Posted by Larry Gleeson
The VR Theatre will be set up again for the 74th Venice Film Festival
Posted by Larry Gleeson
Posted by Larry Gleeson
The film industry of the future, with the newest technological developments, trends that provide a glimpse of things to come and evolving business models, is the focus of a total of five innovative events united under the newly created label “EFM Horizon” and made possible with the support of Audi. The platform, which encompasses the formats “Propellor | Speednic”, “EFM Startups”, “VR NOW Con Business Mixer”, “Game & Cinema” and “The Next Level of Cinema”, simultaneously aims to offer EFM trade visitors opportunities for networking with members of adjacent sectors of the audio-visual industry, such as tech, virtual reality and games.
“Game & Cinema”
Friday, February 10, 2017, 7:30pm to 9:30pm
MGB Kino (Niederkirchnerstr. 7, 10963 Berlin)
The local multiplayer event “Game & Cinema” combines cinema and computer games in a shared gaming experience that plays out on the big screen. The event format is produced by Booster Space and was presented for the first time at the International Games Week in Berlin. Trade guests from the film market can experience the world of gaming together with an audience of gaming fans within the cinema context and discover potential new uses for cinemas in the process.
Monday, February 13, 10am to 12:30pm
Berliner Freiheit (Berliner Freiheit 2, 10785 Berlin)
The successful “EFM Startups” initiative, which brings the film industry together with thought leaders and mavericks from the tech scene, is continuing under the umbrella of “EFM Horizon presented by Audi”. Ten select startups from Germany, The Netherlands, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Spain will present new technologies for production, distribution and marketing to EFM trade visitors. Pre-arranged one-on-one meetings with potential partners are intended to serve to pave the way for possible co-operations. “EFM PopUp Offices” in the atrium of the Martin-Gropius-Bau will be made available for use by the attending startups.
“EFM Startups” is made possible with the support of Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg.
The participants at “EFM Startups” 2017:
“VR NOW Con Business Mixer”
Monday, February 13, 4pm to 7pm
Berliner Freiheit (Berliner Freiheit 2, 10785 Berlin)
Everyone is talking about virtual reality – and the film industry is no exception. At the same time, there is a lot of uncertainty about how these new technologies of VR, AR, MR, and 360° can be used in the film business, which technologies make sense, what costs they bring with them, etc. In talks, presentations and discussions, the “VR NOW Con Business Mixer” – a conference and networking event – addresses the most current impulses and trends in the sector and brings virtual reality pioneers and experts together with members of the film industry. At the same time, participants also have the opportunity to test diverse VR technologies.
The event is organized in co-operation with Virtual Reality e.V. Berlin-Brandenburg and made possible with the support of Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg.
“The Next Level of Cinema”
Tuesday, February 14, 11am to 1pm
Audi Berlinale Lounge (Marlene-Dietrich-Platz 1, 10785 Berlin)
Leading companies and creatives provide interested distributors, sales agents, producers, exhibitors and cinema operators with insight into the challenges facing the film industry of the future. Special emphasis is placed here on the topics of digitization and innovation. After taking a look at brief case studies, there will be opportunities for discussion with and among participants.
Included among the guests expected to attend are representatives from Audi, IBM (Watson), Dolby (Atmos) and filmmakers such as David O’Reilly and Thomas Wallner.
“Propellor | Speednic”
Tuesday, February 14, 2:30pm to 4:30pm
Rooftop Café (Potsdamer Platz 1, 10785 Berlin)
The question of the film industry of the future and how the branch can best work to actively shape its own development by employing forward-thinking concepts and innovations is at the centre of the first “Propellor | Speednic”, a closed networking and workshop event in Berlin. 24 select participants – twelve of them from the film industry and twelve from the technology sector – will discuss how we can develop and implement new sales, distribution and marketing models together as well as how we can learn from success stories from other branches.
The incubator programme “Propellor Film Tech Hub” is a joint initiative of EFM, the International Film Festival Rotterda
m (IFFR), the international documentary film festival CPH:DOX and the Berlin-based i
nnovation studio Cinemathon.
Further information on the events as well as details regarding possibilities for attending “EFM Horizon presented by Audi” can be found at the „EFM Horizon” website.
(Source: Berlinale Press Office)
With the support of experts and international specialists in the field, Biennale College Cinema – Virtual Reality will help existing independent filmmakers and creative professionals from all over the world to appropriate the medium of VR and learn how to adapt their knowledge to VR in a fluid transitional way. In the process participants will acquire the specific know-how around 360° immersive storytelling that will redefine the relationship between story and audience.
Deadline for the call for applications is 8th February 2017 and the selection of the 9 teams will be announced on 28th February 2017.
For further information and the submission form:
Biennale College Cinema > COLLEGE CINEMA VR
Posted by Larry Gleeson
Park City, UT — Now in its second decade of breaking new ground at the forefront of art and technology, Sundance Institute has curated an in-depth vision of storytelling’s future for the 2017 edition of New Frontier at the Sundance Film Festival, January 19-29 in Park City. The full slate — including storyworlds in Augmented Reality headsets, projection-mapped acrobatics, a VR beauty salon producing neuroscience data via the internet of things and a host of socialized, interactive and immersively haptic VR story experiences — stands as a testament to New Frontier’s expertise in identifying, developing and amplifying the most relevant and high-impact modes of tech-enabled narrative.
