Electric Dreams: VR Cinema – Cosmic

The future of entertainment arrived at the Great Hall at North Terrace’s Masonic Lodge with Electric Dreams: Cosmic. As part of the Electric Dreams VR Cinema experience, Cosmic showcases Virtual Reality in a 360-degree environment. Brought to the Fringe by Crossover Labs, it is fascinating technology with so much potential. Unfortunately, Cosmic as a show was somewhat underwhelming.

The two films shown with cosmic are Kembla Mela and Conscious Existence, both connected to the idea of cosmic and space. Kembla Mela is a BBC feature on the Indian festival of the same name, one which is so large it is visible from space. This was my favourite film of the two. It did an effective job at telling the story of the festival and the people who attend it. I really did feel as though I was taken to this festival through the effectiveness of its filming.

Conscious Encounters was what I found the most underwhelming part of the experience. Admittedly, it has fantastic visuals. The Earth and Moon together is an example of this. It transported me to space in this time. The wandering through the forest was also another highlight moment. Some moments I even tried reaching out for things like leaves and shooting stars, like I was watching a modern 3-D film. The 360-degree experience really worked well in this moment, bringing me into the forest.

While impressive, all of this isn’t new to me, on a VR standpoint. The film too felt very linear sometimes and didn’t utilise the 360-degree experience to its full potential. It too felt more like an example of what it could do rather than what it can do.

The VR technology itself is impressive. The VR sets offered from Oculus were just the goggles with an audio jack, similar to the PlayStation VR. They’re not the most impressive VR goggles available, but they’re not bad. I was really immersed in the world. It’s just a shame that Conscious Encounters was underwhelming.

Electric Dreams: Cosmic was a good but underwhelming experience for me. It didn’t really show me anything new in the VR world and what it can do. If you’re new to VR, Cosmic will more than likely blow you away.

This review is only for Cosmic, not the larger Electric Dreams Experience, one made up of other cinema experiences and a conference (running Feb 19-23). For more on the Electric Dreams Experience, check out their Fringe page here.

3 / 5 stars


Words by Cameron Lowe

Electric Dreams: VR Cinema – Cosmic is on at Gluttony’s Masonic Lodge until February 23

For more information and to book tickets click here

Classy Bogan Studios

Michael Matthews is the leading designer and programmer at Classy Bogan Studios, a local developer specialising in Virtual Reality (VR). Together with his team of developers, Matthews creates VR titles from Gameplus, a sharespace for game developers. I had the opportunity to speak to Matthews about Classy Bogan Studios and some of their creations. Here is what I discovered.

“Classy Bogan Studios began when Daniel Booker, my artist and very close friend, and I were talking to our boss at our retail job,” says Matthews. “In the conversation, it was brought up that we were game developers and that we had dabbled in VR in our study. When he heard that he suggested that we come up with a VR Training Simulation for our workplace. This was sort of our first big interview.”

The name Classy Bogan originates from their first client meeting, when Brooker arrived wearing his ‘good’ trackies and a jumper full of holes. The name stuck on after this and it is now symbolic to them as trackies are seen as comfort clothes. The company is currently made up of eight members, each specialising in a certain area of digital media, such as 2D artists, 3D artists, and programmers. They tend to use Unity as their primary game engine. Unity is “the engine the team is the most familiar with and its currently the engine that has the best and most thorough documentation”.

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Classy Bogan have done a fair amount since their first project and just last year their work was featured on the water projection at Hybrid World Adelaide. The team also held a VR fishing competition in Port Victoria on the Yorke Peninsula earlier this year. This has been one of the few community events they have attended. Perhaps one of their greatest achievements has been the release of their VR game, Virtual Skydiving, on Steam. Virtual Skydiving, created for Virtual Reality Adelaide is one of their most challenging yet rewarding creations to date. When it was uploaded, Matthews said it was “a major achievement as we hadn’t done anything like that in the past.”

As for the future, Matthews says they have many upcoming projects. Currently they are working on a Gamified Virtual Tour for the geology department at Uni SA and updating Virtual Skydiving to improve the user experience. They are also working on a game developed during a game jam called Screeming Cheeses.

 

For those who wish to find out more about Classy Bogan Studios, check out their website here.


