Lexus VR lounge at Raindance Film Festival

By Michelle Connolly Saturday 29th Oct, 2016

Lexus VR lounge at Raindance Film Festival

The Hospital Club

Hosted at The Hospital Club, the Lexus VR lounge at this year’s Raindance Festival was an exciting look at the future of entertainment. What we found most interesting was the announcement that it’s not here to ‘take over’ or replace traditional media, but as a complementary media for a very different, far more intense experience.

Amazingly the whole thing is a lot more like a live action performance piece than something you’re simply watching. To help guide you through there are intuitive noises – rustling of leaves, voices, etc. – that sound like they’re coming from another direction, and you instinctively turn that way. It’s an experience unlike any other. Lexus managed to bring together an impressive number of collaborators for the experience, so we’ll take a quick look at some of those who were there.

I entered the world of Jane, a girl who, thanks to a bicycle accident, now lives with epilepsy. See through her eyes how it feels to experience the world just before and after a seizure, the unknowing, the blanked memories.. It’s a completely unnerving experience that would be impossible to communicate through a video or words, and the sensations were so real.

The Guardian took us into a US solitary confinement cell with 6×9, a horrible claustrophobic experience where the walls feel like they’re closing in and the voiceover heightens everything. Their first foray into VR, it’s a very effective way of recreating that closed in, trapped feeling. Your movement is restricted, you are demanded to do things you can’t under those circumstances. It’s a harrowing thought of it being true.

Cirque de Soleil took the altogether different approach (thankfully) of exploring their world of contortion and magic, where the more you move in the space the more you see of the fantastical performances. Their sparkling costumes and mind-blowing bendiness and contortions are even better experienced up close, and it’s no wonder that Felix & Paul Studios won a Daytime Emmy Award for the piece.

One of the most interesting visually was an interpretation of the audio diary of John Hull, who began making it once he realised he was losing his sight. Rather than attempting to visualise a realistic world, the creators Arnaud Colinart, Amaury La Burthe, Peter Middleton and James Spinney have built an imagination of the memories in a dreamy, almost Fantasia-style way. The figures and noises described are formed by transient droplets that linger momentarily before being lost, and you’re drawn through the space with the acute sounds pulling you here and there. It’s an inspired use of the media, and it was humbling to be able to see the world that way.

With VR in it’s infancy these are just a teaser of what we can expect in the future, and the possibilities are incredible. We’re excited to see what the future brings!