Lawnmower Man director Brett Leonard is working on a project called Hollywood Rooftop, which is going to be shot both as an immersive 360 video as well as a 2D film. It’s an experiment to discover some of the unique cinematic storytelling affordances for each medium, and he’s developing an Immersive CinemaVX manifesto that is modeled off of some of the Dogma 95 principles that will set up a framework to not these emergent technologies get in the way of the core principles of the drama, character, emotion, and story.
Leonard also has a lot of ideas for how virtual reality can take a lot of inspiration from indigenous ritual ceremonies in order to create a context such that you can discover yourself and others. He says that storytelling is in our DNA, and that immersive VR & AR are catalyzing a transition into creating story worlds that allow people to uncouple from a linear timeline. He says that ritual experiences in VR may be able to help us achieve an “in-the-moment epiphany” within a group experience where the abstractions of VR could actually paradoxically help us bring us back to the potency of the presence of a moment and to “true reality.”
He’s currently experimenting with how knowing onself could be reflected back to you in a VR experience by symbolically translating emotional peak experiences in his Hollywood Rooftop experience, which the 360-video is going to be shot within the context of an immersive 360 dome. So it will be an immersive experience that’s shot within another series of immersive content that will be an outward reflection of the inner dynamics that is explored within the story of Hollywood Rooftop.
I had a chance to catch up with Leonard at the VRTO Conference in Toronto on June 16, 2018 to talk about his 2D vs 3D cinematic language experiment. We also explore his thoughts on how indigenous ritual ceremonies have been informing how he thinks about the potential of group VR experiences could be used to explore the unfettered human imagination, become a catalyst and evolutionary accelerator that enables true connectivity across cultures and boundaries, which could lead to a new era of human experience focused on love, connection and awakening.
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[00:00:05.412] Kent Bye: The Voices of VR Podcast. Hello, my name is Kent Bye, and welcome to the Voices of VR podcast. So I recently had a chance to talk to the director of Lawnmower Man, Brent Leonard. He's working on a project called Hollywood Rooftop, where he's going to be shooting it both in 360 immersive VR, as well as in a 2D film. So he's doing a little bit of a test to see what is the actual cinematic language for each of these mediums, both 360 video, but also the 2D film. And Brent also has a lot of ideas about the process of creating these story worlds and how virtual reality experiences are very similar to having these ritualistic experiences that allow us to connect both with our inner symbolic and noetic experiences, but also to connect to each other in these group rituals. So virtual reality as a medium is going to perhaps be going back to these ancient concepts of these indigenous rituals so that we can do these different processes together across boundaries, across cultures, and connect to each other and ourselves in new and different ways. So we'll be exploring all that and more on today's episode of the Voices of VR podcast. So this interview with Brett happened on Saturday, June 16th, 2018 at the VRTO conference in Toronto, Canada. So with that, let's go ahead and dive right in.
[00:01:29.752] Brett Leonard: I'm Brett Leonard, director of the film The Lawnmower Man, which introduced the VR term and concept to public culture 26 years ago. I'm here at the VRTO conference in Toronto and I just announced my next VR slash cinema project called Hollywood Rooftop, which I'm shooting in both a normal 2D standard movie format and as a 360, what I'm calling a 360 frag film in fragments or episodes. They're both feature length and duration and are the same script. So I'm trying to stimulate the discussion around cinematic language as opposed to immersive language, what works in one and doesn't work in the other, by making a piece that's in both. And since I am a person who has a foot in both those worlds, both the cinema and immersive and VR, this is a kind of perfect project for me to stimulate that discussion.
[00:02:24.790] Kent Bye: Yeah. The first thing that comes to mind is that it's a bit of like an A-B test, like you're testing to see different variations for how things feel. I don't think I've heard of anybody else that's done this quite like in the same way, but the thing that I would wonder is why not create something that would be completely uniquely suited for the medium of VR rather than to do something that may work within the context of 2D, but what is the 3D going to add to it?
