Mosque ventures into virtual reality


  • Metro News
  • Monday, 22 Apr 2019

(From left) Peta assisting Madina and Sakinah as they try putting on the VR headset at the launching of the Call to Prayers documentary at Masjid Kapitan Keling in George Town. — LIM BENG TATT/The Star

THE historic Masjid Kapitan Keling in Penang can now be visited in virtual reality.

A documentary, believed to be the first 360-degree VR film produced in Malaysia, allows viewers to experience being “inside the mosque” as if they are part of the congregation of the faithful.

Shot during Friday prayers at the mosque in George Town, the Call to Prayers documentary takes viewers to explore the many rites and rituals that make up the Islamic faith which is usually not for visitors of other faiths.

Spotted enjoying her first VR experience was mosque committee member Sakinah Bee Mohd Ali.

“I am very happy and this is my first time trying this! I get to see the views from all around,” the 59-year-old caterer said.

Joining the fun was her friend Madina Bee Sheik Mydin.

“I can see the ablution water right in front of me,” the 69-year-old business owner exclaimed while wearing the VR headset.

Meanwhile, Kapitan Keling Mosque committee chairman Datuk Meera Mydin Mastan said through technology, people could visit the mosque just by wearing a VR headset.

“Viewers can see how religious programmes and daily activities are carried out here.

“This project brings the mosque towards modernity,” he said.

Canopi Studio co-founder and senior producer Peta Khan said the documentary was shot at the highest quality of 8k resolution using a 360-degree camera with immersive 3D technology.

“People from other countries can see what goes on during Friday prayers by putting on the headset and pressing the play button.

“We want to create an authentic emotional connection between the story and viewers by merging VR with narrative storytelling,” she said.

Video producer Khalil Majeed said it took the team three months to complete the seven minute documentary.

“The video starts with the beautiful view of Penang from the minaret.

“Viewers can experience attending Friday prayers from the melodic call to prayer, to the ablutions, to joining the congregation as they pray,” the 28-year-old, who is also the video director, said.

Also present were Bayan Lepas assemblyman Azrul Mahathir Aziz and Think City Penang director Hamdan Majid.

The project was a joint effort of the mosque and Canopi, a virtual and augmented reality studio.

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