For those who haven’t been to South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, it’s not just a film/music festival. It’s also a gigantic expo and convention where brands from all over the world bring their wares and products for people to test, engage with, and potentially purchase. It’s a place where people get a glimpse of what the future holds and what they can expect to become the norm in technology, education, culture, and society.
While that all sounds very serious and deep, I can assure you some of it is simply one helluva fun ride! Take, for example, The Mummy Zero Gravity VR Experience, which I was lucky enough to test out. Walking in, I thought that I was going to wear a VR headset and do some kind of interactive presentation where I was on a plane and somehow I felt weightless. While that wasn’t the case, what I did experience was still very entertaining in its own right.
Walking into the hall, a group of us were greeted by the ass end of a large plane, which we boarded from a rear ramp. We got to walk by a prop version of the sarcophagus that can be seen in the trailer before entering a large room with multiple pod-like chairs all lined up facing away from us. The pods, which were Positron Voyagers, were shaped like those egg chairs that were seen in movies like Men in Black, and each contained a VR headset along with headphones.
After taking our seats and putting on our gear, we were then able to see behind-the-scenes footage of the Zero G sequence seen in the trailer. As mentioned before, nothing was interactive. However, the chairs we sat in would tilt, raise, lower, and turn along with the movements in the video, giving a similar feel as if I were actually in the plane. All the while, Tom Cruise and other crew members were narrating what was happening, how it was put together, what went into the shots, the speed at which they had to work, etc. We also learned that the sequence in the film will be 90% practical with some post-production blending needing to take place. For horror fans, that’s certainly a real treat!
As short documentaries go, it was certainly engaging. Plus, the theatricality of the hall that the experience took place in added a lovely dash of excitement and thrill to the event. Does it make me want to see The Mummy any more than I did before embarking on this VR journey? Not really. Then again, I was already committed to seeing it, so I guess their marketing already did the trick!