Words by Cameron Lowe

Steampunk Festival 2018

You watch steam blow from the locomotive’s chimney as it sits idly at the station. Men and women dressed in Victorian fashion walk along the platform around you, smiling and taking photos. Your eyes catch a market set up on the other side of the locomotive. Here, you see a multitude of arts and crafts, books, and antiques for sale. Your attention, although, is on the strange contraption at the edge of the market. It looks like something out of a Jules Verne novel. The inventor of this device calls it: Virtual Reality. You put it on and reality disappears as you reappear on the bridge of an airship in the midst of a battle.

No, this isn’t fiction. This was, in fact, September 15-16 at the Adelaide Steampunk Festival at the National Railway Museum (NRM) in Port Adelaide. For one weekend, the NRM came alive with fans of both steampunk and history. This is a walking tour review of the event and why you, dear reader, will enjoy it too.

Your senses are overwhelmed as soon as you step through the museum gates. You get the illusion that you have just stepped into an alternate world, where steam and Victorian fashion is still dominant. There is the combined scent of steam from Peronne (NRM’s operating tank engine) and potato on a stick. These combine in taste as you purchase your own potato on a stick from near the signal box and begin your journey into the festival.

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Entering the first pavilion you are greeted by professional photographers. To the left is a set up where you can sit and listen to steampunk enthusiasts and authors talk. On your right is a small cinema set up with Georges Méliès’s 1902 film A Trip to The Moon (based on Jules Verne’s novel From the Earth to the Moon).

Down the first row, display cabinets filled with old railway memorabilia and a reconstruction of the Adelaide Railway Station ticket booth are to your right. To your left, in carriages used by Commonwealth Railways on the Trans-Australian Railway, is the Pop Club and another photography spot. The Pop Club have wargames set up for visitors in the dining car while professional photographers are set up in in a nearby carriage. A wargame or two would be good later, you think.

The main steampunk market sits in the second row of the museum. Here, you find a range of goods, foods, and crafts to buy. Some include antique dinner sets, Dark Oz’s DECAY and Retro Sci-fi series comics, and cupcakes. The first set up on the left of the market is a VR set up, brought to you by the Flinders University Digital Media Department. You continue to browse what’s for sale through the marketplace. A custom-made TARDIS coffee table catches your attention, although its $340 price tag is a little steep. You finish your snack in time to reach a cupcake stand run by B is for Bake. After a quick browse, you buy a double chocolate cupcake, fascinated by the decorative chocolate steam cog.

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Before you go down the next row another display catches your eyes. This one is filled with metalwork art, ranging from steam operated electric lights to a clockwork robotic dog. You wonder how can people make such wonderful art. You swear the robotic dog could actually work.

You continue to the end row. Here, among the carriages and steam locomotives, you find a ‘secret’ second market. Here, an artist can give you calligraphy on a picture or bookmark for a small fee (free with a purchase), purchase steampunk detective fiction by local author Karen J. Carlisle, and converse with sci-fi comic author and game developer Mike Cooper (Dr. Mike 2000). At the end of the row are a group of musicians playing some rock music to heighten the atmosphere. You stand for a moment and take in the music, finding it unusual to hear such music in a historical setting.

There isn’t much in the next pavilion, apart from a stage where more performances occur throughout the day. You begin to wonder what to do next. Do you go have a game or two at Pop Club’s set up? Do you try the VR experience? Or will you go explore what else the museum has? If so, will you go ride Perrone or Bub, ride the Bluebird railcar, or grab a drink from the 1940s style Cafeteria car?

You had a lot of fun while you were there and make a note to visit again to it again next year. You make a reminder to recommend to the dear reader to also come along and visit too if you have an interest in steampunk, 19th-century history, literature and fashion.

There is a lot of fun to have at the Adelaide Steampunk Festival. The NRM is the best place to hold it as it blends in well with the old locomotives and rolling stock. The day is great for fans of steampunk. It also gives reason to visit the NRM, one of Adelaide’s many hidden gems. The Steampunk is an annual event so if you’re interested in attending next year, you can check out more information on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/adelaidesteampunkfestival/.

 


Words and photography by Cameron Lowe.Meet-the-Team-Cameron2

Cameron Lowe is a horror and sci-fi writer, editor and student. He’s had fiction and articles featured in Speakeasy Zine and Empire Times. He loves to read, play video games, and drink green tea. He’s one of the 2018 editors at Empire Times. He tweets at @cloweshadowking.