Live performances, a feature film and augmented reality experiences will complement a total of 20 VR experiences and 11 installations, showcased between three venues in Park City. The historic Claim Jumper will host seven immersive installations focused on cross-disciplinary story construction and and two video works; the VR Palace will feature 15 VR experiences alongside additional installations; and the VR Bar will offer a lineup of mobile VR. Three projects are part of the Festival’s The New Climate program, which highlights the environment and climate change. More New Frontier projects will be announced in the coming weeks.
Robert Redford, President and Founder of Sundance Institute, said, “Every year, more artists are drawn to the vanguard of art and technology: independent, creative storytellers have more tools to break the mold than ever before. For the last decade-plus, New Frontier’s vision has evolved and grown with this expanding palette, to curate and showcase the most exciting new work made with the latest advances.”
Shari Frilot, Sundance Film Festival Senior Programmer and Chief Curator, New Frontier, said, “In an era that has recalibrated economies, redefined social realms and rewired the connection between the individual and the world, we must also reimagine what it is to be human. Through Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and various crafted immersive experiences, New Frontier this year challenges the very nature of perception and what we consider to be ‘reality.’”
Through New Frontier’s history, Sundance Institute has been at the forefront of new media storytelling, recognized as a pioneer of story-based, tech-enabled experiences; New Frontier alumni include Doug Aitken, James Franco, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Chris Milk, Nonny de la Peña, Pipilotti Rist and Jennifer Steinkamp. The Institute’s support extends well beyond its curated slate of Festival projects, and includes the annual New Frontier Story Lab, which offers mentorship and development opportunities for new media storytellers, New Frontier Day Labs in cities nationwide and the New Frontier Residency Program, which combines the might of partners such as MIT Media Lab’s Social Computing Group and Jaunt Studios to drive groundbreaking data-visualization and VR storytelling tools, training and resources to independent artists.
2016 marked New Frontier’s 10th Anniversary, with celebrations at MoMA in New York City, and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.
In addition to the New Frontier program announced today, films in U.S. and World Competitions and NEXT have been announced and are listed at sundance.org/festival.
FILMS AND PERFORMANCE
18 Black Girls / Boys Ages 1-18 Who Have Arrived at the Singularity and Are Thus Spiritual Machines: $X in an Edition of $97 Quadrillion / U.S.A. (Director and writer: Terence Nance) — In this pair of performances, the artist Googles the phrase “one-year-old black boy” and “one-year-old black girl,” ascending in age to 18, allowing Google’s “popular searches” algorithm to populate what words will follow.
Did You Wonder Who Fired the Gun? / U.S.A. (Director: Travis Wilkerson) — This documentary murder mystery about the artist’s own family is a Southern Gothic torn apart and reassembled. Journeying straight into the black heart of a family and country, this multimedia performance explores a forgotten killing by the artist’s great-grandfather—a white Southern racist—of a black man in lower Alabama.
World Without End (No Reported Incidents) / U.S.A., United Kingdom (Director: Jem Cohen) — Close observations around Southend-on-Sea, a small English town along the Thames estuary, reveal not only everyday streets, everyday birds, unflagging tides, mud and sky, but also prize-winning Indian curries, an encyclopedic universe of hats and a nearly lost world of proto-punk music.
A selection of single-channel works by the collective A Normal Working Day / Switzerland — A Normal Working Day is an artist collective consisting of the installation artist Zimoun and the choreographers and dancers Delgado Fuchs (Marco Delgado, Nadine Fuchs). Formed from the bodies of the two performers, these splendidly hypnotic projections are visual rabbit holes that shimmer with a presence that is larger than the sum of their parts.
Full Turn / Switzerland (Lead Artist: Benjamin Muzzin) — This installation explores the notion of the third dimension with the desire to get out of the usual frame of a flat screen. The rotation of two tablets creates a three-dimensional, animated sequence that can be seen at 360 degrees, unlike any other type of display.
Heartcorps: Riders of the Storyboard / U.S.A. (Lead Artist: dandypunk, Key Collaborators: Darin Basile, Jo Cattell) — Follow the story of Particle, a two-dimensional light being, as you walk through the pages of a giant, immersive comic book. Hand-drawn illustrations come to life around you using projection-mapping technology, while high-level Cirque du Soleil performers interact with animated characters in this “digital light poem.” Cast: Ekenah Claudin, Elon Höglund, Youssef El Toufali, Jenni Gamas.
Heroes / U.S.A. (Lead Artist: Melissa Painter, Key Collaborators: Tim Dillon, Thomas Wester, Jason Schugardt, Laura Gorenstein Miller) — The setting: An extravagant movie palace where silent films were shown. One dance—fiercely athletic and romantic—invites you inside. Through both Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality headsets, the story comes off the screen, challenging you to move, navigate heroic shifts in perspective and scale and reach out to touch the experience. Cast: Helios Dance Theater, Stephanie Maxim, Chris Stanley, Melissa Sandvig.
