John Cusack & Christina Ricci Make Their VR Debut In ‘Distorted Reality’

Another VR project starring AAA talent shows how the immersive medium is continuing to attract more of Hollywood’s biggest names.

To compliment the theatrical film release of Distorted on June 22nd, Minds Eye Entertainment and SkyVR have partnered to produce Distorted Reality, a scripted, live-action cinematic VR distributed through OneTouchVR on Google Daydream, Oculus Go, Samsung Gear VR, Oculus Rift, and iOS. The content will also be available in stereo 3D through the Littlstar app on Sony’s Playstation VR, Google Daydream, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Samsung Gear VR and more.

The story stars John Cusack, Christina Ricci and Brendan Fletcher in their virtual reality debuts. It was written & directed by Rob King, and produced by Josh Courtney, Travis Cloyd, Kevin DeWalt, Danielle Masters and Rob Bryanton.

In the experience, you follow a woman (Ricci) who begins suffering from a bipolar disorder as she comes to suspect the proprietor of the state-of-the-art ”smart apartment” she and her husband just moved into is using the building’s residents as unwitting guinea pigs for a ”synthetic telepathy” brainwashing plot with dire global ramifications.

Watching it on the new Oculus Go I really enjoyed the intimate feel of the scenes, where you felt up-close and personal with the actors. It also features a clever use of spatial audio to mimic the effect of having maniacal voices whispering from seemingly all directions, even inside your head.

“We are excited for the world to see this piece. John Cusack and Christina Ricci truly embraced the VR medium and helped us to tell a compelling story that compliments the original film through extending the “Distorted” universe,” said Kevin Dewalt, CEO of Minds Eye Entertainment, which has previously produced VR narratives featuring stars like Nicolas Cage, Wesley Snipes and RJ Mitte.

“We are a throwback to the star-driven days of the movie business in this new hyperactive medium. In order to drive audience engagement and increase awareness, we believe we must bring together compelling narratives with marketable stars in order to bring VR to the masses,” said VR Producer Travis Cloyd who also worked in John Travolta’s VR debut Speed Kills. “We are excited to be one of the only groups facilitating A-list film star debuts in virtual reality, and we hope that others will follow our lead.”

Cloyd also explains that getting the right crew on board was crucial to delivering the VR experience without interfering with the filming of the actual feature:

“I love the team we assembled and the feeling when everything comes together,” explained the producer. “There was a lot of chemistry working with the producers at MindsEye and investors at Bridgegate and Invico Capital for my third project with all of them. The main highlight was working with Director Rob W. King. This was my second film where I got the chance to collaborate again with him on both the main feature and also the VR segment. He owned this new format and really took charge.

“Having a director on board who controls all aspects of both the main format and the 360 experience makes for not only a better all around product, but a smoother process,” he continued. “We adjusted the script, coordinated schedules as a team, and knew exactly and efficiently when we had the most time to shine. Never once was the main feature affected, which is the most important asset. More importantly, having one central voice who communicated with the cast made it easier on talent to participate and excel in both formats.”

The experience was filmed using 16 synchronized GoPro Hero4 cameras attached to the GoPro Odyssey by Jump, Google’s professional VR video solution for making 3D-360 video production scalable and built for automated stitching and seamless VR video production. Working in VR, according to Cloyd, presented a set of very unique challenges, not only in making the experience, but in actually getting people to watch it as the medium is not universally pervasive yet:

“I look at VR like gaming and not like the average filmmaking. We go from inception to market delivery. Unlike film where you finish a final product and then it’s halftime. The real hard work begins when you have to distribute, market, and sell a movie. I like to say with VR, we conceptualize, write, create, produce, edit, and build custom environments for the film to be viewed on all VR applications, then drive market awareness through all platforms. It’s a full spectrum of services all the way through delivery to consumer.”

Image Credit: Minds Eye Entertainment

About the Scout

Alice Bonasio

Alice Bonasio runs the Tech Trends blog and contributes to Ars Technica, Quartz, Newsweek, The Next Web, and others. She is also writing VRgins, a book about sex and relationships in the virtual age. She lives in the UK.

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