Tribeca Film Festival Dives into Virtual Reality
The Tribeca Film Festival (TFF) was founded in 2002. At that time, interactive entertainment and video games was still fighting to gain respect. Over recent years, TFF has created initiatives like the Games for Change and the Tribeca Games to help show the legitimacy of interactive and gaming experiences as to how they impact cultures and art.
Now, in 2016, TFF is taking it to the next level as they’re creating events that move audiences from the screening room to fully immersive environments.
Storyscapes is a collection of interactive installations; they’re coming back to TFF this year from April 14th through April 17th, with multiple VR initiatives including “Deep VR”. Deep VR is a deep sea simulator that enables users to control their experience with their breathing. They’re also releasing “The Ark” which is a documentary that places the viewers up close and personal with almost extinct animals like rhinoceros. And they’re releasing “Notes on Blindness: Into Darkness” as well which is meant to help viewers empathize with how blind people view the world.
“Dragonflight” is another virtual experience that will be at The Tribeca Film Festival. It’s an aerial combat simulator developed by Blackthorn Media that enables players to literally fly on a dragon’s back. The game has a lot of action, however, the Creative Director of Blackthorn Media, said, “There’s a collective hunch that [VR] is a medium that’s here to stay, and that it matters from a storytelling standpoint.”
A film that’s premiering at TFF is “Holidays”, which is a horror film. It puts a scary bloody spin on celebratory days such as “Holidays: Christmas VR”.
Wevr is a VR production studio that created “Christmas VR”. Their Creative Director, Luis Blackaller, said that the experience is “closer to a vivid memory or a lucid dream. When telling a story in VR, it is important to figure out ways to make things come across around the viewer, regardless of what they are looking at. They might be browsing a bookshelf in a studio while the unexpected murder happens just behind their backs, and, yes, they might miss that moment. But they will get what happened because they were there.”
A few of the VR experiences in the Virtual Arcade will be horror experiences such as “Killer Deal” which is a story about a machete salesman, however there’s humor involved as well.
The writer and producer of “Killer Deal”, Irad Eyal, said, “A lot of the VR that you see now is pretty serious. And there’s a place for that. I think VR is really good for documentary film making…but it’s also very heavy. We wanted to give you an alternative to that, with something that’s campy, ridiculous, over the top, funny, and fun.”
He further talks about how people respond to VR stories, the person is “naturally going to follow the action, the same way you would if you were in a room with a monster or a serial killer. You’re going to keep your eye on him.”
“Madagascar” was a well known animated film that was directed by Eric Darnell. Eric also directed “Invasion” which is a VR experience debuting at the Virtual Arcade as well. “Invasion” encapsulates the story of 2 bunnies who fight off aliens and the players are able to inhabit the bunny’s body.
The Tribeca Film Festival is going to host its third annual Games and Media Summit on April 18th as well. The summit will enable people to play with new VR games and there will be panel discussions on the topic of VR.