Journey to the Center of the Natural Machine / U.S.A. (Lead Artists: Daniella Segal, Daniel Lazo, Eran May-Raz, Charles Niu) — From stone axe to super-computer, our brain’s evolution has been guided by our tools, evolving it into the most complicated object in the known universe. Explore a holographic brain with a friend on the Meta 2 Augmented Reality Headset, and rebuild your relationship to the Natural Machine.
NeuroSpeculative AfroFeminism / U.S.A. (Lead Artists: Ashley Baccus-Clark, Carmen Aguilar y Wedge, Ece Tankal, Nitzan Bartov) — A three-part exploration of black women and the roles they play in technology, society and culture—including speculative products, immersive experiences and neurocognitive impact research. Using fashion, cosmetics and the economy of beauty as entry points, the project illuminates issues of privacy, transparency, identity and perception.
Pleasant Places / United Kingdom (Lead Artist: Quayola) — A return to, and a modern elaboration upon, Vincent Van Gogh’s Provence landscapes, this series of digital paintings interrogates and reframes concepts of representation and perception through image manipulation and augmented reality. Using bucolic and contemplative images, juxtaposed with raw data visualization, this project suggests alternate modes of visual synthesis.
Synesthesia Suit: Rez Infinite and Crystal Vibes / Japan (Lead Artists: Tetsuya Mizuguchi, Ayahiko Sato, Kouta Minamizawa) — A full-body 26-sensor suit combines audiovisual and vibrotactile textures to push technology-mediated sensory frontiers. Experience a multisensory climax with pounding beats and stringed instruments in acclaimed PlayStation 4/PS VR game Rez Infinite, or feel vibrations of candy-colored psychedelic sound rippling through the Crystal Vibes universe.
ASTEROIDS! / U.S.A. (Lead Artist: Eric Darnell) — From the director of Madagascar comes Baobab’s VR animation. Journey the cosmos aboard the spaceship of Mac and Cheez, an alien duo so mission-focused they forget what’s important in life. It’s up to you to show them what really matters. Cast: Eric Darnell.
Chasing Coral: The VR Experience / U.S.A. (Lead Artist: Jeff Orlowski) — Zackary Rago, a passionate scuba diver and researcher, documented the unprecedented 2016 coral bleaching event at Lizard Island on the Great Barrier Reef with this exclusive underwater VR experience. THE NEW CLIMATE
Chocolate / U.S.A. (Lead Artist: Tyler Hurd) — This VR experience for the song “Chocolate” by Giraffage sets you in a cat-centric world of sparkling, colorful chrome with a tribe of people doing a ritualistic dance just for you, their robot god, to provide them with their precious resource, cute lil’ chrome kitties.
Dear Angelica / U.S.A. (Lead Artist: Saschka Unseld, Key Collaborators: Angela Petrella, Wesley Allsbrook, Maxwell Planck, Ryan Thomas) — This project is a journey through the magical and dreamlike ways we remember lost ones and, even though they are gone, what remains of the ones we loved. Cast: Geena Davis, Mae Whitman.
Hue / U.S.A. (Lead Artist: Nicole McDonald, Key Collaborators: KC Austin) — This is an immersive and visually driven interactive film about a man who has lost the ability to see color. Participants reawaken the protagonist’s sense of wonder and imagination through empathetic action as color and connection return to his world view. Cast: David Strathairn, Benedikt Negro.
If Not Love / U.S.A. (Lead Artist: Rosemarie Troche, Key Collaborator: Bruce Allan) — A conflicted Christian man carries out a mass shooting. In his past: a same-sex hookup and self-loathing. What if events had unfolded differently? What if his partner had convinced him to face himself? Could that simple act change the course of history? Cast: Zachary Booth, Mitchell Winter.
Life of Us / U.S.A. (Lead Artists: Chris Milk, Aaron Koblin, Pharrell Williams, Key Collaborators: Megan Ellison, McKenzie Stubbert, Jona Dinges) — This shared VR journey tells the complete story of the evolution of life on Earth.
Melting Ice / U.S.A. (Lead Artist: Danfung Dennis) — We take viewers on a transcendent exploration into the devastating consequences of climate change on Greenland’s ice sheet. Stand under collapsing glaciers, next to raging rivers of ice melt and witness rising sea levels—all visceral warnings of our planet’s future. THE NEW CLIMATE
Mindshow / U.S.A.(Lead Artists: Gil Baron, Jonnie Ross, Adam Levin, Key Collaborators: Jonnie Ross, Gil Baron) — Make VR cartoons with your body and voice. Teleport into different characters and act out all the parts. Create with your friends by passing scenes back and forth, then share your shows in VR and on social media. Cast: Dana Gould.
