March 19, 2016 10:10 am

Ride Away! Experience what it’s like to be a Mountie in the Musical Ride

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REGINA – There’s something very new at the RCMP Heritage Centre in Regina.

“What we’re doing here is a form of virtual reality where you’re going to put on goggles, climb on a saddle and have the experience of being a rider with the musical ride,” Rob Bryanton, Talking Dog Studios President, explained.

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“In virtual reality it’s not just watching a show, it’s watching a full 360-degree spherical environment. You can look up at the sky, down at the ground, look behind you and have the amazing experience of being a rider in the musical ride.”

Once the goggles are on Regina sort of disappears, and you’re immediately transported to the musical ride training centre in Ottawa. It’s an experience truly unlike any other. The RCMP Heritage Centre has been working with Talking Dog Studios to create it for over a year.

“People are really interested in modern day policing and training and they want to get a really good look at what’s that’s all about,” Bianca McGregor, RCMP Heritage Centre Director of Strategic Partnerships, said.

“But, because of security measures we can’t bring people into a training session. We can’t bring the general public into these physical spaces, so this was an opportunity for us to bring that space to them.”

Bryanton and his team created the installation using 360-degree cameras.

“Some of them are mounted on the heads of the riders, and that’s where you get the experience of looking down and thinking, ‘I’m on a horse,'” he explained.

Other cameras were placed right in the middle of the training arena.

“Which is also a place where nobody ever gets to watch the musical ride from. So you’ve got the horses zipping around doing all this fancy choreography that they do, and you are standing in the middle of the arena watching it happen around you,” he said.

The finishing touches really rounds out the experience. There’s a device built into the saddle to give you the vibrations from the horse’s hooves. When you turn your head, the sound of the video moves seamlessly from one side of your headphones to the other.

“So by the time those very subtle clues are happening to tell you that what you’re seeing is really there, is really part of the world, those kinds of signals are helping to create a more immersive and realistic experience,” Bryanton said.

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Monitors outside the stall allow other visitors to see what you’re seeing. That way, friends can understand why the rider is ducking, shrieking, or giggling as they go along for the ride.

The product has been in testing since October, and it looks promising.

“If you’re nine or you’re 90 you really seem to like it, so I think we chose the right subject matter,” McGregor laughed.

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