[00:02:49.719] Brett Leonard: Well, it is actually contextualized as 360 First. It all takes place on a Hollywood rooftop. It's a set in a theatrical conceit in an immersion dome, projection dome. So it's like VR within VR. It's very much utilizing staging and I'm doing, this is a multi-character ensemble drama that's dialogue heavy. So I'm kind of doing a John Cassavetes at Robert Altman type, you know, very dialogue heavy character drama within the context of 360, and I haven't seen a lot of that done. So we're going to be focusing on the sound very specifically and on that theatrical environment of that projection dome. The dome is going to be reflecting either the actual location, like the Hollywood horizon line, or the emotional aspects of the scene. So at any moment, the immersive aspect of being in an immersion dome with this theatrical play, so to speak, is that it can react to the emotions in the play, and that is captured in 360 in a unique way. When we shoot the 2D, you're going to see less of that. It's going to be less focused on that aspect. In a way, I see it as being able to express and show off-screen space that's related to the cinematic storyline and the character storyline, and then being able to sort of, as you said, A, B that with a traditional film.
[00:04:11.097] Kent Bye: Uh, just, uh, logistically, it sounds like you're going to be in an immersion dome. Uh, I was just in Montreal at the society for arts and technology. I have like an amazing dome that was there and we watched all of these different experiences. And I could imagine that. Trying to capture an immersion dome with a three 60 camera is going to lose some fidelity, but that you would potentially be able to comp it out and maybe get like the light that was coming. Is that the idea is that like, what is that adding to be in an immersion dome when like, it'd be difficult to capture it with the camera, but yet you could fix it in post, I guess.
[00:04:40.767] Brett Leonard: We're going to do as little fixing in post as possible. Again, I'm going from the John Cassavetes school of like, this is like an indie film and I'm using the immersion. As a matter of fact, I believe we need to start a kind of immersive new wave where we're using the technology but not letting the technology get in the way of the core principles of the drama, the character, and the emotion, and the story. So we're not utilizing it to be a technological feat. We're utilizing it to be an emotional experience and kind of a shrewing the technology to a certain degree, which is kind of unique for me because I'm so associated with the technology. So for me, it's doing something that is connected to the idea of independent cinema and what happened in the French New Wave, the Japanese New Wave, and of course in the American New Wave, which John Cassavetes was one of the leaders of. and really playing with those energies and those fundamental first principles in the context of an immersive experience. I just haven't seen that done very much. I think we need that kind of raw energy in this, the kind of energy that came out of those movements that I just talked about in cinema from the past. I call this cinema VX or immersive cinema VX because VX stands for virtual experience. And we're going to be making a CinemaVX manifesto, which is kind of like Lars von Trier's Dogma95, but about this sort of moment of the immersive new wave. And staying with first principles, so that we actually get the content and the emotion of the experience to be at the core, not the technology.
[00:06:05.516] Kent Bye: Yeah, what are some of the things that are on your manifesto?
[00:06:09.545] Brett Leonard: to do as much in camera as possible because I want to experience the veracity of this theatrical conceit in an immersive dome. We're not hiding that. I want to experience the idea that you're seeing into off-screen space. So we might have like musicians off in the corner of the set that are actually playing some of the score. So you're seeing sort of the gears in the walls of cinematic expression through the idea of immersive 360. which is to me just an interesting way of playing with that medium. And so those are the kinds of things. I'm actually creating the CinemaVX manifesto as something that's a group mind experience. I'm bringing a lot of different voices into it. It's not just me, because there's so many different angles at immersive production. And one of the other key things is though, because we have to create, you know, a feature-length duration in 360, and of course, five-minute projects in 360 are considered big, you know, and have sometimes a lot of budget. We're doing this on a fairly low budget for a feature film, and so we have to, like, mitigate all of the fixes that are usual in 360, like stitch line fixes and things like that, we have to mitigate those with staging. So we have to really think about the medium and then being able to spend the time on what's important, which is performance.
[00:07:27.647] Kent Bye: Yeah, one piece that comes to mind is Felix and Paul's Mayubi, where they had a family that was in dialogue and talking to each other, and they were, I guess, like a family constellation is a metaphor that I would use, in that you would be able to see different interactions with like, you know, five characters, but you'd be able to look at people's reactions in a way that I found was interesting and I hadn't seen before. One of the things that they told the actors was, hey, you know, improv some lines that are unexpected. So that would allow this emergence of all of the actors trying to be extra present to what was emerging. And I think that's a tension that when I've seen a lot of scripted films that are in 360 video, I can almost like detect whether or not they're scripted or not. Like I would, I'd be able to see the full body language and be able to really see like, this is, this is believable. And so how do you approach trying to keep this either emergence or presence or ability to keep it fresh?
