A Million Dreams for the world we’re going to make”

Camille Donegan, Virtual Reality Ireland

(from “The Greatest Showman” soundtrack)

(Carlow Arts Festival 2019 where young people used the Kingsray Graffiti VR tool to graffiti virtual walls)

The lyrics of the song, ‘A Million Dreams’ from the Greatest Showman, rattle around in my head while I research Virtual Reality creation and co-creation tools for the TRACTION project.

In the strangest time I have witnessed in my 42 years on this planet, my dreamer nature has my mind philosophising a lot on the ‘world we are going to make’ following the Covid-19 pandemic.

A friend asked my one time if the reason I was obsessed with Virtual Reality was because I wanted to escape the real world. I told him to give me 24 hrs to think about it, and the next day I called him up and said ‘Yes!’.

The real world, has always felt very limiting to me. I like to believe in bigger things, brighter places, an expanse of possibilities that far exceed what’s possible in our current human form and in our current (or should I say pre-Covid) society.

The medium of Virtual Reality gives us magic-type abilities like world building and people building. We become God-like for the worlds we create. There is even a term in VR development called God view or Goddess view where the user can zoom right out of the world until the world becomes a tiny planet with tiny characters!

In July 2019 I curated the VR strand for the Carlow Arts Festival in Ireland along with the festival’s artistic director, Jo Mangan. The VR strand included Virtual Graffiti workshops with mural artist Shane Sutton where teenagers spray painted virtual walls using Kingspray Graffiti VR. Each participant created their own graffiti ‘tag’ which was emailed to their parents as a memento.

For the European TRACTION project, with our partners Irish National Opera, we want to see how we can extend this concept of VR co-creation when working with community groups on the formation of new operas.

There are VR painting tools, like Google Tilt Brush and Oculus’ Quill, sculpting tools like Medium and Zbrush and even a platform called Tvori that enables you to create puppets and animated scenes for those puppets! On the audio side we will be exploring the capabilities of Oculus Drops which provide a way for those with little or no musical background or training to create rich and expressive polyphonic rhythms and Lyra VR where participants can compose and play music in a fully interactive virtual soundscape.

Key to the selection of the tools we will incorporate into our workshop process is accessibility. Having worked in tech for over 20 years, I have witnessed much fear and limiting beliefs relating to tech, not to mention negative user experience design. With VR, especially when working in 360 3D environments, the tools can be incredibly intuitive and often easier to navigate than with regular computers, tablets or smartphones. The tools we will work with will be accessible to all ages, genders, and varying levels of ability, making any adaptions necessary to ensure a positive and comfortable user experience for all participants.

We will look to incorporate the assets created by the workshop participants either directly or inspirationally into the novel format operas created as part of the project.

I am brimming with excitement to see what worlds our community participants will make.

Camille Donegan is an award winning a VR Producer, speaker, curator and member of the TRACTION consortium working with Virtual Reality Ireland who have partnered with Irish National Opera as the VR producers for TRACTION.

Camille is passionate about empowering the artistic community of Ireland to have the skills to work with the new storytelling mediums. Together wit

Since discovering Virtual Reality in Jan 2015, and realising the potential for this immersive medium, she has been researching, developing concepts and producing both Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) content for a variety of sectors including Healthcare, Training and the Arts. See examples of projects produced at Virtual Reality Ireland here: www.vr.ieh artistic director Jo Mangan, they aim to break down barriers relating to Opera.

(Photo of Camille Donegan, VR Producer, Virtual Reality Ireland)