The Tree VR installation that debuted at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival’s New Frontier program transforms participants into trees. The haptically enhanced virtual reality experience from directors Winslow Porter and Milica Zec allows audience members the experience of becoming a seed that grows into a full-sized tree in a majestic rainforest. With their arms as the branches and their bodies as the trunk, audiences experience the tree’s growth, taking on its function and eventual fate in the forest ecosystem.
Zec and Porter were supported by an array of VR companies and technologies to realize this project, including Here Be Dragons, MIT Media Lab, Milk VFX and NVIDIA, whose Pascal-based Quadro GPUs ensure a real-time interactive VR environment for those who don the VR headsets. “Experiences impact attitudes in a powerful way. The more real the experience, the more likely we are to influence the audience to act,” says Porter. “We used NVIDIA Quadro professional GPUs to achieve the highest level of visual fidelity with near-zero latency for the most immersive and believable experience.”
He continues, “We make sure that we’re hitting well above 90 frames per second in the Epic Unreal video game engine, ensuring a comfortable, captivating experience for everyone who embarks on the journey of this rainforest tree. The new Pascal-based Quadro GPUs push many more pixels than any other card on the planet, allowing us to create a stunning, photorealistic jungle setting full of lush sights and sounds that really pull the viewer in.”
The Tree VR installation at Sundance ran on HP Z840 workstations, each equipped with a Quadro P6000 GPU and Oculus HMD.