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IMAX launches Europe’s first VR Experience Centre in Manchester



IMAX has launched its first VR Experience Centre in Europe today in the UK’s northern city of Manchester, and INQ went along for a sneak peek before it opens its doors to the public on Friday.

Situated in the Odean cinema at the Trafford Centre shopping complex, IMAX’s VR Experience Centre aims to deliver “immersive, multi-dimensional virtual reality experiences, including movie entertainment content and games” for film fans and gamers alike.

It’s basically a facility made up of 10 rooms, or “pods” which are all kitted out with VR headsets, where your average Joe Bloggs can go and experience virtual reality content that relates to the films IMAX is showing at any given time.

To get involved, the public can select the experiences and show times of their choice on the IMAX VR website or directly at the Centre, just like they would when ordering tickets to a movie. Upon arriving, they will check in and proceed to the Players’ Lounge for a quick briefing about the particulars of the play experience by one of IMAX VR guides. The players are then led to the uniquely-designed pods, where they are helped into IMAX VR gear and prepared for the experience they’ve chosen.


We were invited to try out three of the eight different experiences that were being demoed at the Centre during our visit, the first of which was a first person-type gaming experience based on the latest Justice League blockbuster.

We chose to play the Wonder Woman experience, which was one of three we could have chosen before putting on the headset. Gameplay, which involved fighting off a number of flying aliens as featured throughout the film, was surprisingly fluid and sharp for a VR -powered experience. Usually with VR, you’ll find lots of blurring and a slight delay, which can easily make you feel nauseous. This wasn’t the case here, although after five minutes of repetitive baddie-bashing with my Wonder Woman sword and shield, I had definitely had enough. 



Related: IMAX brings future of cinema to London with next-generation laser projection tech

The second demo we got our eyes on was more of a passive, sit-and-watch type VR experience, but wasn’t by any means any less immersive. In fact, it was probably my favourite of the demos we tried. It featured the headset wearer in the passenger seat of a space shuttle being launched into space, and then documented a series of events going drastically wrong before being ejected from the shuttle and among the stars. The seats in the demo moved along with gameplay to encourage immersion of the narrative and as a result it felt very realistic. 

The final demo was an interesting experience called Life of Us, which saw us playing a character as it evolved through time from a cell to a dinosaur and on to a gorilla and finally into a human. This was capable of multiplayer support and we played alongside a colleague and were able to interact with them throughout the narrative. Very enjoyable.

The Centre is likely to not be the first and last of its kind in Europe. IMAX’s managing director, Giovanni Dolci, told us that the company will look at launch 10 pilot centre across the entire world over next few months, facilitating consumer experience, tech and models.

“We will look at locations to better understand for example how many customers we can attract to VR experience and what content plays best in which locations, etc,” he said. “It’s important to be flexible in this approach to figure out what works best.” µ



Source : Inquirer



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