[00:08:19.768] Brett Leonard: It's a great question. I'm actually utilizing a cast of up-and-coming unknowns who are all theatrically trained and trained in improvisation as well. So we do have a script, but we are going to be utilizing improvisation like in that Felix and Paul piece. Matter of fact, that's one of the only pieces I've seen that kind of even tries to do this. So I'm utilizing a group of people that are used to that aspect and also used to the idea of performing for a live audience. They're theatrically trained, most of them from the Stella Adler School of Drama. Many of them come from Europe, so they're coming to America and the idea of Hollywood with a certain kind of illusion or even delusion, and that's kind of what this project is about. It's about a group of young actors that are sharing their dreams and their loves and their fears and their failures and their adventures of trying to make it in Hollywood from this perspective, a kind of European perspective. Several of the actors are from Sweden. We even have one who was one of the supporting players in the film A Man Called Uwe, which was nominated for Academy Award. So it's just a really, for me again, it's connected to this idea of like new wave cinema that happened in the 70s. You know, Jean-Luc Godard and Francois Truffaut in France and Oshima in Japan and then Cassavetes here in America. and bring that energy through, one, utilizing a group of young actors that really are raw and understand theatrical performance, but understand the veracity you have to have in the context of live performance. And then how that translates in the 2D film is going to be very interesting to see.
[00:09:46.832] Kent Bye: Is this all one take or are there different shots? Because in order to logistically produce this, I'm just wondering if it's multiple takes, different shots, if you're shooting both at the same time, or if you're doing separate?
[00:09:59.618] Brett Leonard: We are not shooting both at the same time. That would be impossible because the 360 camera would see everything. Although I did consider, maybe we just shoot and let that be part of the film, but we may play with that with one little piece of an episode just for fun. But no, we're shooting, we're going in with the 360. It's going to be primarily master scene takes with the 360. There will be probably a few different shots in the 360, each 360 episode.
[00:10:21.233] Kent Bye: We're also using... Well, I guess at the same time, I guess also meant like back to back, like you have everybody staged in, or if you're going to do completely different production cycles.
[00:10:29.451] Brett Leonard: No, we are doing it back to back. So it comes right off of the energy of performing it kind of like a scene from a play, and then we go in with two handheld cameras and cover it like a film. And I know how to do that. I've done a number of smaller micro-budget productions that way, and it's really a great energetic way of making a film, and it gives a kind of intensity to it. And we're going to be also using this tool Liquid Cinema, Thomas Waller's company, they're actually a Canadian company, that allows you to force perspective in 360 so you kind of get a kind of way of manipulating the audience in 360 a little bit more like cinema. So it brings the frame back into 360 a bit more and it's a very, very powerful tool. It's a really interesting editorial tool that he's created. It is a little bit there, you know, the truth is in the paradox. Because I'm trying to just play with these tools that are kind of revolutionary. Just the idea of bringing forced perspective and that kind of directorial manipulation of 360 is kind of, you know, considered sacrilege. But many documentaries are starting to use this Liquid Cinema tool. and it allows me to explore as a cinematician some of the things I would do in 360 and yet maintain the immersive experience of it. So this is coming primarily from my cinematic background and I'm playing with this before I move into the creation of full VX story worlds. This is very different than my VX story world Process and the projects I'm doing in that area. It's kind of informing that through being able for me to express Aspects as a cinematic director but playing with the 360 aspect as well and doing it in a drama that is different than what I've seen
[00:12:22.838] Kent Bye: Yeah, we're here together in Toronto at VRTO. We were on a panel today talking about consciousness, consciousness transformation. And you mentioned that you are going into these different meetings with executives in Los Angeles. And because you've been involved with thinking about and making media about virtual reality since the early 90s with Lawnmower Man, you to some extent are able to bring in different esoteric traditions or ritual or different practices that Maybe are better suited for virtual reality than the 2d experience And so maybe you could talk a bit about some of those Ritualistic aspects that you see are kind of maybe better suited for this immersive medium
