This year Marche du Film, industrial part of the 70th Cannes Film Festival scaled it’s initiative NEXT from the small pavilion with VR Cinema to a huge hub inside the Palais des Festivals.
Here are some of the insights taken from this experimental platform, as well as from other VR activities happened during the largest and the most prestigious film festival in the world.
1.VR LIBRARY is the most efficient tool for distributors/festivals.
VR Library was one of the most useful elements at the NEXT. All the 360 films submitted and approved by market team were uploaded and structured so that you could create a playlist of the films you want to watch. You just had to schedule your screening time in advance and get your 40 minutes to watch those works.
I’ve used it twice: the first day of my work at the market (to watch something I wanted to see in advance) and the last day of market (to watch those I didn’t watch during market at the VR Cinema screenings).
The system was handled by Diversion Cinema and I think they made a great job with this tool.
2. CARNE Y ARENA by Alejandro G. Inarritu is not “shot” as a 360 video, it is a real-time render VR piece and VR is a part of installation.
Even though Carne Y Arena was not a part of the NEXT market, you could find dozens of people visiting NEXT pavilion to figure out where they can try this work. I’ve described my experience with this installation earlier, but all you need to know is that this amazing work was part of the main Festival program, not of the film market, that it was limited for up to 1000 people for the whole festival (around 100 people a day) and that with the exceptional quality of both Installation and VR piece it was able to introduce VR to the most conservative journalists, film critics and make them appreciate VR as a Cinematic tool. However, VR is as important as the atmosphere you are placed at the exhibition before and after the VR piece.
However, the VR part is the most scary one.
3. There are VR Distributors, Theatres, Festivals and they are looking for a good content.
NEXT introduced several models of VR content distribution. And the best part of it that two well established French companies, MK2 and Wide, started their VR distribution activities.
You could have heard of MK2 as a venue with high-end interactive VR, so now they are in the distribution as well, presenting works from OKIO Studio, films and VR experiences. Their catalogues (as well as contacts) might be found here — http://mk2films.com/en/collections/vr/
Wide VR is working with 360 content, their catalogue might be found here — https://www.widemanagement.com/virtualreality
For me, as both content creator and film festival programmer, VR distributors are those whom I need the most. It’s not that easy to get 45 pieces for VR Scientific Festival, taking each piece from different company. We need those who would represent content creators and make the relations between venues and right holders easier.
As for the venues, we should all appreciate initiative from the team behind the VR screenings at Cannes, Venice, Dubai — Diversion Cinema (https://www.diversioncinema.com). And yes, they are also from France. Not only they organise events, but they also run VR Theatres in Paris and are interested in content as well.
It would be fair to mention &Samhound Media, the company behind The VR Cinema in Amsterdam. Currently Samhound Media is both to update their handpicked catalogue, as well as to work with VR venues around the world on a franchise model, providing venues with the technical and content support. You can learn more about it here — http://www.samhoudmedia.com/distribution/
Jaunt (https://www.jauntvr.com) wasn’t presented with the stand at the market, but as some of the content creators received letters of interest in their content, it would be right to say that they’ve been watching/discovering the content for their platform.
And the last but not the least — Festivals.
I can give just a small list of those who is looking for VR and waiting for you content: Bienalle (Venice Film Festival), Geneva IFF Tous Ecrans, Festival du nouveau cinéma and IDFA were mentioned in my previous post, and Screen4All (France), Cross Video Days (France), B3 Biennale (Biennial of the Moving Images) as well as me myself (with many activities to offer) are interested in watching more of 360 films.
