Welcome to CES 2019 live from the peanut stage at Tech West in The Sands Expo Center.
I'm Bridget Carey and next to me Scott Stein.
We have a great day ahead packed with cool demos interviews the latest check from the show right now.
We have Curtis Hickman, he's joining us on the stage to show us their VR experience based on the hit movie Ralph Breaks the Internet.
He's with the void, and we got to try it out, and I can't wait to talk to you about this.
Thank you so much for having me, it means a lot.
Well thank you for coming.
So for those at home, the void is not something that's at CES the trade show, it's actually in Vegas as a tourist attraction actually right next to us down at the-
It's right down there, yeah.
So we took a little field trip scott and I, and got to check out your latest experience.
There's several different ones you can choose from, like Star Wars one, and others.
But there was one based on Ralph Breaks the Internet.
So we just dove in and tried it out, I've tried a lot of location based and immersive Experiences I got to look at Ghostbusters and 2016 and La I mean in New York and and I'm fascinated by the connection between Magic and V are going.
You're an Illusionist of I've questions about that.
But yeah between like know someone who had experienced anything like it and someone experienced a lot.
I was blown away to by how much it
well what about a little bit about it?
So we went yesterday.
And the first thing, I guess, I can explain is is that when you put the whole headset on, this is kind of the.
What you're seeing now is a trailer of what you would be seeing when you're inside of it.
You're kind of with Ralph and Vanellope von Schweetz in the internet, playing games, and essentially breaking the internet in your own way.
It kinda felt like a ride, like a star tours where you're being taken in this vehicle.
We were moving through it
Well I don't think that people really know what the void always is.
It's not just sitting there with a VR headset, you're untethered, you're walking around and everything you're doing is matching what you're seeing so if there is a banaster, like a guardrail, I stick my hand out which I can see, my hand
And it matches exactly when I hold on to the handrails.
So here's now us suited in, it looked amazing to us.
Yeah we're in backpacks and helmets, and a vibrating haptic chest so we could feel stuff, and we could see each other, we could also see our fingers, so we didn't have any gloves on.
Yet you're able to grab stuff and then move your fingers.
We did high fives [LAUGH] throughout when we did this.
What I find so incredible about this, is all right, am I going to get dizzy?
Am I going to be scared to take a step forward because I am now not seeing where I'm going, but everything matched so well that very quickly.
You start to trust this world.
I guess that was a challenge for you to kind of build something like that.
Yeah, the goal really for us was to try to make virtual reality seem as real as we could and if you could do that, then what are the amazing stories and places you can go and really feel like you are there.
Not just see that you are there.
And so, as you guys experienced-
Here, I'm playing a game, and I just got zapped, and-
It gets real real quick in there, yeah.
We're frantically playing and we're, yeah, we're playing Space Evaders.
Yeah, in this, you're going on to the Internet to play the world's greatest video game, according to Ralph.
With Ralph and Penelope.
And of course, he breaks it, and chaos ensues.
Yeah we were seen as viruses and then quickly had to control the chaos, right.
That's right, exactly right.
I think our original sort of discussion, we worked very closely with Disney animation with both Phil Johnston and Rich Moore who were the directors of Ralph Breaks the Internet, and the writer for the experience was Pamela Levine who also was the, one of the writers on Ralph breaks the internet.
And so this couldn't be any more of like a Ralph experience, so it felt-
You guys have to work together,-
Because if they're writing a movie but do they know how to write for your room that you make, and then-
Yeah, we worked very closely together to make sure that the format was It's really well understood by the directors and every involved.
And worked very closely together just to make this magical experience.
Where you step into a Disney animated film and a character within it.
Yeah so here we're holding these blasters.
But really to us it looked like pancake launchers or milkshake launchers.
Pancakes, yeah, different things, and working with balconies.
What amazed me so much about this, in trying both experiences, StarWars: Secrets of the Empire, and this, back to back, is the ability you have to transform a space to different uses, and really feel like you've been transported.
