The Book of Life studio making VR cinema a reality
Animation studio, Reel FX is best known for producing the award-winning feature The Book of Life last year. However, the studio is also making some major moves into the realm of virtual reality, establishing its own department last year. It has partnered with companies like Samsung to produce content for its Gear VR series. For example, the studio created the "Shatter Reality Mobile VR App" for the Insurgent series, a trailer for The Book of Life, and a Jaeger Pilot experience based on the film Pacific Rim for Legendary Pictures.
We first saw Reel FX’s work at SXSW and were blown away by its realism. The team suited us up with both the Oculus Rift and the Samsung VR Gear version and fully immersed us in these fantastical worlds. The VR magic that studios like Reel FX are producing are really pushing the technology and dev kits to their extremes. It's a platform that truly brings the magic of illusion back to the cinematic experience. Here is a brief description of our virtual trip.
March saw the release of the Insurgent VR downloadable app that was used to promote the movie. The app has two distinct parts: the first part is a 4-minute VR experience called “Insurgent – Shatter Reality,” which was created by the LA-based Kite & Lightning.
Shattering Reality's GUI © 2010-2015 Reel FX, Inc.[/caption] The experience is designed around a first-person perspective where the viewer takes the persona of a Divergent who's run through a series of preparedness tests. It feels similar to a video game tutorial in that you're sitting down and given information by other characters, one of which is actress Kate Winslet. At one point you're overlooking a ruined cityscape while a mad murder of black crows is dive bombing you in a 3D spectacular show that only Alfred Hitchcock or William Castle could fully appreciate. The second part of the Insurgent VR app was created by Reel FX in conjunction with Lionsgate and allows viewers to step into another CG room to watch an exclusive stereoscopic 3D clip from the film within a "virtual theater." The experience is uncanny in that you're essentially watching both a 3D and VR movie...that is until the screen explodes from the impact of a run-a-way train coming at you at full speed while the broken shards of the virtual theater screen float languidly before you.
The "virtual theater" environment © 2010-2015 Reel FX, Inc.[/caption] The Insurgent app also utilizes gaze-based user controls that allow viewers to enter each experience simply by focusing on objects in the 3D environment. We were able to view the app via both the Oculus Rift and the Samsung VR gear, and the latency tolerances were low enough not to create noticeable lag or motion sickness. The Insurgent app is free to download at Google Play and iTunes and can work with Google Cardboard.