[00:13:00.591] Brett Leonard: Well, yeah, because one of the things you kind of have to throw away when you truly go into an immersive experience that has true agency and interaction is you have to throw away directorial manipulation in its usual form. And you have to allow that agency, but I also believe in guided agency. And so in looking for a way to guide agency to inform things like AI character behavior and the other elements that will be a part of a virtual experience story world, I have looked to the structures of ritual, ritual structure, tribal rituals that have a structure that is inherently more apropos to virtual experience than any of the sort of three-act structure of drama or things out of the theater or cinema or television. And so for me, it's informing a way of mechanistically planning a virtual story world experience. And it has an open-ended quality to it. It has a discovery aspect. Every ritual is about discovery. Discovery of one's self and the other and the interaction of those two things. And then in that liminal space of the ritual, you then learn to integrate that back into the real world. And so I think that true virtual story world experience will need to have that kind of structure more than traditional narrative structure. So I've been going against the grain of the thing I'm doing in Hollywood Rooftop with these other things. And for me, it's a stimulating intellectual exercise. And also this happens to be a film and project that is funded and being distributed by Seek VR, which is trying to become the Netflix of virtual reality and run and headed up by CEO Mary Spio, who's a very amazing woman and really has the vision and passion for this new medium. And she knows it's going to evolve and do other things, but we're kind of playing with this moment sort of at the end of the efficacy of 360. as a way of sort of connecting the dots between cinematic history and what's going on in immersion. And, you know, I think the festivals will be interested in that discussion, that dialectic, and that's why I'm doing it in both forms.
[00:15:04.268] Kent Bye: Yeah, it reminds me of this concept I've been thinking about a lot lately, which is that Joseph Campbell and the monomyth and the hero's journey is very young expression of you going outward on a journey and that you're going on an adventure and having a deep transformation and you're having at some point an ordeal that is transforming you and then you return. Well, that seems to be something that has been a storytelling and narrative mechanism that is gone across, especially in Western cultures for thousands of years, but yet I think there's a complimentary yin archetypal journey that perhaps we haven't fully identified or know what exactly that is. And I think that the rituals are pointing to that because to a certain extent, the rituals are about you having an inner noetic personal experience, about you being present to your own inward lunar and symbolic life, but having it in a group context that you're able to have these shared experiences. But that there's also this, ethic around like identifying what that Yen archetypal pattern is and then how to bring that out. And something that may be more about centering you and your embodied experience, emotional experience, but also connecting you to the larger whole in a way that is less about the individual hero's journey, but more about you identifying with the collective. I'm not sure if you have any thoughts.
[00:16:20.482] Brett Leonard: I do, yeah. I think that that's exactly right, Ken. It is about the noetic inner journey being reflected in this immersive environment. I mean, the fact that it's an immersive environment allows it to be reactive and reflective of that noetic journey, which hopefully will amplify that experience if that is part of what you want to do in the agency of your journey within that context. So by amplifying that inner noetic journey in a way that is very evocative and compelling in an immersive environment, I think you're accelerating the possibility for human transformation. And when you start to create that experience, an immersive group experience, then you start to have something that I don't think any of us can actually see what it's going to be. There's a horizon factor here that we can't fully see past that horizon of what true group virtual experience will be about. And that to me is extremely exciting.
[00:17:12.130] Kent Bye: Yeah, you mentioned today this concept of quantum entanglement, which is, you know, at some level that there's a connectivity that happens between people having, you know, you mentioned that you had some sort of shared experience of quantum entanglement in a ritual, you know. That to me implies that group processes with people sharing a collective space and collective intention, even if they may be physically dislocated, do you think it's possible to have a similar type of quantumly entangled group ritual experience in virtual reality, something that was similar to your own experience?
[00:17:44.944] Brett Leonard: Yes, I think that actual quantum entanglement will be amplified in virtual experience. And the other thing is we can actually capture it. See, quantum entanglement, everyone experiences quantum entanglement in small ways or large ways in their life. You know, people, you know, call it serendipity. There's different words for it. But in a way, this will allow us to capture that, not just experience, but also capture it in a way that then others can be informed by that quantum entanglement moment. We can actually find a way of codifying it and expressing it in a medium that can not only be reactive to what you're experiencing, but also can kind of archive it. And that's very interesting to me.
