Weekly Sense Journal:

Little Shop of Horrors is a musical based off a 1960s dark movie of the same name (though much of it is changed). This is one of my favorite musicals, but the reason I am writing about it today is not because of the story, but because of the way many productions (including the original off broadway productioN) end the show. Little shop is considered a "horror" musical where there is not a happy ending. Spoilers here, but in the original show, all of the characters die and we get a final number where we learn that the plants have managed to take over the entire world. The lyrics are as follows:

And begin what they came here to do which was essentially to eat Cleveland and Des Moines and Peoria and New York and where you live!


As this line is sung (though the event can occur at many different parts). Vines spill into the audience, sometimes from the ceilings. Those close to the stage have vines thrust upon them. This unexpected feeling that they may be touched, often frightens the audience. It takes the divide of the proscenium and forces the story into the audience, taking the story from something observed as bystanders to one of reality and fear. By stimulating another sense, we bring the audience into the piece.

In the Eyes of the Animal & Giant

In the past, I have not had a lot of opportunities to do VR experiences, so a lot of what we have been viewing/playing in class is new to me. However, I am no stranger to haptic experiences and interactivity, especially in the world of cinema. I often think about experiences like 4DX in theaters, where the audience is moving, shaking, and hearing the films in a new way. It adds an entirely new angle to the viewing experiences, despite the fact that it is often considered an afterthought. The key difference, I think, between theatrical haptics and VR haptics is the intentionality of the technology.

When you begin In the Eyes of the Animal, you are placed in an amorphous, point-cloud world. This is one of the most visually stunning experiences I have had, though it definitely makes the environment a bit confusing at first (which I think is quite appropriate for this piece). The piece really "takes off" when we first feel the subpac buzz. We are immediately clued into what is happening as the dragonfly that we embody glides through the forest. The haptics really inform us of what is happening in a world where we are told nothing, not even the type of animal that we are. While I do think that it could be at least a little more clear what we are embodying, I also like that the haptics guide us.

But the power of the subpac is more than just how it can be used to provide to us phantom limbs, but how it can tap into our instinctual reactions to real inputs. For example, during the night scene in ITEOTA, we feel the howls of predators ripple through the forest. It isn't generally considered the "scariest" thing to hear howling during a film, but feeling it unlocks something different. It actually puts the user on edge, some sort of pit in your stomach knowing something bad can happen.

Another good example of this is in Giant. The narrative here is fantastic, the idea that there is some sort of giant fumbling around the country destroying everything in its path is engaging. However, a lot of this story could be told just through audio (with the exception of the shadow puppets perhaps), but when it's ported to VR, the story possibilities explode and we see something even more fantastic. The haptic feedback makes every uneasy moment just that much more surprising and compelling. Furthermore, we can experience the mis-en-scene without relying on the actors interacting with it. Like the TIME magazine that implies this is an entity the world is locked in battle with. By putting us in this environment in a way that we can feel it, we are transported. And while we won't fear death, we can feel that sinking feeling that the entire family is getting along the way.

Overall, I loved these VR experiences and am really interested in exploring haptics in VR somewhat soon.

VR Tutorials

I've finished 1/3 of the tutorials so far. I will continue to work on this tonight through tomorrow.

Pitch Deck