It’s a question VR enthusiasts can squabble over just as emotionally as cyclists in Berlin will fight with SUV drivers. Ultimately, it’s a question of personal preference. Still, what is a film in 180 degrees anyhow? And what is it good for?
It is starting to get colder in Berlin, and I find myself reminiscing about our snug little nook in sunbathed Venice: for the second time, we were given the chance to meet VR and AR professionals from around the world at the Lazzaretto Vecchio. The green courtyard became a setting where creatives, enthusiasts, critics, investors, distributors, and sceptics came together in tranquil harmony to sip their morning cappuccino and chat cheerily about virtual worlds. The talk of the town: how theater and VR came together in Venice.
Venice VR showcased a number of top-class VR films. These films prove narrative works’ ability to stand as an individual genre of virtual reality. Within the contest and alongside Lucid, The Great C – a filmic adaptation of one of Philip K. Dick’s short stories – demonstrated the vast potential of VR animated film in particular. I had the privilege of discussing this with its director, Steve Miller.
Why do I love festivals so much? One reason might be that I find myself being surprised anew every time. Only on festivals do you find gems you would have otherwise never encountered. This holds true for classic films; doubly so for virtual reality experiences. The VR animated film Lucid turned out to be just that kind of discovery at Venice VR, where it celebrated its premiere. The captivating adventure revolving around a mother-daughter duo asks the big questions of life – and demonstrates, almost in passing, the definition of virtuous storytelling in VR.
After having visited the Tribeca Film Festival already, I will also be travelling to the International Film Festival in Venice this year. Yay! As the oldest of its kind worldwide, the Venice Film Festival is just as venerable as it sounds; and even though virtual reality only joined the festivities last year, it is regarded as one of the best VR-centric exhibits. I took a closer look at this year’s Venice VR program to compile a brief and unashamedly personal foretaste.
About a year ago, the New York Film Academy extended its offering to include courses for virtual reality. When I was in New York myself, I finally had the chance to discover more about it. This is an interview with Caitlin Burns and Jonathan Whittaker of the New York Film Academy dealing with storytelling in VR – as well as the many other things they can teach us about VR.
Some time ago, I reported on the big attractions of 2018’s Tribeca Film Festival and wrote about my favorite films. However, there was much more to see! I found myself in Syria, I interrogated travelers as a US customs official, I saw Africa and stood in Japan. I experienced what it feels like to be discriminated against and revealed very personal things about me. To round things off, I made music as a fat little bunny. Part 2 of my Tribeca highlights of VR.
Does it not sound like a battle cry? TriBeeeCaaa! Tribeca, here I come! Those familiar with me will know that, when it comes to film festivals, I am not squeamish in the slightest. Sleep deprivation, long waiting lines, no time for food or drink– count me in! The Tribeca Film Festival marked my first overseas event, and it came with the ambitious goal of sampling every single experience found in the virtual reality exhibit. How did I do? See for yourself.
Many fans of VR associate 360-degree film most strongly with one thing: watching instead of participating. Satisfying a role this may be – the more time I spent in the goggles, the greater the wish becomes to be part of the story. I start catching myself exhibiting little ticks: nodding, tiptoeing around, laughing, speaking, gesticulating into an empty room; only to realize: “Oh right, that doesn’t work here.” Quite frustrating, actually; and I was not the only one to feel this, as they are amongst us: interactive films in 360 degrees, of which I have compiled some particularly striking examples in this article (including my favorite of 2017!).