[00:18:24.712] Kent Bye: I'm curious how that would work, because the concept of synchronicity is a meaningful coincidence. And that meaningful coincidence means that there's something in your own internal state that is matched in the external reality. And so to capture it would be the capturing of somebody else's external synchronicity, but that wouldn't necessarily mean that it's your synchronicity.
[00:18:42.967] Brett Leonard: No, but I think that there's such commonality in the human experience that there'll be ways of feeling into that in immersive experience that have never been part of other media forms. Because other media forms are an abstracted thing that you are separate from and observing. But if you're able to actually feel into that moment, you know, not using dramatic conceits or the manipulation of a director like you would in cinema to express this idea, I think it can go deeper and actually connect us in a deeper way to the group experience of actual group transformation, which I've experienced in groups, but it's ephemeral. It's very ephemeral. And so to try to magnify and amplify that ephemeral experience and that epiphany that you have with a kind of quantum entanglement moment with groups, or with another person, or even with yourself and nature, That to me is just a fascinating sort of addendum to what is possible with this new medium.
[00:19:41.129] Kent Bye: What do you think are some of the key components of that consciousness transformation, especially in a group context, that you would try to then replicate within a virtual experience?
[00:19:50.298] Brett Leonard: Knowing oneself in an actual form that had a greater objectivity, I think that the environment can reflect that back to you in a way that would be emotionally comfortable and spiritually comfortable. And you could also do it in a way that was not comfortable, if you wanted to have that kind of contact. I mean, we were talking about psychedelic experience today, and some psychedelic experiences are very uncomfortable. But it doesn't mean they're not informing an aspect of your own noetic journey, right? So there almost might be a dial in there for comfortability or non-comfortability, depending on what you want to do in the context of your own noetic journey and where you're finding yourself, and then interaction with the other or group of others. The way of having this outside medium that really you are embodying and and inhabiting at the same time. There's so many interesting paradoxes in that that I think we can explore and we won't actually know until we actually get people in there and start experiencing it.
[00:20:50.627] Kent Bye: Yeah, and talking about like models of reality, we have science to describe the objective world. And I feel like that to describe the inner world, we have these different esoteric traditions, but we also have story and myth and ways of connecting people through all of the mechanisms of visual storytelling and music that invoke the emotional connection that is able to connect us to a deeper story. And so I'm just curious, like how you think about storytelling and immersive storytelling, and what is it about storytelling that is so compelling?
[00:21:20.878] Brett Leonard: There's something embedded in our DNA that is the one conscious is called one of the Jungian ideas there. But storytelling is, I think, changing because we've sort of run the gamut of storytelling and there's been a kind of regurgitation that's been going on over the past 20 some years. And that means there's a moment where it's morphing into something else. And I call that story worlding. which means you're creating this world of story you can enter, discover, engage in, not engage in, connect into a linear timeline, uncouple from that linear timeline. All of those things have never been able to be manifest in a medium before that was abstracted in modern times, but was manifest in ritual, in ancient ritual. So we're kind of coming full circle back to what immersive, momentary, in the moment epiphany is in the context of group experience, which is what ritual is all about creating. So by using this medium of abstraction and immersion to get back to that moment of reality is actually sort of the paradox at the core of this whole virtual discussion. It's in a way virtual reality is actually bringing us back to the moment, the potency of the moment and of true reality. What is true reality? We're going to find out. I'm not sure. It's different for different people. But I also think that there is a collective experience that can be experienced in a way that is more potent than any other form ever devised with this new medium. And that's what's exciting to me about playing in it.
[00:23:07.504] Kent Bye: Well, what do you want to personally experience in VR?
[00:23:11.145] Brett Leonard: I want to experience states of joy and states of ecstatic bliss and states of true imagination, because the unfettered human imagination is something that I think is the reason we exist. So, by entering into that reason as a transform, as a process within the context of a virtual immersive environment, I just think there's going to be a tremendous evolutionary acceleration that happens. I believe this is an evolutionary accelerator at the core.
[00:23:46.178] Kent Bye: Great. And finally, what do you think is kind of the ultimate potential of virtual reality and what it might be able to enable?
