“Click here to experience” are the first words on The Third Fate’s landing page, offering an introduction via trailer to the futuristic design studio. Upon navigating the 360 degree preview and interactive experience, audiences are transported to the bustling center of Columbus Circle and then into a quiet scene in the British Museum. This is just a taste of how the company leverages virtual reality to activate and preserve the built environment.
The Toronto-based startup was founded a year ago by Thomas Hirschmann and Anthony Murray, who were both interested in how virtual reality and additional technologies could capture the experience of a place even after it was altered or destroyed. The company is focused primarily on preserving structures slated for demolition, buildings in decay, changing landscapes, new builds, and exhibitions.
The Third Fate also aims to activate places and create experiences that are not yet possible. Using 360 video capture, the firm harnesses film to augment existing buildings and landscapes and digitally restore spaces. They want to allow audiences to experience built environments anywhere and at anytime by facilitating entirely new interactions between an individual and a place (i.e. flying through rooms, viewing monuments in a different historical era, scaling facades, etc.).
Currently, the company is working on projects that utilize virtual reality and augmented reality, but they recognize that “emerging” technologies can become outdated in a matter of months. While The Third Fate’s mission relies on technology to convey new forms of storytelling, the company claims it is actually “tech agnostic.” At its core, the company is centered around content.
“Unlike most people who start with VR (virtual reality) and then figure out how to apply it, we start with the experience or story we want to create and then work backward to the tech,” Anthony Murray, Co-founder of The Third Fate, said.
“Often that means VR, but sometimes that means supplementing VR with a display, or using VR to augment only some aspects of an experience, or not using VR at all.”
While Hirschmann and Murray welcome the limitless potential of new storytelling possibilities, they are currently working to incorporate sensory experiences, such as touch and smell, into their VR and AR projects.
Recently, The Third Fate created a virtual experience for The BIG Maze, a contemporary maze designed by Bjarke Ingels and exhibited at The National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. While the maze has since been removed from the museum, The Third Fate captured the experience in 360 using a special camera rig. Now, using a VR headset, audiences can actually walk into the maze, stand in the middle of the structure, and experience the exhibition as if it were still in the museum. The company even reinstalled a small area of the plywood floor from the original maze for museum-goers to stand on upon entering the virtual exhibition.
In being able to offer an awe-inspiring experience, and evaluating and reevaluating new technologies that develop, The Third Fate will capture and restore significant structures, landscapes and places in the name of preservation. Murray says that The Third Fate’s long-term goal is to stay true to its mission to employ emerging technologies in order to create immersive experiences and stories around the built environment.
“We hope to still be doing that long after current VR headsets become the 8-track of immersive technology,” Murray said.