This summer LSS are joining up with the Jon Bradley from, ‘Immersive Interactive‘ (image above, is one of their interactive classrooms) to have a go at creating a virtual audience experience.
The aim is to create a tool for users to gain some experience of ‘working’ with an audience, to try and answer the question; ‘can an interactive immersive audience simulation help in building confidence for public performance and speaking?’
We will film from the stage of a full theatre in 360/VR and direct the audience to do the normal things an audience does; such as applause (in different styles and intensities); laugh; boo; bay; mutter; look bored; heckle;…you get the idea?
This footage will be utilised to allow the presenting of different audience behaviours, in response to the user’s ‘performance’. The virtual audience will ‘respond’ to user movement, gesture, volume etc., by way of input devices such as Kinect sensors.
(there’s a great piece on the history of applause/attention by, Matt Locke here)
When the simulation is launched, the user is placed on a virtual theatre stage. The curtain is closed. They can hear the murmuring and fidgeting of a large crowd behind the curtain. This is the splash screen. The splash screen loops until the user ‘takes their place’ by standing on a hotspot on the floor. Once the hotspot is activated the curtain retracts and the audience goes quiet, waiting for the performance to begin……
Stakeholders such as educators, trainers, performers and speakers will be invited to take part in testing the prototype and we will then evaluate the impact the experience has had on their confidence and preparedness levels.
Immersive and/or virtual experiences can have profound effects upon us. Often described as the ‘ultimate empathy machine’. There is some evidence (Herrera, F. et al) of long lasting changes in attitudes through ‘perspective-taking’ tasks and there are many studies of embodiment and its use in therapy; take a look at this New Scientist video, ‘Virtual drop helps confront fear of heights’
I’ll post an update when we’ve completed the study. In the meantime, see here for details about post graduate opportunities in the Liverpool Screen School where you’ll have the opportunity to explore, interactivity, immersive spaces and much more – MA Creative Technology and MA Immersive Arts