Filmmaking and storytelling are currently flourishing through a technical renaissance.
Camera resolutions continue to improve at an exponential rate, often faster than the computer that can handle the media. Viral-ready content can be filmed, edited, and distributed from your cell phone. Digital cryptocurrencies have been adopted and enhanced by the technological community. Virtual worlds and multimodal experiences can be created by hand. And along with these exciting explorations, we are building new systems, pushing technology to new avenues, expanding and re-examining the role of the audience, and redefining what it means to tell a story.
The new Infinity Film Festival aimed to celebrate, curate, and cultivate this world of technological change. Held in Beverly Hills at the Paley Center for Media and RealD (creator of 3D movie glasses), with additional panels at the Writers Guild Theater and screenings at the Laemmle Music Hall, IFF presented a virtual and physical playground for the senses across many sectors of technology. The festival encapsulated forward thinking experiences, sandwiched in between the boutiques and beauty store of Beverly Hills. The 2018 IFF, held November 1st through November 4th, brought plenty of firsts to the media realm, including the first digital swag bag build on Blockchain, Disney Animation’s first virtual reality film, and the First Man experience.
The newness of the technology surrounding virtual, interactive, and 360 media means you might be the first one piloting the technology. This requires creators to ask new and challenging questions while innovating and creating new directions in media simultaneously. Several panelists at IFF, including those discussing Empathy in VR and the impact of the Interactive Emmys, shed light on these explorations, as well as the shifting nature of the audience experience. In many ways, filmmakers who embark on a virtual or 360 experience are no longer crafting just a scene; they are creating an experience. And the experience at the IFF was an experience with curiosity and emotion.
Of particular emotional note was Disney’s first virtual reality exploration, “Cycles.” It comes of no surprise that Disney, a name synonymous with tackling complex content with grace, similarly tackled the “empathy machine” with a gracious touch. “Cycles” was proposed by Jeff Gibson, a lighting artist at Disney Animation, who helped bring a personal family story to the headset screen through his director role. A beautiful and intimate tale, “Cycles” also pushes Virtual Reality design by keeping viewers looking in the correct direction by turning sections black and white (coined the “Gomez Effect” due to the leadership of artist Jose Gomez), and, placing viewers in the center of the story. It took the studio four months to create the experience, which yielded quite the return on investment considering viewers will remember the experience for years to come.
Also of note was the First Man experience, where viewers were brought right into the Neil Armstrong story. From the Houston Space Center to the launch to the steps on the moon, the virtual reality experience provided a true sense of movement, and even mild claustrophobia, until the headset was removed with a friendly “Welcome Back to Earth.”
The Infinity Film Festival at the Paley Center also included several demos by students and an Art and Technology Exhibition featuring artwork with light, color, and cameras. Panels included notable contributors to the new spaces of interactive, 360 video, animation, and virtual reality, including discussions about immersive storytelling, Disney’s upcoming animated feature “Ralph Breaks The Internet” and blockchain as a revenue stream. Films selected for this year’s festival include the World Premiere of the restoration of the “War of the Worlds” and A Los Angeles Festival Debut of “2001: A Space Odyssey” in 4K.
IFF continued on Sunday, November 4th with a panel featuring the cast and talent of CW’s All American, the presentation of Mourning Son by Dave Navarro, the World Premiere of the Chimerical Era VR Experience, a screening of Berlin Station, and more. Check out more info at https://www.infinityfilmfestival.com/