October 25, 2023

USC's Ganek Immersive Studio Showcases 6 Cutting-Edge Projects at Open House

By Benjamin Pola

Just last year, the USC School of Cinematic Arts unveiled the Ganek Immersive Studio, thanks to the generous gift from David and Danielle Ganek, along with support from the Ganek Family Foundation. This unique immersive studio is designed as a hub for diverse immersive media content, fostering collaboration across disciplines.

The studio quickly formed its “greenlight committee” to evaluate pitches and proposals from students, and wasted no time in approving 6 projects in its inaugural year. These projects feature a range of creative concepts, technologies and storytelling that test and push the boundaries of VR, XR and AR as artistic mediums. This week, you can get a sneak peek of these 6 projects during The Ganek Immersive Studio Open House which will showcase the hard work these teams have completed thus far. 

Here is the list of The Ganek Immersive Studio’s 2023-2024 projects that will be showcased at the Open House on Thursday October 26th from 4:00 PM - 7:00PM in SCI 310

O.R.A.C.L.E | Extended Reality (XR) / Augmented Reality (AR) Project
Director: Rylan Pozniak Daniels ’24

ORACLE is a multiplayer AR scavenger hunt that puts players in the roles of time traveling detectives who embark on a quest given by an AI oracle to restore the natural order of the space time continuum. The project uses multiple Vive XR Elite headsets simultaneously, which switch between augmented and virtual reality scenes. ORACLE features a first-of-its-kind hardware modification to the sunglasses-style Vive XR Elite that transforms its head-mounted battery pack into a wearable AR controller for collecting virtual objects in the scavenger hunt.

Perfect City: The Room | Virtual Reality (VR) Project 
Director: Shengwei Zhou ’24

Perfect City: The Room is an episode from the Perfect City series, presented in VR format. It delves into the intricate layers of a woman's dream and memory, inviting the audience to tangibly experience the various textures within the "room" of her mind.

They Shall Not Come Back | Virtual Reality (VR) Project
Director: Seleny Xie ’24

They Shall Not Come Back is a VR interactive narrative that allows players to step into the shoes of a young soldier lost in the chaos of World War I. This project harnesses virtual reality to immerse users into the intricate relationships woven during the chaos of wartime, forging a profound emotional connection that transcends boundaries of distance, space, time, and mortality.

Kooks | Augmented Reality (AR) Project
Director: Coby Palivathhukel ’22

Kooks tells the story of a group of alien surfers forced to abandon their polluted home planet, seeking new waves on Earth. Here on our planet, they clash with territorial local surfers unwilling to share their waves. By leveraging AR and XR technologies, users can experience first hand the incredible storytelling potential of these cutting-edge mediums.

Help is on the Way | Virtual Reality (VR) Project
Director: Nathan Fairchild 

Help Is On the Way is a suspenseful VR experiment. As you stroll through a nocturnal town, you'll accompany Flora Chapman, who's shadowed by an ominous and enigmatic presence. Experience the thrill as viewers seamlessly shift between Flora's viewpoint and that of her pursuer, offering a unique and engaging narrative.

Phantom Limbs | Interactive Virtual Reality (VR) Project
Director: Michael Brown 

Phantom Limbs is a VR project that tackles the disconnection between our physical and digital bodies in virtual reality, countering the disembodied and isolating experiences. Using a virtual mirror of the user, it aims to re-anchor VR in our bodies in hopes of offering new emotional experiences, therapeutic potential, and insights into our physical and digital selves, ultimately bridging the gap between them.

For more information on the Ganek Immersive Studio click here