Blade Runner: 2049: Memory Lab is an experience out of the fevered dreams of Philip K. Dick (Blade Runner and Blade Runner 2049 were inspired by his novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?). The immersive and interactive VR experience from Magnopus, in partnership with Alcon Interactive Group and Oculus VR, uses the Rift and Gear VR headsets to place a single player into a virtual world navigated with Oculus Touch controllers. The player is an LAPD Replicant Blade Runner who has retired a human without cause and Wallace Corp. wants to know why. A trip to Memory Lab and the mystery is explored.
Inside the Memory Lab the player/Blade Runner encounters something different from the usual VR experience— the ability to interact with seemingly living characters. In fact, the experience showcases Microsoft’s new Holocapture system, a quantum advance over animation techniques such as “performance capture” applied to computer-generated characters.
At Microsoft’s unique “green room” Holocapture Stage, performers, including actress Evanne Friedmann (who plays the Memory Lab AI), is captured in every detail—contour, textures, physical nuances—all recorded with photographic precision by 106 infrared and RGB color cameras. The volumetric data uses computer vision algorithms to create a constantly updating, 360-degrees textured meshes for playback from any perspective in 3-D space at 30 frames-per-second.
This technology allows real performers to enter the VR environment and completely bypass the ’uncanny valley’ effect of CG characters that don’t look and feel human. Memory Lab’s Holocapture performers have incredible realistic image quality and detail. Memories from the VR experience remain vivid, the Los Angeles of 2049, bursting with mega-structures and the overhead buzzing of LAPD “spinner” cars on patrol. But most importantly, when you look into a character’s eyes, you are seeing into the soul of a real actor giving their best performance.
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