Miyubi / Canada (Lead Artists: Félix Lajeunesse, Paul Raphaël, Key Collaborator: Owen Burke) — Experience love and obsolescence as a Japanese toy robot, gifted to a child in the home of a fractured family in 1982 suburban America. Cast: Jeff Goldblum, P.J. Byrne, Emily Bergl, Owen Vaccaro, Richard Riehle, Ted Sutherland, Tatum Kensington Bailey.
Orbital Vanitas / Australia (Lead Artist: Shaun Gladwell, Key Collaborator: Leo Faber, ) — This virtual reality experience presents a surreal sci-fi mystery and meditation on death. Initially placed in Earth’s orbit, participants soon notice an enigmatic form floating toward them. What takes place next makes perfect use of the VR format.
Out of Exile: Daniel’s Story / U.S.A. (Lead Artist: Nonny de la Peña) — In August 2014, Daniel Ashley Pierce’s family verbally and physically accosted him before kicking him out of the house because they disapproved of his sexuality. Built directly around audio Daniel recorded from that encounter, this project includes thoughts of hope and triumph from Daniel and three other LGBTQ youth. Cast: Daniel Ashley Pierce, Kyle Wills, Julene Renee, Cyntia Domenzain, Angel VanStark, Phoebe VanCleefe.
The Sky is a Gap / U.S.A. (Lead Artist: Rachel Rossin) — The viewer is allowed to precisely move time with space by the use of a positionally tracked headset. Existing in the physical and virtual realms, the installation depicts a pyroclastic explosion inspired by Zabriskie Point, where the scene’s progress is physically mapped to the participant’s forward and backward movement.
Through You / U.S.A. (Lead Artists: Saschka Unseld, Lily Baldwin) — Dance is used to inhabit a common mortal story of love born, lived, lost, burned and seemingly gone forever—only to be found again. Cast: Joanna Kotze, Amari Cheatom, Marni Thomas Wood.
Tree / U.S.A. (Lead Artists: Milica Zec, Winslow Porter, Key Collaborators: Aleksandar Protic, Jacob Kudsk Steensen) — This virtual experience transforms you into a rainforest tree. With your arms as the branches and body as the trunk, you experience the tree’s growth from a seedling to its fullest form and witness its fate firsthand. THE NEW CLIMATE
Zero Days VR / U.S.A. (Lead Artists: Scatter, Yasmin Elayat, Elie Zananiri, Key Collaborators: Mei-Ling Wong, Alexander Porter, James George) — The story of a clandestine mission hatched by the U.S. and Israel to sabotage an underground Iranian nuclear facility told from the perspective of Stuxnet, a sophisticated cyber weapon, and a key NSA informant. Audiences experience the high stakes of cyber warfare placed inside the invisible world of computer viruses. Cast: Joanne Tucker, Eric Chien, Liam O’Murchu, Ralph Langner, Olli Heinonen, David Sanger.
The Sundance Institute New Frontier program is supported by Cindy Harrell Horn and Alan Horn, Lyn and Norman Lear, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, Time Warner Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Oculus Story Studio, Nokia OZO, Comcast Ventures, The Fledgling Fund, and David E. Quinney III.
The Sundance Film Festival®
The Sundance Film Festival has introduced global audiences to some of the most groundbreaking films of the past three decades, including Boyhood, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Fruitvale Station, Whiplash, Brooklyn, Twenty Feet from Stardom, Life Itself, The Cove, The End of the Tour, Blackfish, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Super Size Me, Dope, Little Miss Sunshine, sex, lies, and videotape, Reservoir Dogs, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, An Inconvenient Truth, Precious and Napoleon Dynamite. The Festival is a program of the non-profit Sundance Institute®. 2017 Festival sponsors to date include: Presenting Sponsors – Acura, SundanceTV, Chase Sapphire®, and Canada Goose; Leadership Sponsors – Adobe, AT&T, DIRECTV, and YouTube; Sustaining Sponsors – American Airlines, Canon U.S.A., Inc., Francis Ford Coppola Winery, GEICO, Google VR, The Hollywood Reporter, IMDb, Jaunt, Kickstarter, Omnicom, Stella Artois® and the University of Utah Health. Sundance Institute recognizes critical support from the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development, and the State of Utah as Festival Host State. The support of these organizations helps offset the Festival’s costs and sustain the Institute’s year-round programs for independent artists. Look for the Official Sponsor seal at their venues at the Festival. sundance.org/festival
Founded in 1981 by Robert Redford, Sundance Institute is a nonprofit organization that provides and preserves the space for artists in film, theatre, and new media to create and thrive. The Institute’s signature Labs, granting, and mentorship programs, dedicated to developing new work, take place throughout the year in the U.S. and internationally. The Sundance Film Festival and other public programs connect audiences to artists in igniting new ideas, discovering original voices, and building a community dedicated to independent storytelling. Sundance Institute has supported such projects as Beasts of the Southern Wild, Fruitvale Station, Sin Nombre, The Invisible War, The Square, Dirty Wars, Spring Awakening, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder and Fun Home. Join Sundance Institute on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.
