Virtual Production

Interview with Christian Iseli about the Immersive Arts Space with a special focus on virtual production and film. Recorded for the 2020 online edition of NIFFF (Neuchâtel International Fantastic Film Festival), aired on July 6th, 2020. © ZHdK 2020

BATVISION

© ZHdK 2020

«Have you ever wondered how a bat perceives the world?» BATVISION offers the chance to playfully explore how bats use echo-location to detect their surroundings. The VR-experience visualizes the bat’s auditory sensation and makes it more tangible. Surrounded by complete darkness, the virtual world only becomes visible when the users start shouting. BATVISION simulates the ultrasonic navigation of bats, enables new forms of perception and raises the awareness for an endangered species.

BATVISION is a collaboration between the ZHdK Industrial Design program and the Immersive Arts Space. In their bachelor thesis Eliane Zihlmann and Raffaele Grosjean developed the concept of the VR experience and the associated hardware design. They were supported by IASpace staff members Oliver Sahli (programming, visual implementation, interaction control), Chris Elvis Leisi (implementation of multi-user functionality) and Florian Bruggisser (3D scanning and point-cloud processing).


Kusunda

Filmmaker in Residence Gayatri Parameswaran

KUSUNDA is a virtual reality documentary experience about what it means to lose a language and what it takes to keep one alive.

Narrated by two of its co-creators — 86-year-old Kusunda shaman Lil Bahadur and his 15-year-old granddaughter Hema — the experience contrasts two generations set apart by their lifestyles and brought together by the struggle for their indigenous identity.

In the VR experience, you join Hema as she reminds her grandfather of his forgotten mother tongue. You navigate by speaking words in the endangered Kusunda language and join an audible fight against its extinction.

Most of Lil Bahadur’s story happens in the past — especially his life in the forest as part of a hunter-gatherer group. The recreation of this non-existent past lends itself naturally to the use of animations within virtual reality.

With the help of the motion capture facilities at the Immersive Arts Space at the Zürcher Hochschule der Kunst (ZHdK), actors were recorded recreating these sequences from Lil Bahadur’s past. This not only simplifies and speeds up the process of character animations but also offers unique possibilities for the documentary storytelling form.

Crew at ZHdK:
Cast: Offir Limacher, Johannes Voges, Ferhat Türkoğlu, Liliana Heimberg, Corinne Soland
Mocap coaching and production: Corinne Soland
Mocap recording: Tobias Baumann
IASpace producer: Kristina Jungic
Further ZHdK support: Chantal Haunreiter, Martin Fröhlich, Stella Spezialli.

ZHdK Residency
The residency at the Zurich University of the Arts has been made possible by the Ernst Göhner Foundation, Switzerland, as well as by additional support of the ZHdK film program (led by Sabine Boss) and by the Immersive Arts Space (led by Prof. Christian Iseli).

Further crew members:
Co-creators: Gyani Maiya Kusunda, Hema Kusunda, Lil Bahadur Kusunda; Storytelling/Production coordination: Felix Gaedtke, Gayatri Parameswaran; Executive Producer: Rene Pinnell; Associate Producer: Mia von Kolpakow; Co-Producers: Emma Creed, Aliki Tsakoumi, Sönke Kirchhof, Philipp Wenning, Kuan-Yuan Lai; Lead Developer: Tobias Wehrum; Art Director, 3D designer & animator: Moritz Mayerhofer (and team); Volumetric Video post-processing: INVR.SPACE; Photogrammetry post processing: realities.io; AI speech recognition: Valerio Velardo; Sound designer: Mads Michelsen; Project website: Tom Lutherburrow | Nepal Production team: Direction/Production: Felix Gaedtke, Gayatri Parameswaran; Line Producer Nepal: Deepak Tolange, Sandeep Bhaju; Volumetric Video & Photogrammetry: Felix Gaedtke, Gayatri Parameswaran; DoP and Drone pilot: Aditya Thakuri; Sound recordist: Mia von Kolpakow; Kusunda linguistics researcher: Uday Raj Aale; Driver: Dharmendra Shakya


Multi-User VR

Photo by Stefan Dux © ZHdK 2020

The aim of the project is to develop a versatile co-location multi-user system, with which several users can dive into virtual worlds together in the same room. The system can be used for many different areas. As a multiplayer game in which the users feel even closer to their fellow players through increased physical presence. As a virtual film set to try out camera movements or interactions of actors without much effort. Or as an interactive experience that transports the user into a new dimension of immersion.

An iPad also serves as a window into the virtual world. The user can use this virtual camera to move through the room and in some cases even interact with the virtual world. The virtual world can also be placed on an interactive screen. This gives outsiders the opportunity to change the entire scene.

The co-location multi-user system can be used wherever the headsets can connect to a network thanks to the Mobile Vr-Headsets. The system is developed by IA-Space staff members Chris Elvis Leisi and Oliver Sahli.


TwinLab (Pilot, 2018)

The live performance of “The Hidden Formula” took place on 25 October at the ZHdK in Zurich and simultaneously at the Community Center in Hong Kong and was broadcast live in Zurich’s Bahnhofshalle as part of the Swiss Digital Day. | ©ZHdK 2018