The VR Ranger

In my high school days, people thought I could fix their computer. This was because I sat at the computer a lot. Teachers thought I could fix the computer because they saw me sitting at the computer. I was probably playing solitaire on the computer. Or, I was doing what I’m doing know, on the computer.

A math teacher said, “Nathanielle, can you fix our computer?”

“Why do you think I can fix it?”

“Because you’re on the computer a lot.”

A math teacher at Mount Anthony Union High School, saw me sitting at a computer, put two and two together and came up gobbldybooblledeedoo. But enough about my indictment against the American education system, I worked with Frontline on a VR project.

More specifically, I worked with one of Frontline’s technical masters, Kinsey, helping him to set up some of the equipment for a viewing experience that involved goggles and VR glasses. I’m told that VR was not quite the right term for it, since the experience wasn’t one hundred percent interactive, however for simplicity’s sake and to further emphasize that my using a basic tool of the 21st century does not equate my expertise with handling/repairing said tool, I’m going to stick with the term VR (Also, I don’t know if Kinsey can fix your computer, or not.).

You, faithful reader, are free to explore the technical stuff here.

The other thing I want to emphasize is that probably 99% of the people who show up this weekend to experience this unique addition to the Salem Film Festival’s activities will likely not know anything about it, either. I’m told that all I have to do is push a couple of buttons and initially I was a bit skeptical about how easy it would be. Without jinxing it I can say that the real confidence boost comes from actually doing the thing.

Since I showed up about an hour earlier than everyone else, Kinsey gave me the first round.

The presentation involves a man who was in solitary confinement for almost eight years, in a Maine State prison. He tells his story and for ten minutes, you can see almost everything in this cell that he’s “sitting” in. The detail was fantastic and even though I couldn’t interact with any of the objects in the room, it was such an incredibly immersive experience. The volunteer who went after me became emotional over the man’s story. Another person was exploring the “cell” and became shocked when she saw the film’s subject appear in front of her, so experiencing it myself and watching how the others reacted gave me a fair idea of what to expect when other participants take their turn.

For content purposes we can only allow participants who are eighteen years and up to experience the VR aspect. But because this particular project is set up at the Visitor Center, some of the park ranger staff are eager to adopt this equipment for Maritime related projects.

Oh and to cap the day off, I got to help one of the rangers fold the flag. That wasn’t related to the Salem Film Festival but I was honored just to be asked to help.

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