Director David Karlak about directing "Alien: Covenant In Utero" VR experience

Picture this, you are in space. You slowly drop into the world which is inside of a human body. There's a heartbeat, there's the sound of blood, there's your own body forming, there are your own hands. As I am watching this unfold I hear someone screaming "Let me out!" in pure terror. She bangs on a door and yells for help. I turn to watch her, and the sounds that she emits, and I see her through the body that I am inside of.

Then, I am born.

It is as terrifying as it is exhilarating, and as director David Karlak calls it "empowering." I am now the alien, the scariest of all sci-fi characters ever invented. I spit acid. I hunt humans. I am designed to kill.

"Even since before I picked up a camera 'Alien' was a movie that just pulverized me," David Karlak explains, "and here we finally get to be the creature that is inflicting all that terror." Produced by Ridley Scott and directed by David Karlak, Alien: Covenant In Utero is a 360-degree virtual reality journey into a living nightmare that places us as the alien Neomorph at the time of its birth. Fans will be able to experience the world around them and relive the very first memories of the Neomorph in an immersive environment. The best part? This is actually a scene from the upcoming film, but from the alien's perspective.

“With the In Utero experience, audience participation is taken to a whole new level. You get to be a Neomorph, exploring what’s happening around you and within you,” said Ridley Scott.

Ridley Scott was very involved in this project, David got to ask him all the questions he wanted in order to create the VR that I've just been through.
"I asked things like, does the Neopmorph have a heartbeat?" Ridley would respond with footage from alligators and inside uteruses.

When creating this immersion, every detail is important, and everyone involved helped make a world you could mistake for actual reality. "When creating a VR piece, the rules are the rules of reality" David declares, before noting that everything is important, like sound, details and motion.

Alien Covenant Utero

The sound certainly carries (pun intended) a lot of the work in a VR immersion and Mach1 did their job 110%. While the scene renders an entire room from every angle, the director wants the viewer to turn their heads a certain way to see the action, obviously. Sound goes a long way to help him do this, steps behind you will make you turn your head. David likens this to being Ridley Scott while directing the first alien movie, and you the viewer as being the actors of that film: "We're directing the audience the way directors would be directing their actors," placing you in the amazing set just to be in awe of what it all looks like, and sounds like. He drops us right into this immersive reality he has conceived and we react to it. Classic movies like Bladerunner and Alien did give us this sensation before, it was as if we were there. In the future with more VR, that's exactly where we will be. No more camera trickery and edits to hide the flaws of a scene, an actors bad day, or cheap production - the entire scene will have to be rendered because you will be able to see every angle of it. Virtual Reality is very exciting in that sense. And difficult. But just like the alien who evolved within minutes, VR is leaping forward with every project so far. In two years we'll be lightyears ahead from now.

People can check out the 360 video on the Oculus platform starting April 26. It will be available in the Oculus Video app on the Oculus Rift or the Samsung Gear VR, powered by Oculus. There will also be a 360 trailer of the experience available on Facebook.

“The VR work for Alien: Covenant In Utero was a creative adventure because we needed to remain true to the existing ALIEN narrative in an immersive medium, while setting the stage for the upcoming movie. To reach the widest audience, we worked with our colleagues at the Technicolor Experience Center to ensure that Alien: Covenant In Utero could be experienced on both tethered and mobile HMDs. Because the ALIEN franchise is a global phenomenon, we are regionalizing the VR experience by supporting 12 different languages,” said Logan Brown Head of VR and Immersive Content – Film US at MPC VR, and Executive Producer at the Technicolor Experience Center.

“For AMD the lines between imagination and invention are increasingly indistinguishable. We are proud to be supporting this exciting new ALIEN: COVENANT VR experience and to be collaborating with everyone involved.” said Roy Taylor, Corporate Vice President for VR at AMD.

In an effort to bring these types of virtual reality experiences to the masses, AMD has teamed with Alienware and Oculus Rift to expand the consumer's experience with virtual reality via a tour planned at 15 Regal Cinemas. Check your local cinema to see if you can participate.

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