And everything feels different.
And I think it's a really interesting theatrical type of transformation that you're doing Having seen an immersive theater and thinking about now, youre doing that in a space and turning it into anything.
Now everything we do has to do with illuion.
And in the end, I think virtual reality when it's done properly is just this presentation of a grand illusion.
Currently an illusion of a different place.
And so when we created these stages that people go onto, we kept all that in mind.
Al lot of magic theory, and magic design, and theater work to create spaces that people could reuse and reuse again but would not know that they were in those spaces over and over again.
So we can create this enormous world within a relatively small space.
Yeah, I was shocked at how small it is, cuz we were all done, I got to see it, I'm like Wait.
I just went through like a whole bunch of portals and like are you telling me I was just in the same kind of area over and over again.
Yeah we went through the same space multiple times and didn't realize it and the way you trick your mind to not paying attention to that was really fascinating and building that feeling of infinite space.
I should also mention for those who aren't familiar When a fire broke out it felt hot.
When we were really high up on a skyscraper you felt the wind.
And you were a little more hesitant to maybe walk on that plank because of the tricks that are being played on your senses.
There's a lot of sensory effects in The Void.
I don't if you noticed, when you walk in the bakery you can kind of smell this We know this.
We know this, yeah.
Kind of this cupcake, sweet, milk shakey smell.
So we go the extra mile to really try and incorporate all of your senses into this virtual world.
We call it hyper reality, kind of our own little nich of VR where we, it's not just what you see and what you hear, it's really
All of your senses combining to create the reality around you.
Do you imagine blending this eventually into maybe augmented reality, which everybody's talking about?
Or, are there new directions that you think you might apply to this?
Or do you like the VR model for the type of experiences they do?
For the type of experiences we do, I think the VR model is The right way to go.
I mean, I wanna really take people to another place, as if you were stepping through a portal and just being there and so to do that, it really has to be this all-encompassing thing, having full control of your senses and especially your eyes to do that and really, I think there is a space where augmented reality and this will happen.
Mixes in the same way that we have done a lot of sensory effects, and things to create sort of magical moments with these elaborate sets.
That'll happen, but in the meantime, for me it's one thing to create a set and have interesting things be augmented onto it.
But it's another thing to be standing on a skiff, and hovering across a lava planet, and feeling like that's happening.
What you're talking about, Star Wars-
In that case, yeah, yeah.
And we tried that too, yeah, you can feel the floor vibrating a little at different times, for different experiences.
I don't know if you can talk to this, but As someone who hasn't try a lot of experiences like this at all I wasn't thinking like man VR is like gonna make me dizzy but then you take it to a whole level well I was like I can go again like and also I did go again it was an experience probably but.
Do you feel that like consumers have to go to these kind of entertainment venues for VR to grow moreso than like the at the home experience?
I think the future of VR, to me there's sort of there's a promise of VR.
Like when everybody first heard about virtual reality it was this like Kind of matrix is sort of like okay, so I put this gear on and then I'm somewhere else, I really feel like I'm there.
And then VR was delivered and it's like okay, I can see I'm somewhere else but I'm still obviously sitting in my chair in front of my computer, right?
And so there was this big disconnect between sort of what was promised and what was delivered.
And I feel like what location based, destination based VR can do, these virtual experiences that are all sensor inclusive, is make good on that promise.
And so I feel like there's a really bright future for location based VR because it can make good on that promise.
You also have, I'm fascinated by the kinda lab headquarters that you have In Utah, where you're working on new ideas after this all the time.
Is that like an illusionist workshop?
Do you feel like there's, is it similar to working on stage illusions, developing new ideas based on magic theory and what do you?
I wanna ask what you're working on next?
What sort of things have you discovered maybe that you havent implemented yet, or would you even talk about that?
