Our first trip was to Minamurra Rainforest for test footage to begin trials of our final exhibition. Unsure of how to film, we decided on walking through the rainforest path with the camera as I recorded the audio on a Zoom Microphone. Once we had the footage and audio, we brought our tasks back together in the physical room. Mitch and Harry had developed the idea of simulating the feel of rain with course string, that I thought at first was to represent trees or reeds. At the centre, we placed the VR headset with the Minamuura footage. The immersion was infantile, but worked to capture your senses. With the feel of the string on your skin, but unable to see it, added to watching the film of the rainforest. We had yet to incorporate touch, but concluded to bring a fan into the immersion to simulate a breeze in the forest. Our audio worked well, and overall it was a successful first iteration. Justine, in her report for week 13, explained how to create a 360 video using the RICOH THETA 360 camera.
Justine felt the footage from Minamurra wasn’t up to par with that we needed for the VR headset, and that still footage would be more effective. Using this footage, we simulated our project and tested the immersion room again. I sampled some audio tracks and looped them together for approximately 15 minutes each, so as we had seamless sound to add into our project where necessary.
Mitchell and Harry continued developing the design and execution of the immersion room. To stimulate the senses of the viewers, they settled on creating a storm setting. Using a strobe light to simulate lighting, the string remaining a representation of rain, and surround sound of speakers around the room playing a loop of thunder and lightning. The objective was to provide a juxtaposition of the serene setting of the rainforest, and the dark black box. We decided on using a separate audio with noise-cancelling headphones, so that when the audience walks in, will experience one set of sensory immersion, find the VR headset, place it on and be travelled to the calmer rainforest.
We found we would need new footage for our final design, and still shots would provide slightly more clearer images and less shaky. The quality of the image was also reduced due to a lack of natural sunlight under all of the forest foliage. There was the consensus, to generate the quite, rainforest oasis, that no one should be in the shot of the 360 film, so the viewer feels as though they are the only ones there. It is a problem with 360 footage, that you must still be in WiFi range of the device, but being out of sight is hard to achieve.
The following week, in the first exam period, we reshot our rainforest at a new location with still shots. Unfortunately, one shot we were clearly visible and in the one of the sight of the camera. From our position, we could not see the camera, but it could see us due to the fact it was a fish eye lens and can reach higher than itself. At this point, the sun had set and it was too late to reshoot. The footage, once rendered and exported turned out a much better quality than our original Minamurra. At the beginning of the second week, we began to set up for our final installation and iteration of our Immersion Forest.
Mitch and Harry hung the string across half of the room, Justine worked to install the video and I wired the stereo speakers around the room and to a central computer. With the fiddly technical installation completed, we hung up a black curtain to finalise the walls of the immersion room, added a spotlight so that the VR headset was visible through the string, and hung a low setting fan to generate the ‘breeze’.