With VR showcases at all the forward-thinking film festivals in the world, Sundance, Tribeca and TIFF, 360 videos and installations have become a regular festival fixture. Even the more conservative Cannes had a very impressive VR display this year, alongside VR masterclasses and panels athering some of the key players in this burgeoning and exciting industry.
But is VR going to transform cinema? Most of the VR experts I spoke with are pretty certain that the landscape of entertainment is definitely changing and that VR will be a big part of the industry’s story going forward. It all depends on technology becoming better and better and technology is advancing at a dizzying pace. Here, we investigate how this new tech might transform the face of cinema.
I saw a lot of other VR pieces in Cannes, each of them very different. Jetleg, written and directed by Pierre Friquet with cinematography by Andoh Shah and produced by Jeremy Sahel, is a sort of ballet drama about the long-distance relationship between two women who live in India andBrazil and the filmmakers' focus was to capture an atmosphere rather than tell a story.
A completely different experience was Defrost, a VR series told entirely from the first-person point of view. The story takes place in the year 2045, when liquid nitrogen is commonly used to freeze patients until a cure for their illness has been developed. Its creators showed the first episode at Sundance this year and by now they have developed eleven more, in an attempt to bring a new episode to each festival.
What's Defrost like? “It’s like my favourite TV episode, like House of Cards or Breaking Bad where there’s a really funky twist at the end and every character has an agenda,” the producer Tanna Frederick told me. And what is it like, trying to tell a story in VR? “Narrative VR is just like theatre, the camera is the audience, it’s like the rehearsal for a play, it was a beautiful theatrical meets technological experience,” Tanna concluded.