Virtual Reality Movies: What If You Could Watch a Movie and Be in It?
Virtual reality (VR), which is taking over the scene and gradually becoming a successful enterprise, secured a special spot at the Cannes Film Festival this year. At the festival, several virtual reality movies were shown. This is another proof that VR is making a revolution from gaming to surgery and now to movies. Most filmmakers have admitted to the fast-paced rate at which the movie industry is advancing, and now home-made cameras are being made to make their work easily and widely accessible.
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Virtual Reality Movies: What
According to Vincent Leclercq of France’s National Centre of Cinematography, “It is like right at the beginning of film, but it is going to move very, very quickly.”
Magadascar director Eric Darnell, who is a big name in the movie industry, was invited, and he worked with actor Ethan Hawke who narrated the VR animated film Invasion, which was one of the virtual reality movies shown at the Cannes Film Festival this year. In the film, which spanned duration of six minutes, viewers get immersed in a world that has aliens trying to take over it, and the overall movie depicts a white fluffy rabbit that manages to outwit the aliens.
In an interview with AFP, Darnell said the idea for the film was gotten from the science fiction alien invasion film War of the Worlds where he perceived the extra-terrestrial as “bumbling and not that scary.” He added, “The thing that makes it really different from cinema is that . . . it really makes for a completely different experience for the viewer to have that bunny come up and look you in the eye and acknowledge your presence.”
While the film viewing was going on, a woman tried to walk away with her headset while still connected to a laptop. This brought about laughter from the people around. The reaction is however normal, as viewers see they have a rabbit’s body when they look down according to Darnell. “It is really kind of magical,” he said. And true enough, virtual reality and animation was a perfect fit.
“We all have pretty high expectations for reality, so you start to see pixels and all the things that make it not real. But with animation you just suspend your disbelief,” Darnell added.
The Challenge the Makers of Virtual Reality Movies Face
During the festival in Cannes, a lot of films were screened, and one of which is the French-produced film I, Philip, which is based on real-life events involving science-fiction author, whose works inspired Blade Runner and Minority Report.
The author died in 1982, and in 2005, to pay homage to him, his face was used on an artificial intelligence robot, which was able to hold conversation as the author because it was programmed with the author’s past interviews. But in the year 2006, in a twist that was like a science fiction itself, the robot’s head was left on an aircraft and hasn’t been seen since then.
The film lasted 14 minutes, and viewers had the full experience of being the robot, which is trying to understand what’s going on as it gives interviews once switched on. There is a scene more like a flashback of human memories, memories of Phillip where he was lying in a hospital bed with a woman holding his hand and crying. According to Antoine Cayrol, the producer, one of the biggest challenges in making virtual reality movies was writing the script because it usually requires a “a little manipulation.”
He said, “Because you are working in 360 degrees, the real difficulty when it comes to writing is making the viewer look where you want him to look. This is done with simple tricks like a slamming door in the background making you turn around or an arm movement directing the viewer’s eye.” Cayrol also shared that they usually got help from dancers with choreography, and sound engineers usually helped out in writing.
Cayrol further said, “The other challenge is that we must build the camera. It is very artisanal, we take cameras and stick them back to back. Filming I, Philip, we had a bag of ice on the camera the entire time to prevent it from overheating.” Cayrol also stated that making the virtual reality movies accessible even though they are available in application stores is “the biggest challenge we face right now.”