Sundance Festival Welcomes VR Scenes in Movies

VR scenes in movies at Sundance

Surely the VR scenes in movies at Sundance this year can’t force you to look at any specific point in the 360 degree space around you, but they do tempt you with visual cues that draw you in the right direction—an important distinction for storytellers working in the new medium.

VR scenes in movies at Sundance

Sundance Film Festival happens every year, in the small town of Park City, Utah. It is a nearly two-week long independent film showcase of everything from documentaries to art-house. This year however, the biggest hits didn’t take place in any one of the little town’s 15 theaters that the public used for screenings, but rather in the side rooms used by critics that were hooked into an Oculus Rift to have a complete VR experience, as promised.

The Sundance Institute’s ‘New Frontier’ program, encouraged the use of VR experiences throughout the festival Such a platform was especially “created to identify and foster independent artists working at the convergence of film, art, media, live performance, music and technology.”, as the officials of the festival pointed out.

Some of the most interesting movies, from this point of view were: Lost, Evolution, Project Syria and Wild- The experience, staring Reese Whiterspoon.

VR Scenes in movies – Lost by Story Studio

Lost is the first VR short out of Story Studio. “Lost takes the viewer on a journey to a moonlit forest inhabited by an unexpected creature,” Story Studio describes in a new blog post that also reveals the technique and technologies used to create the experience – the Unreal Engine 4, one of the most popular game engines used by Oculus Rift developers.

Story Studio is a recently formed in-house content provider from Oculus VR. Lost takes you deep into the forest to confront an “unexpected creature.” The film explores the idea of rendering the experience in real-time, instead of using pre-recorded sequences. Real-time rendering is Oculus’ Story Studio choice for such VR scenes at this moment.

VR Scenes in movies – Evolution of Verse by Chris Milk

Chris Milk is the director that received such a good feedback for his 360 degree film at last year’s Sundance Festival, in 2014. Milk seems to be back this year with a new movie that incorporates VR scenes Evolution of Verse. It is surely a photo-realistic CG 3D cinematic experience that unfortunately forges about its plan to delivering a message. The idea of showing a series of beginnings that culminate in a wide-open feel that definitely plays so well on VR headsets. The movie was released simultaneously on Google Cardboard.

VR Scenes in movies – Project Syria by Nonny de la Peña

Project Syria is a documentary made by journalist Nonny de la Peña, that shows the real after-effects of war. Following the journey Syrian refugees take, the movie talks about people and war in a manner that impresses and raises questions at the same time. de la Peña has been a pioneer in what she calls ‘immersive journalism’ for quite a while and good at it.

VR Scenes in movies – Wild – The Experience from Félix and Paul Studios

Wild – The Experience is a short ‘VR extra’, giving a 360 degree look into the upcoming 2D film from Fox Searchlight. The short film, which initially debuted at CES 2015, follows Cheryl Strayed (played by Reese Witherspoon) and an apparition of her deceased mother Bobbi (played by Laura Dern) on a hike through the Pacific Crest Trail.


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