When it comes to works of fiction and non-fiction, specifically those that use virtual reality (VR) as a tool for filmmaking we’re used to several festivals throughout the year. VR is a growing part of both the Sundance Film Festival and the Raindance Film Festival, the latter of which having launched the VRX awards earlier this year. Whilst in the UK there’s also the annual occurrence of Sheffield Doc/Fest which has grown in visibility over the last couple of years and is now getting more recognition on the international stage.
Now it seems we have another event to add to this list in the form of the Open City Documentary Festival. Who for their 2017 event will be specifically featuring talks and masterclasses about how VR works with regard to storytelling and filmmaking. The six sessions will be hosted by Digital Catapult and take place on Wednesday 6th September at their location on Euston Road in Kings Cross, London.
Details of the free sessions can be found below:
11:00 – Masterclass with Arnaud Colinart
Lindsey Dryden talks to Arnaud Colinart about the innovative and award-winning project, Notes on Blindness. She will also be introducing us to her latest collaboration with Arnaud on the VR project, Unrest, which accompanies the documentary of the same name directed by Jennifer Brea.
12:30 – Storytellers and Scientists in Conversation: The Art & Science of VR
We’re often told virtual reality is the future of entertainment. But what if, alongside entertaining you, VR can also make you a more self-fulfilled person? In this panel, storytellers and scientists, explore the intersection between story and science in VR. How does our brain react to VR? Can neurobiology help us tell more effective stories? And what can scientists learn from VR storytelling? How can filmmakers fully exploit these ideas and how are scientists and storytellers working together to further push the limits of immersive experiences?
14:15 – You Are Not Alone: The Future of the Collective VR Experience
Virtual Reality content is growing exponentially even though VR is only currently available to a tiny minority of interested consumers. How do we address the issues of accessibility and democratization of immersive production, creation and consumption? From web VR to social VR caves to Mega Pods to AR, this session will explore ways of shifting VR from a branded, private experience into something more accessible, public and even collaborative.
15:30 – How VR Could Change Our Culture, Our Relationships and Everything In-Between
Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Realities have the potential to deeply affect our culture and change our relationships with both the digitized world and ourselves. In this panel, VR Creators explore the role of empathy in immersive storytelling, the editorial and ethical challenges of the medium, gaming, and the next generation of technology. What will the next iteration of our new reality look and feel like?
16:45 – Gaming and Storytelling in Immersive Environments
Game developers were working with VR long before the rest of us had even seen a headset. VR’s first life was in video games. While filmmakers are still trying to get to grips with VR and its grammar, gamers have years of experience in creating immersive narratives. What are the secrets of making a great game story? And how can VR creators use these approaches in documentary immersive storytelling? Panellists, including expert games designers and high-profile content creators share their top tips.
18:00 – Closing Keynote: William Urrichio of MIT Open Documentary Lab
No one yet knows what VR is ‘for’, what stories and experiences can best be conveyed in a headset or other immersive environment. To launch this day of exploration, the principal investigator in the MIT Open Documentary Lab and an expert in comparative media studies, William Uricchio, will explore how film-makers can fully exploit the huge potential of VR, where to look for creative inspiration and what VR can contribute to the documentary tradition. Uricchio’s unique perspectives comes from his research of “old” media when they were new.
VRFocus will bring you more news regarding the event as it becomes available. For more information about the sessions mentioned above and for details of other non-VR sessions at the event head to http://opencitylondon.com.