A Christmas Carol in VR
Yule Love this interactive VR experience that gives a new spin to Charles Dickens’ classic tale.
Mince Pies might have been out on the supermarket shelves since September, and spare a thought for the poor store clerks who are already sick of having to listen to those Christmas tunes. But you really know that you’re approaching the Holidays’ home stretch when they start bringing out the latest Charles Dickens adaptation.
And sure enough, just as I’m getting ready to pick out my tree, I got the news that Los Angeles-based experiential studio GreatCo was premiering a version of Mr Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol. Ding dong merrily on high!
But the experience, which runs from November 30th till January 6th 2019, comes with a few twists. Chained: A Victorian Nightmare is a location-based mash-up of film, gaming, theatre and immersive technology that plunges you into a Tim Burton-esque Victorian London where — as you might have guessed — you’ll be guided by ghosts on a journey to confront visions of your own past, present and future, hopefully emerging a better and happier person at the other end.
The experience is a co-production of Here Be Dragons and MWM Immersive (Formerly Reality One) whose immersive division was behind Jon Favreau’s Gnomes & Goblins.
It’s a high-value production that includes a detailed Victorian-era set where only one audience member is allowed in at a time. They’re fitted with a VR headset by a professional actor, and interact with a cast of live actors (using motion capture) and real-world objects throughout to create what the producers hope is a “spine-tingling journey of self-reflection and visual awe.”
“By combining the best of VR and immersive theater, Chained surpasses the limitations of each medium and lets the audience see, converse with, and even touch the impossible,” says Justin Denton, who created and directed the experience. “I grew up with Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol but in my mind’s eye I always imagined the spirits of Christmas Past, Present, and Future as much darker and more intense than most adaptations. Audiences will walk away from Chained as though they have just awoken from a dark and beautiful fever dream full of self discovery, fascination, fear, and wonder,” hopes Denton, who has a track record of producing such unusual and thought-provoking immersive pieces, having previously created the Legion experience at San Diego Comic Con 2017.
And the list of impressive A-list talent that chose to be involved in the project doesn’t end there either: Aaron Sims, whose Hollywood credits include Transformers, Planet of the Apes, The Thing, and Stranger Things provided art direction and software development, while Bruce Straley, co-creator and game director of The Last of Us provided story consultation.
Ethan Stearns, producer of the Academy Award-winning VR project, Carne y Arena was an Executive Producer on the project, and he stresses that the experience uses immersive technology in the service of telling a compelling story rather than a gimmick.
“Chained embodies the creative drive and spirit of everyone at MWM Immersive. We empower directors and writers to use whatever mediums are necessary to create the narrative experience they want and leave audiences delighted and awed,” he says.
Tickets for the Los Angeles experience can currently be purchased for $40 on Eventbrite and there are plans for Chained to tour other cities — dates to be announced “soon.”
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Alice Bonasio is a VR and Digital Transformation Consultant and Tech Trends’ Editor in Chief. She also regularly writes for Fast Company, Ars Technica, Quartz, Wired and others. Connect with her on LinkedIn and follow @alicebonasio on Twitter.
Originally published at Tech Trends.