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'Hamlet' in Virtual Reality Casts the Viewer in the Play


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The new production's Hamlet.

Bostons Commonwealth Shakespeare Company and Google have created a virtual reality version of Shakespeare's "Hamlet."

Credit: Matthew Niederhauser/The New York Times

Boston’s Commonwealth Shakespeare Company and Google have created a virtual reality (VR) version of "Hamlet," called "Hamlet 360: Thy Father's Spirit," in which the viewer plays the ghost of Hamlet’s father.

The production was released by WGBH, a PBS member station in Boston, and it is being hosted on the station's YouTube page, where it can be watched in three dimensions using a VR headset or in two dimensions on a desktop or mobile device.

The film plays out in a single location, at the center of a large, rundown hall with a stage to one side. As the actors move around the room, they encourage viewers to explore the space.

The developers captured the action using Google's Yi Halo 360 camera, which was planted in one spot and the actors moved around it; the Halo is comprised of 17 cameras, one of which is pointed up and the rest fanned around in the shape of a wreath.

Google’s Matt Apfel said, “Many young people’s first experience of Shakespeare is not all that great. This is a way to put into the classroom an extraordinary experience of this play and give teachers another tool to bring the material to life.”

From The Seattle Times
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