Of course a Philip K. Dick tale would be a natural fit — or perhaps we should say a synthetic one — as an early virtual reality adopter. A 1950s-vintage short story by the sci-fi visionary has just hit the digital marketplace in the form of an animated VR experience.
Following screenings at Venice and other festivals on this year’s film circuit, Toronto-based emerging media studio Secret Location is releasing The Great C, the first-ever VR adaption from Dick’s forward-looking catalog, as a “cinematic VR experience” for Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, with a PlayStation VR version set to arrive soon.
Taken from Dick’s 1953 short story of the same name, the 37-minute film tells the story of Clare, a young woman who leaves the safety of her post-apocalyptic tribal village when her fiancé is selected by a mysterious, world-controlling supercomputer (named the Great C) to participate in a ritualistic, forced annual pilgrimage.
In the original story, the young pilgrim’s goal is to confound the computer by posing to it three questions, in the hope that the Great C can’t return an answer. If, on the other hand, the computer can answer the questions, then the pilgrim must surrender his life. At the time of the story’s starting point, no one has ever returned from the journey.
Bolstered by a soundtrack from composer Tom “Junkie XL” Holkenborg (Mad Max: Fury Road, Deadpool, Mortal Engines), the film takes a VR-specific approach to storytelling, both in its narrative focus and in its immersive elements.
According to the studio, the feature makes use of “dynamic scaling” to portray scenes that “seamlessly simulate the look and feel of camera movements, lens, and shot transitions similar to film.” It also blends conventional film work with VR technology to yield “real-time, room-scale characters and environments to engage audiences in a fully realized, next generation-level of storytelling tailor made for VR.”
The Great C hits digital download platforms for Oculus Rift and HTC Vive starting today for $5.99, with a PlayStation VR version to follow at an unspecified date.