VR headsets are de rigueur in Park City
As Main Street in Park City clogs up for the 2016 edition of the Sundance Film Festival, the buzzword in town is virtual reality.
Samsung's got a VR demo space at the bottom of Main Street. Dolby is offering VR experiences for journalists nearby. And today YouTube held a panel discussion on the creative possibilities opened up by VR.
"Virtual reality and 360-degree video on YouTube are transforming how we experience stories," YouTube said in a press release. "...Innovations in video offer a new way for filmmakers to tell, share and connect stories with a digital audience."
Festival director John Cooper said he was initially skeptical about virtual reality.
"I was slightly a little bit of a naysayer about it," he said at the opening day news conference on Thursday. "But [then] you start putting on that headset and going into these realities that are so moving a lot of times."
"It’s about where story and technology are meeting," added Keri Putnam, executive director of the Sundance Institute. The festival has created a virtual reality lounge as part of New Frontier, which includes multiple venues dedicated to exploring the intersection of art and filmmaking.
The largest of the VR "installations" at New Frontier is called Treachery of Sanctuary, described as "a large-scale interactive triptych: a story of birth, death, and transfiguration that uses projections of the participants’ own bodies to unlock a new artistic language."
A press release for the installation provided additional details about the VR film:
Verse.werks describes itself as a "VR production studio, representing a world-class roster of directors for virtual reality content creation... Vrse.werks produces all of Vrse’s VR films, as well as bespoke VR experiences for corporate and non-profit clients like the New York Times, Vice, and the United Nations."
Bespoke VR -- wild!
Aplelab is another of the outfits with a real and virtual presence at Sundance 2016. It's showing the first episode of Sequenced, what Aplelab calls "the first interactive animated series in virtual reality."
According to Aplelab, the series stars Peter Coyote and features "the work of artists like John Howe (Chief Conceptual Designer, The Lord of the Rings)... Sequenced is a science-fiction adventure where the narrative evolves in real-time according to your focus."
As John Cooper said, in summing up the 2016 edition of the Sundance Film Festival, "The explosion of VR work — that’s what this year is about."
Matthew Carey is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. His work has appeared on CNN, CNN.com, TheWrap.com, NBCNews.com and Documentary.org.