SXSW kicked off officially today and the city of Austin and convention center is literally swarmed with people from all over the world. It’s hard to decide what and where to go so Twitter can be very helpful. Yesterday, almost by accident I came across a post about some Virtual Reality activation for Universal’s “The Mummy” starring Tom Cruise.
If you’ve seen the trailer then you may already know there is an exciting plane crash scene where the cast are literally floating through the rapidly descending plane. This Virtual Experience (VR) is a 20 minute How-We -Did -It video. In a day and age where CGI replaces so much, this action sequence (plane crash) has been shot using 90%practical effects according to the Universal release.
What happens and is it worth the effort?
You go to Ballroom B on the far side of the convention center. You can only go one direction so do not think you can save time and go from E straight to A and B. Seriously you have to walk around so be sure to adjust your schedule to accommodate the walk. Once there, you have 2 choices. If you pre signed up (info at bottom) you get an assigned time and go right in. If you didn’t get a reservation you may wait in the standby line. The line on Friday was 30 people deep. They take 20 people every 20 minutes. When I arrived only 7 of 20 showed up… so the line does move.
Once inside, there is a brief film trailer with Tom Cruise discussing his dedication to one-upping himself in every film and that this Zero G action stunt is one of his most grandiose stunts to date. There are some very limited set pieces including a sarcophagus from the film to check out as well.
After the briefing you enter a very unique screening room. See pics. There are 20 open, half circle pods that you sit in. There are plenty of staff to assist you in donning the VR camera and Bose headphones so the change out is fast. As the video begins, it’s the same video again. I couldn’t believe that this was going to be the VR experience. I was almost willing to concede this was a huge waste of time and effort but then the VR kicks in and it’s pretty spectacular.
I’ve seen a few VR experiences including the “Game of Thrones,” “F/X’s American Horror Story: Asylum” and “Interstellar.” This one rates as next to best. “American Horror Story” last year at San Diego Comic Con was just incredible. This one is pretty worthy though.
The pod moves to help simulate some of what you will be feeling. The 20 minutes is a scenes from a separate camera crew that was in the jet when they filmed the zero G sequences for the film. They are actually in there with the film crew and cast and you get an unbelievable view of what it was like to be in that jet and how the stunts were performed (all by Tom Cruise and Annabelle Wallis).
Should you do it?
I would recommend doing this VR experience if you want a break from the conference meetings, or if you are in between films. If you have a limited amount of time and have never done a VR Experience then you should make a point to try it out. If you done them before and you have a tight schedule this may be something you can skip. It’s also next to the Vimeo which has been relocated from where it was last two years. You may be able to screen a film or TV show and schedule this close to it.
How to Sign Up:
Here is the link to sign up. It opens everyday at 6 PM CST for the next day. It will list the day you are reserving on the page. Then you need to select how many people, there is only an option for 1, and then go to the bottom of the page to find the “next” button. A friend of mine missed out because he was on his phone and didn’t scroll down far enough. He assumed it locked up. It will ask for your email. A confirmation for your time will come quickly to your email. You can only make one reservation a day per name and email. They do have a record at check in.