[00:23:55.127] Brett Leonard: I think it might enable true connectivity in a level that has not been possible across cultures, across boundaries, across our human ideas of the better than and the other, And the breaking down of those boundaries in a virtual environment that is expressing unfettered human imagination will lead to an entire new era of human experience and human potential and possibility. And the reason we live will not be to be part of this mechanistic industrial revolution oriented moment that we've been in for the past hundred or so years. and really change into something that is about what's at the core of the human experience, which is ultimately love, connection, and awakening.
[00:24:46.043] Kent Bye: Awesome. Is there anything else that's left unsaid that you'd like to say?
[00:24:48.945] Brett Leonard: No, just that it's been great to be here at VRTO, and it was great to be on your panel today, and to be able to talk about these things with people and not have them throw stones at you.
[00:25:00.312] Kent Bye: Awesome. Well, thank you so much for joining me today. Thank you. So that was Brent Leonard, he's the director of Lawnmower Man, and he's working on an upcoming project called The Hollywood Rooftop, which is going to be shot both in an immersive 360 video as well as in a 2D film. So, I have a number of different takeaways about this interview, is that first of all, So it sounds like SeekVR by Mir Spio is helping fund this Hollywood rooftop experiment, which is going to be exploring the different cinematic languages between a single story that's going to be shot in immersive 360 video, but also in 2D film. And it's going to be done within the context of an immersive dome. So he's going to be producing these 360 videos. They're going to be projected onto the dome, which is going to reflect the deeper emotional context of whatever is being talked about. And so they're going to be kind of doing this new wave cinema of really focusing on the one-on-one character dialogues and the stories and emotions and plot, but in the context of using these immersive technologies to be able to kind of symbolically reflect different aspects of the inner journey that's happening within the context of the movie. So this sounds like a very interesting experiment, and I'm very curious to actually see when it gets finished, to see both the immersive 360 video as well as the 2D film. And I think the question I would ask is, as I go through this improv process and try to reckon what's inevitably going to be slightly varying performances from each take, and also probably more content that was originally written, since it's not tightly scripted, they're gonna have to, in some ways, craft what is going to be uniquely suited for each of the mediums. I suspect that there might be different divergences, because immersive VR has to be long takes and much more of a theater performance, and I'm curious to see how that actually plays out with the 2D film, if they're gonna also do these long, single-shot takes, or if they're going to have a little bit more leeway to be able to edit and have a little bit more control. So once they get this project shot and into the editing room, I think it'll be interesting to see how they end up playing out in terms of really using the unique affordances of each of the different cinematic languages for each of the mediums, both the 2D film, as well as the immersive 360 video. And Brent also sounds like he's writing up this immersive cinema VX manifesto. It's kind of the equivalent of the dog 195, but these various different rules that are trying to create different constraints and boundaries in order to really push for the different affordances of the immersive virtual reality medium. So doing as much in-camera as possible, being able to see all of the off-screen space, and then try to have also music coming in from the environment. So it's actually not having soundtracks put on top of it later. There's a lot of similarities, I think, to the Dogma 95. And so to me, it's a little paradoxical why he's going to be using something like the Liquid Cinema Force perspective technologies, which is essentially going to be you know when you're in virtual reality it's going to kind of move the perspective to where you want to see it and There's probably gonna be different ways to do that one way to do that with the external technology is something like the positron chair which you see a lot more at the film festivals like Sundance with Felix and Paul for example doing the space explorers vr experience where they use the positron chair and there's ways that you can actually use the positron chair to be able to give different haptic feedback but also just directorial you're able to kind of control what people are looking at so they can really have an immersive vr experience but really be super passive and not have to worry about what you're looking at. And I think that's kind of this blend that Brent sounds like he's going to be trying to do, which is creating this immersive experience, but yet using different technologies to be able to still have a little bit more of that directorial control. And so we're kind of in this hybrid phases right now where we have technologies like that, where these traditional film actors can use this immersive technology, but still kind of use these types of things to be able to still treat it as a 2D film. So it's an interesting hybrid and I have mixed feelings about the Positron. I've seen it work a few times. I think the stuff that Philips and Paul has done, you know, they did a great job of actually implementing in a way that didn't sort of make me more motion sick. And I think it added to the immersion of the experience, but I've seen a lot of times where doing stuff like that can actually just, you know, take away my agency and I don't actually get a chance to be able to look around. And