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April 17th, 2020 | by Mathieu

"Tribeca Immersive is a reflection of the diversity of creators across the globe" - Loren Hammonds (Tribeca Immersive)

Due to the current situation, Tribeca Festival had to cancel his physical event and found its way online (see the complete line up). For the Immersive part the Cinema360 program will air on Oculus from April 17th to April 26th (link).

Tribeca Immersive is alive (and well)

Loren Hammonnds - We’re ok, and my Immersive team is amazing. I give my strongest salute to our Immersive team and press team for being so flexible, and be able to pivot so quickly from the moment we knew we needed to postpone the festival until now. It has been only a matter of weeks. We have been able to pull together something that will be special. All our Cinema 360 programs will be shared online on Oculus, and it’s really exciting to us. And we hope it is the same for the XR community! Also we had a few international selections in that program, and it is an opportunity to share all these creative voices all over the world. South Korea, China, Ethiopia, Spain, France… So many places that have been affected by the pandemic as well! It has been a special time for us to work on this new model to share creative content, with the support of the artists.

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L. H. - We had a partnership with Oculus for several years, generally to outfit our XR Arcade, providing hardware, to set up a few pieces they have produced or co-produced. We talked to them as soon as we saw the need to change our plan, and their involvement was fantastic - and they jumped on immediately. Our previous relationship with their Media Studio was also helpful. Everything was very smooth to set up everything until now!

L. H. - Through the Tribeca platform we will also share conversations with the creators. They’re across the globe, so it’s not an easy task to get everyone in the same time zone! However we will have most of them discussing their work.

2020 is into XR (after all)

L. H. - In the overall selection, there is a continuity on LBE works. It’s interesting to see that as a real force in the program, due to the current situation where everyone has to stay on the location of their home! But it’s true that LBE is evolving, and there was a tremendous amount of work from producers and creators on that part. Also, there is a real rise of AR storytelling, and that is very exciting for me. We saw few AR selections before, of course, such as MARY AND THE MONSTER on Magic Leap One which was really theatrical, or CRITICAL DISTANCE by Vision3 and Vulcan productions (link). Microsoft with their HoloLens 3 and video mapping used their technology for storytelling as well. I’m really hopeful we will bring the light on such pieces at one point.

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L. H. - Also “VR for good” experiences are one of the only ways to expose audiences to situations that they may be aware of but never felt them directly. VR can do that. Empathy can be solicited through immersive storytelling. It’s really important to walk into someone else shoes to understand. This week Oculus is releasing THE KEY, which won last year the Storyscapes Award at Tribeca in 2019 (and at Venice VR). This piece is a fantasy but was made from refugee stories, and with their help. It tells a really pressing story, and that kind of work is powerful.

Tribeca Immersive 2020 - What is it made of?

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L. H. - Pure storytelling is what we are looking for at Tribeca in particular. Many storytellers are coming from other mediums to tell new stories in the XR world. We discovered very realized works, and in 360! Some of our XR community doesn’t pay too much attention to 360 creation anymore, being more and more focused on 6Dof and LBE. Traditional filmmakers and XR creators are turning to 360 to tell really powerful stories. In our 360 Cinema you have beautiful pieces that used tiltbrush animation, 3D, volumetric, capture, photogrammetry… All these possibilities to give life to stories through the XR landscape are at Tribeca Immersive.

L. H. - Creative nonfiction is having a great moment now. FIRST STEP is about the Apollo missions, in a very “fairy tale” way to tell this story about people going to the Moon for the first time. RAIN FRUITS is a really moving story about a man going from Myanmar to South Korea, with a hope to become someone. It’s quite an impressive accomplishment, amazing visually. We have great animation, with Samantha Quick‘s LUTAW - made with Oculus for Good initiative. Van Phan made a piece called UPSTANDER about bullying.

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L. H. - There is an interesting program we made, almost for me, called Seventeen Plus. It’s my take on the “midnight movie”, not necessarily horror and jump-scares but things a little bit left of the center. There is a film, A SAFE GUIDE TO DYING by Dimitris Tsilifonis, which is about a suicidal man who is using VR to engage on the less painful ways to commit suicide. A beautiful french piece, SATURNISM by Mihai Grecu, brings you into the Goya painting Saturn Devouring His Son. It’s beautiful, really well animated but a little creepy also. This shows that everyone can find its way in our selection.

L. H. - Another program is about memoirs, souvenirs, which is a popular theme in VR. The medium allows us to explore souvenirs in a particular way. With “Kinfolk”, it’s all about homes and families. FERENJ by Ainslee A. Robson is about a young woman half-ethiopian half-american, and her identity is at the center of a beautiful story using photogrammetry and music. With THE INHABITED HOUSE Diego Kompel from Argentina brings his grandparents house to life. Another approach with a docu-fiction piece is HOME by HSU Chih-Yen from Taiwan. He really resurrected a family gathering with you as his grand-mother surrounding by her huge family. He shot it in his real family house, with actors and real people from his family.

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Gathering a world of creators (and new audiences)

L. H. - It always has been a challenge to select projects from so many countries. We have to recognize good works from everywhere in the XR family. I travel a lot to meet and discover new creators, new curators in festivals. Our selection at Tribeca is just a reflection of that diversity and quality across the globe.

L. H. - Releasing our Cinema360 online is actually quite exciting, because this is something we tried to do before. But there was always something difficult about it. This year, we have every reasons to do it. We can’t wait to see the audience feedbacks, in order to continue our work and share of XR contents. It’s quite amazing to let people who can’t join us in New York have a taste of our Immersive program. To be fair, we hope to connect with people who are even aware of the festival. I’m very cautious of the fact that a lot of headset users may not be use to storytelling in VR. They’re more into gaming, or working in virtual reality. In order to increase the amount of stories being told, just on this platform, this week, is quite exciting and I hope more and more people is paying attention about it. These are really great works we are going to show!

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