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Experiencing War in Virtual Reality

Just when you thought you had finally figured out all the different options to viewing media, a more recent technological advance rises up demonstrating how to incorporate advances into the viewing experience. Virtual reality director Milica Zec, Winslow Turner Porter III and HP are intent on bringing the viewer into the movie itself: Giant is a short and intense film  inspired by Milica’s youth during the Serbian war. “Virtual Reality is the perfect medium for those who have never experienced war to understand what it is like for a family in those conditions,” explains Milica, who’s in Cannes promoting the VR project.

To participate in the experience (because you don’t watch it, but ‘live’ the virtual reality) you have to don an Oculus Rift, a headset that places you IN the scene. Imagine sitting in a room across from guests who are having a conversation; while they talk, you look around the room and there are 3-D props to the left, right and behind you. When noise happens outside of the room you look over your shoulder to see where it is coming from, just as the actors sitting across from you react in the same way. It’s an immersive experience. When the ground shakes you feel it; if things fall, your brain reads it as a flight of fight response, and you cower. The VR participation is an intense one and I wondered how it would influence future viewing.

“We don’t see this as a replacement of all the forms of media viewing we currently enjoy,” says Winslow Turner Porter III. “It is a different viewing option. For example, when movies became popular, it didn’t replace theater.” “You think differently about script,” he continues, “because now you have 360 degrees instead a screen in front of you.” “It gives you a different way to consume and experience the story.”

The technical whats-up: Giant used HP Z840 workstations and Nvidia Quadro m6000 graphic cards, running above 90 frames per second which insures a very comfortable viewing experience .

Giant will be distributed this summer on all the headsets.

Read more about virtual reality in Cannes, here.