The Night Cafe – a VR Tribute to Vincent Van Gogh
Best Part:Impressive implementation of a bold art style
Worst Part:Poor mitigation for head-collision on the DK2
The night cafe is a bold VR tribute to Van Goghit. It is one of the most lovely dioramas available for the Rift – up amongst Blocked In and RedofPaw’s Ghibli demos.
The night cafe, created for the Gear VR mobile jam earlier this year,
was recently released on oculus share for the DK2. Simply put, it is one of the most lovely dioramas available for the Rift.
The Night Cafe transports you inside the Van Gogh painting of the same name. It is a remarkably accurate recreation, complete with visible brush strokes and augmented with animated details that make you really feel like you’re in the painting. The aura of the ceiling lamps is a particularly striking effect.
Some artistic liberties have been taken; some of the figures are missing from the scene but most changes have been in an attempt to flesh out the experience. The embellishments of a new corridor leading to a separate room allow you to venture beyond the scope of the original artwork but reinforce a sense that the painting captured a real place and moment in time. One that VR is enabling us to peer deeper into. Of course, these hidden spaces contain Easter eggs – Van Gogh’s chair, the Sunflowers and a animated version of one of his self-portraits can be found. If you look carefully out of the window, you’ll see that it’s a Starry night outside – these touches make the whole thing feel like mini a journey into Vincent’s world .
The Gear VR version gives you a control to allow you to crouch as a concession to the lack of positional tracking, while of course the DK2 version also enables you to lean into objects. Its a welcome addition, to be sure, but its not handled brilliantly here. The experience fades to black if you peer too close to a wall. While this is not an uncommon method of handling head collision, in this demo it seems to be overzealous- triggering too early and being inexplicably difficult to find your way out of. Overall the DK2 version doesn’t actually provide a much better experience than the Gear, to the point I’d be much more quick to show this to someone on the latter, especially owing it’s short nature.
As a diorama and a piece of art though, it is marvellous. The visual design and attention to detail is astounding. I’d gladly pay for a small gallery experience that allowed me to walk around entering a dozen or so VR ‘covers’ of famous artworks if they were all created with such apparent love for the original. Van Gogh alone has dozens of works that could be reinterpreted in this fashion. More of this please!