Virtual and Augmented Reality

I first began hearing about virtual reality around 2014. The Oculus Rift had just been funded and was then purchased by Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook. Hearing about it for the first time and watching multiple youtube videos I became especially excited for the potential to play large open world games like Skyrim or Fallout within VR. I hadn’t considered the use of VR for story telling alone outside of the realm of games. The user doesn’t necessarily need to interact with a piece to become immersed within it. It would not surprise me if very soon films began being made specifically for VR. One indication that cinema is headed this direction is the new screen x movie screenings. Screen X is essentially three movie screens being used to expand the view of a film. There is the usual front facing screen and then two screens on either side of the viewer that continue the scenery of the middle screen expanding and building the setting around the viewer. The most Prominent film that has been play this way is Marvel Studios Black Panther. The extra screens are turned on when the characters arrive back in Wakanda and when the main character T’challa is in another world that allows him to talk to his ancestors. This three screen approach could almost be considered virtual reality for multiple viewers.

AR is something that has become very popular in app development in recent years. I most cases AR is being used for games such as Pokemon GO or the new Harry Potter game that has just been announced. AR also has great potential for storytelling especially in the case of informative walking tours. Currently in the Senior Seminar we are developing a couple different AR experiences to tell historic stories of Downtown Vancouver. AR allows a user to see a simulation of how something would look in the real world, like the face of an old building directly next to a current city skyline.