Over the weekend the Festival of International Virtual and Augmented Reality Stories (FIVARS) took over the House of VR in Toronto.
There were dozens of virtual reality experiences to enjoy, but the one I picked was City of Ghosts, an “interactive, 360-degree mobile augmented reality film experience.” It sounds like a mouthful, but as someone who has never experienced VR (or even played console video games), it was surprisingly easy to enjoy.
The set up is as follows:
City of Ghosts transports you to the beginning of the 20th century in the middle of a criminal investigation. Your spectroscope (smart phone or tablet) will help you solve the mystery and the circumstances around the death of La Stilla, one of the most famous sopranos of the Belle Époque.
Here’s how it works:
Your tablet becomes a spectroscope, a “magical device’ that will give you special powers and help you be an active participant in City of Ghosts. When sufficiently “magnetized,” your spectroscope allows you to see haunted places ghosts and the aura of objects, to resuscitate the past, interact within scenes, unlock hidden auras and see things that nobody else can see. During the experience, participants of all ages are invited to discover your city and explore different real venues such as theaters, museums, historical and cultural locations and other places of interest.
Your interactive adventure within City of Ghosts introduces you to a cast of haunted characters including Oberlin Pfleumer, a mad scientist and inventor of a revolutionary and mysterious machine that allows you to capture and relive past events. You’ll also meet William Anderson, La Stilla’s fiancé, and Baron Henry Gordon, the wealthy businessman so desperately in love with La Stilla, vicar Nazaire Bruchési, Jeanne Lambert, the mad woman, and Mme. Blavatska, the clairvoyant.
City of Ghosts is the creation of CieAR (Cinematographic Interactive Experiential Augmented reality), a developer and producer of customized interactive and immersive content. It was created using a combination of motion-tracked real-life actors and real-time graphics generation, to create a life-size augemented reality environment.
The FIVARS event was a teaser trailer for the full-length production that is set to hit Shawiningan, Quebec in June 2018.
At first I stumbled around a bit, trying to figure out how to handle the controller and make it do what it was supposed to do; that’s what I get for not playing console games, I suppose! It didn’t take long for me to get the hang of things, however. Unfortunately, just as I was becoming involved in the story, the sneak peek ended.
The full-length production will take place in an old church and last about an hour and a half. It sounds like an amazingly fun and spooky time. If you plan on being in the Shawinigan area (about two hours north of Montreal) next June, be sure to check out City of Ghosts.