Virtual Arena: London Calling LBE – Into The Tomb! (Part 3.)

In the latest coverage of the immersive Out-of-Home entertainment scene for VRFocus, in his latest Virtual Arena column, Kevin Williams reports on an explosion of brand new LBE XR entertainment properties making the capital their home. In this third and final part of this series of reports, we look at the ‘TUTANKHAMUN: Enter The Tomb’ VR experience – and at the first ticketed Positron installation.

Not all applications of VR in LBE are associated with videogame playing – the technology is also making strides in new levels of storytelling, and narrative-driven experiences. One such example that also opened in London draws on the development of an immersive experience in the museum and heritage sphere of commercial entertainment. 

Part of the popular ‘TUTANKHAMUN: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh’ exhibition taking place at the Saatchi Gallery in the capital, the organizers and supporters of the impressive collection of artefacts from the illustrious historical excavation have augmented with an independently produced experience called ‘TUTANKHAMUN: Enter The Tomb‘ – an immersive VR theater exhibition combined with the main ticket, owned and produced by immersive entertainment company, CityLights, (directed by Joel Newton, founder of the company).

Tutankhamun: Enter the Tomb
The long lines to experience the Tutankhamun traveling exhibition: Source: KWP

This VR theatre sees the deployment of some 18 of the latest Positron ‘Voyager’ cinematic VR chairs. These unique platforms described as a new kind of movie storytelling, the VR motion seat system having been deployed mainly in promotional marketing and a number of VR movie experiences – most recently deployed as part of the ‘How to Train Your Dragon: Hidden World’ promotional movie VR experience, in partnership with Dreamworks and Walmart

Positron’s first ticketed immersive VR theatre, the systems deployed comprise a 6-DoF motion platform, with haptic feedback built into the pod seat. The audience using the Samsung Odyssey+, Windows MR headset to view the experience. All this to recreate ‘Enter The Tomb’, an immersive experience through the historic tomb, recreated by the producers at CityLights. 

The guest traverses through the various chambers of the tombs immersed in the wonders and treasures – the cinematic VR adding to the storytelling of the experience – which lasts some 8-minutes. The narrative of the excavation and exploration of the tombs and their vast treasures is told by Downton Abbey’s Hugh Bonneville, giving a good representation of the historic site, employing the best of VR storytelling. 

Positron - Voyager
The line-up of Positron ‘Voyager’ systems in operation. Source: KWP

Positron sees their VR system much more than an equivalent to the conventional 4DX cinema seating or the once-popular 9D Chinese egg shape VR ride seats. Offering a nuanced motion system with haptic effects, this has been a tool for virtual storytelling, a scalpel rather than a sledgehammer. Producers CityLights working with Positron to create a library of “Edutainment” experiences.

The experience has been so popular that IMG has added more sessions to meet demand. The travelling exhibition has already seen over a million tickets sold when in Paris. Producers at CityLights plan to create a library of Edutainment experiences.

The influence of VR storytelling narrative in commercial entertainment was seen at the momentous VR Awards 2019, held in the heart of the capital during November. An event that saw ‘War Remains’, by MWM Immersive & Flight School Studio – winning Out-of-Home VR Entertainment of the Year. This VR experience transports the audience to the trenches and battlefield of World War I. The separation of ‘interactive’ VR experiences and ‘passive’ VR storytelling presentations – sees more galleries, museums and educational centres, looking at immersive presentations to achieve a new level of audience engagement.

VR Awards 2019 - KWP
VR Award 2019 winners on stage at the star-studded event. Source: KWP

That concludes our latest three-part coverage, but the next major developments from the Out-of-Home Entertainment VR arena will be coming in the next few days.