Virtual Reality Reigns at the Sundance Film Festival


In March last year, we examined how Oculus Rift, a new form of virtual reality technology, would likely be making a huge impact on film and television, not just video games.

Virtual reality has now come to the fore at this year’s Sundance Film Festival (Jan. 22 – Feb. 1), in Park City, Utah. Filmmakers and visionaries have been revealing immersive experiences as part of the event’s New Frontier exhibition that have taken cinema into new territory.

Approximately 11 movies are available for attendees that involve VR in some way.

"It really starts this year," said Fabian Troxler, a member of the design team for “Birdly,” an interactive simulator that allows the user to feel as if they are soaring like a winged animal. "People realize you can do so much more than gaming stuff. You can also tell stories."

In fact, yesterday Oculus Rift announced the creation of their “Story Studio,” a 10-person research laboratory focused on VR innovation for movies.

“We really look at this as something that’s going to be—a decade or two from now—like going from theater to 2-D film,” said Brendan Iribe, Oculus Rift CEO. “It's going to be completely new and transformative.”

“The 2-D film space is fairly mature, even the CG side is fairly mature, but the VR, truly 3-D interactive cinema side is just about to take off,” he added.

Entrepreneur Edward Saatchi, producer for Story Studio, said that the project “is designed to inspire and educate—inspire by making awesome movies and educate by sharing our information with the community.”

“Perspective; Chapter 1: The Party” is a project for Oculus Rift that is attracting a lot of attention at Sundance. The film consists of two five-minute short stories that depict an assault at a party from a man and woman’s perspective.

“This is where social consciousness and narrative film can sort of interact,” one of the creators, Rose Troche, told BuzzFeed.

The VR filmmaking isn't limited to fictional stories, though.

Director Nonny de la Peña's documentary-inspired “Project Syria” places the viewer directly in the midst of the country’s violent internal conflicts in an effort to illustrate the consequences of war on children. The experience utilizes real audio captured from a bomb explosion and refugee camps.

Paul Raphaël, one of the co-directors for a Samsung Gear VR experience based upon 2014 Academy Award-nominated movie “Wild,” feels that the technology has arrived at the right time.

"People are just finally getting comfortable with it," Raphaël said. "The hardware is starting to get more accessible; people are feeling a looming commercial release. There's more incentive: a lot more studios and companies are investing in [it]. And with more people … there’s more word of mouth. And it’s an amazing medium."

Perhaps movie theaters of the future will involve cinema-goers wearing virtual reality headsets whilst seated in a room together. As the costs of VR decrease and the devices become more attainable for the public, a new category of film and television may very well emerge.

Author: Brian Cameron

DEMO OUR DATA- Get a complementary data feed

Post a Comment