Vera’s Not Alone: A Nested Cinema Experience – A world first at Media City

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A world-first cinematic experience that fully immersed its participants in its story premiered at our MediaCity campus last month.

Vera’s Not Alone is a new ground-breaking immersive film installation from the University’s own Dr Pavel Prokopic that uses cutting edge technology and cinematic techniques to blur the line between the real and the imaginary.

The experience is designed for one person at a time and lasted around 10 minutes. Entering the installation you got a sense of being part of a game with screens indicating that the experience was about to start and props and objects related to the world of the story defining the space. The on screen introduction explained how to prepare for the experience and pointed out where the VR headset was located and to take a seat on the sofa. The sofa was very comfy and allowed audience members to settle in to the immersion. The experience took place across several screens of different types as well as VR headset which was cleverly mapped to the space allowing characters previously only seen on screen to ‘enter’ the space you are sat in at particular moments. This technique also allowed for alternative visual perspectives of some parts of the narrative.   

The sound was created using spatial audio and came out of different speakers positioned across the space correlating to the story on screen and much like at the cinema, the frequencies produced added to the drama.  Lighting was also a key part of the experience with the colours reflecting the colour and luminosity of the screens.  

The strength of the dialogue and characters was the glue that allowed all the technology to come together and immerse the viewer in the world of the film. 

The audience accessed the experience through the main entrance at MediaCity. There was a front of house team in place to welcome visitors and guide them through the experience. They also encouraged viewers to take part in a short survey about the work and their experience when exiting the space. 

The survey combined questions about the audiences experience of the work to inform the future of the research, with some questions designed to help build up a picture of who the audience is for public events like this. 

“Overall, an experience that caused a physical reaction and feeling that I had experienced something more than a film. This feeling of a lived experience is what separated it from a traditional film screening for me. It felt closer to reality”

The installation had over 100 visitors through the week and of those around 80 took part in the feedback survey. The data showed that 80% of the audience had visited events at the University before with 70% attending because of their work or studies and 30% out of interest as members of the public. 

It was great to hear that the proactive front of house team went out into MediaCity to invite in members of the general public which really helped the work reach a wider public audience. This highlights the challenge of reaching the general public and inviting them onto campus for activity like this that is not part of a wider public festival. 

“Would absolutely attend more installations like this, a great heightened approach to experiencing film”

Principal Investigator; NCR Experience and Content created, written and directed by Pavel Prokopic 
Flexible production design and technology: Jayne Sayer 
Creative technologies supervisor and co-producer: Roger McKinley
Cinematography: Steve Wyatt
Sound design: Rob Szeliga
Editor and colourist: Aarif Laljee 
Visual effects editor: Charlie Grimshaw 
Sound engineering and technology consultant: Bernard Steer
Technical support: Mukilasri Radhakrishnan, John Joseph, Jake Orton
Camera assistants: Demelza Walkden, Libby Scott 
Costume assistant: Lauren Williams 
Cast: Taiseer Fouda and Scott Spiro

Massive thank you to the Technical Services Team at Media City who made this work possible