I mean there's a lot of work that we've done on traditional allusions, how do you make people think that they're floating, how do you make people feel like they're walking through solid objects but in a way that seems very real to the person.
You know, one of the principles that I talked about a lot is what I call the path of conviction and it's it's that when someone first comes into the void, I have to first convince them that the virtual world around them is real and just mundane things that the wall is real.
It's one of the reasons why when you step into Ralph.
The first interactive thing you do has to do with you touching the wall because I want you to know that wall is the there and I want you to have a lot of interaction and lot of connection with the physical world around before you move on to the things.
Don't be afraid to touch around you.
Don't be afraid, yeah exactly.
But then see your mind ones it accept that this normal things, the more impossible things becomes that much real as well And so it sort of takes you on this pathway to convince you that the impossible is in fact real.
I'm curious how much you play off of the attention that people have, where the eye doesn't go, and misdirection and-
And the ability to kind of force a path without forcing it.
Yeah, yeah, cuz we were playing Ralph We both are playing the Space Invaders game and later I was like, there was like stuff all around you if you look around.
Pay attention over here.
Yeah, I'm like, I wanna do it again now to see what I missed if I looked a different way.
Yeah, a higher score for sure and that was the great thing about Ralph as well is we tend to think of these experiences really as if they were real so it isn't about
And getting the high score.
When you go into Ghost Busters, it's about capturing ghosts.
When you go to Star Wars, it's about finding this crate and being on this mission.
With Ralph and Vannellope, I mean, you're in a game world with them.
And so we could include sort of these points and have this huge kind of point system and There's a way to really rack up those points if you really try for it, right?
I mean, there's some amazing little things and easter eggs we've put in there to make it possible.
And you have a game experience called Nicodemus that we didn't get to try.
But you were talking about the change, kind of a bleeding edge one that might incorporate more magic or a different type of Way of interacting.
Yeah, Nicodemus is a haunt experience.
We often show it during Halloween, and definitely worth checking out.
And it does have its little illusions in it, that we havent incorporated anywhere else.
And they're amazing.
Well I have a few, couple more quenstions for you, for anyone at home.
So basically, our experience, when we did Ralph,
Was about, I don't know.
Was it 12 minutes, 15 minutes or something?
How long are these usually lasting?
That's about the timeframe is in there.
We find that between having all the equipment on and really being active.
They pack a lot of action in that timeframe.
That that's a good time for and for people to kind of come in out of this experience.
When you go to void you can expect to spend around 30 minutes.
There's a pre-show as you saw with Ralph and Penelope kind of introducing you to the experience and you gotta get suited up and sort of taught where the volume buttons and everything else is.
Yeah, it kinda sets the tone of what you're about to go on, your adventure with the little pre-show, right.
And then, how many locations are there?
Because I know you have one at the Disney World resort, and Disneyland and there are others.
They're spread out.
And you're opening one in Washington DC, or it just opened?
We're going to open one in Washington DC as well as in Atlanta, in Minnesota.
So we've got lots that are coming.
But we also have internationally and here in the US, ten total locations right now.
Including a couple in Canada, and one in Malaysia.
So we've really been expanding out and trying to meet the demand as quickly as we can for this awesome entertainment.
And how much do they cost?
Is it the same for every experience?
It varies, depending on the experience and the location.
So, usually somewhere between 30 to 29.95 to like $39, somewhere in there is usually what you can expect.
So I feel like a lot more people probably have done escape rooms than have done things like the Vilade.
Have you ever thought about blending, or is there a way that those might start moving together?
Escape rooms are kind of a different beast.
They're in reality.
MALE HOST: -puzzle-based, it would take about an hour.
CURTIS: Honestly, the challenge in Nicodemus is to escape the demon that's chasing you down in this Victorian World's Fair.
Again, you've got to check that one out.
MALE HOST: So I should see that and come back and ask you that question.
Well, thank you so much, Curtis for joining us, it's going to be fun seeing where this goes.