VR Satire Comes to Cannes Film Festival

What is is like to be a performer, totally at the mercy of the whims of your audience? A satirical virtual reality (VR) experience directed by Ethan Shaftel is trying to put attendees of the Cannes Film Festival in that position in a VR film titled Extravaganza.

Featuring as part of the Cannes Film Festival’s Marche du Film NEXT Vr program, Extravganza puts viewers who strap on the VR headset in the position of being a helpless puppet performing a ridiculous show for the entertainment of a clueless executive played by Paul Scheer. However, much about the experience is not what it seems and it might just be possible for the player to break out of their enforced performance.

The experience uses technology provided by 3D modelling company MAXON, using its Cinema 4D software to render the VR content, which Shaftel has used in previous projects for visual effects and animation. “In EXTRAVAGANZA the viewer finds themselves in the novel position of being “consumed” by an audience, subjected to their insults and confronted with many of mainstream entertainment’s blind spots and prejudices,“ explains Shaftel. “Using MAXON’s 3D and virtual reality filmmaking tools allowed us to create an immersive environment so that we could bring assumptions to the surface we have about how stories are told that couldn’t otherwise be told in a traditional film medium.”

“One of the cool things we did with EXTRAVAGANZA is to combine our live-action actor Paul Scheer, filmed with a traditional non-VR camera, within a fully 3D-animated world. When Scheer lifts up the VR puppet show where the viewer is “inside” and straps it to his face, he is fully a part of their environment, staring down at them and the other VR puppets,” Shaftel continues, “This required us to work out some tricky projection-mapping style techniques in Cinema 4D to blend the real footage and the animation. We also relied on the Xref tools to instance our mechanized instruments to better synch with our musical score, the Point Level Morph for our inflatable ballerinas, and various Character Constraint tags to rig-up all our puppets and the mechanized moving stage together.”

The Cannes Film Festival will take place between 17th-28th May in Cannes, France.

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