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*Featured photo courtesy of Sundance.org
Posted by Larry Gleeson
By Lily Baldwin
I didn’t do film school. I was a dancer and started making raw stop-motion shorts when touring with David Byrne. After 150 shows, I came to realize that dance enabled people to understand the music. Unsure what the “strange moves” meant, dance gave them permission to feel something they couldn’t necessarily fit into words. Then is when I first felt the compulsion to turn the electricity of a live performance into an object that could transcend borders, language, and endure time. I turned my hard knock dancer-work-ethic into teaching myself how to edit with stills I’d shot (after a year I realized using a mouse made all the difference). ’Twas pure play – I wasn’t even sure what the “it” of it was supposed to be.
I’ve built this manifesto of sorts that guides my work: Everyone speaks body, it’s a universal alphabet. I define this “visceral cinema” with articulate bodies in space in relationship to a lens. Dance isn’t always a virtuosic “pow”; it’s about bodies that are aware of their edges and use their range. Bodies can’t lie. They are the subtext of us – it’s a subterranean language usually too shy to come out. Bodies speak nuance and contradiction that get lost when spoken. The clincher is fitting a body inside a lens – a practice that is significantly more crafted than grabbing footage of a crazy-cool body. I think it’s a balance of these: Proximity to lens, distinct performance focus, a breathing handheld camera, knowing when/not to crop a body and lock frame, editing as a rhythm tool (cutting on action, thank you Maya Deren), and sound/music as sub-protagonist and dialogue. The final convergence shouldn’t be possible in real life. “Gesamtkunstwerk,“ meaning “total work of art,“ is my favorite word, and a wink to The Ballet Russe.
A couple years ago my friend Saschka Unseld (Oculus Story Studio) asked me to make something with dance. I was trying to turn the “flattie” into a kinetic playground, so the prospect of having 360 degrees to mess around with was enticing. I could use my years of performing in unconventional spaces and get rid of the proscenium box that now seemed stuck on a wall. We’ve both always edited our own work and agree that nothing is ever completed. He’s a renowned director, cinematographer, and tech maven (the latter not being my forte). We embraced our differences, jumped off our respective cliffs, and trusted that our mutual rigor would spit us out somewhere. We applied and were accepted into the Sundance Institute Jaunt VR Residency.
Lily directing Joanna Kotze and Amari Cheatom with Saschka and DP Dagmar Weaver-Madsen. Photo by Cameron Berton.
This collaboration has been striking. It has enabled me to indulge in imagination without needing to know how to practically realize the fantasy. I play with the parameters of performance and narrative expectation. Saschka is a poet with technology and uses it to capture a distinct human tenderness. He moves like a dancer, engaging his tools like I’ve trained my skeleton. We began collaborating by dancing together – him, as his camera, with me. It’s a unique banter, our unique perfectionisms moving through space. We cantilever off our perspectives, pick up where the other drops off, and take different paths to arrive at the same place. It’s an intuitive collision.
What’s disarming (and therefore exciting) about VR, is that we’re asking the viewer to silently enter and intimately witness a world they don’t have much control over (yet). This medium’s power is not about titillating the viewer with a rush of endorphins — we all know adapting film to VR is a mistake. The potency of VR is combining the intensity of immersion with all the tech limitations, and then using these as tools to articulate something that couldn’t exist in any other medium — and should absolutely not be possible in real life.
We both wrestle with linearity. Real life happens in simultaneous layers, which is how we experience time and therefore story. Creating in 360 degrees space was a relief, and has left us thinking of story in terms of “slices of life”. Saschka strongly felt we should remove all filmmaking protocol from our process. He slowed down our script into a series of “peak moments of being” that were strung in a bold tableau. I think of it as walking through a museum and stepping inside a series of paintings (each one a complete world) on the wall. VR demands that users feel culpable, feel responsible, feel powerful, feel alone, and feel close. What is a story that uses this alphabet? These tenets dictate our story experience. Time plays differently because there’s so much to see! Because you’re intimate with the environment, little things become epic. Directing in VR is its own muscle, one we’re exploring and training.
My uncle is hard of hearing and he has the most amazing sense of smell. There’s something about having less of one thing, that mandates solving in unexpected ways. I’m a sucker for detail and frustrated by the “fuzzy” picture in VR. After a test shoot, we decided we couldn’t lose the subtle intimacy of our breathing dancers, Joanna Kotze, Amari Cheatom, and Marni Wood, as they moved from the ‘70s through 2046. So we decided dance had to express emotion graphically. Specified fingers in space made all the difference. Colored light would imbue the emotional details lost in their faces. Inside the crafted costume and production design, reflective fabrics with bold patterns would define the character of a body, bold architectural shapes in the room and strong color shifts would best show time passing.
Amari Cheatom and Marni Wood in Through You. Photo by Cameron Berton.
