War Remains, an immersive experience from MWM Interactive (MWMi) will this month debut at its new home, the National WWI Museum and Memorial located in Kansas City, US. Presented by ‘Hardcore History’ podcaster Dan Carlin, War Remains is an immersive virtual reality (VR) experience that transports viewers to the Western Front of the First World War where they can witness history unfold from a soldier’s point-of-view.
War Remains is a location-based experience (LBE) that places attendees in a 25ft x 25ft space and equips them with a VR headset. The space effectively acts as a physical set, thereby allowing viewers to interact with what they are witnessing virtually in the physical world, adding to the immersion of the experience. Although a relatively small space, according to Brandon Padveen, Associate Producer at MWM Interactive, the experience actually feels enormous due to the techniques that were used to create the experience and trick users into thinking they are in the vast trench networks on the frontlines of WWI.
The VR experience was produced by MWMi, directed by Brandon Oldenburg, and developed by Flight School Studio, with audio designed by Skywalker Sound. Throughout the experience, Dan Carlin leads audiences into the trenches as an active battle scene rages on around them. Through a combination of visual effects, sound engineering, and the guidance of Carlin’s voice, audiences get the opportunity to experience a moment in history.
“Virtual Reality creates other dimensions. The medium allows the storyteller to engage the audience in a way that previous storytelling genres haven’t been able to tap into. The engagement level is so much higher because the audience is 100% involved. It’s an active not passive experience,” said Carlin.
As well as the digital animation and physical interaction aspects of the experience, another hugely important part is the sound. Ethan Stearns, Executive Vice President of Content at MWM Interactive, said that originally, the team wanted the experience to be “so loud and uncomfortable that people wouldn’t really want to be in a headset.” Obviously, this wouldn’t be something that viewers would reasonably want to experience, and understandably, MWMi couldn’t really push things to a level that the real soldiers of WWI went through. Instead, the team had to look at how it could emulate how loud the trenches would have been in a different way. This emulation was achieved through clever sound design methods including the integration of speakers into the walls of the physical set, thanks to the work that Skywalker Sound carried out.
MWMi has gifted the War Remains LBE to the National WWI Museum and Memorial. Stearns added: “We want War Remains to continue to be experienced, and there is no better permanent home than the National WWI Museum and Memorial.”
“We are extremely grateful to MWMi for the gift of War Remains. This experience is unlike anything that Kansas City has hosted before,” said Matthew Naylor, President and CEO of the National WWI Museum and Memorial. “War Remains will allow the viewer to immerse themselves in the trenches of WWI and experience it with all of their senses, reaching them on both an educational and emotional level.”
War Remains premiered to international acclaim at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2019 and later opened for a limited run in Austin, Texas. It went on to win the “Out-of-home VR Entertainment of the Year” award at the VR Awards. The experience will be hosted in the National WWI Museum and Memorial’s Memory Hall and will be open to the public on May 27, 2021. Due to the graphic nature of the content, viewers must be at least 14 years of age.
For more information on the War Remains experience, click here.
Image / video credit: www.worldwar1centennial.org / MWM Interactive / YouTube