Have you ever caught yourself dreamily staring at strangers on your morning commute and wondered what the people surrounding you were thinking? These queries, which we have all entertained at some point, form the basis for a new project by NEW INC alum Specular Studio.
It's called Blackout, an interactive virtual reality experience combining documentary storytelling with a fictional setting. The premise is that the viewer is immersed in the space of a NYC subway train when there is an unexpected power outage. As you move through the dark car, you come across fellow travelers and are telepathically thrust into their thoughts — only these strangers are actual people, whose stories Specular has captured for the project.
The creators, James George, Mei-Ling, and Alexander Porter, have collected an eclectic cast and crew for the project, many of whom they brought into the NEW INC space a little while back to film footage:
The crew used their custom-built Depthkit system to capture the scene with their evolving experimental process. They used volumetric filmmaking, using cameras and depth-sensors to capture live-action subjects in 3D. In this case, the group set up their subjects and surrounded them with four Canon 1DCs and four Microsoft Xbox Kinect One sensors. Then used DepthKit software to create footage that could be imported into other game-making tools and expanded into an immersive virtual world. And this was only part of their shoot, as the group made their way to a live train to record the ambient rumbles of the car and real driver announcements for sound that will be incorporated into the final experience.
The final film will function both in high-end products like Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, as well as the more universally accessible cardboard goggles — you can even get a special branded pair with a Kickstarter donation of $40.
Specular has also recently announced a deal to distribute the project with EEVO, a distribution company specializing in creative and visionary VR storytelling. But this is all only possible if they’re able to fund their Kickstarter campaign, which is going for just under one more week and has just over $5,000 to go. Find out more about the project and help them make their goal before Thursday, December 17!