The activations at this year’s SDCC have become more story-focused than ever, and when you’re immersed in a story from FX’s Legion, you can imagine you’re in for a pretty trippy experience. Located on the lawn of the Hilton Bayfront, the Legion Mixed Reality Experience uses HoloLens, a headset developed by Microsoft that allows for augmented reality to overlay graphics and sound on your physical environment.
One of the most interesting (and borderline awkward) features of this activation is just how in character everyone involved is – from the person who greets you on the lawn of the Hilton to the people you interact with once inside. You’re tagged with a hospital wristband that reads “HALLER, DAVID”, and then shuffled into a white room full of techs wearing lab coats. Everyone asks you how much you can remember, implying that you are David (even if you can’t remember), and you’ve experienced a gap in memory they’re helping you recover. After being fitted with the HoloLens and going through a basic tutorial, you step into a small, empty room with a table and chair. The HoloLens projects various items on the wall and desk, including a tape recorder that fans of the show will immediately recognize, and three playing cards that you’re later asked to move.
The woman who helped me get set up with the HoloLens introduced me to my interviewer, who began asking questions and asking me to perform various tasks with my (e.g. David’s) abilities, like moving objects. These were mostly smooth, but I did experience at least once glitch, and I couldn’t tell if it was a technology issue or user error. About mid-way through the tests, the audio functionality came in and I began to hear dozens of voices whispering in my ear, much like David does, and the voice of Syd eventually broke through to warn me that I’m in danger. Syd takes over the mind of the interviewer just in time to help me escape from the second woman in the room, who morphs into the Shadow King.
Overall the experience was a really interesting opportunity to interact with augmented reality tech, and Legion is the perfect canvas for the mixed media experience. Despite a small glitch, I appreciated the atmospheric mood and the dedication to character every actor had (even if it made me feel a little awkward) and the opportunity to interact with the technology.