Take a Tour of Endurance in the 'Interstellar' Oculus Rift Experience
by Alex Billington
October 6, 2014
With the launch of Interstellar in just one month, Paramount has kicked off their final marketing push for Christopher Nolan's epic sci-fi adventure. One of their key promotions includes an Interstellar Oculus Rift Experience, using the popular virtual reality headsets to provide an immersive experience. What does it show? I stopped by the promotion at the AMC Lincoln Square in New York City to check it out. Viewers are given a three-to-four minute tour of the spaceship Endurance, featured prominently already in trailers, which shifts into Zero G before jumping into the wormhole. As a fun, immersive promotion it's very cool - and really does provide a totally unique experience. It tricks your mind when the artificial gravity drops out.
The Interstellar Oculus Rift Experience is a promotion for the movie touring between a few locations over the next few weeks. Right now it's in New York City, heading to Houston and Los Angeles before ending up at the Smithsonian Udvar-Hazy Center in Virgina throughout November (once the movie hits theaters). It's free, it only takes a few minutes, it doesn't reveal or ruin any of the movie (it is just a walk through of the insides of the spaceship), and it's a cool way to give people an interactive look at what it's like to travel into space (without actually making that happen). Paramount sent the following quote from Christopher Nolan:
"I was impressed with how the experience is able to put you in the cockpit of 'Interstellar's' spaceship, the Endurance. It was just like being back on set." – Christopher Nolan
As far as I could tell, the virtual reality model is based specifically on the set pieces that Christopher Nolan built during production. He used minimal greenscreen during filming, building large scale practical sets and even putting up screens outside of windows to complete the experience of traveling into space. The Oculus Rift promotion (using the older Development Kit 2 headsets) is essentially like getting a personal tour of the set, setting foot inside of Endurance as if you are Cooper getting ready to navigate and enter the wormhole. What does it look like? Here's a few photos below to give everyone an idea of the experience. Up first - a shot of the inside of the Endurance spaceship, this is one of the tubes you float through when the gravity drops:
Here are a few more photos of the promotion and the chairs you sit in (which do move!). Take a closer look:
The exhibit will be open from 11AM to 11PM local time at the following locations: AMC Lincoln Square 13 in New York from October 6th-8th; the AMC Gulf Pointe 30 in Houston from October 17th-19th; the AMC CityWalk in Los Angeles from October 25th-27th; finally the Smithsonian Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia from November 5th-19th. Guests of these AMC theaters can experience the exhibit free of charge on a first come-first served basis - just show up anytime, sign the release form, get in a short line. It's a fun experience and a cool way to promote the space exploration side of Interstellar.
As for the Oculus Rift side of this experience, it is very cool. Legendary Pictures CEO Thomas Tull is an investor in Oculus Rift (we talked about it in my interview with Tull this summer) and they presented an experience at Comic-Con this year involving the Jaegars from Pacific Rim. I was lucky to participate in that experience as well and it's very fun, totally immersive. Being able to look around, to feel like you're actually there, is an incredible feeling. If you're one of those people who keeps saying "is this really the future?" Just wait until you experience it first-hand yourself, and touring Endurance might be the best way to give it a try.
Interstellar is directed by British filmmaker Christopher Nolan, of the films Doodlebug, Following, Memento, Insomnia, Batman Begins, The Prestige, The Dark Knight, Inception and The Dark Knight Rises. The screenplay is by Christopher Nolan and Jonathan Nolan, based on scientific theories by Caltech astrophysicist Kip Thorne and follows a group of explorers who make use of a newly discovered wormhole to surpass the limitations on human space travel and conquer the vast distances involved in an interstellar voyage. Matthew McConaughey stars in the film which Paramount Pictures releases on November 7th. For more information and to see a visualization of the stars, visit interstellarmovie.com. Or follow @Interstellar.