By: Alexis Dunn ’19
Summer at the Emergent Media Center is an expansive and exciting time. New projects are created, old ones are finished up, and sometimes existing programs are reimagined and reworked to make something new.
Flight, is a full body, interactive flying experience created by the sandbox team around two years ago. It’s home is in Burlington International Airport. Travelers enjoy soaring through the virtual sky as an airplane while waiting for their actual flights. Two new student hires have been tasked with the challenge to take the planes within this program, and turn them into birds, for a whole new experience. JJ Robertson and Tom Lunday are working to make these changes a reality over the course of this Summer.
Q. How would you describe Flight right now, and what are you doing to change it?
A. “So, it started of as a VR experience that was made for the Burlington airport where users could control the movements of a plane in flight. ECHO contracted us to basically change all of the planes into birds for their 15th anniversary.”
Q. What has your experience been so far as the artist?
A.“It’s been quite the learning experience! It’s only been what two weeks in and I learned how to rig and animate and I’ve never done anything like that before!”
Q. What about working on flight is exciting to you?
A. “This is my first time feeling like this is what I’ll be doing out in the workforce. I’m doing well so far and it’s cool to know that I can do this!”
Q.Why did you want to be a part of this project?.
A. “For the experience really. I wanted to keep myself fresh over the summer and I’m learning a bunch of new skills.” (JJ Robertson)
The Empathy prototype is a new project a small team of new EMC student employees are currently developing as an experimental VR prototype this Summer. The goal for the Empathy prototype is to evoke emotion through immersive storytelling, and to measure the impact it might have on a user. This project could be executed using the following methods or technologies: digital storytelling, restorative narrative, 360-video, or Apple AR capabilities. The team is currently fleshing out concepts and platforms.
Q. What are you hoping to achieve with this project?
A. “Our goal for this project is to create a prototype the EMC can showcase as an example of what we can do. We are working to take experimental storytelling and use it to evoke empathy.
We also want to create a way to measure the evidence or the user’s response to the experience. Evoke the feeling and prove it.” (Tom Reynolds)
Q. What does empathy mean to you and how are you going to work your personal definition into the project?
A. “Well, in my research I’ve been looking a lot at the different types of empathy. For example cognitive empathy is taking someone’s perspective and understanding it. Compassionate empathy is understanding someone’s emotions and feeling compelled to do something about it. I would really like to incorporate the different types of empathy into the program.” (Erika Skorstad)
Q. What about this task excites you?
A. “The innovative nature of this project and doing something that none of us have ever done before.” (Mat Roache)
“Learning new skills and getting to implement them instantly.” (Tom Reynolds)
“I’m really excited to create believable, complex characters and an interesting environment that both work together to evoke empathy.” (Erika Skorstad)