so, It's kind of like as the audience is learning how to actually experience an immersive VR experience, people who are very comfortable with being able to have a lot of high agency and look where they want, I think tend to get a little bit more annoyed with these technologies. But yet people who are brand new to be able to see these immersive experiences, they tend to adopt these different technologies a little bit easier. So the other big thing that I just wanted to dive into was just this concept that virtual reality is this immersive medium that is going to be going back and digging into these indigenous ritualistic practices where you're going to create these group experiences focusing on your inner symbolic life, your inner noed experience, and to have this transformational experience within the context of these immersive environments and these shared group experiences. So I'm talking to a neuroscientist at VRTO, talking about this concepts of group synchrony, so that there's something magical about being with groups of people all doing the same thing. And I've participated in a lot of different ritualistic experiences with large groups of people. at these different retreats that I've been to. And it does have this really primal healing quality of making you feel less alone, more of a part of a group, it eliminates a lot of your shame, and it just makes you feel like you're a part of something that's larger than yourself. And especially if you're all doing the same thing. And just having these large shared experiences, I think is something that the virtual reality technology is going to be able to bring back. I think we've kind of lost that within our culture. And we've, we've done it to, you know, going to see like music events or seeing movies, we kind of have that similar aspect of having a shared experience with a big group of people, but you're not necessarily interacting with them, you're very much very passive in these different types of experiences. And expect that with the Capability of virtual reality to be able to allow you to express your agency in different way that you're going to actually participate in these group experiences a lot more and I think I'm super excited to see where that is headed and so Bram was talking about quantum entanglement as a metaphor for this synchrony that happens within these group experiences and it's kind of like a the shared experience is what I would say. Whether or not there's actually quantum entanglement that's happening on the back end, we don't necessarily know. So I tend to read these things as metaphors rather than empirical evidence that this is actually what's happening because, you know, there's not specific evidence to indicate that that's true. But I suspect it could be true, that there is some sort of deeper thing that is connecting us to the larger whole. And we kind of feel it in our body, in our experience, we feel that when we're in these group synchrony experiences in these ritual contexts, that we're connected to something that is larger than ourselves. And I think that is kind of the essence of what he's talking about here. So being able to know oneself and have that reflected back to you in a VR experience is also really interesting to see how You can have these inner experiences, but also have the environment of the virtual reality be reflected in different ways. So whether that's through biometrics or through music that's corresponding to the reflection of what's happening inside of you within the context of a VR experience, I think there's a lot of room to explore what exactly that means. How do you actually do that? How do you create an immersive environment that is somehow reflective of what's happening with inside of you? So there's something about the storytelling that Brent's saying is kind of embedded within our DNA that it's kind of transforming into this story worlding where we're really creating these entire story worlds that we're going to be able to connect and uncouple to linear timelines and to go back to a lot of these ancient indigenous traditions. So it's about being in the moment and having these epiphanies and the context of these group experiences where it's all about creating that through these abstractions of virtual reality, but that it's through these abstractions that we're going to be able to get connected back to this moment of reality, which is just being deeply present to this deep layer of general awareness and being. And what what Brent says is true reality. So I think, you know, all of this is to be seen where this all goes. But I suspect that these types of group gatherings, I think, is something that I think is one of the most exciting potentials of virtual reality is that you're able to gather people together who have shared values and worldviews and be able to do these different group practices and rituals and find different ways of doing group synchrony, just to find aspects of you participating as an individual, but as contributing to something that is a larger whole. And I think that as that happens, I expect to be a pretty profound experience once we start to have more and more people doing these types of things. And having access to all of this unfettered human imagination that will be a catalyst to an evolutionary accelerator, as Brad says. So that's all that I have for today. And I just wanted to thank you for listening to the Voices of VR podcast. And if you'd like to help out, there's a couple things you can do. First of all, just spread the word, tell your friends, leave a review on iTunes. That's one way to get the word out to larger and larger groups. And consider supporting the podcast through Patreon. This is a listener-supported podcast, and so I do rely upon your donations in order to continue to bring you this type of coverage. So become a member and donate today at patreon.com slash Voices of VR. Thanks for listening.