Exploring Virtual Reality at the Tribeca Film Festival

Manoush Zomorodi and Max Read explore Virtual Reality at Tribeca Film Festival’s Storyscapes. Zomorodi had not been interested in VR before, but she wants to have a better understanding of it now to explore the following question: Will our virtual world experience affect our real world experience?

Title: Note to Self | The Realities of Virtual Reality
Source: http://www.wnyc.org/story/virtual-reality-turning-forest/
Date: May 11, 2016
Video Length: 0:19:14

What are you looking for?

Max wants to know if VR is feasible as a consumer gadget rather than something that is only experienced occasionally at things like film festivals. Having VR used regularly at home is very different from experiencing it occasionally at art events.

I want to live in the scifi novel (Max Read)

Deep

“Deep,” built by Owen Harris and Niki Smit, is a virtual underwater excursion that's controlled by the breath of its users. It's effectively a goalless game that focuses on the exploration of a new, alien-like environment. It requires a lot of gear like a belt that helps with breathing, goggles and other things.

No one is running naked and free in these virtual reality worlds yet (Manoush Zamorodi)

When you breath in, you sink and when you breath out, you float. Max experienced an environment with sharks, fish, various underwater structures. He was completely immersed. He felt like he could do it for another hour and not feel like he had to leave.

Manoush, on the other hand, felt really nauseous at first, but still had a fun experience. She admits that the fish aren’t realistic looking, and that they look very cartoonish and digital, but the experience was still interesting.

“Deep” is being tested in therapeutic environments in the Netherlands right now. For example, researchers want to know if “Deep” can be used to help at risk teens and women who are in labor. Owen is also working on figuring out how to get “Deep” in your living room. He’s looking into turning the production into a Kickstarter.

The Turning Forest

This VR experience is a magical forest full of beautiful colors. As you experience it, you hear children playing and then discover that you’re one of the children. You end up befriending a large, magical and (luckily) friendly beast who carries you around on its back.

Manoush felt like this was really intense. Built by Chris Pike from BBC Research & Development, it serves as a children's story with an element of magic and fantasy. Manoush suggested that the gamemakers need to be be gentle with someone who just finished the experience because it's so realistic.

She also said that she has two little kids and wonders what the value is in creating environments like this for kids which can alter their perception (negatively) of a banal actual reality.

After riding the monster in “The Turning Forest,” both her and Max were exhilarated. He was really impressed by the narrative, animated story and was terrified at how immersive it was. He didn't want to leave the experience.

The Future

Given their experience at the film festival, they think the future for VR is bright. There are all kinds of applications of it:

  • Education: Students can walk on Mars to learn about the environment.
  • Interpersonal relationships: Visiting your mom in Hong Kong, while you live somewhere far away.
  • Business: You can check out an apartment with a virtual walk through.
  • Adult Entertainment: They ended on thoughts around the pornography industry. What they discovered was that the industry is taking VR very seriously and are working on ways for fans to have "virtual dates" with adult stars.

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