Inside the Box of Kurios is a brand new VR experience from Felix & Paul Studios which gives you a brilliant view of a Cirque du Soleil performance that’s been specially tailored for virtual reality. If you’ve got Gear VR, you’ve got a free ticket to this world-class performance.
Much has been said about virtual reality’s ability to put users in the front row of amazing experiences—whether that be a concert, performance, or sporting event—but Inside the Box of Kurios does one better, it actually puts you directly on stage where you are the focal point of the entire cast of this spectacular performance.
When I stepped into Inside the Box of Kurios, which is available for free right now on Samsung’s Gear VR headset, I was overwhelmed with all the action. I wasn’t quite sure where I should be looking. All around me were performers not only doing interesting things, but usually looking directly at me. Eventually I came to realize that with so much to look at, I had the privilege of ‘directing’ the experience.
In fact, you can watch the performance several times over and still find new and interesting things each time. Whether it be the grandiose moments—incredible contortionists performing atop a giant mechanical hand—or more intimate ones—a performer adorned with concentric rings moving about the stage like a robot—there’s something to see in every direction.
The 10 minute experience was captured in 360 degree audio and stereoscopic video for virtual reality by Paul Raphael and Félix Lajeunesse of Felix & Paul Studios, the same duo behind one of my favorite VR experiences, Strangers with Patrick Watson (also available on Gear VR), and several other live-action VR experiences. The pair collaborated on direction with Michel Laprise, the Writer and Director of the full Cirque Du Soleil show, Kurios Cabinet of Curiosities, upon which the VR experience is based.
Make no mistake, Inside the Box of Kurios is not a watered-down afterthought; the act makes use of 35 of the troop’s performers in full costume and makeup. Cirque du Soleil Media Producer André Lauzon tells me that they didn’t just plop a VR camera down on stage during a rehearsal of the usual stage performance.
“We completely recreated the choreography to adapt it to VR. Adding and modifying acts as well,” Lauzon said. “For instance, the box sequence is completely new, just for VR. Going from an audience of a couple of thousands to an audience of one… [we adapted] the language of the circus to the language of virtual reality.”
Lauzon says that the experience’s longest segment, captured as a single shot with no edits, is a whopping eight minutes. Quite an impressive feat given that the production eschewed the tools of standard filmmaking—like cuts, camera changes, and camera movement.