January 19th, 2021 | by Mathieu Gayet

French Immersion releases "FR//XR", a handbook for immersive producers

Following a 10-month piloting period, French Immersion partners and Kaleidoscope are pleased to present “FR//XR: A HANDBOOK FOR IMMERSIVE PRODUCERS”, highlighting insights from some of the most influential voices of the XR industry.

Launched by the founders of the French Immersion program (the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the USA, CNC, Institut Français, UniFrance and FACE Foundation), FR//XR is an initiative to determine how to best fund, produce and distribute immersive experiences, including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The implementation of the project has been entrusted to Kaleidoscope, the largest global platform for VR creators and industry members.

Immersive technologies, and VR in particular, offer a possibility of creating unique digital experiences, from narrative and interactive stories, to blockbuster games and exceptional social events. Immersive producers are forced to navigate in a challenging environment: there is not one production or distribution model for immersive experiences, as virtual creation lies at the crossroads between film, gaming, visual arts and performing arts. There is no mass XR market yet. The pandemic of COVID-19 has changed the way we access culture and media, and shacked the emerging immersive industry.

For decades France has been a great supporter of talented digital creators and producers as shown by the representation of French virtual productions in major international festivals. However, with a concentration of technology companies, online platforms, LBE and museums, it is the US market that is key for producers who wish to expand and find new business opportunities.

By writing this handbook, the French Immersion partners want to identify the main opportunities and challenges of building a successful collaboration between the French and American XR markets. They aimed to inspire immersive producers and developers to fund and distribute their content in different ways, reaching out to new partners, and introducing new collaboration and sales strategies.

The overall message from industry leaders who shared their vision with us is that despite an unstable and turbulent time, in 2021 we are looking forward to a more diverse market with a large number of new business opportunities:

  • A quicker adoption could be stimulated by non-gaming industries (B2B, B2C) asleaders expect a great deal of new investments within education, training, healthcare and enterprise.
  • There is a growing need for new types of content, both in terms of formats and genres. Event-based content, live or real-time components, as well as easily-accessible AR experiences are mentioned as something to look up to. In the field of entertainment and culture, a more social approach is in demand (social XR, multiplayer experiences).
  • In terms of production strategy, a multiplatform-oriented model and a more templatized pipeline are recommended to create and diversify compelling experiences (create a strong IP, develop a series instead of a one-off, adapt your VR experience to other formats).

The handbook includes:

  • In overview of the VR market in the US, and some of the changes induced by COVID-19.
  • An analysis of business models for immersive media with focus on funding and other forms of support provided by platforms, technology and telecommunications companies, as well as online and location-based distribution possibilities.
  • Practical recommendations how to expand to the US market.
  • Interviews with twelve industry leaders representing best French immersive studios, Tribeca Film Festival, Epic Games, Hewlett-Packard, HTC Vive, Microsoft, Unity, and many more.
  • A useful map of key actors in the North American XR industry.

While working on the handbook we conducted a thorough research, ran two industry surveys receiving over five hundred responses, and co-hosted a series of seven online events, welcoming more than twenty-five high-profile XR experts who discussed the changes induced by the COVID-19 pandemic. The organization of these sessions was generously supported by Cannes XR/Marché du Film, New Images Festival/ Forum des Images and We Are Museums.

The handbook will be made available on January 21st here.

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