Empathy VR In My Shoes: Dancing with Myself

Empathy VR In My Shoes: Dancing with Myself

The Challenge

How can virtual reality be used to provoke empathy and influence change in the viewer? Jane Gauntlett, theatre producer and founder of Sublime & Ridiculous approached Visualise to collaborate on her empathy VR project In My Shoes: Dancing with Myself.

Using the latest in 360­° video and 3D audio production techniques, we worked with Jane and collaborators from differencEngine to give the viewer an intimate first-­person perspective of what it’s like to have a neurological condition.

The Solution

Using a unique POV rig we developed in-house, we produced a seamless experience that allows the viewer to look down at the table and see hands, arms and body of Jane, whose story we are telling. The rig was attached to the floor and came up behind Jane, rather than being attached directly to her body or head, allowing the content to be captured steadily without any small body movements.

Producing a theatrical 360° piece is not unlike staging a traditional performance. Jane and her team had to carefully block the performers and scenes in order to avoid any visible stitching issues, especially given the immersive and interactive techniques on which her work relies. Jane herself also had to be mindful of the movement of her arms and hands to remain in the frame of a single camera, as seeing any visible stitching lines would contribute towards breaking the sense of presence.

Due to the narrative structure of Dancing with Myself, we made use of non-spatial and spatial 360° sound to recreate the impression of Jane’s inner monologue and outer ambient sounds and conversations.

The main challenge of this project was in post-production. In order to recreate that first-person perspective with the rig meant the camera was relatively close to Jane’s arms on the table. A large amount of time in post was spent in order to ensure we could create that sense of immersion.

We really enjoyed the collaboration with Sublime & Ridiculous on this creative and technical piece. It has demonstrated how first-­person POV can be an extraordinarily effective storytelling medium and, combined with 360° sound design, has the potential to place you in the dramatic centre of a role or situation.

The Results

Premiered at the American Epilepsy Society 69th Annual Meeting in December 2015, 100% of medical professionals attending said that the experience was impactful and 100% of attendees said it left a lasting impression.

Following the US debut, Dancing with Myself, debuted at VRUK 2016 in London and was received as one of the most inspiring and thought-provoking pieces of content at the festival.

Dancing With Myself is touring theatre’s, festivals, universities, medical conferences and other events, there are plans for it to be shown in the UK, New York, Florida, Vancouver, Prague and beyond.