2022 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW! Seriously, doesn’t it look like we’re about to take that first step in The Matrix? As the world went into isolation during the lockdown, the same world found connections in VRCHAT instead. This digital phenomenon prompted director Joe Hunting to grab his virtual camera and give us an in-depth tour of the future Metaverse in his documentary, We met in virtual reality.
The entire film takes place in VRCHAT, where users experience VR equipment and avatars move around thanks to mo-cap cameras, custom avatars and finger articulation. We met in virtual reality opens with a sort of CG meetup where avatars come together and explore the worlds that other members have built. In this case, it’s a nice hill, and a small group jumps into a virtual car for a ride…which hilariously ends in a horrific accident.
“…it’s a nice hill, and a small group is jumping into a virtual car for a ride…which hilariously ends in a horrible crash.”
Next, we go to a community center and observe one of the featured subjects, Jenny teaching an American Sign Language class called “Helping Hands.” Downstairs is DustBunny, who is an online fitness instructor and through VRCHAT met her longtime partner, Toaster. Finally there is isYourBoi, a belly dancing instructor, who used VRCHAT to escape her life, get rid of booze and is now engaged to fellow dancer DragonHeart.
Visually, the attraction for We met in virtual reality are the worlds its members have created, including a Jurassic Park-like land as well as the wildly flamboyant and over-the-top avatars they use to roam the world. However, what director Hunting does so well is get straight into the emotions and reasons why his subjects have embraced life in a virtual world.