Authentic creativity and innovation come from not having rules and not knowing what things are called. Too much identification keeps us confined to knowing what things should be. When I fall onstage and fuck up, it presents a new choice. (First thing is to keep a straight face and never look like you didn’t mean it.) This impromptu problem-solving and rigorous commitment to follow-through is my background, and we’re finding it’s perfect for VR. On set my freshness to the space had me proposing wild “What if?” and “Can we…?!” questions. Saschka adamantly protected our creative discovery saying that anything that “wasn’t supposed to work,” we’d ignore. “There are no rules, anyone who says differently is jumping the gun,” he said. As our previous experiments had proved, we could move the camera and not make the viewer nauseous. It was more complex than tracking a “fixed focal point” — we found the key is creating a physical connection between the camera/viewer and the subject. I danced with Saschka, and there happened to be a camera between us. Fast cuts? Jump cuts? Frantic changes in pace? It’s all possible, it’s just a force that needs to be properly wielded. The conversation is too often between technology and art. We’re talking about technology and body. We want to use technology to move into uncharted areas that make us reckon with our mortality. Our motto: If we fail, if this ends up a disaster, let’s at least fail upwards.
We’ve thrown caution to the wind, and there’s nothing shy about Through You. We dive head on into a never-ending love story that will play cyclically, hitting the peak moments of intimacy, betrayal, loss, aging, the passing of time — only to be engulfed in flames and then reborn again under water. It’s a racy, bold, and undeniably human experience that pushes the power of immersion and dares us to have a body that loves, feels pleasure, and feels loss. We worked intensely with our DP and longtime collaborator Dagmar Weaver-Madsen – a fierce maker in her own right – and she held us to task, grounded our ideas in practicality, and proposed bold DIY ideas to solve curveballs. She pushed us hard and kept the production glued together with the expertise of Brooke Chapman, our camera supervisor who wielded Jaunt’s incredible camera. It was a dream team. None of Through You would exist without our team’s incredibly hard work.
It’s a hot moment, this VR thing. As a dancer first, it’s a space where I thrive and where I don’t have to be an expert – I just get to be rigorously curious. I feel like I’m a detective and we’re all on a wicked-good scavenger hunt.
With such polarizing fear shaping our climate, we’ve called our choices into question. It’s a privilege to do what we do. (“Artist” makes us cringe – we think of ourselves as “lookers,” “finders” and “makers.”) What can we do about what’s happening in our world now? We’ve landed here – how can 360 immersive degrees wake up a body? When we literally feel ourselves and all that VR can do (way more than we think), we remember our impact: we are responsible, we make a difference.
AFI FEST 2016 presented by Audi has jumped on the virtual reality (VR)
Blatt spoke extensively on where VR is today as behemoths Google and Microsoft are investing billions of dollars in an uncertain VR future. Nevertheless, VR filmmaking is presently bringing together filmmakers as they explore emerging VR technologies including 360 degree VR. It is Blatt’s hope these new technologies will continue to bring together filmmakers, introduce them to what is possible and that they will collaborate to present stories in years to come.
Some Hollywood directors have been outspoken and semi-critical of the new VR
filmmaking that attempts to arrange circumstances with bits of code that give the viewer agency. This differs from traditional filmmaking where one view is presented by the director. At the 2106 Cannes Film Festival, veteran Hollywood Director Steven Spielberg was quoted saying, “I think we’re moving into a dangerous medium with virtual reality,” he said. “The only reason I say it is dangerous is because it gives the viewer a lot of latitude not to take direction from the storytellers but make their own choices of where to look. ” (The Guardian)
While Spielberg may have a point, most legitimate VR filmmakers have techniques to gently guide the viewer in a linear or specifically designed narrative through either sound, color schematic or lighting. One intriguing aspect of VR viewing is its capacity to immerse a viewer in the presentation. Once a headset or goggle are in place, peripheral vision that occurs in a theatrical experience is removed. Blatt stipulates this will create a more “real” experience and, in addition, will stimulate lucid dreaming about the experience.
To illustrate and to help substantiate his claims on the VR experience, Blatt related a story of Jon Favreau‘s first VR viewing experience. Favreau was so overwhelmed after donning the VR goggles that upon their removal he stated he had to make a story and began sketching right away.
VR stories are similar to traditional film stories as both initially start in the writing process in script format, proceed to story-boarding and then to analysis. However, as noted earlier, the VR viewer has some agency. So, the VR experience is still a narrative story. However, VR also adds additional aspects of gamesmanship and puzzles. Another aspect under development in VR is the introduction of artificial intelligence (AI). The introduction of AI turns a viewing experience into an interactive experience potentially. Here again, is where production design aids the filmmaker in gently leading the viewer towards the pre-defined narrative. Blatt refers to the process as story to puzzle, puzzle to story. And, he strongly asserted that the focus for VR filmmaking needs to be on the story versus the technology or the medium.
In addition to storytelling and production design, Blatt discussed issues in editing VR and some of the challenges filmmakers are facing. He also mentioned the various uses of photogrammetry in storytelling. Ultimately, Mr. Blatt believes VR is a better experience. When asked why a viewer would want to choose VR rather than the traditional theatrical experience in the brief Q & A following the presentation, Blatt cited curiosity. Blatt culminated his remarks saying VR has the power to transform and change lives with its immersive storytelling techniques much like his 1977 Saturday afternoon matinee viewing of George Lucas’s first installment of the Star Wars saga.
