NoFilmSchool: Why Sundance 2017 is Poised to be a Breakthrough Year for VR

Posted January 20, 2017
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Virtual reality has exploded in the past year. What was once just a sci-fi idea, then just a concept prototype, is now widely available to the public. People are using VR in many different innovative ways. There are VR games, VR video journalism, VR sports, VR music videos, and VR films.

Last year, Sundance had a exhibition at the festival on VR filmmaking, now a year later they're back and it's even bigger and more immersive.

Oakley Anderson-Moore from NoFilmSchool reports:

In the course of the last year, you've probably seen a few commercials and billboards featuring virtual reality goggles. What's the big deal? That's the question creative virtual reality filmmakers have been trying to explain to the people for the last few years. Could 2017 finally be the year of an audience breakthrough for VR at Sundance?

Senior Programmer and Chief Curator of New Frontier Shari Frilot thinks it could be, given some exciting changes in both the programming and the festival attendee experience. “We make it a mandate to create a New Frontier each year that doesn't look like anything that was ever done before, so it's always new,” Frilot told No Film School. “VR has exploded in the last year since the 2016 festival. There's a whole industry and set of expectations and very specific interest in the medium.”

So what’s new and exciting this year in the Sundance program where cutting edge technology is harnessed by the world's most innovative artists? Frilot sat down with No Film School to give us a sneak peak of some highlights, and it looks like the 2017 New Frontier program is poised to be a big one.

The VR Palace

One thing that distinguishes this year's New Frontier from last year is the VR Palace, a ticketed venue for experiencing the 2017 VR lineup. Says Frilot, “We’re ticketing it because we wanted to created an experience that didn't involve long lines. Last year, we showed upwards of 35 works, and this year we've pared it down to some of the most innovative VR being made right now independently.”

Pushing the Limits of Narrative VR

Miyubi is a 40-minute VR piece from Felix & Paul studios done in partnership with Funny or Die. It's a comedy where you are in the position of a family robot from the '80s. "You go through the experience as a robot part of the family," Frilot says. "No one's ever done this before, something that's 40 minutes and at this level, with professional actors and with an established studio.”

Read the full story.


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