Virtual reality (VR) stands as a medium in its own right, but as a very modern technology it borrows a lot from the established convention of others. Like videogames before it, VR owes a great deal to motion-picture, and at the recent Sundance Film Festival 2017, VR film maker Sam Macaroni got to grips with an experience that showcased the potential of social VR bridging the gap between videogames and movies.
The Sundance Film Festival is an annual showcase of the latest and greatest offered by the motion-picture industry. With a heavy independent production presence, Sundance Film Festival has seen the inclusion of VR works grow significantly over the past few years. This year however, the sheer quantity of VR content demonstrated that it’s not just futurists and gamers that are interested in the medium, but creators from many different fields.
Of all the pieces on show at the event, Macaroni makes note of the latest from Chris Milk. Macaroni has been responsible for a number of notable VR works himself, such as Wookie on Vacation and the popular Junkbots with Jaunt VR. Milk however, rose to fame very quickly thanks to a collaboration with musical artist Beck entitled Sound and Vision. Macaroni clearly has a great deal of respect for Milk as a peer.
“One of the VR projects that caught my attention was Chris Milk’s Life Of Us experience. It blew my mind because you and a friend are in separate dark rooms and you both get strapped into HTC Vive headsets and are thrust into the experience together,” stated Macaroni when discussing the experiences available at Sundance Film Festival 2017. “Throughout the entire three minutes you can talk to one another as well as help each other through the adventure. When I took my headset off, I completely forgot I was standing in a dark room all by myself. I had just had this totally amazing shared experience with my friend.”
Life Of Us is a collaboration from Pharrell Williams and Megan Ellison, with Aaron Koblin and Milk, and is touted as the complete story of the evolution of life on Earth. No future release plans for the experience have yet been announced, though it’s likely that Milk’s Here Be Dragons will take the lead via the Within app currently available on VR head-mounted displays (HMDs).
“Afterwards, I was talking to Milk about Life Of Us and I was telling him that he opened my mind to the fact that two people from different parts of the world could literally hang out in VR and go on an adventure together. VR doesn’t have to be a solitary experience, it can be shared in a really exciting way. He said that’s exactly what he was trying to do with the piece. I was really impressed,” concluded Macaroni.
During Sundance Film Festival 2017, Macaroni appeared on a panel called ‘Creative Storytelling in VR’, hosted by Nokia OZO. VRFocus spoke with Macaroni about his experiences on this panel and the key takeaways for anyone looking to become a part of the rapidly growing VR storytelling field: the full interview will be available later this week.