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Expert Talks with Virtual Reality Consultant Camille Donegan (Demo)

Over the next few months we’re running a series of interviews with industry experts in VR, Video and Animation. Today we caught up with Camille Donegan. Camille is a Virtual Reality Consultant with a background in Theatre, Film and Computer Science. She runs a monthly VR meetup group in Temple Bar and has recently launched

With a background in the arts and theatre, how did you find yourself working in the realm of VR and AR?
It’s been an interesting journey, it started with me wanting to be an actor and my dad saying absolutely not as he was an artist himself and had struggled for the early years of his career until he went into advertising, which was one of the few ways to make money from the arts. He didn’t want me to be a penniless artist, so I listened to him and went into computer science and chemistry. When I graduated I was working in AIB but I was doing acting courses at night and essentially I ended up having parallel careers, one in the arts and one in IT as a software developer.
What was your first experience of VR?
I discovered VR at the Digital Biscuit Conference in Dublin. My first experience was through a 1st person perspective piece where you could choose who you wanted to be in a family setting…
they put it on Oculus Rift and it was like I was in “Being John Malkovich”. I was in the body of the father and I was at a family dinner.
It was real eye opener for me that experience. They call VR the empathy making machine, in that it encourages empathy and I would agree with that. Maybe because I was an actor I was excited by the ability to embody and step into someone else’s shoes. Through non-verbal communication in this film, I knew that this character was pissed off with his wife and every time she took a big glug of wine and started laughing, he would sigh, so when I sighed he would sigh, and that was remarkable to me. This was years ago and the resolution was awful but the audio was amazing. Other little cues just blew me away and I ran out of there so excited and since then I haven’t really stopped running.
In your consultancy work what kind of clients do you have and what services do you provide for them?
I started the VR meetup in Dublin and I began to run workshops to bring people together….
The most diverse people came, academics, technologists, psychologists and some artists.
A real crossbreed of minds, out of that I discovered there was a real business need for people to understand what AR & VR was and how can it apply to their business. I broke it down in a quite real but experiential way. I’d go out to organisations and give them some headsets, it didn’t matter what the organisation was, it could be a design agency, it could be a bank, I’d break down the nuts and bolts of what’s out there and what VR & AR’s are being made for their sector.
What is it that interests you most about VR?
I’m most interested in interactive experiences, we’re not there yet in terms of live action but personally that’s the content that interests me most.
You researched human interactivity and human behaviour? 
Yes. I’ve learned a lot about perception and how we perceive the world through our 5 senses. For instance I taste something differently then you do. If we all understood how we hear and see the world differently, this could influence how we all think. For example, if we were at a meeting and there were 5 people at this meeting, how powerful would it be to see the meeting from the different perspectives of the 5 people?
What’s exciting you at the moment in the VR scene in Ireland?
I’ve been having some meetings with Google and the Institute of Art Design & Technology (IADT) and we are looking at how artists can have access to these tools on an ongoing basis. So not just 10 minute VR demos, but ongoing tools for story-boarding and for animation. It’s really exciting to see those collaborative relationships between artists and technologists starting to happen.

Silverbranch is your new business venture?
Yes, it’s myself and Sabina Bonnici, together we provide specialised services in story technology using VR, AR and online platforms as powerful tools for storytelling and marketing. Between us we have everything you need!
Are you open to new members joining your VR meetup?
Oh yeah absolutely. The more the merrier. We meet up once a month in Filmbase people can find out more information on our Facebook Page.
photo credit: Manu Di Marco