Render the Metaverse” Month 3 contest winners, and the Grand Prize award!

Topics: OctaneRender, Company News

After an incredible three months, OTOY’s “Render the Metaverse” virtual reality art competition for 360-degree VR images sponsored by Oculus has come to an incredible close. The contest saw hundreds of submissions from talented artists who brought their imaginations to life in VR using OTOY’s free OctaneVR rendering software, or OctaneRender, producing picturesque panoramas for the Samsung Gear VR Innovation Edition that we never could have imagined, and impressing judges Alex Ross, Oculus CTO, John Carmack, and OTOY CEO, Jules Urbach along the way. All of those fantastic VR landscapes are available for you to explore as well of course, right here in our Gallery.

There’s no better way to celebrate the conclusion of such an inspiring contest than by announcing the last of our “Render the Metaverse” monthly winners, and the Grand Prize winner, an artist who created a scene so extraordinary that the judges gave it top billing, earning the winner a total of $35,000 in prize money.

First, OTOY is pleased to announce the three winning submissions for the third month of the “Render the Metaverse” contest, along with commentary from our panel of judges. Congratulations to the winners and all those who participated!


1. Imagined Reality by Benjamin Aguillon


Download the VR scene or test drive it in your browser here.

Description from artist: “As a child, all you had to do was to look out the window to be above the clouds. Imagination is reality. Dreams are worlds. And pigs do fly, or in this case, whales. Be a child again. Welcome to Imagined Reality.”

  • John Carmack: “Stepping through a window into a world filled with the objects of your imagination is one of the central themes of VR.  I liked the sense that it was a vast world full of adventure, but your comfortable home is still waiting for you; you can have both.  The touch of whimsy with the sign made me smile.”
  • Alex Ross: “The setting is a beautiful display of the possible pathways to adventure and fantastic places and things in VR.”
  • Jules Urbach: “This scene masterfully blends vivid realism and impossible fantasy. It’s a tremendous showcase of how an artful application of this medium can make us feel like we’ve stepped into a lucid dream, and transcend simple presence.”


2. Education Channel by Simon Martin Novak


Download the VR scene or test drive it in your browser here.

Description from artist: “Educational Channel – Learning Anatomy. Education is an important component in the metaverse. Information can be conveyed in great detail. In this lesson the human anatomy is studied.”

  • John Carmack: “Several entries this month tried a theme of ‘VR User Interface’, but this was the most striking. While VR is mostly associated with entertainment, the prospect of it being a powerful tool for enriching your mind is a theme I can get behind.”
  • Alex Ross: “This is my favorite of the month, with a striking placement for our point of view. The details of the human structure revealed in a way our eyes could normally never see is enlightening, and the whole virtual classroom makes for an exciting learning environment.”
  • Jules Urbach: “I was drawn to the originality of this entry, and how well it reimagines the ‘visible man’ science toys of old. I also thought the VR user interface presented to the viewer was especially well thought out. We are in the early stages of figuring out what ideal VR UI is and isn’t. This take on it felt right to me.


3. Fushimi Inari Forest by Riccardo Minervino


Download the VR scene or test drive it in your browser here.

Description from artist: “This is my entry, a Japanese forest inspired by the beautiful temple Fushimi Inari-taisha. I actually went twice on location to gather all the necessary reference material. I will post a breakdown soon, as well as more renders.”

  • John Carmack: “This could have been a photograph, which has been a mark against some previous entries, but it is such a lovely scene that it still wins.  Excellent range of stereo depth used – I’m looking forward to seeing this as a high fidelity light field.”
  • Alex Ross: “Breathtaking realistic detail and depth in this lifelike place makes for the kind of believability one would like to experience in VR.”
  • Jules Urbach: “I liked this scene so much I had our team use it as the splash screen for Octane 3. It also became our first fully automated light field render on I believe this work exemplifies how hyper realism in VR may be best represented, in the end, through carefully crafted synthetic content that takes us past the limits of what a camera lens can capture. The detail and craftsmanship in this piece is astounding.” 


Each judge has also provided a list of their top 10 submissions for the month, all searchable in the Gallery.


John Carmack’s Top 10:

    1. Toy Story
    2. Imagined Reality
    3. Educational Channel
    4. Living with Nature
    5. Fushimi Inari Forest
    6. The Creative Mind
    7. Realization
    8. The Pursuit of the Metaverse
    9. The Wall
    10. Lost time


Alex Ross’ Top 10:

    1. Educational Channel
    2. The Creative Mind
    3. The Emperor Arrives
    4. The Day When It Began
    5. Bathtub Paranoia
    6. Space Ring
    7. Fushimi Inari Forest
    8. Imagined Reality
    9. Microworld
    10. Dodo Laboratory


Jules Urbach’s Top 10:

    1. Imagined Reality
    2. Fushimi Inari Forest
    3. Splash Warp
    4. Lost in the Void
    5. Toy Story
    6. VR Invaders
    7. Lost Time
    8. Educational Channel
    9. Creative Mind
    10. Bathtub Paranoia


And now for the Grand Prize.

Every one of the hundreds of entries received over the life of the contest was extraordinary and really demonstrates how passionate people are in bringing their ideas to life in VR. The time, effort and imagination that went into this work was extraordinary. However there can only be one Grand Prize winner, one entry from the three winning scenes from each month of the contest that was seen by the judges as being a notch above the rest, that embodied the idea of the metaverse better than any other, that harnessed the medium of VR to its fullest extent to tell a story and to earn the artist an additional $25,000 in prize money for a total of $35,000.

The judges are proud to announce that the Grand Prize winner of the “Render the Metaverse” contest is:


Benjamin Aguillon, for his entry ‘Imagined Reality’!!



Congratulations Benjamin! And congratulations to all who participated!