Now you can experience “The Lion King” in virtual reality
Now you can experience “The Lion King” in virtual reality This image released by Disney Theatrical Productions shows Jelany Remy as Simba in the Broadway musical "The Lion King. The Disney stage blockbuster on Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2015, released 360-degree footage of its opening song “Circle of Life” that lets users look left, right, up, backstage and at the audience even when sitting on a couch. (Joan Marcus/ Disney Theatrical Productions via AP/Jerome Delay)
Now you can experience “The Lion King” in virtual reality
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"The Lion King" on Broadway is offering fans a view of the musical that even the very best seat in the theater can't rival.
The Disney stage blockbuster has released 360-degree footage of its opening song. That is "Circle of Life." It lets users look left, right, up, backstage and at the audience, even when sitting on a couch.
"It seemed like a really perfect marriage. A universally known song like 'Circle of Life' being distributed and displayed through a completely new technology that we hope will open up 'The Lion King' to a new generation of theater-goers," said Andrew Flatt.  He is the senior vice president for marketing at Disney Theatrical Group.
The footage was shot at the Minskoff Theatre. That is the home of "The Lion King." It took five takes of the song with all 31 cast members onstage to capture all the footage. Several hundred volunteers and fans cheered. They were sitting in the orchestra seats.
During the filming, the audience members were politely asked not to wave at the cameras. They had to resist the urge to clap at the beginning. And they needed to keep their energy levels up for all five takes.
To create the virtual reality world, some half-dozen GoPro cameras were mounted on a stand. The stand was placed in the center of the stage. The actors then swirled around in their Julie Taymor-created costumes and masks.
The stand also telescoped 20 feet into the air to capture the view as Pride Rock rises up and baby Simba is introduced. Software stitched together the various videos into a seamless, 360-degree view. Call it a circle of life.
Viewers can follow one performer, or look out into the aisles to see elephants arriving, see the conductor and audience faces, or peer backstage to find out what's coming next. It is a thrilling, heady experience.
"I keep turning in different directions and discovering new things," said Flatt. "I hope that the video inspires memories and perhaps brings back to the theater people who've seen the show. But, in the same token, I hope it opens up the eyes of people who never thought 'The Lion King' would be for them."
The footage can be seen free on laptops and desktops via YouTube and Facebook (using cursors to move around the virtual world) or smartphones and tablets (where the screen tracks movement) or special immersive headsets like Samsung's Gear VR and Google Cardboard.
It's part of a wave of immersive videos. They are taking the Internet by storm. So far, such videos have been made of a "Star Wars" planet, the "Saturday Night Live" set, a Bill Clinton tour of East Africa and a LeBron James workout, among others.
The addition of "The Lion King" is noteworthy because, at 18, it is one of the oldest shows on Broadway. But it has embraced technology that's truly cutting edge. It's the first such video ever done in a Broadway theater. Another such video was done for the new musical "School of Rock." But that was shot in a classroom.
"Nothing will replace the actual theatrical experience. We're well aware of that. But I think the way that consumers are trending at the moment is they want to know more. They want to go beyond the surface of something. And that includes the Broadway experience," Flatt said. "That's why the virtual reality platform is groundbreaking."

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Why were five takes required to create the virtual reality experience?
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  • william1108-yyca
    12/02/2015 - 09:02 p.m.

    WOW! A person who acts like a lion king. I wish that I can actually see the real lion king in real life. If I did it would be amazing. And also I wonder if a person who acts like a lion king is amazing. Maybe one day I will find out sooner or later someday.

  • annabel1226-yyca
    12/02/2015 - 09:35 p.m.

    So is it going to be a musical with no musics on? So is it basically a play? I wish I could watch the lion king for real. I always enjoyed watching the movie lion king. I think it will be famous. We should make more plays. I wish that I could put actors in the stage and make them perform Cinderella, Snow White, Frozen. All the Disney movies.

  • kinseyc-612-
    12/03/2015 - 10:00 a.m.

    they wanted to make as virtual as the could and people kept waving during the play

  • Eric0221-YYCA
    12/03/2015 - 07:55 p.m.

    I think that it might be cool that people can make people experience one of the Disney movies, The lion king to experience virtual reality. I think that if people wanted to experience virtual reality, then they will have to pick a person and do some movements with a costume and a mask that people will think that the lion king is being played in real life. The virtual reality version of lion king might make the children to like spoil the virtual reality of lion king because little kids will most likely spoil it because the virtual reality isn't the real movie of lion king.

  • maggiec-3-bar
    12/03/2015 - 07:56 p.m.

    Five takes were required to create the virtual reality experience because on stage there was a lot going on. One take wouldn't have been able to capture all of the movement happening at the time. In the article it says " It took five takes of the song with all 31 cast members onstage to capture all the footage." This shows that all the cast members were told to do so many different things so it's hard to record that all at one time. I think it's so cool that they filmed such an amazing musical number. Now people in their own homes will be able to enjoy what people pay hundreds of dollars to go see. Hopefully they will film other songs too in the future.

  • calis-3-bar
    12/03/2015 - 08:29 p.m.

    It took five takes to create the Lion King virtual reality experience because, since the footage will be long lasting and able to be viewed over and over, the creators needed to get it as perfect as possible, for any mistake could be noticed as modern technology has "rewind" and "pause." If there was even one mistake, it could be noticed by the public. So, five takes were necessary to avoid that. The footage also needed to be taken from 360 degrees, so it would be harder to make everything perfect, as the actors still needed to perform even when off the main screen. Because of this, five takes were necessary. I liked this article, as I have recently gotten a virtual reality thing, so its cool to know what I can do with it. Its amazing technology, and it's amazing how Broadway is using it to promote their shows.

  • jacobboly-
    12/04/2015 - 09:37 a.m.

    "The Lion King" on Broadway is offering fans a view of the musical that even the very best seat in the theater can't rival.

  • brycemoly-
    12/04/2015 - 09:38 a.m.

    there were five takes required because they needed to get a view of every direction so it would be a 360 degree video to make advancements to the lion king

  • ellerys-1-bar
    12/04/2015 - 10:14 a.m.

    Creating the virtual Lion King experience took five takes because the crew and cast wanted the experience to be of optimal standards and to have a perfect performance of the song. With a song that required so many cast members, like this one that included thirty-one, the film crew had to be able to capture the movement of every single person on stage at the same time. Also, if one thing were to go wrong, that would mean the entire performance would have to be restarted, so in conclusion, there are many factors that could have contributed to the five takes needed to successfully film the interactive Lion King experience.

  • ajdoly-
    12/04/2015 - 10:18 a.m.

    i think its really cool you can watch this in a 360 degree view now. i think they should make more movies like this but i wonder if you would get motion sickness from watching this.

    ctq-they took five takes because they needed to get all the angles of the movie.

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