In keeping with our long-awaited return to an in-person event, when looking for an entertainment showcase for our 6th International VR Awards we wanted to go big and bold. It was decided that we’d look to our eclectic collection of members for a showstopping performance that could grab the attention of our global audience. In doing so, we managed to secure a truly groundbreaking spectacle from AIXR members Andromeda Entertainment.
Andromeda Entertainment is a known investor and publisher for a wide variety of immersive creators within the industry, but it had emerged that CEO John McClellan and his partner Bri Basco also had an extensive background within the field of entertainment themselves. We caught up with them during final rehearsals at De Doelen to hear more about their journey to take acrobatics into a whole new dimension through an incredible collaboration with virtual reality.
So, let’s hear a little about your backgrounds!
When discussing his background, John opens by saying “When I’m not publishing games for Andromeda, I am a part-time juggler and acrobat. I’m in the local circus troop in Austin, Texas called ‘Circus Picnic’. It is clear that the decision to bring the worlds of VR and acrobatics together is a passion project thought about as an extension of the transformative work carried out by Andromeda Entertainment. Within the project, John is joined onstage by his multitalented partner Brittany (Bri) Basco, a board-certified behavior analyst and founder of the entertainment company ‘Inspira Entertainment’.
What was the inspiration behind the unorthodox marriage of VR and Acrobatics?
The performance from John and Bri proved to be a stunning combination of VR and acrobatics. Within the performance they dance and move with restricted vision as an interstellar projection is displayed behind them, itself intended to be representative of what our performers see throughout. What we see is an original, novel idea. As John puts it: “This is experimental for us, and it was just about combining our passions and bringing something that the audience hasn’t seen before”. Bri adds “I’m honestly just so excited to combine VR and acrobatics, I feel like our worlds are so different yet so similar… any chance to create a big production or anything exciting I’m like let’s go! It’s my love language!”.
John continues by suggesting that “We talk about Web 3.0, VR, AR, and the Metaverse, but it could be hard to conceptualize what this technology is capable of in even 10 years”. The pair are driven by a shared passion for VR, Acrobatics, and the aerial arts. John says: “People tend to overestimate what they can accomplish in a year, and they tend to underestimate what they can accomplish in 10! That’s how long we’ve been training acrobatics, and it’s just great to be able to bring that and combine that with technology”.
“We need to be agents of change, people who are working towards this technology for our betterment… with VR, we want to be part of the movement for health, vitality and the future of VR that we see as a positive agent for change.”John McClellan, CEO, Andromeda Entertainment
What themes are evoked in the performance?
Andromeda Entertainment emerged in the industry in 2019, with a unique desire to serve a growing audience of mindfulness and self-care enthusiasts with immersive experiences. This is something that is reflected in the performance, which also features an introduction with a quote from famed ethnobotanist Terence McKenna.
John states “We need to be agents of change, people who are working towards this technology for our betterment… with VR, we want to be part of the movement for health, vitality, and the future of VR that we see as a positive agent for change.”
With our knowledge of the pedigree of our performers, the Academy and VR Awards were also blessed to find out what the most memorable performance from the pair was. John informed us “The most memorable experience for us is definitely coming here to the VR Awards and performing in Rotterdam. This is the biggest international performance that we’ve done together”.
While the inspiration for the performance nobly intends to further the audience’s understanding of the potential of VR as a tool for mental growth. As a partnership, the motivation also comes closer to home for John and Bri.
John states “I guess our favorite part, and also the toughest part, is the creative journey that we have to go on together… there are highs and lows, quite literally, and we have to work those out together”.
Bri also mentions “We’ve been doing this for three and a half years together… I feel like acrobatics is so much based on trust, I could try to do this with someone different but I’ve had so much experience and things like motor movement are memorized within your body.
So what’s the future of this kind of performance?
With John and Bri’s evident enthusiasm for the potential of emerging XR technologies and the growth of the Metaverse, we were interested to find out the pair’s thoughts on where these developments might take VR acrobatics in the future. John states “I’d love to see full body tracking and tesla suits eventually integrated into VR experiences, so you have tactile support all over your entire body. I think when we get to that level, experiences like this will be able to program movement, in a way, and have that be experiential. In a call to arms, John concludes by stating “come on hardware people, let’s do this together!”
Whether you are a hardware person or simply want to reach out to Andromeda Entertainment and find out more about this performance, visit their website or contact them on Facebook, Twitter, or Linkedin.