This semester, several AMT-Lab contributors are exploring the potential uses of virtual reality in the arts. Virtual reality technology provides a new perspective for audiences that is easily accessible, requiring equipment sometimes as simple as a smartphone. Because of emerging virtual reality technology, not only do artists have different ways to explore their work, but they also have a new way to engage and interact with their audience. Here is a selection of recent articles that explore how virtual reality technology is transforming the arts.
In the United Kingdom, the Philharmonia Orchestra has worked on a piece of virtual reality technology that provides a 360° view of the orchestra. Audience members will be able to see, hear, and experience a performance from the orchestra’s perspective. They also can tour the hall and watch the concert from different seats. This year-long project was a collaboration with the technology company Inition, which provided multiple recording devices for the orchestra. It was so convincing that the conductor, Esa-Pekka Salonen, remarked, “it is disappointing to leave it to come back to reality.”
Glen Keene, an animator who has worked with Disney Animation for over 40 years, is expanding his talents by animating through virtual reality. Keene compares animating with virtual reality to sculptural drawing, which is much different than paper because its edges do not limit the animator. After working with Disney, he created an animated short with Google, and was featured in a documentary that demonstrated his drawings in the new software.
Virtual reality has extreme value in situations where interested audiences cannot experience something on their own. NASA’s lab produced a 360° video for those who want to see what the Martian surface looks like. Over the course of one Martian day, the Mars Curiosity Rover took pictures and created the panoramic view in a video. While this is not the first time NASA has done a 360° view of Mars, they constantly improve the quality of the technology to provide as much as a realistic footage of the planet.
Virtual reality films are increasing at an exponential rate at the Sundance Film Festival. One of those films, “Allumette,” developed by Penrose Studios, is a 6-minute video that tells the story of a girl collecting wands in a fictional city. Unlike other Virtual Reality videos, “Allumette” gives the audience a controller, which gives the viewer power to explore the film in their own way. Though this film is still being improved, innovative leaps such as these can prove the popular appeal of virtual reality films, and they are expected to increase at the next Sundance Film Festival.