Shot in first-person as a continuous take, 360° live-action spy thriller Agent Emerson is slated to arrive on all Oculus headsets as well as PC VR headsets November 22nd, followed later by a release on PSVR.
Starring Lyndsy Fonseca and Tony Denison, Agent Emerson is set to run for a total of 15 minutes. Written and directed with VR sensibilities in mind, the film will tell its story entirely through the first-person perspective, similar to Hardcore Henry (2015). Granted, the fact that viewers will be able to pan their heads in all 360 degrees and still find something to look at means it’s very possible that director Ilya Rozhkov has hidden a few secrets to discover on subsequent viewings.
“CIA Operative David Emerson awakens to find himself the subject of an experimental program with his body under complete remote control of the imperious General (Tony Denison),” states a story summary on the film’s official website. “With the aid of a rogue operative Alexandra (Lyndsy Fonseca), David has to retake charge of own actions and fight his way through the top security facility inside the most complex live-action VR film ever made.”
Fonseca is best known for her appearance as Alex Udinov in TV series Nikita (2010-2013) and Angie Martinelli on Marvel’s Agent Carter (2015-2016), meanwhile Denison is best known for playing Lieutenant Andy Flynn in The Closer (2005–2012).
In a separate statement, Rozhkov commented on how VR uniquely influenced the narrative direction of Agent Emerson. “The story of Agent Emerson revolves around the themes of control over one’s own actions, the consequences, and personal responsibility that result from lack of that control. The protagonist is in the same boat with the audience of the film – he does not control his body, which is being manipulated by the General.”
In order to create a non-stop live-action film told from the perspective of the protagonist in VR, body and shoulders included (with no cuts from beginning to finish), a special camera was needed. Calling it the ‘Identity Capture Camera’ or the ‘IC-Cam’ for short, Rozhkov said that the camera’s “3-point-axis stabilization system” allowed for the capture of the entire film from the first-person perspective without sacrificing viewer comfort.
“While editing in cinema is a powerful artistic tool, crucial and unique for the medium, it does not work in VR,” Rozhkov continued. “In reality, there is no such thing as a magical jump from one angle to another one in a rhythm suitable for the drama, [and there is] no such thing as turning our world to the point of wanted attention.”
Agent Emerson will arrive for users of all Oculus and HTC headsets on November 22nd. It is planned to become available to PlayStation VR owners “shortly after”. No price of admission has been confirmed for the film just yet.
Agent Emerson was produced by Pete Blumel and Cathy Twigg (Rogue Initiative), Sergey Selyanov (CTB Film Company), and Ilya Rozhkov (Serein). It also contains musical performances from Tina Guo (Wonder Woman (2017), Dunkirk (2017), Lion King (2019)) and Corey Wallace (Artik (2019)).