A multi-user virtual reality theater experience between two remote groups of participants.

Technical Highlights:

Unity, Blender, Networking, Virtual Reality (Multiple Quest HMDs)

Hummingbird brings multiple participants in two locations together in a story-driven virtual reality experience guided by an actor at each location.

A collaboration between the Goodman Theatre Alice Rapoport Center for Education and Engagement in Chicago and the Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL) at the University of Illinois at Chicago, this work is funded by the University of Illinois System’s Presidential Initiative to Celebrate the Impact of the Arts and the Humanities. The grant proposal  “Transforming Storytelling: Multi-User Virtual Reality Theater for Collaborative Tele-Immersive Exploration,” outlines our goal of exploring how virtual reality technologies and live theater experiences can be brought together as a storytelling medium to encourage theater participation with younger tech-savvy audiences.

This work combines the talent of Chicago-based theater director Jo Cattell with EVL Director of Research  and CS Associate Professor Andrew Johnson, CS/EVL Senior Research Programmer Lance Long, CS/EVL PhD Candidate Arthur Nishimoto, and CS/EVL PhD Student Sai Jyothula.

As one of the lead programmers, it was my responsibility to design the interactions in most of the scenes. I worked closely with playwright and director Jo Cattell to translate story elements and actions into VR interactions.

I also worked on designing and refining the custom network server using to synchronize the position and scene states across all of the Oculus Quest HMDs. I prototyped and deployed the controllerless hand tracked version of the experience for the December 2021 show.

During the June 2021 experimental show and the December 2021 public show as part of Chicago Goodman Theatre's New Stages Festival, I was responsible for the smooth operation of the experience, coordinating with the director, actors, and stage managers throughout multiple show runs per day.

Official Site

Hummingbird EVL Project Page

Grant Press Release (January 24, 2019)