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The future of storytelling in Virtual Reality (VR)

Vi har nettopp vært i Korea, Kina og Hong Kong som del av den Nordiske reality delegasjonen – en nordisk plattform for samarbeid, kunnskapsdeling og teknologiinnovasjon. Les om det hele her.

We have just been to Korea, China and Hong Kong. As part of the #nordicreality delegation, a Nordic platform for collaboration, knowledge sharing and new business opportunities within new technology. Together with #nornstudio we visited the Asian marked in the FUTURE OF STORYTELLING in VIRTUAL REALITY.

We are high right now. We are lost. We are in love with Asia, the pace, the world that spins around so fast that Europe according to our Korean friends is just a tour, to watch those old buildings crumbling. Hello Europe, hello Scandinavia, hello Norway and hello Trondheim. Let´s move and get lost in a totally cinematic immersive story!

A little background information before we lash into the world of VR-Virtual Reality. In Trondheim, there is a beautiful bouquet of people and organizations who celebrate the convergence of (inter-disciplinarians) of technology and immersive storytelling. (For the record ‘interdisciplinary` is not a buzzword or an academic understanding of interlinked subjects any longer, it is a matter of fact and a way of life.) And some of these were responsible for making the Nordic Reality Tour possible. We would like to thank the Norwegian partners Work-Work, partner and co-organizer of Nordic Reality Tour, Technoport, partner and co-organizer of Nordic Reality Tour. And last but not least Marie Claire Maxwell, Program Initiator from Cloudberry, Sweden, organizer and our great host in Asia.

THANK YOU!

So who is who here: #technoport, the catalyst for the future Norwegian knowledge economy. For those of you who wonder what Technoport do; they host innovation and entrepreneurship events with the goal to stimulate innovation by organising events for entrepreneurs, investors and business leaders in both the public and private sector. Of course, students, researchers and DREAMERS are welcome. Lets move on to #workwork, the great merge between a co-working space and a prototype lab. Located in Munkegata you might have stumbled in for a beer and a ping pong game not knowing that this hub promotes and accelerate development in technology for digital entertainment. And it is from this hub we have companies such as #breach and #nornstudios working specifically with VR storytelling and VR simulations.

So, what is Virtual Reality and what is immersive storytelling and is it film?

“VR typically refers to computer technologies that use virtual reality headsets to generate the realistic images, sounds and other sensations that replicate a real environment or create an imaginary setting. VR also simulates a user’s physical presence in this environment. VR has been defined as “a realistic and immersive simulation of a three-dimensional 360-degree environment, created using interactive software and hardware, and experienced or controlled by movement of the body” or as an “immersive, interactive experience generated by a computer”. Wikipedia. 

Let us be very clear: at this point in time. Nobody knows anything. It is the wild west and the marked is not ready for cinematic immersive stories. Hardware is not catching up to software. And the goggles – must go. But the marked will be ready! It will explode. It is expected to be a $150 billion industry by 2020. Facebook, Google, HTC Vive …. it is going fast. Very fast! The content is here – being developed, tested and chased by the public. China is leading the way. You better jump on that high-speed train.

There is no doubt that new technology has opened exciting avenues for storytelling and immersive entertainment. We are redefining the ways in which audiences experience their world but for now VR is not to be interpreted as an extension of cinema, it’s not cinema. VR is everything cinema is not…VR cinematic experiences aims to give people the feeling of really ‘being there’. In virtual reality you can be anyone, you can go anywhere, and you can create anything.

The challenges of transitioning from traditional film to VR are obvious. A single camera is enough to capture images for a movie but VR content aims to replicate a realistic 360-degree environment. And the movements of a headset-wearing viewer control the point of view from which that environment is seen. Still, …. “In a way, it’s almost an identical process to filming a normal narrative film,” says Luca Guadagnino, whose non-VR projects include the 2010 feature “I Am Love” and “The Bigger Splash” from 2015, screened at Kosmorama 2016.” “VR involves a lot of post-production (…)  but the fix-it-in-post attitude that reigns in traditional film can get one in trouble on a VR shoot, particularly when it comes to stitching — the joining of image feeds from multiple cameras, accomplished using special software and manual clean-up work by CG artists. If the image is captured improperly, no amount of digital massaging can fix it.”

After visiting Chinese VR arcades, HQ of Facebook in HK, HTC VIVE, Google, Alibaba, Samsung City, among others, tested, talked and listened to the world of VR experts in the marked, we truly understand the most important attribute of VR content, it “makes us feel something”. Creating emotional connection and achieving true presence, when your visual system, your auditory system and your motor system is fully immersed in the experience. The idea itself is not new, the history of VR is long and weird and you can read all about it here: VR’s long, weird history.

What is new, is the technology and the environment allowing immersive storytelling. WE NOW HAVE AN EXPERIENCE TO TELL A STORY ABOUT.

But should we as a film festival be worried? As we move further into the individually programmed, personalized experience of VOD and being alone at home with our headset? Is the future of collective film watching at risk? Move beyond the headset, how can cinemas, we as a film festival and the VR makers themselves create collective experiences for the audiences? How can we ensure VR doesn’t mean audiences will be forever alone? Is VR the end of cinema as we know it?

What do you think?

We really hope that next year we have a festival which provides opportunity for an audience to experience global professionals in what’s next in the landscape of VR of new storytelling, culture, and technology.

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