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    High tech unifying video gives off all the right vibes

    MAYHEM, destruction, and the loss of many lives, was the legacy left behind after the riots and looting that broke out in some parts of KZN and Gauteng, in July.Two academics, from a leading Durban university, and a researcher, have refrained from finger pointing, rationalising, and producing reams of academic writing, on how to understand July’s happenings.Instead, they have channelled their expertise towards building and uniting people, in a creative and moving way.Their response was an augmented virtual reality 360° dance video that became available on YouTube this week, where the viewer becomes a part of the performance.Asikhule Sonke, (isiZulu-Grow as One), is the message that Dianna Moodley, Robin Gengan, and Niresh Singh, want to perpetuate in the aftermath of the violence, and have titled their 360° dance video accordingly.Niresh Singh, Dianna Moodley, and Robin Gengan are feeling the effects of their augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) 360° dance video, using a VR head-set . Picture: Khaya Ngwenya African News Agency (ANA)Presently, there are only a handful of 360° dance videos available worldwide.The trio’s latest video, with catchy lyrics and feel-good dance rhythms, all fused together through technology, which causes the viewer to dance and sing along, is the the first of its kind in South Africa.Moodley is a faculty research coordinator at the Durban University of Technology and social linguistics expert, Singh is a specialist IT technician working with video technology at DUT. He also has extensive experience in the TV broadcast environment.Gengan is the founding director of a film production company that specialises in digital content for the entertainment industry. He also co-produced a movie, that won best short film at the Delhi International film festival, in 2017.The video took them three months to create and featured at DUT’s annual DigiFest, which provides a platform for creative and multimedia projects, across disciplines – in fields such as visual and performing arts, applied sciences, and information technology – this week.Moodley, who is a DigiFest director, said they got together after July’s violence, to look for a solution.They found that doing something creative, that could reach people through social media, to be the most plausible solution, instead of writing another article, as academics usually do.“People are so overloaded with information and fatigued with reading, especially academic stuff,” said Moodley.As a social linguist, she is always concerned with languages that can solve problems and unite people, as it is a powerful uniting tool.“In this instance, all my theories did not help because it was such a complex matter.“Besides, people were too suspicious of theorists.“So I said let’s do something very stimulating and creative, that will invoke and provoke emotions in people. Something that would move people, and create a jubilant and energetic atmosphere,” added Moodley.The video was the culmination of their artistic work, aimed at social media platforms, especially YouTube, to get the youths’ attention.“It is a vibey song, with repetition and lots of familiar rhythms. We want people to be impacted by the song, whether they are travelling in the taxi, standing in queues, or being on campus – we want just want them to sing and dance ,and bring everybody together,” said Moodley.Moodley said the dance choreography was a mixture of different cultures, dance forms, and styles of music, and “the viewer views the message and gets immersed into the dance”.She said their creation is best enjoyed with a VR headset, as it enables the viewer to participate in the actual dance.Gengan was responsible for developing the lyrics and the musical accompaniments.“The melodies were kept simple and easy to recite, which resulted in a lingering effect on the mind.“The lyrics also explore the natural beauty and harmony of Africa, and motivates all people to look forward to a future of hope and reconciliation,” said Gengan.He also highlighted, during their DigiFest presentation, that the musical composition employed vocal polyphony, comprising independent African and Indian melodies, to give it an inter-cultural flavour.Singh said to achieve the 360° effect, the video was recorded using a camera with two lenses, positioned opposite each other, with each one recording at an angle of 180 degrees.The camera then stitches the recording from both lenses together, to form the 360° panoramic video.“This type of camera technology is relatively new, and has been used, thus far, to record virtual tours.“To experience the full augmented effect, the viewer should ideally wear a VR headset to get the 360° view, with the natural turn of the head,” said Singh.Singh said the video could also be viewed on mobile devices and computers.SUNDAY TRIBUNE

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