We were in for a treat this year at Venice VR 2019 (link), the last creative addition of the « Mostra » or Biennale Cinema of Venice. No Brad Pitt there, but a tremendous amount of talents who brought the XR community to its finest rendez-vous.
Under the supervision of curators Liz Rosenthal and Michel Reilhac Venice VR showcased 40 projects during 10 days, organized conferences and meetups, and welcomed a group of people who came to meet and discuss the future of their art on Lazzaretto island, “the VR island”.
For the third year in a row, you were in the right place to discover immersive and/or interactive new universes, social experiences, gaming projects or even the results of the Biennale College VR, a year-long creative workshop organized by the festival. The (small but strong) XR community also made Venice the perfect rendez-vous of the year in Europe, with a crazy activity through social media to connect everyone before and during the event. And… well, who can say « no » to a business trip in beautiful Venice?
Back to the selected experiences, divided in 2 mains sections (VR cinema for linear contents, and interactive/room scale ones with more set-ups and physical challenges): the 2019’s line-up was again a strong one. Despite a larger selection of Best-Of projects, which allows you to catch-up on few things (WOLVES IN THE WALL, BONFIRE…), the quality of the newest projects was amazing. And the 3 awarded stories can be proud to top that: THE KEY (also shined at Tribeca this year, what a year for Celine Tricart!), THE LINE (our favorite!) or DAUGHTERS OF CHIBOK.
VIRTUAL STORYTELLING: THE SOCIAL KEY OF IT
No joke here, THE KEY made quite an impression on us. So did THE COLLIDER. In Tricart’s experience, you are taken into a journey of strange but beautiful images, the strong presence of a child’s voice, just before discovering the reality of it. What is interesting here is the way you are here to feel the story first, then understand it. The « after » effect comes second, to give an explanation of the madness you just saw. Clever and powerful.
With THE COLLIDER – also selected in this year’s Tribeca, it’s not much a virtual experience than a new discovery on your own memory. As a viewer you’re asked to get back to some moments of your life, trying to connect again. The social element here is the thing that stays in mind: we need to activate our brain more often!
As for LOVESEAT, if the concept to engage audiences both physically and online, it was quite frustrated not to be able to live this with 50 VR headests. Just sitting still watching the performance was not enough to our taste.
THE LONGER, THE BETTER
The main element on the island was not spritz and sunny weather – well, not only. If 2018 was the year of heavy interactive experiences, with THE HORRIFICALLY VIRTUAL REALITY, THE ROAMING and UMAMI giving you a real taste of immersive theater under VR headsets, 2019 was the year of longer experiences. A lot of them had +30 minutes session, including linear experiences such as BATTLESCAR with its back-to-back 3 episodes, a real pleasure for the years and ears! But room scale experiences as well worked on more developed storytellings, with 40 to 50 minutes sometimes in VR or MR – Magic Leap (even the Bose glasses were also there, for a short experience with LOVESEAT AR).
And the good thing is, it’s ok. In 2019, you can immerse yourself under a headset for a longer time. No need to watch the clock. It is, after all, more a challenge for the creators and their team to build deeper stories, to take their audience in a longer journey. But this is why we’re here for. Online – the other side – VADER IMMORTAL is also a 40 minutes first chapter. People get used ot it: now we can start to see what immersive storytelling will tell us. Not with 10 minutes showreel or proof-of-concept, but with longer films/experiences and complete narratives.
And most of the time, it works quite well. And it could explain why the festival selected more than 4 immersive escape games or gaming pieces (DOCTOR WHO – THE EDGE OF TIME, BRITANNIA VR, PAGAN PEAK, ELEVEN ELEVEN…) among the selection, just for the fun of it. Between modern art, gaming, animated films, documentaries or actors performances, Venice VR was definitely the high creative peek of the year. And the best place to enjoy immersive storytelling with good people around.
Our Top 5 from Venice VR 2019
Pola Weiß’s Top 5 (VR Geschichten)
Read more about Pola’s coverage of the festival on her blog (in german or in english!).
- BATTLESCAR – PUNK WAS INVENTED BY GIRLS
- PORTON DOWN
- DAUGHTERS OF CHIBOK
Agnese Pietrobon’s Top 5
Don’t miss Agnese last articles or works with her website!