"Beyond Reality continues to contribute to a global creative infrastructure" - Jay Kim (BIFAN)
One of our favorite events returns in July! The BIFAN, and its Beyond Reality section (July 1-18), will present as always a rather large line-up of immersive contents - among the most representative of this year's productions, without ignoring a strong presence of Korean novelties. Let's have a look at the selection with its curator Jay Kim.
Cover picture: BEODEURUN: SOUNDMAP PROJECT IN MULTI SPACE (2021) Korea
Staying busy during Covid time
Jay Kim - With the outbreak of COVID-19 last year, we had a very busy moments with holding two events: one on virtual/online (24th BIFAN) and the other on-site (Beyond Reality over Incheon Airport). Especially, 'Beyond Reality over Incheon Airport' XR exhibition in collaboration with Digital November was quite successful. We met new XR audiences and fans from many generations and categories. We will continue working with Incheon International Airport Corporation not only because they aim for a cultural airport but also because they are interested in new media contents. Moreover, the airport is a good space to symbolically embody the concept of traveling with virtual contents.
J. K. - Although Oculus Quest 2 is gaining popularity in Korea, there is still a tendency for content consumption to focus on games rather than narrative content. Also, "installation" on the on-site exhibition is still a very important factor for a fully immersive 'experience of spatial contents'. Due to the COVID-19, we will need to pay close attention to quarantine and to control the number of visitors to a certain level, but it is necessary to continue the location based exhibition to give in depth experience even for just a single visitor.
J. K. - In addition, BIFAN is taking part in the global network of XR3 exhibition and is the partner exhibitor in Korea. We find 'Museum of Other Realities (MOR)', the official virtual platform to XR3, is special and futuristic to experience virtual reality content on a virtual exhibition platform. But there are hurdles to having proper equipment and setup for the experience in the best condition, which apply to most of the audience members. As a festival organizer, we have prepared everything for the audience to experience the upcoming future. BIFAN's main part will be held in a hybrid format; both online and offline including OTT platform screenings. But Beyond Reality will only be greeting the audience on-site. We plan to sincerely meet each and every audience who visits us.
XR works on the way
J. K. - Overall, I feel that the quality of the work has been leveled up. And it is diversifying in terms of subject matter and expression style. In addition, the number of entries this year is considerably higher than last year. In many ways, we see this as a positive sign. Korean titles such as TEARLESS, the next episode of BLOODLESS, which won the award in Venice in 2017, and RED EYES, a new film directed by Lee Seung-moo, who directed SCARECROW, are scheduled to have their World Premiere at Beyond Reality. However, it is a bit disappointing that the overall volume of local (Korean) XR content did not meet the expectations.
J. K. - Since last year, BIFAN and Unity Korea have been working together to discover new talents in content creation. We will present 10 finalists from last year's 'BIFAN x Unity Short Film Challenge' with this occasion as well. Although there are still many rooms to be filled in terms of completeness, we rather focused on interesting ideas or approaches. Beyond Reality continues to contribute to the establishment of an active global co-production and creative infrastructure.
Beyond Reality 2021: new steps
J. K. - Oculus Quest 2 based contents are in number. It appears to be considering distribution on online platforms including the Oculus Store, and is expected to contribute to the expansion of the meaningful XR content market. Still, the presence of animation is more remarkable than that of live action. It is also seen that production methods, such as Quill, that can produce content more easily, are becoming more common. On the other hand, titles made with Volumetric Capture are also noteworthy.
J. K. - Works that have been highlighted at acclaimed festivals like Tribeca Film Festival i.e. JAILBIRDS, MADRID NOIR, MARCO & POLO GO ROUND, PAPER BIRDS, THE PASSENGERS, MISSING PICTURES EP. 2: TSAI MING-LIANG are very much intriguing and I chose these titles in my selection as well. And at the same time, I also would like to focus on MASKMAKER by Innerspace VR and Korean XR titles such as TEARLESS and BEODEURUN: SOUNDMAP PROJECT IN MULTI SPACE.
J. K. - Also, for some titles we prepared multiple ways of experience. For GOODBYE MR. OCTOPUS and BEODEURUN: SOUNDMAP PROJECT IN MULTI SPACE, the audience can experience in both ways: 360VR and 6DoF interactive. For BEAT, a version using a haptic device designed for the work is also on display. And RAIN FRUITS, which was invited last year, will be screened again with Korean dubbed version. Myanmar worker 'Tura', who wrote the original novel for this work, has not been able to confirm whether he is alive or dead after returning to Myanmar. To pray for his well-being and to show solidarity and support for the Myanmar crisis, this piece will be re-screened, and this version is a new narration (in Korean) with the voice of a Burmese friend of the original author Tura.
Baobab studio showcase
J. K. - Back in 2019, we hosted Atlas V Spotlight. We were planning to focus on one studio each year, but in the second year (last year) the plan was changed several times due to the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, so we couldn't. This year we managed to re-start our initiative and are happy to hold Baobab Studios who has deeply inspired contemporary artists through innovative works every time. With Baobal Studios Spotlight, we introduce 5 titles including 3 newly released pieces. Actually, I wanted to include JACK VR, but it is very sad that our budget and overall circumstances were not favoring us.
J. K. - In the case of Erick Oh's NAMOO, both the VR animated version and the theatrical version come to the Bucheon Film Festival at the same time. I am excited to see that the content meets audiences through multiple platform, and I expect it would be a good chance to understand the future of content by comparison.
XR3 and Beyond Reality
J. K. - XR3 is meaningful in that it is an attempt by several international film festivals to jointly organize an exhibition and expand the exhibition area with offline partners. There are two reasons why Beyond Reality became an offline exhibition partner for XR3. First, I wanted to open up an opportunity for Korean audiences to meet invited films for international film festivals in a situation where the sky is blocked by the COVID-19. Through this, visitors will be able to access more works in diversity and discover some trends. Second, I wanted to introduce the virtual exhibition platform Museum of Other Realities (MOR) where the XR3 exhibition is taking place. MOR is specialized in content exhibition and is evolving more and more beautifully, and has a user interface that is easy for networking as well as viewing works.
J. K. - I think last year's Canne XR exhibition was also very successful (they held a virtual exhibition at MOR last year). In particular, we can view 360 VR works together and take pictures within the piece, and the installation in the exhibition space is just as impressive as the real exhibition. However, it is also true that it is a little difficult for the general public to experience this exhibition while having adequate equipment and overcoming technical difficulties. I wanted to let many people, not just experts and guru in this industry, experience this new platform of exhibition. We decided to participate as an offline exhibition partner in the hope that the audience will have an expanded exhibition experience through a futuristic interface.