In the Eyes of the Animal: A VR Program That Brings You Closer to the Forest
Have you ever wondered what it will be like to be a wild animal in the forest? Fly around like a bird or jump around like a frog. All of these questions are posed ahead of an amazing event that will take place this month in Hansterley Forest, County Durham. The event tagged “In the Eyes of the Animal” invites participants to put on virtual reality head gear and immerse themselves in a fantastic 3D world.
What is The Experience Like?
“Feel the buzz of your wings as you are transported on an animated and sonic journey, thrust into the heart of the food chain,” continue the promoters, making the experience sound – to me, at least – exciting but also a tiny bit alarming. Said David Whetstone.
“With your feet firmly on the ground, explore the forest from the floor to the tops of the trees through the eyes of three British species.”
Virtual reality has been in the news for some time and it has become quite popular in some circles. It is finally here and this event in its own right looks like a sign of more great things to come. In the Eyes of the Animal was created by a leading London design studio called Marshmallow Laser Feast (MLF) and they are currently exploring the possibilities of virtual reality and other digital technologies. The program was commissioned by Arts Council England-funded agency Abandon Normal Devices (AND) which was set up in 2009. With AND’s partnership with Forestry Commission England, they have decided to venture in to Hamsterley Forest.
Helen Fussell is helping to promote the In the Eyes of The Animal project even though her normal beat is in the theater. She was delighted at landing the role.
“I first came across AND when they brought a Brazilian company to the UK to make an immersive theater show as part of the Cultural Olympiad back in 2012,” she says.
“I’ve never experienced anything like it before or since (I’ve been talking about it for four years!) So I was chuffed to find out they’re doing something in the North East for the first time.”
MLF co-founder Robin McNicholas said: “Telling a story from the point of view of an animal in this immersive, 360 degree way has been made possible by advances in technology.
“Aerial filming, for example, has traditionally been the preserve of Hollywood blockbusters with budgets big enough for helicopters. But new drone technology means artists can now get a slice of the action too.”
In The Eyes of the Animal is available for viewing in Hamsterley Forest from Friday May 13 until Sunday May 15. This event is free but you will be needing tickets for a time slot on those days.
If you are planning to try it out, you should note that the complete experience lasts for an hour with the film at the heart of it all lasting around 10 minutes. This program is recommended for people aged 11 years and above due to the nature of the technology and the weight of the headsets.