The Colosseum Example: The Future of VR/AR
So today let’s look at the power and virtues of VR/AR in two main areas.
Check out the first part of this post: Virtual Reality: 4 Years Ago…
What is so appealing of VR/AR for entertainment?
For me it will be the day that those two concepts truly blur together. Not that you have to choose between sitting on a living room and experiencing a virtual world that feels real or having to go outside and walk around with some graphics popping up when you see a famous building telling you random facts about it.
What will truly be an achievement is when you can enhance your surroundings so seamlessly that you are in fact in another reality. An example that I always put while geeking out about this is what I call: “the Colosseum example”.
The Colosseum is one of the most iconic monuments in the world, visited by millions and known by even more. As a kid I remember watching Ridley Scott’s Gladiator and being fascinated by the Colosseum. As it stands today is still very impressive, but nothing in comparison to what it might have been in it’s glory days.
Imagine going to the real Colosseum walking onto the stands seeing it as it is today. As you look around you start to see things shift, change as you move back in time you see how the Colosseum has come to be this way throughout history and you end up in it’s heyday.
The stands are full of cheering Romans, and in the arena one of it’s epic spectacles are going on. (If you think gladiators fighting beast must have been cool, imagine watching something like a Naumachia). As you roam each part of it you feel totally immersed while highly entertained by a carefully scripted and elaborate experience. It is as if you are living inside a historic event. You can have various degrees of interactivity but it can be purely a passive experience. I guess you can imagine it as a cross between something like a typical audio-guide + a game like Ryse: Son of Rome + the cinematic/narrative of Gladiator.
The technology used to create these visual experiences can be real time graphics or rendered high end cinematic visual effects, it doesn’t really matter. As we move forward, the gap between the two will also narrow so the medium in which a visual experience is created will no longer matter as the visual quality will be pretty much indistinguishable from what you see with your own eyes.
As you can understand by now the possibilities are endless. From events like the Colosseum example in famous sightseeing spots around the world, specialized events such as secret cinema (that are becoming increasingly popular).
To elaborate experiences like the Game of Thrones ‘Ascend the Wall’ VR experience.
From a professional point of view:
IIn the field of Visual Effects the tendency is to stop viewing VFX as a post-production process and start embracing it as any other cinematic tool. We’ve seen this more and more in elements like the Virtual Camera system used in Avatar, limited to a mocap stage environment, evolve into a more fluid element like the recent use on Dawn and Rise of The planet of the Apes.
Also motion and facial caption has been evolving for years. All of this can be combined with VR to bring the actors back into the mix when performing. Actors can see themselves and their colleagues as they will be portrayed later in the film. You can be staring at Koba from Planet of the apes while performing your lines or run from a collapsing building while not having to fake your dodges because you are actually experiencing it all around you. The same way that Gravity used the light stage to immerse Sandra Bullock and George Clooney in the story.
Bringing all of this together can bring back the magic of making movies that a lot of people (ignorantly) think might have been lost by using all this “green screen trickery”.
Although it might seem a little far-fetched or even unrealistic in terms of budget (building the movie before shooting the movie might seem dumb or overkill), it’s all about what you do with this concept that is important. Technology does not hinder art or creativity it empowers it. It’s what you do with it that ultimately matters, not how you achieved it.
The main idea to take from this random babbling is that there will come a time that we can truly experience situations, events, characters in a way that will make them so real that it won’t matter that you are experiencing them through a digital medium.
I could go on and on for hours on all the applications that I can think for this old/new technology but it isn’t the point. The point is that we are in the verge of some awesome times and that it’s going to be a hell of a ride from here on out.