The Sundance Film Festival is usually known for showing high-profile projects before public release, giving critics and fans the opportunity to indulge in new experiences well before their release. Now, though, it appears to be opening a door to a new medium with its forthcoming festival – virtual reality.
According to PSFK, the event, which will take place in Utah next month, will introduce a number of new pieces based around virtual reality. As part of a new category called New Frontier, the virtual reality set-ups will be placed with nine different films, each presenting their own innovative take on VR-based adaptation. The line-up, which includes these and other films, can be found here.
Through a press release Shari Frillot, Sundance Film Festival senior programmer and curator for the New Frontier exhibit, stated, “The content creators in the 2015 edition of New Frontier radically challenge the very notion of storytelling. Working with virtual reality and new gaming technologies, these artists, filmmakers, journalists, media scientists, game designers and creative technologists present a peek at the dawn of a bold new cinematic world, through an unprecedented exploration of the most basic state of being.”
Although last year’s Sundance festival had its share of virtual reality-based showcases based on Oculus’ Rift technology, “(this) is the year that we’re really going to get wired into this hardware in a major way,” said Frillot. She feels that virtual reality is “really relevant” to audiences these days, and “really has the potential to shift the (filmmaking) terrain quite a bit in a very significant and deep way.”
One of the examples of how this tech is being used involves Francois Quevillon’s Derive, which provides an interactive installation based on audience members’ body positions and motions. With it, they can “explore 3-D reconstructions of urban and natural spaces that are transformed according to live environmental data, including meteorological and astronomical phenomena.”
Another example, 1979 Revolution Game by Navid Khonsari and Vassiliki Khonsari, will show first-person perspective as players follow a rebel through the Iranian Revolution.
Another project that’s likely to turn a few heads is Rose Troche’s Perspective: Chapter I: The Party, audience members will “be” at a college party, where they’ll get to experience a young man and a woman as they “meet *and) drink, and misinterpreted signals turn into things that cannot be undone.” Needless to say, it won’t be for everyone, but involvement in VR technology will certainly drive the point home even further.
“Last year people were putting on the DK1 [Oculus Rift headset] and the first thing filmmakers are looking for is image quality, and that’s where filmmakers wondered, ‘This is really cool, but what about what it looks like ‘” Frilot said. “But now the technology has ramped up to a stage where it’ll be wholly embraced by filmmakers.”