This is my brother in the swing about 50 years ago. How technology changed since then! 2017 I had the raw footages recorded on this swing with 6 GoPro cameras ready to be stitched together to a 360 video, and some initial ideas of what I wanted to do with it.
Stitching/editing 4 minutes of 360° video costs about £2-3000 if outsourced, so learning it became the only way I could continue this project. Hence the search for a teacher and funds begin. I wrote an endless amount of emails to companies and individuals involved in VR. It is hard to believe but not a single reply was received. Not even a refusal. I called one studio that organises VR workshops in the UK under the umbrella of Raindance. They were extremely rude on the phone; still, I was considering putting up with them. Their workshop got cancelled due to the pandemic. I asked all my friends and every human being I met during the last two years if they have any idea where I could learn these techniques. Nobody had any. I emailed Gobelins in Paris, no English course. Talked to Hungarian film producers, no one knew VR in depth. Emailed UAL and LCC, I received quotes from both, that only Elon Musk could afford (I wasn’t going to put up with this one), later taking back their quote, deciding not to arrange it anyway due to the pandemic. It was so disheartening, if the project is not so close to my heart I would have indeed given up.
I am fortunate I met Jose from Virtual Awakening XR Creative Studio on a Movement Medicine workshop. I actually re-met him, as I have seen his work at a Breaking Convention event years before, an incredibly moving and well-researched VR tour called “Death Is Only The Beginning”. From the studio’s website:
“Death Is Only The Beginning” is based on a conceptual representation of a near death experience (NDE).
This is not “edutainment”. It is an experience best completed with a strong personal intention.
This mindfully guided VR experience facilitates an empathic resonance with the experience and process of dying.
Through immersive storytelling, participants explore various stages of an NDE, as detailed in the medical literature by those given a second chance at life.
They are invited to a life review, raising awareness of critical global, social and relational issues facing all of humanity today, and invited to consider how they might proceed after they come back to their bodies and make the most this precious “second chance”.
Preparatory and follow-up work is essential to make the most out of this experience.”
Come 2020 and all its turmoil, lo and behold, with the financial support of a-n The Artists Information Company and Arts Council England and with the professional presence of Virtual Awakening this project received the green light to go ahead. I was now set up to learn what I needed for it. It felt like that magical moment when all stars align, and a gate to a new path suddenly opens.