Five experiences to learn about virtual reality

Estimated read time 5 min read

Where to start? Since the great beginnings of virtual reality (VR) in 2016, many films, games and “experiences” have been created. And you don’t need to have an expensive Oculus Rift or HTC Vive to take advantage of it: VR headsets exist from about fifteen euros, in which you slide a smartphone as a screen. It remains to find the right content to download there, in order to make the most of the potential of this new technology. Pixels has selected five works to introduce themselves to VR.

“I, Philip”: the right movie

Why not start gently with a movie session? And not just any one: good cinema. Get comfortable, if possible on a swivel seat to look around without risking torticollis. And start I, Philip. This short film, produced by Arte and directed by Pierre Zandrowicz, features an android designed in the image of the science fiction writer Philip K. Dick. Or, more precisely, puts you on stage, you, in the shoes of this robot: it is from his point of view that you will watch the action unfold.

And this sometimes happens in the very spirit of this machine, or at least, in its integrated circuits. How to materialize the “thought” of an artificial intelligence? This challenge gives rise to special “wow” effects that give virtual reality its full meaning. And even in the scenes filmed in a more classic way, VR has its effect: how can we not feel uncomfortable when we find ourselves lying on a hospital bed, under the compassionate eyes of our visitors?

Arte360 VR/Cardboard

“Sonar”: spatial sensations

Let’s move on to a less narrative, but spectacular adventure. In five minutes, Sonar immerses you in an impressive space epic – a genre already unavoidable in VR. The pitch: alone at the controls of a small module, you discover an asteroid in which you penetrate, alone.

Sonar is not interactive, so we will have to be content with being a simple spectator in this journey. Sometimes a little frustrating, when you find yourself teleported to the heart of a cockpit and there is, apparently, only to reach out to intervene on the controls.

But this does not spoil the sensations, dizzying. While the silence becomes more and more heavy as we descend, contemplation gives way to worry. What will we find at the end of this exploration?

Cardboard/Gear VR

“Notes on blindness”: poetry, intelligence and interaction

Since virtual reality relies essentially on images, it was daring to use this process to evoke the sensations of blind people. And yet, the result is remarkable. Awarded by several festivals, Notes on blindness is based on the recordings of John Hull, who lost his sight in 1983 and decided, with the help of a dictaphone, to tell day by day his new condition.

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Lulled by his voice, the spectator is plunged into darkness, and the characters, objects and landscapes that surround him materialize only according to the sounds: the squeak of a swing, the breeze in the leaves of the trees, the laughter of children and the shoes of passers-by. The whole becomes visible in the form of delicate blue and luminous grains – a very beautiful graphic choice, beautifully realized.

By simple commands, it is sometimes possible to interact in what is neither quite a game, nor quite a movie: an “experience”, as we often say in the world of virtual reality. A timeless moment, informative and poetic.

Arte360 VR/Cardboard/Gear VR App

“LoVR”: already a classic

It’s hard to find a virtual reality festival that doesn’t present LoVR: this little 5-minute film has already become a classic in the short history of VR. There are many reasons for this. Probably first of all because it tells a love story from an original angle: chemical data. “If more than 100,000 chemical reactions take place in your brain every second, then what would the data of a love at first sight look like? “, we can read on the website of the studio behind LoVR.

To materialize this, the film takes us on a journey through a giant computer graphics, to the sound of music punctuated by the heartbeats of the protagonist, which we can only imagine. An ingenious, neat and original film from which we emerge amazed and all turned upside down, like a beautiful love story. Nausea on top of that.

App Within/Cardboard/Gear VR

“S.E.N.S VR”: between video game and comic book

It is quite naturally that the video game, the media of immersion par excellence, has made virtual reality its privileged field of experimentation. Problem: Entry-level headsets are usually devoid of a controller, limiting the possible interactions. S.E.N.S VR, adaptation of the comic strip by Marc Antoine Mathieu financed by Arte, skilfully circumvents the problem: here, the player directs his gaze, looking for, in order to move forward, the arrows which, as in the comic, dot the desert and its mysterious landscapes.

A game without challenge, S.E.N.S VR is nevertheless a doubly obvious encounter. First of all because, by its purity and its simplicity, it spares the player the visual aggression that virtual reality sometimes represents. Then, and above all, because by freeing itself from the paper medium to embrace the third dimension, S.E.N.S VR digs even more the furrow of the game on points of view and perspectives, already at the heart of the original work of Marc Antoine Mathieu.

Arte360 App/Cardboard/Gear VR

Read also We tested… the games of the Oculus Touch, the new controllers of the virtual reality headset

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