What the VR community can learn from Gene Wilder’s Willy Wonka

As people entered Digital Domain’s futuristic white mocap stage for the very first VRLA meetup in 2014, Gene Wilder’s rendition of “Pure Imagination” wafted through the air, the twinkling piano mysteriously welcoming them into the space.

Come with me
And you’ll be
In a world of pure imagination
Take a look
And you’ll see
Into your imagination

Looking back, it was a little cheesy, but I wanted people to feel a sense of awe as they entered the room, and nothing did that better for me than this scene from “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” The book and movie captured my attention as a child, and it feels more relevant to the work I’m doing today than ever before.

When I consider the potential of VR and imagine a metaverse bustling with people and exciting adventures, I’m reminded of the sense of possibility I felt lurking behind every door in the chocolate factory, each room filled with experiences more impossible than the last. When I put on a VR headset, I want to feel the rush of wonder Charlie Bucket experiences when he sees the glorious chocolate river and lush green hills for the first time.

We want to evoke that feeling with Mindshow, where the stories you create are a product of your imagination. I’ll never forget the first time I puppeteered a character and played it back in third person — it was like watching a sliver of my own personality visualized in 3D space. As more and more people produce their own VR shows, we’ll start to build a library of people’s wild creativity. We can’t wait to see what people make.

While he had many other roles of course, I will forever remember Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka. His legacy lives on in the lyrics to “Pure Imagination”.

If you want to view paradise
Simply look around and view it
Anything you want to, do it
Want to change the world?
There’s nothing to it

I didn’t think much of the lyrics as a kid listening to it, but these words take on new significance as we continue to build Mindshow.

– Cosmo Scharf, Co-Founder and CXO

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