A newly launched VR film festival with wraparound experiences made by Chris Milk and many other independent artists will tour 10 cities in the U.S. and Canada beginning August 22 and ending October 14. The films will be shown on Gear VR and Oculus headsets. “Early bird” tickets cost $15 but there are student tickets as well for $10 and “skip the line” VIP tickets for $99.
The Kaleidoscope VR Film Festival is sponsored by immersive video platform Vrideo and will tour Portland (Aug. 22), Seattle (Aug. 26), Vancouver (Aug. 29), San Francisco (Sept. 15), Los Angeles (Sept. 23), Denver (Sept. 26), Montreal (Oct. 1), Toronto (Oct. 4), New York (Oct. 6) and Austin (Oct. 14). Tickets to the various stops are available here.
The list of films planned to be shown during the tour reads like a greatest hits of wraparound cinematic VR experiences. The event is put together by Kaleidoscope, an agency founded in May to support and produce these kinds of experiences. Though additional films may be added later, here is the list provided by the agency of what will be shown:
BRIGHT SHADOWS (U.S., Dir: Michael Catalano)Synopsis: Inspired by the abstract visual music animators of the early to mid-1900’s, Bright Shadows is an 11 minute computer generated animation of dynamic, colorful abstractions choreographed to instrumental music. It is comprised of seven distinct movements with unique emotional tones that are brought to life with high-quality lighting and shading techniques and rendered in stereoscopic 3D.
BUTTS (U.S., Dir: Tyler Hurd)
Synopsis: Widely credited as the first animated cartoon for virtual reality, BUTTS is a story about love, trust, and learning what it means to be truly free. Transport yourself into a brand new bright and colorful world of happiness and excitement, and make some friends along the way. BUTTS will make you laugh, cry, fill you with unimaginable bliss, and return you to that innocent place of childlike wonder you’ve long forgotten.
CLOUDS OVER SIDRA (U.S., Dir: Chris Milk and Gabo Arora)
Synopsis: CLOUDS OVER SIDRA follows a twelve year old in the Za’atari camp in Jordan – home to 84,000 Syrian refugees. It follows her to school, to her makeshift tent and even to the football pitch. The film was commissioned as part of the UN’s advocacy at the World Economic Forum in Davos to state and business leaders and offers a unique perspective into the lives of the world’s most vulnerable people.
COLOSSE (Israel, UK, U.S., Producer: Joseph Chen)
Synopsis: COLOSSE is a real-time virtual reality storytelling experience, with a stylized, character-focused visual language. While the viewer has no direct control over the action, the progression of the narrative is gaze-based. The viewer’s gaze – things the viewer pays the most attention to – directs the experience around them, giving a subtle influence over events as they unfold. The story of the long lost Great Spirits known as the COLOSSE explores themes of fear, power and respect.
DER GROSSE GOTTLIEB (Netherlands, Dir: Daniël Ernst)
Synopsis: The fabled DER GROSSE GOTTLIEB, the greatest acrobat of his generation, will perform his final amazing trick. After building a tower of chairs thrice the size of the Eiffel Tower, he now has built a tower of mythical proportions, high enough to knock on heaven’s door to visit the stars! Der Grosse Gottlieb is the second addition in a series of fantastical dioramas for virtual reality by interactive illustrator Daniel Ernst.
DMZ: MEMORIES OF A NO MAN’S LAND (South Korea, Dir: Hayoun Kwon)
Synopsis: DMZ: MEMORIES OF A NO MAN’S LAND takes the viewer to a place where they are forbidden to go: The Korean Demilitarized Zone, a strip of land about 248 km long and 4 km wide that separates North and South Korea. In this revealing VR documentary you will discover the zone through the memory of a former soldier.
EVOLUTION OF VERSE (U.S., Dir: Chris Milk)
Synopsis: EVOLUTION OF VERSE takes the viewer on a journey from one beginning to a new beginning. Working with visual effects company Digital Domain, director Chris Milk has created a photo-realistic CGI-rendered 3-D virtual reality experience that references the Lumière brother’s Arrival of a Train made at the dawn of cinema.
THE LAST MOUNTAIN (U.S., Dir: Avram Dodson)
Synopsis: THE LAST MOUNTAIN is an original story about a rock creature in search of companionship, written and directed by Avram Dodson. It sought to answer a couple key questions about translating cinematic conventions to this new medium: do camera cuts work in a 360 degree environment when the viewer is in control? Can the viewer’s gaze be effectively directed? Is it possible to have the camera move without causing nausea?
LOVR (UK, Dir: Aaron Bradbury)
Synopsis: More than 100000 chemical reactions happen in your brain every second. So what about the moment you saw the girl of your dreams, and she saw you? If we could capture those few seconds what would the data look like? LOVR is a document of this moment. A story of love, told through neural activity captured over 4 seconds. As chemicals are released and areas of the brain activated, a form of poetry is revealed within the data. The heart beats, the iris dilates and time stands still as two lovers see each other for the first time.
THE ARCHER (U.S., Dir: Jessica Kantor)
THE NEPAL QUAKE PROJECT (U.S., Dir: David Darg)
Synopsis: Narrated by Susan Sarandon, THE NEPAL QUAKE PROJECT uses Virtual Reality technology to immerse viewers in the aftermath of the Nepal earthquake. The film not only marks the first in natural disaster VR, but it represents the future of news and action.
THE NIGHT CAFÉ (U.S., Dir: Mac Cauley)
Synopsis: THE NIGHT CAFÉ is an immersive VR environment that allows you to explore the world of Vincent van Gogh first hand. Take a moment to enjoy his iconic sunflowers in 3 dimensions or walk around the chair he painted in his bedroom to see it from another angle. Step into the vivid colors straight from his palette.
SIGHTLINE: THE CHAIR (Czech Republic, Dir: Tomáš Mariančík)
Synopsis: SIGHTLINE: THE CHAIR is a surreal experience that demonstrates virtual reality’s full potential both in creating a variety of worlds that feel real and creating realities that behave unlike anything you might know. In SightLine, the moment you shift your gaze the environment changes–a unique interaction that could point the way towards smooth scene transitions in cinematic virtual reality.
SURGE (Netherlands, Dir: Arjan Van Meerten)
Synopsis: SURGE is an abstract meditation on the evolutionary process and its relentless march towards complexity. Built with Unreal by artist Arjan van Meerten, Surge was produced over the course of a year with Arjan creating all of the music, animation and code himself. With thousands of downloads, Surge is currently the highest rated experience on Oculus Share.
TANA PURA (U.S., Dir: Mike Tucker)
Synopsis: What is it like to die? That is the question at the heart of Tana Pura, an audio-visual exploration of the moments following death and the soul’s transition into the afterlife. With haunting music composed by Jonny Greenwood, Tana Pura draws inspiration from The Tibetan Book of the Dead and The Psychedelic Experience.
WAY TO GO (Canada, Dir: Vincent Morisset)
Synopsis: Way to Go is a walk in the woods. It is an astonishing interactive experience, a restless panorama, a mixture of hand-made animation, 360˚ video capture, music and dreaming and code; but mostly it is a walk in the woods, c’mon. Created by Vincent Morisset, Philippe Lambert, Édouard Lanctôt-Benoit & Caroline Robert (AATOAA). Produced by the NFB & France TV.
WELCOME TO ALEPPO (U.S., Dir: Christian Stephen)Synopsis: A moving VR documentary by war journalist Christian Stephen that transports the viewer to Aleppo, Syria, an ancient city that is now one of the most dangerous war zones on earth.