Yes, the cast of the new Lionsgate movie based on the old TV series recently put on VR rigs, donned Vive headgear, and did a press appearance in High Fidelity.
"[I]t just seemed like a great use of High Fidelity to try out," HiFi founder Philip Rosedale tells me, "being able to meet the actors in there actually as their superhero characters." About 50 people gathered for the event bringing real world actors onto the virtual world stage. "The feeling is quite interesting," says Philip, "very different from the same thing in Second Life. The addition of voice and body language for everyone together is a big change. Something you have to feel."
"Lionsgate has been experimenting with different VR projects," High Fidelity's Thomas Schofield tells me. "They reached out to us to do something 'live' alongside their game initiatives. The avatars were captured (i.e. scanned) by Lionsgate during filming in anticipation of an application like this." Interestingly, he adds, the Power Ranger avatars will be available for free purchase in the High Fidelity marketplace. For the in-person appearance in High Fidelity, the actual actors actually assembled at the Upload VR office in San Francisco -- but, says Scofield, "The cast declined to be filmed in rigs."
Anyone who's read this blog for over 10 years is feeling waves of deja vu, because around 2007, movie marketing campaigns like this were all the rage in Second Life. Bruce Willis made an "appearance" in SL, for instance, as did the cast of 300, the epic pectoral classic; even the indie Scanner Darkly movie adaptation starring Keanu Reeves had a presence in SL. But since few people use Second Life, campaigns like these saw little ROI, and quickly went away.
That in mind, I asked Philip (also Second Life's founder, of course), why he thinks this time it'll be different:
"It has always been, both then and now, early adopters (both companies and people) testing out the waters to see what virtual worlds can deliver," Philip Rosedale tells me. "The experience [in High Fidelity] was very compelling, but if mass adoption does not happen, it will make little sense for these companies (or, statistically speaking, anyone else) to stay. If Second Life had grown to 100M+ users, those promotions would have been ongoing. The important question is whether we are still too early -- whether large scale adoption will happen now with the combination of VR headsets and much faster computers."
In other words, It's Morphin Time -- again.