4. There were many good presentations and discussions and some of them are available online.
VRROOM.BUZZ were really busy at the market: they had a booth, they livestreamed and captured most of all presentations, they we’ve been also doing their main work with dozens of meetings and we could not be more grateful for them for letting people to watch those sessions:
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL5aXAuDYt9u4UKK6IjvRmI_bRwMnTn-DE (I’ve collected them to one playlist, but check their web site as well https://vrroom.buzz)
Still, some of the most useful insights are not captured and you should plan your schedule in advance to get the most fresh information from the industry leaders. That why you need to come in a team to follow all the screenings, presentations, cocktails, meetings etc:
This one is the slide from “FINANCING VIRTUAL REALITY & INTERACTIVE PROJECTS” discussion — something most of the people would be interested to listen and I don’t see it in the list of VRROOM.BUZZ videos available. So I hope that somebody recorded it or did a livestream. More about the panels and discussions might be found here — http://www.marchedufilm.com/en/next/programme
5. VR THEATRE is the best thing to “convert” people to VR thinking. Many people at the same time.
It’s not only important what you watch, but how you watch. Simultaneous screenings with the schedule, introduction, discussions helps people to understand the new VR medium in it’s most simple form — 360. Those of us who are coming from the cinema might see the similarities with the early days of film, when people were afraid and not supportive, but step by step cinema become a big part of our lives. VR and 360 in its third or forth year now (in terms of watching 360 in VR headsets), so giving a chance to people from cinema world to at least try to understand this medium is important. In my earlier article about NEXT I’ve described that showcases were build as a selection of 5–6 films with the special order. That what we, programmers, do – we are not looking for a 360 piece as a standalone work, but as a part of a “teamwork” where several films might give you understanding of different “shapes” of 360 and VR.
NEXT did a great job with creating the dedicated space to showcase and present your work, to let the creators listen to the feedback of the audience, most of whom are the regular film industry people passing along to try “something new”. I’ve presented Russian VR Seasons program as well as the selection of the content from VR Scientific Festival in Stockholm. Both screenings were really interested for our team, as we’ve seen how people watch the same content differently. Nice bonus is a chance to get a “NEXT Marche du Film” logo on your poster, which is also something useful in promotion of your film.
6. There is a “Festival Exclusivity of the Content” and if you are looking for something unpublished, it would be worth coming to Cannes.
VR STAND-IN Stations, VR Booths rented by companies, National Pavilions — all of them presented the unique selection of VR interactive experiences which are not available online yet. To mention few:
- - “Rainbow Crow Prologue” and “Asteroids” from Baobab Studios (with Baobab Team around to give some insights from the production) at VRROOM Booth
- - “Arden’s Wake” from Penrose Studios (hint — this one is really good)
- - “Hallelujah” from LYTRO and Within (with both of them in present to speak about the technology and creativity)
and many other great projects (I’ve been able to try around 1/6 of what was there). I could say that “TZINA” by Shirin Anlen is one of those pieces you could try as a WEBVR experience, but HTC Vive version is something which leaves you speechless. You can check MEDIUM Blog by one of the creators of the project about their process (https://medium.com/@Avnerus/tzina-symphony-of-longing-conclusions-105fbd52108d)
Geneva IFF Tous Ecrans brought three teams to Cannes and even though all three projects were great, Ximoan by HEAD-Genève was the one which helped me to “restart” myself after so many days of meetings with meditating mythological VR piece based on real-time sound design:
I am not sure if it was a short piece or I felt asleep for a while :)
You can learn more about Swiss projects presented at Cannes here: http://www.tous-ecrans.com/2017/site/en/plugs-programme/plugs/cannes
7. Even in the era of virtual reality, printed catalogue of all films/participants/companies presented in the market is the most important thing to bring back home.
I’ve brought many printed materials back from Cannes and the NEXT Catalogue of the films, participants and the companies would be one of the most useful tools for the next few months (with all the remarks I’ve left in it). Good news for online users that they can still download the digital copy of it from Marche du Film web-site — http://www.marchedufilm.com/en/next/home
The great part of NEXT is the community of people coming from a different background and different countries with almost the same experience in this new field.
US Festivals are doing a great job with VR sections and programs and you should consider them as #1 to promote your content in North America.
Marche du Film has a much better potential to promote your work around the world and find partners from every continent.
I think that both of them should be considered in your strategy, but as a First Market for Virtual Reality, NEXT and Marche du Film gives you a small advantage of “premiering” your content as a market “screening” and exposing it to all other bigger venues.