Montreal creators lead the Oculus Rift revolution
On April 4th 2014, we had the opportunity to try the Oculus Rift for the first time, thanks to the guys at TP1 and the 15x15 series. The technology has received a lot of press coverage in the last few months. What's most interesting is that two young Montrealers are shinning in the midst of all the noise and chaos.
The Oculus Rift is based on a technology that allows one to enter a new world through the lens of a mask, a "virtual reality" of sorts, but with a resolution and reactivity that's never before seen in the realm offuturistic and funky inventions. For their first project, Félix Lajeunesse and Paul Raphaël have created an immersive experience with composer and musician Patrick Watson.
The result is striking; so much in fact that, at the last minute, the inventors of the Oculus Rift replaced what they had planned to demonstrate at South By Southwest last May with the Montreal-based duo's short documentary film.
It is difficult to describe exactly what happens when one enters the world of Oculus Rift, especially as conceived by the two creators. Whereas several virtual realities have tried to generate high-quality renderings and synthesized worlds of fantasy, Lajeunesse and Raphaël's innovation sits in their ability to capture immersive footage of actual situations which is rendered in a way that makes the end user believe he/she is truly there.
What are we to make of our own memories if such "real" experiences may be "lived". Much in the same way that the Channel 4's "Black Mirror" (UK) depicted in a recent episode, our eyes at ears are sensory alphas — if they can be tricked into believing that something else is happening, they may very well do so.
The Oculus Rift can then inform our memories, our dreams, our aspirations… to the point of replacing actual experiences, truly collective ones, in situ. What will become of the Oculus Rift once it hits the market? Will we all be sitting in cinemas entirely captivated by the endless possibilities of full immersion? The dissolve recently published an article stating that "The future of film looks immersive but lonely"... Is that inevitable?
Could we even imagine that, one day, the Oculus Rift will offer possibilities for interaction, so that the static, pre-defined narrative does not suffice, but may adapt to the user's choices?
Questions abound, and the technological developments surrounding the Oculus technology remain to be fully achieved. One thing is sure is that Montreal seems to be, once again, at the forefront of these new opportunities for creative content production.
As long as its for the sake of art, we say, go.
We'll see about the rest.