Virtual Reality Movie Latest Foray Blurring Line Between Life & Art
It seems like you can do pretty much anything in virtual reality (VR) these days - play games, dance, meet for business, work remotely, make music, do art, visit faraway places, etc.
A new documentary is showing that you can make movies in virtual reality as well. The project is called “We Met in Virtual Reality” and it is a 90-minute feature film that tells the story of five members of the VRChat community, heard in their own real-life voices, exploring how they create their avatars, pursue friendships, date, and discover more and more about themselves in the VR environment.
Film director Joe Hunting took on the project during the COVID pandemic and spent many hours using Hirabiki’s VRCLens inside the VRChat community. The camera is a cinematic-grade virtual camera that was made to capture candid moments.
He wanted to capture the way that people deal with unprecedented stress - that being the COVID-19 lockdown and the sense of isolation that followed for so many people.
He found it fascinating how people use VRChat to handle their needs for social interaction. “The film presents an immersive journey through the world and different VRChat communities.
Each individual that you meet shares really unique perspectives on VR and each engages with their community in different ways. For them, VR means very different things,” Hunting said. “Through their eyes, the film presents a very broad portrait on how social VR can affect our emotional and social relationships with each other, but also within ourselves.”
The movie explores several different VRChat communities, but locks in on five specific people from around the world.
Only their avatar names are used in the film, their real-world identities are not given out. Thus, the movie audience is introduced to Jenny, an American Sign Language (ASL) teacher who creates supportive educational environments for hearing, def, and hard-of-hearing VR users.
Though the film explores different communities in VRChat, it primarily follows the lives of five specific people and how they use VRChat as a way to connect with others from around the world. Each individual is addressed by their respective avatar names in the film; at no point do we learn their real-world identities.
Also involved are the pair known as IsYourBoi and Dragonheart, who met each other in the VRChat environment known as “Club Zodiac”.
Both are official administrators of the exotic dance world and identify as a couple despite never having met each other in real life. Another pair are DustBunny and Toaster. DustBunny works as a VRChat fitness instructor and runs VR dance classes.
Toaster is DustBunny’s long-distance partner. The two have only met once in real life.
“I want people to connect with these voices and feel their emotions in the same way that they would as if they were in the real world, but also the film is so much about expression and having fun, and being playful, and embracing a new side of yourself that maybe you’ve never discovered before.” Hunting says. “I want people to walk away from the film feeling inspired and excited to embrace their own individuality, whatever that might be.”