Sunday, October 17, 2021

Cathy walked the (virtual) plank: ‘Yipes!’

Chronicle Managing Editor Cathy DeDe writes:

I tried out Richie’s Plank Experience, one of the Virtual Reality offerings for this year’s Adirondack Film Festival, which runs October 17 to 20.

Film Fest director Chad Rabinovitz guides Cathy DeDe on a virtual experience.

The scene behind the VR mask was a plank suspended from the 80th floor of a skyscraper. My feet never left the ground but I was unhinged, knees still shaking for two hours afterwards.

Yes, I did it — only barely and fully out of breath. I’m not proud. I inched with fear to the edge and back.

Those make-believe sounds and visuals convniced my brain that I was stepping out high above a scene of city traffic, the sky around me swarming dangerously with helicopters, birds, even a hot air balloon.

Afterwards, mask up and off and much relieved, I realized with chagrin that for journalistic integrity — I had to put that VR mask back on and try stepping off the plank to experience what happens when you fall. It took every ounce of will, and long minutes of laughter masking unabashed terror, to take that plunge. How’d it feel?

There’s a moment of “yipes!” Then you’re floating, until — crash — the world goes white and you hear angels singing. Hah!

The Film Fest includes three VR offerings, only with a VIP pass. Gloomy Eyes is a short, straight-forward storyline about zombies. How to Tell a True Immigrant Story tracks local experiences with ICE, in conjunction with Skidmore College’s MDocs program. That one comes with your own take-home cardboard VR viewer that looks something like an old-time stereoscope.

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