Waves was a complete success at the New Frontier Exhibit of the Sundance Film Festival this year. I got my Sundance member card and participated in a series of discussions, panels and interviews with many interesting creative people that have a lot to say about virtual reality and storytelling. Here are some of them: @brillhart Principal VR filmmaker at Google, @Saschkaunseld Creative Director at Oculus Story Studio, my creative partners on Waves @BrainDickinson & @ReggieWatts, @PatrickTOsborne Director of Disney’s Feast, @ImmersiveJourno godmother of virtual reality, and @djabatt of course.
I am attending a demo party called Synchrony NYC. It is hosted at a place near Union Square in Manhattan called Babycastles and organized by my old friend @nickmofo, who invited me to give a talk about virtual reality.
@djabatt just gave me a 1.33x anamorphic lens adapter from Moondog Labs for my iPhone. It’s great. Now I finally believe you can make movies with an iPhone, or at least use it to reliably preview real movie stuff. I love it.
After he saw the THX inspired animation I made for the intro sequence of the VR House Party we shot with WEDIDIT in February, Nick Melons asked me to produce some graphics for their new line of Merch. I can’t wait to get my hands on some of that stuff. Hopefully it will all come out at the time we release the house party video.
an open source framework for easily creating WebVR experiences with HTML. It is designed and maintained by MozVR (Mozilla’s virtual reality team research team). A-Frame wraps WebGL in HTML custom elements, enabling web developers to create 3D VR scenes that leverage WebGL’s power, without having to learn its complex low-level API. Because WebGL is ubiquitous in modern browsers on desktop and mobile, A-Frame experiences work across desktop, iPhone (Android support coming soon), and Oculus Rift headsets.
It is not the first time we see something like this —remember VRML and more recently GLAM— but this is the first time I sense a strong design and content oriented vision behind a toolset of this kind. It has been clearly built taking into consideration the full spectrum of creative people that currently fuel the web as well as the mobile space, and this I hope will help it stick around. To see what I mean just launch http://aframe.io/ from the broswer in your iPhone if you have one (sorry androids), browse through the examples, and hit that cardboard icon.
I spent a couple of months this Summer working with JT Petty on a virtual reality serialized science fiction thriller called GONE that got released today on Samsung’s MilkVR interactive spherical video platform. You can’t really experience it unless you have a GearVR with a compatible Samsung phone, but there are enough resources available online to give you an idea of what this is about, starting with this article on Variety.
GONE is a joint effort from Wevr, Skybound and Samsung to dive deep into the mostly unexplored waters of cinematic storytelling in virtual reality. This means we had to take the format a bit more seriously than it had been done before, starting with the scope and length of the story, cinematic language and camera movements, all the way to building a system that allows the audience to actually explore the scene at will through interactive features, taking them as close as possible to the notion of presence, or being there, that is key to VR. While you watch GONE, you have the choice to explore the settings of a scene at will, and by doing so you might gain better insight into some aspect of the story, but you might also miss out on something equally important just behind your shoulder. So every time you play an episode you will experience a slightly different story based of how you chose to explore the scene.
In order to achieve this, we shot every scene from multiple vantage points, and developed a playback system with a universal timeline that allows you to “jump” between multiple concurrent video tracks. The sense of being there while the scene unfolds around you is outstanding. When I think about all the limitations imposed to us by our 360° video capture, postproduction and playback tools, I can only begin to imagine how powerful this medium will become once better solutions have been developed to support our creative practice. GONE is the first time I watch a VR piece that feels as engaging in terms of story as any of my favorite TV shows, and this the result of JT’s excellent screenwriting in combination with the craft and effort we put into understanding what it means to tell a story in VR, and how to achieve this using the tools we had at the time.
Four virtual reality WEVR productions just got selected to be part of the Sundance Film Festival 2016 New Frontiers exhibit. I worked as Creative Director in two of them, Hard World for Small Things and Waves, and I feel quite accomplished to have my name featured in the Sundance Film Festival website surrounded by such a talented group of people.
In particular, Waves is one of two projects where I spent most of my hours this year. It’s pretty cool. It was written and directed by Ben Dickinson, and it features Reggie Watts and Nathalie Emmanuel in a reality bending philosophical-musical comedy, where nothing is what it seems or seems to be what it is. I can’t wait for the day we make it publicly available.