VR cinema: Flying through a Dalí painting
I cycle past it every day: the virtual cinema. As a 38-year-old, I remember a childhood dreaming of a future in which I could spend an afternoon on the holodeck of the USS Enterprise, just like Jean-Luc Picard. So having waited thirty years, it was high time for me to experience virtual reality.
The world’s first VR cinema
The ‘VR cinema‘ is the first VR cinema worldwide (or so they say). Though to call it a cinema might be overdoing it, as the complex consists of a café and two small halls with some 20 comfortable swivel chairs, each fitted with a VR goggle and headphones. Visitors can choose between four programmes, in my case: a horror programme, a journey, a documentary programme or a fun programme (suitable for children). Tickets cost €12.50, which also includes the added bonus of a short National Ballet performance.
A journey around the world in 30 minutes
I chose the journey programme, since travelling seemed a perfect theme for a virtual reality experience. As soon as you’ve settled down in your swivel chair, an assistant helps you to start up the films. The programme consists of a number of short films that each demonstrates a different aspect of virtual reality. Some of the images are real cinematography, others are animations.
I must say that the journey got off to a wonderful start with a trip through one of Salvador Dalí’s iconic landscapes. I even had a sense of vertigo when looking down on the landscape from high up in the sky. This was followed by a journey through the Arctic Ocean with Greenpeace.
Sailing through the polar landscape is a wonderful experience that truly demonstrates how much this technology promises for the future. Of course it would be even better if you could tweak the cinema’s climate control while watching the film – if you could feel a blast of ice-cold air when arriving at the North Pole!
The rest of the films in the programme were entertaining, but not quite mind-blowing. I increasingly got the feeling that I was looking at a new product launch. I think they would do better to only concentrate on top-class productions.
I was very curious to see the bonus film about the National Ballet, titled Night Fall. It’s a remarkable experience to be at the centre of a ballet performance. The dancers and violin player come up close and look you straight in the face. People who own a VR headset can see the film via the website of the Nationale Opera en Ballet. You can also see a film here that shows the making of Night Fall.
At present the halls and the café are separated by just a curtain, so I found the ambient noise a bit annoying. For a ticket costing 12.50 I expect a better cinema experience. Also, the technology is not yet suitable for people who suffer from motion sickness. Nonetheless, it was great to discover the potential of this technology, and it was a unique experience.
The VR Cinema, Oosterdokskade 5
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