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What We Learned From Sundance 2017

Park City Utah is one of the greatest cities in the great state of Utah. During the summer, Main Street is always busy with people roaming to and from bars, art galleries, quaint little movie theaters, and fun shops filled with things like interesting socks and accessories. During January, however, Main Street is crowded with people wandering through the blistering cold trying to make it to their Sundance showing. The Sundance Corporation will even rent out a few large buildings and parking lots just for the month-long event.

The Kris Bowen Team witnessed this for the first time last Friday night (Jan. 27). There were people everywhere. All the parking lots were full, and there was a $150 fine for anybody who stopped their car in the middle of the road. It was obvious that both the Park City PD and Sundance meant business.

Our showing was for something called the "VR Palace". For the most part we understood that we were attending a Virtual Reality movie of some kind, but we had no idea what we were getting into.

(Image: Mark Experiencing VR)

We arrived on Main Street via Uber - trust us, it was cheaper than parking. We had to be redirected to the next street over to find our "VR Palace". To our dismay, we did not find a palace, but a tent in a parking lot. However, it was a large heated tent, so it wasn't too bad. Our showing as it turned out, was nothing less than a small room with multiple booths with technicians and a large selection of VR headsets that you can put on. Every headset was playing something different. I happen to watch a short film about coral reefs. I followed that up with a film about a toy robot in the 80's, which I found surreal and very interesting. At the end of the tent was a small booth which held a few wandering folks with headsets on. I decided I would give this one a try, but non-the-less, I had to wait in line for the experience. When it was finally my turn, I slid the headset on, they placed the headphones on my head, and I was kind of blown away. This booth held a plethora of sensors and racks of wires that showed you where the walls of the booth were - already pretty cool. The showing was essentially a walkthrough timeline of random digitally exploding objects. If you moved to the right, the digital object was intact - to the left, the object blew up.

I had never experienced walk-around VR. It really blew me away, but to be honest, the showing wasn't that amazing. After this experience, though, I can conclude that Virtual Reality is the future of entertainment. Period.

There's so much that can be done with VR. There are multiple apps and programs being built for commercial, military, and personal use. In 10 years time, VR headsets will be the norm concerning our day-to-day entertainment. I don't know whether to be concerned or not.

Overall, we had a good time as a team. We talked about Virtual Reality for a while afterward and then proceeded to enjoy Park City's night-life.

So what did we learn? Sundance is hectic, and virtual reality is super cool. If you haven't done either yet, make sure they go on your bucket list. 


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