Habitat XR has launched an immersive cinema capable of showing 360° films in 25K resolution at the Ellen DeGeneres campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund in Rwanda.
The Irmelin DiCaprio Theater was launched with financial support from DeGeneres’ Ellen Fund and actor Leonardo DiCaprio.
Immersive theater, along with on-site AR and VR experiences, bring audiences within inches of digital representations of Africa’s endangered mountain gorillas, without any impact on their natural environment.
Developed from the ground up by the Habitat XR team, the Cinema is fully app controlled and was designed to project 16:1 ultra-wide footage – or “superpanoramic” movies – scaled to size. using AI technology.
The theatre’s eight daisy-chained 4K laser projectors display 50 million pixels on a 140 x 8-foot canvas, constructed using high-contrast film stretched over a custom 3D-printed frame.
This is complemented by a 10.2 matrix surround sound system, which includes 37 individual speakers and two amplifiers as well as more than 2,000 square feet (185 m²) of acoustic panels designed and manufactured by the team to absorb reverberation and allow sounds captured in space. from the forest to engulf the public.
“At Habitat XR, we believe that immersive experiences can go far beyond entertaining the public,” said Ulrico Grech-Cumbo, CEO of Habitat XR. “That’s why we’re so excited for the public to visit the Irmelin DiCaprio Theater. Our dream is that the theater and our other XR experiences on campus will bring people closer to the gorillas than ever before; to fill them with empathy and understanding and inspire them to action.
At launch, the theater is screening two original cinematic experiences. The first, titled A Day in the Life of Gorillas and produced by Habitat XR and the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, follows four-year-old mountain gorilla Gasizi and provides unprecedented insight into his family, known as Pablo’s Group.
The second film, Saving Mountain Gorillas: The Dian Fossey Legacy, produced by the National Geographic Society’s Impact Media Lab in collaboration with Habitat XR, explores both the history and future of gorilla conservation at the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund .
Outside of the theater, audiences can immerse themselves in gorilla behaviors at the touch of a tablet using Habitat XR’s custom-developed controllerless virtual reality kiosks.
In the lush campus gardens, which mimic the natural habitat of gorillas, visitors can embark on a virtual gorilla hike with Habitat XR’s GorillAR augmented reality iPad app, which sees a photorealistic CGI silverback gorilla guide visitors on an interactive and educational foraging adventure along real trails.
The front camera analyzes the actual shadows on the viewer’s face to get an approximate light on the virtual hero gorilla in all lighting conditions, allowing for the best possible blend with the surrounding environment. The three Apple iPad Pro M1 devices are housed in special cases designed by Habitat XR and 3D printed using biodegradable corn starch to mimic the volcanic rock textures prevalent in northern Rwanda.
Dr Tara Stoinski, President and CEO of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, said: “Technology can play a major role in shaping people’s attitudes towards nature, and we are proud to incorporate some of the tools of most advanced storytelling in our new home. to help tell more of the gorilla story and our 55 years of conservation work in Rwanda.
Alongside conservation, another key project objective for Habitat XR was to challenge the convention that technological innovation does not happen in Africa. “We’ve created one of the world’s most advanced projection theaters and augmented reality experiences that push the boundaries,” Grech-Cumbo said, “and it’s adjacent to a rainforest in the heart of Africa. “