Recently, I attended a 40-minute segment viewing of what is being marketed as the first feature-length VR film with human actors, Jesus VR, set for release on Christmas Day. The portion I viewed contained a scene where a parable was used to illustrate a teaching point. To me, I believe the application of VR for storytelling and teaching is astounding. The issue seems to be how to get there. Currently, the technology costs associated with VR filmmaking are prohibitively high.
Nevertheless, in my opinion, VR is here to stay. So lace up your boots and hop on. You’ll be glad you did. It’s going to be quite a ride!
Posted by Larry Gleeson
By Charmalne Lim
The 27th Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) kicked off on 23rd November and we delve into the exploration of digital space.
Watching TV used to be a communal activity with the family, and movie theatres were exciting places to hang out with friends as we stuff our faces with popcorn, but now, technology gives us a push and we fall backwards into a couch at home, streaming movies and dramas online with a subscription fee of about $12 a month.
We find out from three SGIFF forum speakers, Missy Laney, Lionel Chok, and Scott Kaplan, via email interviews, on whether Virtual Reality can be a game changer, and how the Internet is a boon and a bane for filmmakers.
The challenge of the new-age behavioral phenomenon is not only finding the platforms to host your show, but also adopting various marketing strategies to promote it.
It boils down to the basics of marketing: Knowing what you really want to achieve.
Scott Kaplan, SVP in Global Sales at Gunpowder & Sky Distribution, points out that film distribution in digital space is a reaction to macro-shifts in human behavior.
“People want to watch WHAT they want to watch, WHERE they feel like it, and WHEN they feel like it.” – Scott Kaplan
Kaplan outlines the rigmarole of choosing a distributing platform, “Viewership? Revenue? Awards-recognition? It comes to knowing how the platforms respond to creatively, what they will pay, what territories, rights and terms they need, [and if] they need exclusivity etc.”
“Social media is a tool, not a solution. It can be used to elevate a film or degrade a film. It allows us to measure our audience, dissect our audience demographically, and ultimately communicate with our audience.” – Missy Laney
It’s easy to mistake online marketing as mindless updates, which can dilute your film’s branding.
Missy Laney, Film Strategist and Director of Creative Initiatives at BitTorrent, believes it has been easier than ever to reach your audience, but keeping their attention is tough.
She drops a strategic tip like a giant hotcake:
“To stand out on social media, you have to have a strategy customised for each platform. Your Twitter strategy should not be the same as your Facebook strategy. Study how your audience engages, learn their language, and build a timeline of when and how you plan to cultivate and activate your fan base.”
Laney raises an issue with most strategies, “The biggest missed opportunity is slowing down once their film has been released. Once the final release rolls around, they are either too burnt out or funds are too tight to further engage an agency. Make a post release strategy and stick to it for one or two months following the release. The release is just the beginning.”
A monthly subscription doesn’t really justify the money pumped into physical production. Film creators are losing money and are desperately trying to work the digital space towards their advantage.
Kaplan says, “The decline in box office for independent films and the collapse of the DVD market can’t be replaced by a monthly Netflix subscription. But there is a ton of new money being injected into the film-ecosphere as new platforms launch, and filmmakers are getting smarter and better at making great films for less money.”
“Additionally, fans can also interact with films now as funders and backers using crowd funding so that’s another big shift in the relationship we have with movies now,” says Missy Laney.
“I believe the success of each film is measured by one question, ‘Did it find an audience?’”
“The entire scope of cinematography is now changed. We have to change the environment to suit the 360 capture and delivered through a headset. So you cannot just capture it and then watch it on YouTube after.” – Lionel Chok
Lionel Chok is a Singapore filmmaker, director, and many other titles under his belt. From how he sees it, Lionel thinks the digital trend and VR technology are two great things amalgamated.
“This is something very powerful. We are currently developing apps for VR content to be published in an online store. As the cost of app development has reduced, this is definitely going to impact filmmakers, as the Play Store or the iOS store will now become a method of distribution. The platforms are also evolving and content can be priced across different stores for all demographics,” says Lionel.
While the local movie scene in Singapore is still quite dry, VR is a new direction for aspiring local filmmakers. Having a passion in Augmented and Virtual Reality, Lionel is excited about its future.
He says, “The cameras are becoming more affordable with prices matching up to $2000 ~ $4000. In time to come, I see more VR stories that are going to be curated and delivered via apps, headsets and who knows, maybe even communal VR spaces in open spaces.”
Future of Cinema Forum – Independent Film: Navigating the Digital Space, as part of the Singapore International Film Festival, will be held on 26 November 2016, 1pm at *SCAPE.
More information can be found at sgiff.com.
