Given the significance of virtual reality for the screen industries, staff members of the Screen Industries Research and Training Centre at Sheridan College were invited to give a presentation and hands-on workshop on VR to attendees of Digifest. Since it’s a technology that needs to be experienced to be truly appreciated, SIRT staff including Spencer Idenouye, Ayngaran Vamatheva, and student researcher Phillip Tremblay took the audience through all the stages and aspects of cinematic and game-based VR. As they noted, it’s essential that more people be exposed to the experience for it to become a mainstream phenomenon. Judging by attendees’ reaction, this workshop was definitely a step in the right direction.
SIRT director John Helliker emphasized that virtual reality is ultimately about impact. Since it’s such an immersive experience, with the ability to make people feel as if they’re actually in a given situation or speaking to real people, it has more of a visceral experiential effect than even film. It engages people like no other media due to its level of immersion, and effectively promotes empathy because of how wholly it can envelope you in the experiences of others. Helliker noted that the immersion, sense of presence, and the potential for empathy cumulatively achieve the level of impact that only virtual reality provides.
After the presentation and a brief question and answers session, attendees finally got the chance to try the technology for themselves. SIRT brought an amazing number of examples for demonstration, and everyone present could barely restrain themselves from diving into each one.
Please visit Digifest's website to find out more about Toronto's international festival celebrating digital creativity and a review of the workshop.