Roughly two dozen virtual reality films will be unveiled in DUMBO on Oct. 6 from 8 to 11 p.m. at the Kaleidoscope VR Film Festival.
Virtual reality (VR) films go beyond 3D technology to immerse participants – who wear a special headset – into a simulated physical environment. Viewers feel as if they are moving about in the real world, or through an imagined environment the filmmaker has created.
Audiences will experience the films through Gear VR equipment supplied by Samsung, as well as Oculus VR headsets.
The films at the festival range from moving documentaries of war-torn parts of the world, such as “Welcome to Aleppo” by Christian Stephen; to the first animated cartoon for virtual reality, “BUTTS”; to an exploration of the world of Vincent van Gogh — “The Night Café,” by Mac Cauley.
René Pinnell, co-founder of the film festival and VR company Kaleidoscope told the Brooklyn Eagle what participants will see when they don the headsets.
“When you go to an IMAX 3D film, a giant screen fills your view. In virtual reality it’s like there’s another screen above that one, and one below it, next to it, behind you. In every direction you’re immersed in the story world.”
There are several types of VR equipment, Pinnell said. The widely-known Oculus Rift headsets are capable of tracking your movements in 3D. “When you move your head in the real world, you move your head in the virtual world. This adds to the sense of ‘presence,’ which is a big word in the virtual reality field,” he said.
The films at the festival are a mixture of interactive and passive VR, he said.
In the film “Kurios,” for example (by Michel Laprise, Felix Lajeunesse and Paul Raphael), audience members immerse themselves “Inside The Box of Kurios — Cabinet of Curiosities” from Cirque du Soleil.
“Kurios” is a passive VR piece, more like a traditional film, Pinnell said. “The only difference is you are completely immersed.”
An example of a more interactive VR film is “Tana Pura” (by Mike Tucker), an audio-visual exploration of the moments following death and the soul’s transition into the afterlife. What you see while watching the film changes based on where you’re looking, Pinnell said. “It’s very cool, and one of my favorite pieces.”
“We’re on the frontier here. Who hasn’t wanted to step into their favorite movie?” he said. “You are a part of it. VR has the magic of live theater. You’re in a room with the actors, and the filmmakers are free to create any kind of fantastical world. I believe virtual reality has the potential to become the dominant art form moving forward.”
The artists who created the films in the festival are all independent, Pinnel said. These are small one-, two- or three-person teams “who work purely for the joy of creating and exploring the language of a new artistic medium.”
Since we don’t know yet how to tell stories in VR, the filmmakers need to take big creative risks, he said. “They are beholden to no one besides their own artistic inclinations. They are the ones who are going to drive the medium forward.”
The festival, part of a multi-city tour, will involve artist presentations, VR demos and talks from top VR filmmakers and industry members.
The artist panel includes Arjan Van Meerten, a director and Visual Effects artist from the Netherlands and creator of the VR music video SURGE; Mac Cauley, the creator of the award-winning The Night Café, a virtual reality experience that takes you inside a Vincent van Gogh painting; Aaron Bradbury, creator of the acclaimed VR film LoVR; and Avram Dodson, award-winning director of the VR animation The Last Mountain.
The event takes place at 26 Bridge, located at 26 Bridge Street, Dumbo, Brooklyn 11201
To see the full lineup of films, visit www.kvrff.com/