VR Marries AI In 'Mechanical Souls' At Sundance

VR Marries AI In 'Mechanical Souls' At Sundance
January 19, 2019
Mechanical Souls' pilot episode will have its World Premiere at Sundance New Frontier 2019.


MECHANICAL SOULS is a multi-segmented narrative VR series written by L.P.Lee and Gaëlle Mourre, directed by Gaelle Moure, presented by Digital Rise (France) & Serendipity Films (Taiwan), in association with DVgroup, Google JUMP, S.G.O. and Kaohsiung VR Film Lab.


Using a real-time AI driven narrative engine to bring each audience a one of a kind viewing experience in MECHANICAL SOULS, each participant will be able to see a different storyline based on the gaze-interest towards each character in the story world. To fully engage our audiences, we’ve designed an Immersive Theater around the screening.


It will be an exclusive 30 minutes Location Base Experience (LBE) for the audiences in Sundance 2019. In groups of six, audiences will welcomed into the story by an Agent from the Android Intelligence corporation, Mechlife. The goal is to create social interaction between people within the audience, where the viewers work together to share their individual perspectives of the story.


Digital Rise aims to produce stories that drive audiences to new worlds beyond their expectations and to change their perspectives back in the real world.


The experience takes us to a sumptuous traditional Chinese hotel, where an impressive wedding is about to take place. Mrs. Song has finally managed to find a good match for her daughter Zhen Zhen: the heir of the rich Zhang family.


Always keen to be on the cutting edge of… everything, Mrs. Song hires human-like androids to be part of the wedding party (courtesy of Mrs. Zhang’s wallet). In the role of lead bridesmaid, Mrs. Song hires a beta model android: Ah-Hui, the newest generation female android.


Delighted with their new distraction, Mrs. Song, and later, Mrs. Zhang, blithely play around with Ah-hui’s settings, unaware of the changes happening within Ah-hui’s nascent mind...

Mechanical Souls’ story unfolds within a unity of time (the preparation and duration of the wedding) and a unity of place (the hotel where the event takes place), around 8 main characters.


Those characters mix and meet, experiencing the same events but each with a different take on things, building up a common experience from their personal stories. Mechanical Souls is set in a near future society where human-like androids have become a part of everyday life. A marker of wealth, they are the ultimate human helper.


Aside from that, not much has changed from today in the Mechanical Souls universe. Family dynamics, inter-generational rapports, societal pressure to partner up and marry, and overall questions on ethics remain key drivers in their world.


The reason for establishing Mechanical Souls in an alternative future was to displace the familiar, and in doing so, give the viewer enough space to think about the story’s core issues, which are our own current day issues. The androids are used in the story to hold a mirror up to our own human behaviour and bring attention to the excesses we are subject to when we think our actions don’t matter or simply because we think we can get away with things.


The series is inspired by L. P. Lee’s short story “Reflections in a Mechanical Eye,” a story based in South Korea. As L.P.Lee and Gaëlle Mourre delved deeper into their new storyworld, they made the decision to transpose the story into a different setting, one that could reflect their own sensibilities as an international team. L. P. Lee had lived in Beijing and Gaëlle in Singapore - joining with French producers and Taiwanese co-producers, the team realized the core themes of the story could be best expressed in Taiwan.

Award-winning VR film director Celine Tricart on the set of Mechanical Souls.

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