Montreal has always been a destination for Hollywood films looking to shoot their projects on Canadian soil. The city has some renowned film facilities and locations that have attracted many Hollywood directors and producers over the years. What you probably didn’t know is that part of the future of the film industry is being developed and tested right here in Montreal. Welcome to the artificial world of virtual reality.
Félix Lajeunesse and Paul Raphaël are the founders of Félix and Paul Studios, a production company mandated to develop virtual reality for film. Lajeunesse and Raphaël see vast potential for virtual reality than just what currently exists. “We like to think of virtual reality not as a medium to actually create horror stories and heavy adrenaline-driven emotions, but rather to use it as a way to enhance the human experience.”
Félix and Paul Studios was recently contracted by Fox Searchlight to create a virtual reality prototype for Fox Searchlight’s recent hit, Wild. Put on a headset and headphones and suddenly you’re immersed in the wilderness of the Pacific Coast Trail. Look around and you’ll be able to spot Cheryl Strayed (Reese Witherspoon) trekking along the trail near you. Just like that, you’re transported to the world of the film.
Creating virtual reality film sequences presents new challenges for filmmakers. For example, the filmmaker now has less control over what the audience sees—the viewer suddenly becomes more autonomous. Reinforcing that autonomy, The Wild Experience—as the project is dubbed—is reactive, meaning that where you look determines if another character appears. Even though the viewer’s autonomy in the film increases, there are some minor glitches that the filmmakers are conscious of that belies the “reality” of the universe. For example, if you put your hand in front of your face, you’ll still be able to see your surroundings. If you get up from your chair, your perspective of the scene will not alter. Furthermore, virtual reality viewing requires the spectator to wear specially designed headsets from companies such as Sony, and Samsung, who are continuing to develop this technology as demand for virtual reality grows.
Virtual reality is believed by many experts to be the future of the cinematic experience. Congratulations to Félix and Paul for their success and let’s continue to watch these experiments become a quotidian part of our entertainment universe very soon!
[credits link=”http://www.technologyreview.com/news/534791/a-film-studio-for-the-age-of-virtual-reality/” type=”via”]MIT Technology Review[/credits]