I love going to the movie theater. Seriously, I love it.
I just hate all the other people that go.
Quite early on, my parents taught me that there was but one rule for going to the theater: silence is golden. If the theater was a moviegoer’s church, talking or otherwise ruining the experience for others was sin. If I talked, we’d leave. Simple as that.
Sometime in the past few years, though, it’s like people have forgotten how to do the movie theater.
I’ve tried going at different times. I’ve tried going to different theaters. No matter what I do, no matter where I go, the shitty moviegoers follow. They talk. They crack jokes that only their friends laugh at. They muck with their phones, blinding everyone in the rows behind them so they can blast out a Facebook update about being at the movies that literally no one will care about.
I went to 10 movies this year; 9 out of 10 had at least one person who happily paid their $12 just to go in and crap on the movie for everyone else. I’ve given up.
But this… this gives me hope. Hope for a next-best-thing. And man does it make me want an HD Oculus Rift like right now.
VR Cinema 3D is a movie theater… simulator. Built with the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset in mind, it’s a simulated movie theater without the lines, the massively inflated concession prices, or the crappy people. It’s a full-sized movie theater in the comfort of your own home, beamed straight to your eyeballs.
You strap on the Rift, load up your favorite movie (by naming it “movie.avi”, regardless of what sort of video file it actually is. Hurray, beta software!), pick any seat in the house, and kick back. The “in-theater” lights dim, and the projector starts rolling — complete with a bit of ambient light reflecting off the screen and back into the room.
Don’t like your seat? Walk to another, or bring up the UI to instantly warp across the room.
It may seem silly, at first glance. Why simulate the environment? Why not just play the video directly onto the Rift’s display?
Once you try it, though, it all makes sense. The familiar environment helps it all feel very, very real, allowing you to quickly lose yourself in the movie. Meanwhile, simulating the screen at a realistic distance gives it all a massive sense of scale.
Just imagine this with a bit of networking magic added in. You and your friends could catch the latest flicks while sitting side-by-side, even when you’re thousands of miles apart. And if one of them starts talking a bit too much? Boop! Muted.
Of all the Oculus Rift demos I’ve tried, this one might actually be my favorite. They hooked me initially with the promise of immersive games, but they sold me forever with the promise of private theaters.
If you have a Rift, you can find the early (and occasionally buggy) build of VR Cinema here. Sorry, Mac users – it’s Windows only, for now.
Still not getting it? Here’s a slightly longer video of the app in use by Youtuber/Rifter emart:
(If you’re not familiar with the Rift: these videos show two of the same thing because one image is in front of each eye. When you’ve got the Rift on, your brain combines the images into one seamless view.)