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“Phantom” Transports Museum Visitors to the Rainforest

“Phantom,” artist Daniel Steegmann Mangrané’s installation at the 2015 Triennial exhibition at New York’s New Museum, combines OptiTrack motion capture technology and Oculus Rift virtual reality headsets to transport museum-goers to the disappearing rainforest in Brazil. Mangrané worked with ScanLAB Projects to produce detailed 3D scans of the Mata Atlântica rainforest, which visitors can explore as OptiTrack follows their movements throughout the exhibition space. By supplementing the Oculus Rift with motion capture, the installation can be extended beyond its native capacities, offering a far more immersive viewing.

“Even more important than the visual aspect of this installation is the physical aspect, so incorporating movement and physical cues was a priority for me,” explains Mangrané. “The physical 3D tracking provided by OptiTrack allows visitors to move through branches, crouch down and feel the rainforest floor, and really feel as though they are present in and interacting with this wondrous world. Motion capture enabled the most realistic rendering possible, based on the body’s movements in relation to environmental data from the rainforest scans.”

According to Seth Steiling, marketing director at OptiTrack, “‘Phantom’ demonstrates the immersion that can be created by elevating VR with highly responsive, 1:1 motion tracking. As a result, the work remains incredibly engrossing, while the technology that enables it recedes into the user’s periphery.”