The Future is Now.

By Marina Laven

It was the kind of Friday night that almost never happens in our household. Our 7-year old twins were at the grandparents’, and we had a whole Friday (!) evening to ourselves. After a couple of agonizing hours when we were trying to remember what people normally do on a Friday night other than preparing a family dinner, settling multiple arguments between kids and playing a game of basketball, we decided to have a couple of drinks and go to a movie. Yes, we are that adventurous.

The movie was crowded. We could barely find two seats near each other and I dragged my chair closer to my husband’s despite a disapproving look from the hostess. Not that it mattered, since I could not see him anyway, but somehow being physically closer still created that sense of a shared experience.

I closed my eyes. When I opened my eyes and looked at the play button, the movie started.

I turned around and saw a Rhino charging at me at full speed. I grabbed my husband’s hand and promised myself that I wouldn’t flinch. A window opened in the sky to my left and a female scientist stepped out of the window to tell me that the Northern White Rhinoceroses were on the brink of extinction with only three of them left in the world. She then took me to her lab (thankfully, through the door this time) and showed me around, explaining how they hoped to save the species through Stem Cell and IVF therapy. I was reminded of the ‘de-extinction’ movement that started a couple of years ago.  It rumored to bring back the dinosaurs and I wasn’t very keen on the idea. Not the idea of a T-Rex, at least.

Distracted by my dinosaur-reviving thoughts, I unexpectedly found myself on the roof of a building in India, with people in colourful clothes dancing in a circle around me. A beautiful city was spreading out 10 feet below me, full of bright colours, chattering sounds and (I could swear!) aromatic smells. I turned around to find a handsome young man standing in front of me extending his arm, inviting me to join him in a dance. His hand almost touched me when I remembered that my husband is sitting literally next to me. I pulled back to the very edge of the roof, flung my arms in the air trying to keep my balance so as not to fall over…and bumped into the chair next to me. “Sorry!” I apologized sheepishly and still shaking, took my Virtual Reality set off.

Wait, what?

You thought we went to an old-fashioned 3D movie? Where everything is happening in front of you and you keep being distracted by the light from somebody’s phone in the next row? Where you can’t turn around to see where the person on the screen is looking nor can you get closer to look at something in more detail?  Where everything is not up to scale and suspension of disbelief is just wishful thinking?

To be honest, after experiencing a VR movie, I am not sure the standard screen holds much appeal for me anymore. Mind you, there are not that many VR films available yet, and to be completely honest the resolution and overall quality was not up to our current standards…let’s just say that one of the dancing people was missing half of his head. But we glimpsed into the future. We saw what would become a standard movie experience for our children.

How will this change the movie industry? Will movie theaters even survive? After all, you don’t need to go to a specific location to use a VR set. What I do know for sure is that I am getting my VR set ready for September 22 when Halcyon, the first VR TV show, is being released.