We put the audience at the centre of the experience

We put the audience at the centre of the experience

Limina Immersive: VR Cinema

We gave groups a shared virtual reality experience by creating a unique software system that powered the Limina VR Cinema at its own public venue during the Watershed virtual reality festival and at pop-ups around the UK.

1st

UK’s first culture venue dedicated to VR

5000+

audience members

96%

of participants wanted to see more VR programmed afterwards

Partners

Supported by Encounters Film Festival and the Watershed, Limina Immersive’s Virtual Reality Cinema was powered by a custom-built CMS and server designed by Curio.

The need for shared virtual reality events

Virtual reality is becoming increasingly popular but is still inaccessible to lower socio-economic groups, and people who don’t consider themselves tech-experts.

It can also seem intimidating – not everyone wants to don a headset and bumble about in front of other people – and is often a solitary experience.

Our friends at Limina Immersive wanted to break down the barriers that prevent people from enjoying virtual reality experiences, and to find a way for people to enjoy shared virtual reality together as a group.

How to build a VR cinema experience

Working with Limina VR CEO and virtual reality researcher Catherine, we identified some of the common problems at virtual reality events and began working to eliminate them. These included onboarding, synchronisation, and providing assistance mid-experience.

With this in mind we devised a simpler way to bring shared virtual reality content to live audiences that enabled them to embark on the experience together. We took a two-pronged approach.

First, we designed a system which uses a dedicated server to control all audience devices, meaning one member of staff can monitor and support an entire group on a single master device.

Running on a phone, tablet or laptop, the interface lists all headsets currently connected to the server, shows which VR playlist is queued, the current timecode through a VR piece, battery levels, and even flags an alert if an audience member requires assistance.

Being able to see each connected participant allows front of house staff to respond more quickly to any issues with less disruption, resulting in greater support and experience for the audience.

Much like a cinema projectionist, the member of staff simply has to make sure they have prepared the correct content, activate playback once the audience are ready, and then just keep an eye on things until the session comes to an end.

Secondly, we created a fully integrated virtual reality CMS to provide storage and easy management of 360 films and virtual reality scenes.

Staff could select any of the available content through the control interface and effortlessly curate video playlists. The system automatically transfers content to every headset before the session begins.

There is so much great story-driven and artistic VR content coming out at the moment, however there are not many ways for it to reach the general public… We have spent the last year or so in research-mode learning as much as we can about how VR can work as a collective cultural experience that people would do in their spare time as a day or evening out - much like theatre or cinema.

Catherine Allen, founder and CEO of Limina Immersive

There is so much great story-driven and artistic VR content coming out at the moment, however there are not many ways for it to reach the general public… We have spent the last year or so in research-mode learning as much as we can about how VR can work as a collective cultural experience that people would do in their spare time as a day or evening out - much like theatre or cinema.

Catherine Allen, founder and CEO of Limina Immersive

Attending the Limina VR cinema

Thousands of people have now been to Limina’s VR Cinema, both in Bristol and beyond.

We created a beautiful intro sequence complete with full ambi-sonic audio. Putting on the headset, you find yourself immersed in an abstract landscape with a calming voice introducing you to virtual reality.

To indicate they are ready to begin the audience are encouraged to look at a specific point, like a slowly drifting hot air balloon; only when everyone is comfortable and ready will the curated VR playlist begin.

The whole group then share the Limina VR cinema experience simultaneously, eventually removing their headsets at the same time and sharing their thoughts in a chilled ‘decompression zone.’

The beta system was first deployed at the 2018 Encounters film festival, and fully launched within the Limina Theatre at the Watershed Cinema in April 2019.

Since then, Zubr has processed and deployed more than 30 third party virtual reality pieces onto the Limina VR cinema system. The straightforward and scalable format is also used for shared virtual reality at Limina’s ‘pop-up’ VR cinemas at international events and festivals.

By creating a safe and welcoming environment for first-time virtual reality users, the Limina VR Cinema helps broaden access to emerging technologies for lower socio-economic groups. Instead of needing to buy a headset yourself and take it in turns with your friends, you could attend the Limina VR Cinema together and witness the wonders of virtual reality together, at the same time.

Curio’s system makes running live virtual reality events simpler for staff, resulting in a better experience for audiences and employees alike. We hope that this, and other inclusive VR projects, will encourage more people to explore the limitless possibilities of virtual reality.

Today I danced on the waves of the ocean, free dived with dolphins, breathed on the beach and looked out whilst floating above tropical islands all thanks to virtual reality theatre at Limina Immersive. Pretty amazing doing all this whilst sat in my wheelchair.

Stephen Lightbrown, @spokeandpencil on Twitter