Like no other, this year confronted us with the challenge – and the chance – to overcome spatial distances by virtual means: From one-on-one discussions to
team meetings and major events – we cannot overestimate the importance of real-time exchange and live presence, both privately and professionally. In the light of pressing issues such as hygiene
restrictions or climate change all industries need to familiarise with new ways of connecting people and creating a sense of “live experience”, even if participants are scattered around the
globe. And this is where VR can make an enormous contribution.
The question is in what ways can VR increase the live presence at digital events? And what does this mean for event design – both from a technological and a
content perspective? How can live presence be scripted successfully?
Michel Reilhac, narrative architect, immersive media pioneer and #mthcon2020 speaker, has conducted extensive
research on the topic of ‘live presence’ in virtual environments. As Head of Studies at the Venice Biennale College and VR competition curator for the Venice Biennale International Film Festival,
Reilhac is without doubt the go-to expert for innovation in hybrid storytelling across participatory, interactive and immersive experiences. According to Reilhac, a great potential of VR lies in
putting the viewer at the core from the very beginning. Every participant in an immersive experience – be it a film, a conference, or the simulation of an autonomous vehicle – is free to choose
where to look and how to (inter-)act. And every VR component, from environment to plot and other characters is designed to create a coherent 360 world surrounding the user.
However, the impact of the visitor poses its own challenges: Since you cannot accurately predict the actions of the viewer, skilful design of a VR-experience
must always take different parameters into account and clearly locate the user and his role in the event.
But how exactly can a sense of live presence be created in the midst of a virtual space? As Reilhac states, being inside VR does not automatically mean to be
present: “To actually create a sense of live presence we need to systematically integrate interactivity and Embodied Reality (ER) into our VR experiences. Only if we include devices that enhance
the virtual experience with physical sensations, we will start feeling truly present.”*
In his keynote “You are entering a new dimension: How VR boosts presence at digital events” Michel Reilhac will explain how VR can be leveraged for
sophisticated experiential event design. Join us at #mthcon2020 on November 11-12, 2020 to explore both new possibilities and current limitations of VR!
* Michel Reilhac: Designing Presence in Immersive Reality, at re:publica 2018