No other film festival has shown VR as much early love as Sundance. And after last year's intriguing, experimental line-up of nine experiences, Robert Redford's film festival is now mixing up and coming pioneers with bonafide Hollywood studios in its New Frontier exhibit.
Sundance, which runs from 21 - 31 January in Park City, Utah, will show 30 pieces of virtual reality storytelling alongside three feature films, one live performance and 11 installations. It will be a very strong start to what should be an exciting year for VR and industry figures such as Valve's Chet Faliszek are hinting at big things for Sundance.
Here's a rundown of a few examples of what to expect, with some familiar apps and films that you can already demo or view if you own a Samsung Gear VR.
The Treachery of Sanctuary
This is the latest work from Chris Milk - of VRSE and general VR pioneering fame - and he will be showing the installation alongside his moving collaboration with the UN's Gabo Arora Waves of Grace - about an ebola survivor in Liberia - which you can see now on Gear VR and Cardboard.
The Treachery of Sanctuary doesn't seem to be a standard VR headset experience, it's an interactive installation but it is very connected self - the "large scale triptych" uses the projections of participants' bodies to help tell the story of "birth, death and transfiguration".
The Martian VR experience
You can get a taste of this right now via the Gear VR's Milk VR store but we can't wait to try the full experience. Ridley Scott and the Fox Innovation Lab have created this exploration of key scenes from the Matt Damon movie The Martian and users can drive rovers and attempt to steer at zero gravity. Sounds mighty fun.
Perspective 2: The Misdemeanor
This is Rose Troche's follow up to her powerful two person POV piece The Party from last year's Sundance. Here the VR director looks at what happens when two men are stopped by a police officer and the situation "spirals out of control". Should be a head scratcher.
Nonny de la Peña, known as the godmother of virtual reality, is at Sundance with a real life story about domestic violence. The blurb says that the work uses audio and imagery from the events depicted in which two sisters try to save a third from being shot by her ex-boyfriend so this is not one to be taken lightly. The Emblematic Group wants viewers to become "active witnesses".
6x9: An Immersive Experience of Solitary Confinement
Another dark one, this VR experience from The Guardian looks at the experience of 80,000 people who are kept in solitary confinement, i.e. "tiny concrete boxes". Sure to be an eye opener.
The Rose and I
Eugene Chung's The Rose and I is set to be much lighter, if no less innovative, fare. If you have a Gear VR try out the short Rosebud but this new piece for Sundance should take the amazing 'pinning' controls - which let you zoom and look 'around' a 3D scene - even further. It's a new animated experience from Chung's Penrose Studios, which he founded after leaving Oculus Story Studio.
VR is still pretty out-there so of course it has attracted Björk's attention. To call this collaboration with Vrse.work's Andrew Thomas Huang a music video is probably quite insulting. Stonemilker is a standout track on Björk's latest album Vulnicura and this piece tries to explore how VR can impact on performance.
That's just a taste of what Sundance is showing in VR in January - experiences also include the game Job Simulator from Owlchemy Labs, two chapters of Sisters which we've already tried out on Google Cardboard as well as films about Maasai and Bajau tribes from Felix & Paul, an experience which lets you feel what it's like to be blind and Irrational Exuberance, an interactive art experience designed specifically for room-scale VR.
Hit the link below to see the full line-up with all the artists and collaborators.
Source: THESE ARE THE VR FILMS AND EXPERIENCES HEADING TO SUNDANCE 2016
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