One of the first attempts to make the cinematic experience more interactive dates back to 1995 with a film called M. Refund. The experiment put the audience in control of a robot named Payton Bach (get it?) The audience could vote on how Payton, played by Billy Warlock, could inflict certain punishment with a three-button joystick in their seats, and the choice with the most votes would be played on screen.
Since you’ve probably never heard of M. Refund or such an unorthodox way of watching a movie, the trend died down and became one of the most lambasted movies of the year. Film critic Roger Ebert called it the worst movie of 1995 on his film review show Siskel & Ebert. That’s no small feat, considering it was released in the same year that stinks like Judge Dredd with Sylvester Stallone, Jefferson in Paris, Water world and Showgirls.
âWe don’t want to interact with the movie,â Ebert says. “We want it to act on us. That’s why we go there so that we can get lost in the experience. If we have to make choices, we should be paid instead of the writers.”
He called the interactive film “dead like a nail in the door”, but noted that when it comes to virtual reality, “the jury is still out”.
Next is Dreamscape, a virtual reality movie experience that bridges the gap between making an interactive movie that can make audiences feel like they are part of the scene without removing the magical effect of watching a movie. The virtual reality experience began with its flagship store in Century City in Los Angeles in December 2018 and opened its second location at NorthPark Center in Dallas on Thursday.
Dreamscape accommodates up to six people at a time and places them in interactive environments that act like a traditional movie would, while giving them control to travel through their senses as they see and hear everything in it. their virtual environment. They can also smell, smell, grasp and touch non-latency virtual objects and beings that respond to audience behaviors.
âWe’re really trying to kind of merge the thrill of a large theme park with the emotional satisfaction of a Hollywood movie,â says Walter Parkes, president and co-founder of Dreamscape, the writer of films such as War games and Sneakers and a producer of blockbuster films like Men in black, The ring, minority report and many more. “We can make this possible through extraordinary digital technology so that it can be enjoyed in places like this all over the world.”
The Dreamscape experience is almost entirely immersive, before you even put on the headphones and step into the multisensory theater. Guests are welcome to choose one of three “destinations” – the underwater adventure blue, the science fiction sanctuary Alien Zoo and the fascinating archaeological journey Curse of the Lost Pearl: A Magic Spotlight Adventure.
After the boarding time is over, a representative leads guests to a prep room where they put motion trackers on their hands and feet and Samsung VR headsets connected to a backpack computer. The director of each experiment explains the instructions and rules as if the guests were taking a deep sea dive in the Pacific Ocean or walking through a magical movie screen that transported them to a Mayan temple filled with deadly traps and spooky animals and crawling.
“We’re really trying to merge the thrill of a big theme park with the emotional satisfaction of a Hollywood movie.” – President and co-founder of Dreamscape Walter Parkes
Then, when guests enter the main stage and don their virtual reality headsets, the computers place them in virtual worlds where interactive objects from the digital world are reflected and synchronized with physical objects from the real world. So when guests board their Segway-esque water scooters in The Blu, they can steer the craft. Similar shaped physical items are available when guests need to collect their flashlights for the nightly exhibition of the Alien Zoo. Explorers who dare to retrieve the Lost Pearl in the sinister Serpent Temple … well, that’s a big spoiler.
Strategically placed fans can blow hot and cold air depending on the environment or the animals breathing in your neck. The ground vibrates and shakes as structures crumble, platforms rise, and the stomping of massive creatures create vibrations.
“These things work like real memories,” says Bruce Vaughn, CEO of Dreamscape, who previously worked as the creative director of the fantasy department at the Walt Disney Company theme park. “When we first did Alien Zoo, we asked people what you think and they didn’t say, “Well, I went to see Alien Zoo‘as you would with a movie theater. They said we went to Alien Zoo. They were there. They touched things. ”
Guests who were among the first to experience it expressed similar thoughts about being in the movie rather than just seeing it.
“It feels like we’re there,” said guest Kelli Nicole McClain who walked through Alien Zoo and Curse of the lost pearl. “I thought I was going to drop the edge in the Lost pearl a.”
The experiences are not as long as a typical mainstream movie. Vaughn says the shows are designed to be more accessible in as many ways as possible.
âI like to use the word it’s kind of snacking,â Vaughn says. âYou can come try something or take a break from work and make it part of a bigger night. With six people at a time, this allows you to have a lot more agency and personalization. It really becomes a really personal thing compared to a giant theme park attraction with 2,000 people per hour where you don’t feel that special. ”
Guest Ryan Gaspard compares attraction to being “sucked into your television or a cartoon”.
âYou are in a completely different world,â he says. âBeing able to interact with everything is a lot different than sitting at home with your PlayStation and playing with a controller or a wand or something. Being able to feel the air stand out, the growls, all the 3D effects that make it whole. ”
Right now, there are only three virtual movies at NorthPark’s Dreamscape location, but Vaughn and Parkes say more will be coming based on branded movie franchises like How to train your dragon, where guests can ride on the back of their own dragon and Men in black, where the guests are recruited as ghost agents of the secret government foreign surveillance force.
Imagine what could happen with a virtual horror movie.
âHorror is very interesting,â Parkes says, referring to the cinematic genre. “It’s funny because it can be so scary, and we’ve done some tests that are just crazy.”