The zombie hordes relax in between slavering after the brains of Chatroulette users. Realm Pictures
Ever felt like other Internet users are mindless zombies? These Chatroulette users got to do something about it when they found themselves playing an incredible “real-life” first person shooter, complete with assorted weapons, power-ups and waves of undead enemies.
British film company Realm Pictures and immersive experience designers Red House Mysteries created the live-action game and filmed the progress of players from Chatroulette, Omegle and Skype, online services that let you see and talk to other users. Normally when signing on you might expect to see someone chilling at home for a spot of video chatting — or something a little more, shall we say, saucy — but in this case users found themselves confronted with a heads-up display just like a video game.
Players direct the character by telling them where to move and what to do, guiding them through a deadly gauntlet of undead attackers. The gruff-voiced character has a health bar recording how he’s faring against hordes of zombies, using crowbars, bricks and various guns to dispatch the bad guys. There’s even a turret cannon and a playable organ — and an epic final boss adapted from space marine armour created by cosplayers from Exeter, England.
Hit play on the video (warning: there is some adult language) to see how the action goes down…
The action was filmed in and around the atmospheric church where the film company is based. About 30 people were involved in co-ordinating the action and appearing on screen as shambling zombies. Various resprayed toy Nerf guns were used to blast the zombies with foam darts.
The shooter himself wore a motorbike helmet with a GoPro camera strapped to the front. “The big sticking point was being able to un-tether our main ‘actor’, because he kept getting snagged on trees and gravestones,” Realm’s David Reynolds told CNET’s Crave blog.
That problem was solved by a Teradek Cube video encoder added to the helmet, wirelessly streaming the footage to a router toted by a zombie extra lurking nearby, which was then wired to the control room.
In the control room a sound technician manually triggered gunshots, zombie moans and other noises from a soundboard, while another technician manually triggered visual effects such as weapon animations. Oh, and some poor soul had to go around and pick up all the Nerf darts.
Here’s the behind the scenes video showing how it was done…
The arrival of the GoPro and other tiny wireless cameras has opened up the possibilities of first-person footage. Whether you’re cycling to work, proposing to your girlfriend at 10,000 feet or surfing while on fire, you can show the world exactly how it felt.
“Many years ago we experimented with the concept of ‘random stranger’ control, and one afternoon strapped a webcam to my head while someone followed me around with a laptop,” says Reynolds. “The idea stuck in my head and eventually resurfaced while we were talking about fun projects for the summer. We decided to throw some of our indie film tricks behind it and see what happened.”
The potential of this kind of technology for movie-making is huge. Of the many real-life recreations of first-person video games, one of our favourites is the incredibly elaborate, bloody (and NSFW) music video by Russian punk band Biting Elbows that is being expanded into a feature-length movie entitled “Hardcore”. Crowdfunded by fans on Indiegogo, “Hardcore” features “District 9” star Sharlto Copley and is shot entirely on a GoPro helmet rig for more first-person thrills.