Best Part:Incredible MRI imagery of the brain, and stunning photoscan imagery
Worst Part:Some of the experience is a bit pseudo-sciencey
GE Neuro is the latest experiencial VR short from Kite & Lightning. It uses a number of advanced techniques and a strong creative vision to leave an impact.
Kite & Lightning have a well-earned reputation for quality VR shorts -
Senza Peso, The Station and The Cave all remain fan favourites. I was a little disappointed with the last release – a VR promotion for the movie Insurgent – however, their latest demo for the DK2 is a true return-to-form, demonstrating a number of powerful techniques all executed to an incredibly high standard.
Forgettably named, GE Neuro, takes us on a tour of the brain of Ladytron keyboardist, Reuben Wu. Every element of the tour is striking; although, it has to be said that there are better demoes available for actually learning about the insides of the human body, as there’s a reasonably sized dollop of nonsense alongside the science on display here. Nonetheless, Neuro, demonstrates some powerful techniques that could be used to create something extremely educational – and perhaps even medically useful. Kite and Lightning clearly want to entertain, first and foremost, though.
The experience opens with you standing in front of an incredibly lifelike, if static, photoscan of Reuben. A Ghostly blue AI face appears to your right to talk you through the journey you’re about to undertake. This guide turns to face you and even features some quite reasonable lip-sync; which is always a treat in VR. Most imperfections in the animation of this head are masked by its translucent, other-worldly appearance – a smart design decision to evade the uncanny valley.
Neuro offers more than just photoscans of Reuben, though – you’re also able to examine a real MRI scan of the musician. The scan is rendered in such a way that you can peer into it, to see the MRI cross-section of the brain. This may be the least flashy part of the experience but it’s fascinating and arguably the bit most loaded with potential.
After a short pre-amble, we get shrunk down to a tiny size, in order to physically enter Reuben’s head. It’s an exhilarating example of manipulating scale, and does a great job of showcasing the skin detail of the Rueben photoscan.
An on-the-rails tour of Rueben’s rather abstracted imagination see’s you floating past orbs that become transparent upon gazing at them. They reveal motion-captured dancing mannequins performing a variety of different moves – and inviting you to look all around. It’s technically accomplished and makes for a captivating spectacle, in the context of real MRI scans and lessons about Neurons, it is also somewhat hokey.
Less showy, but arguably much more inspiring is the fireworks display of firing neurons that follows. I’ve seen one or two ‘go inside the human brain’ experiences, but this segment of Neuro is easily the most beautiful.
Once again, Kite and Lighting have demonstrated an ability to craft a highly memorable 10-minute experience using cutting edge techniques and a strong creative vision; making it look easy. It doesn’t have quite the same impact as Senza Peso but that is mostly due to high expectations and the lack of a sweeping operatic score – photoscanned and motion captured models feel like a better bet for the long-term of VR than previous efforts with video captured characters. GE Neuro gestures at the shape of things to come and I’d highly recommend checking it out.