With virtual reality, Hollywood and Silicon Valley have never been more closely aligned in their desire to push the boundaries of how people emotionally interact with technology. Video games may be drawing in a huge deal of interest but there are also an army of filmmakers and creatives looking at how they can use VR to draw viewers in and experience something breath-taking.
Today, Tribeca Film Festival shared the list of films and experiences that will be showcased at its Virtual Arcade and Storyscapes exhibitions. There are 29 virtual reality and “innovative exhibitions” in this year’s batch of immersive filmmaking, including a whole lot of experiences that are being shown off for the first time ever. I’m hoping to check out each and every one of these at Tribeca Film Fest later next month, but here are the eight films and experiences that are going to be the toughest for me to wait for.
I’m also pretty excited to check out the world premiere of Arden’s Wake, the latest project from Eugene Chung and Penrose Studios. The VR animation studio has captured the emotional omnipresence of staring into a virtual world and watching stories unfold like few others have. Their past projects including Rose and Allumette have been magical and distinct, I’m looking forward to seeing how their latest project stacks up.
Remember: Remember will be having its world premiere at Tribeca. I demoed an early build of the alien invasion thriller from Moth + Flame founder Kevin Cornish, and it looks to be one of the first cinematic room-scale experiences that actually uses viewer movement as a technique to build suspense. I’m excited to see the finished product.
Life of Us
In what appears to be a return to some of filmmaker Chris Milk’s trippier and more experimental ambitions for the VR medium, his latest project Life of Us will be having its New York premiere at Tribeca. The new film allows multiple viewers to experience the VR film alongside each other inside virtual space. Milk has had a busy year at the helm of his Andreessen Horowitz-backed startup, which has worked with companies like Apple, The New York Times and Vice to bring high-quality virtual reality entertainment to the first crop of VR users.
Within will also be showing off Hallelujah, a “virtual reality music performance that reimagines Leonard Cohen’s most well-known song.” The film was shot with Lytro’s Immerge light field capture cameras.
The People's House
Felix & Paul shared a number of high-profile VR projects in 2016. Particularly cool was how the Oculus-anointed studio did a number of projects with the Obamas. They chronicled his trip through Yosemite National Park to celebrate the centennial anniversary of the national park service and they shared some early footage from their Obama-guided VR tour of the White House. At Tribeca, Felix & Paul will be sharing the world premiere of the full cut of their Obama White House tour, titled The People’s House.
Baobab Studios will be showing off the world premiere of its new project, Rainbow Crow. The VR film studio known for its lovable characters has been in the news of late after signing a deal with a Hollywood production company to create a feature length film based on the studio’s VR animated short “Invasion!” Baobab Studios raised a $25 million Series B this past October with investment from Twentieth Century Fox.
Talking with Ghosts
Fresh off the release of Dear Angelica at Sundance, Oculus Story Studio is taking the wraps off its latest project, Talking with Ghosts. The collection of four shirt comic-like ghost stories continues the studio’s desire to reimagine what animated films look like in VR. Each of the sections of the film was built entirely inside Oculus’s Quill VR painting program, which Rift users can actually download a beta of in the Oculus Store now.
Bebylon: Battle Royale
Few things blur the lines between film and video game like interactive VR. The LA-based Kite + Lightning is debuting their “satirical narrative” video game about fighting babies at the festival. Bebylon: Battle Royale seems to take the title of the most ridiculous premiere coming to the festival with a description that partially reads, “Set in a futuristic status conscious society, players compete as crude, narcissistic, immortal babies for fame and fortune.” Alrighty then.
Becoming Homeless: A Human Experience
The ability of virtual reality to act as a sort of engine for encapsulating empathy has been a pervasive concept discussed by VR creatives. Becoming Homeless: A Human Experience will be having its world premier at the Tribeca Film Fest where it hopes to allow viewers a vantage point to “face the adversity of living without a home.” Jeremy Bailenson, who has done some really awesome, pioneering work in VR as the head of Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab, helped collaborate on the project.