Feature Image Credit: onespacemedia.com
The 2017 edition of the Biennale College – Cinema project, which will include Virtual Reality, will receive essential financing from the European Commission – Connect Directorate General’s Media – Creative Europe Programme. The educational activities of the 2017-2018 edition will thus be funded by a MEDIA grant. This grant is in addition to the funding which the MEDIA Programme has given to the development of the Market and Venice Production Bridge.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — JUNE 17, 2016, WASHINGTON, DC — Today, the American Film Institute (AFI) announced the AFI DOCS 2016 Filmmaker Forum program and Impact Lab participants. The four-day Filmmaker Forum will take place June 23–26 at the AFI DOCS Festival Hub — located at the District Architecture Center, 421 7th St., NW in Washington, DC — and is open to AFI DOCS Priority and Industry passholders as well as festival filmmakers. Filmmakers and industry professionals will meet for a series of professional development and networking events focused on diversity in documentary filmmaking, new technologies and the expanding world of documentary short filmmaking.
Sponsored by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, days one and two of the Filmmaker Forum will connect attendees with independent producers, leaders in public media and cultural critics as they examine the issues of diversity and equality within the documentary community. Additional Forum highlights include a panel discussion with award-winning filmmakers on the advantages of short-format documentary filmmaking; and a panel discussion on the Virtual Reality revolution featuring VR makers, journalists, academics and industry insiders. The Filmmaker Forum is presented in association with the International Documentary Association and Women Make Movies.
The second edition of the AFI DOCS Impact Lab, produced in partnership with Picture Motion and in collaboration with NBC Universal, will take place June 21–22. The intensive program provides filmmakers with issue-driven films with unique training opportunities in the areas of advocacy, grassroots communication and engagement. After completion of the Lab, participating projects are eligible to apply for the AFI DOCS/NBCUniversal Impact Grants, which support the outreach and social action campaigns of select Lab participants. Other supporters of the Impact Lab include CrossCurrents Foundation and The Fledgling Fund.
Selected from films screening at AFI DOCS 2016, the 10 films participating in the 2016 Impact Lab are ALMOST SUNRISE (DIR Michael Collins, USA), AMERICAN BAGHDAD (DIR Ron Najor, USA), CARE (DIR Deirdre Fishel, USA), CHECK IT (DIRS Toby Oppenheimer, Dana Flor, USA), FAREWELL FERRIS WHEEL (DIRS: Jamie Sisley, Miguel “M.i.G.” Martinez, USA), THE ISLANDS AND THE WHALES (DIRS Mike Day, DENMARK, USA, UK), NEWTOWN (DIR Kim A. Snyder, USA), THE OPPOSITION (DIR Hollie Fifer, AUSTRALIA), RAISING BERTIE (DIR Margaret Byrne, USA) and THEY CALL US MONSTERS (DIR Ben Lear, USA).
“Both the AFI DOCS Filmmaker Forum and Impact Lab provide unique opportunities to convene documentary filmmakers with policymakers and industry professionals in our nation’s capital,” said Michael Lumpkin, Director of AFI DOCS. “Through the Filmmaker Forum’s conversations with experts and the Impact Lab’s advocacy training, we hope to inspire documentarians to leverage the power of nonfiction storytelling and create meaningful change.”
(Michael Lumpkin, AFI DOCS Director)
The 14th edition of AFI DOCS will run June 22–26 in Washington, DC, and Silver Spring, Maryland. For more information about the Impact Lab and Filmmaker Forum, please visit AFI.com/afidocs.
About AFI DOCS
AFI DOCS is the American Film Institute’s annual documentary festival in the Washington, DC area. Presenting the year’s best documentaries, AFI DOCS is the premier festival in the U.S. dedicated to screenings and events that connect audiences, filmmakers and policy leaders in the seat of our nation’s government. The AFI DOCS advisory board includes Ken Burns, Davis Guggenheim, Chris Hegedus, Werner Herzog, Rory Kennedy, Barbara Kopple, Spike Lee, Errol Morris, Stanley Nelson, D A Pennebaker, Agnès Varda and Frederick Wiseman. Now in its 14th year, the festival will be held June 22–26, 2016 in landmark Washington, DC venues and the historic AFI Silver Theatre in Silver Spring, MD. Visit AFI.com/afidocs and connect on twitter.com/afidocs, facebook.com/afidocs and youtube.com/AFI.
About the American Film Institute
AFI is America’s promise to preserve the heritage of the motion picture, to honor the artists and their work and to educate the next generation of storytellers. AFI programs include the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and the AFI Archive, which preserve film heritage for future generations; the AFI Life Achievement Award, the highest honor for a career in film; AFI AWARDS, honoring the most outstanding movies and TV series of the year; AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movies television events and movie reference lists, which have introduced and reintroduced classic American movies to millions of film lovers; year-round and special event exhibition through AFI FEST presented by Audi, AFI DOCS and the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center; and educating the next generation of storytellers at the world-renowned AFI Conservatory. For more information about AFI, visit AFI.com or connect with AFI at twitter.com/AmericanFilm, facebook.com/AmericanFilmInstitute, instagram.com/AmericanFilmInstitute and youtube.com/AFI.
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