The Raindance Film Festival, which celebrated 25 years in 2017, has become one of the world’s largest independent film festivals. Originating in the UK, with London being one of its main bases, it operates in a number of major cities around the world. And much as with other film festivals around the globe, it has begun including pioneering immersive works, with the very best experiences celebrated in the Raindance VRX Awards. The 2018 edition of which was recently opened by Raindance, with submissions in virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) experiences now being accepted.
2018 is the first year that Raindance Film Festival is accepting AR experiences, now added to the categories in the newly rechristened Raindance 2018 VR/AR Awards. This comes after the showcase of Duncan Walker of Trashgames’ AR film, NEST, in 2017 that was created using an iPhone and ARKit.
The new categories for this year’s Raindance 2018 VR/AR Awards are:
- Best Interactive Narrative VR Experience
- Best Cinematic Narrative VR Experience
- Best Documentary VR Experience
- Best Animation VR Experience
- Best Music VR Experience
- Best Sensual VR Experience
- Best Branded VR Experience
- Best Social Impact VR Experience
- Best Sound Design VR Experience
- Best Augmented Reality Experience
At an event in White City, London, Raindance Film Festival did a recap of last year’s VRX Awards and gave attendees the opportunity to view the experiences again if they missed them. Thomas Gere, Founder and CEO of the Realities Centre gave VRFocus a tour of the space where they helped showcase three HTC roomscale experiences in the VR Studio that were around 15-20 minutes long. As well as seven other experiences that were on the PlayStation VR, Oculus Rift and other mobile VR platforms. The event was organised in slots, and tickets or time slots had to be pre-booked and bought before the event. For those walking around the event, an iPad was being passed around where attendees could also try out AR videogame Orbu.
Elliot Grove, Founder of the Raindance Film Festival spoke to VRFocus about the changes. “I think that VR, AR, MR and XR is the biggest thing that’s happened to cinema since the marriage of sound to pictures over a hundred years ago. and it’s taking a long time for the so-called visual ‘flatty’ content creators to embrace VR and that’s because it’s a whole new medium, and it’s a whole new [set of] rules. What works in traditional filmmaking does not translate that easily into this amazing new technology – and so accessible too. Even every month it seems that prices of headsets come down, new software, new hardware, it’s just exploding like mad.”
Grove hints at interesting categories and discusses the exciting new format of AR films coming to the contest. He also advises filmmakers to learn from gamers, saying that part of this year’s Raindance Film Festival will focus on gaming. When asked about the coming of 3D 180 stereoscopic cameras that are coming out this year such as the Lenovo Mirage Camera, the YI Horizon VR180 or Kodak’s unnamed fold-able camera Grove responded with saying, “180 3D, I think will be a fad.” However, he still thinks it’s interesting to see how storytellers are learning how to play with new technology.
Last year Raindance saw the return of the VR Arcade, where attendees could book slots in order to experience 20 VRX Award shortlisted experiences on the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Google Daydream, PlayStation VR and Samsung Gear VR. With over 100 submissions, 40 experiences were shortlisted with four per award category, which included such classifications as ‘Best Sensual VR Experience’. The Raindance Film Festival is one of the international film festivals that now embraces VR and AR experiences. You can find out more about the festival here and hear what Mária Rakušanová, VR and new Media Curator for Raindance Film Festival has to say about the best suited experiences to submit to the festival.
To find out more about the Raindance 2018 VR/AR Awards watch the video below.