March 03rd, 2023 | by Mathieu Gayet

“We need to better support our approach to audiences interested in immersive art” - Michele Ziegler (NewImages 2023)

NewImages Festival returns from April 5 to 9 with a program still focused on professionals, but also two markets, conferences and meetings within the Industry Days, without forgetting the Competition and a weekend for the public. This will demonstrate the multiplicity of immersive formats to be explored in the future. First deciphering with its president since the 2022 edition, Michele Ziegler.

NewImages Festival, April 5-9 2023 (Paris, France)

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NewImages, the Hub all year round

Michele Ziegler - With the Hub, we want to integrate NewImages even more into the Forum des images. It's an important cultural venue in Paris, which can be put at the service of the XR ecosystem more regularly. We want to share even more feedback on the works, give the general public renewed access, offer new sessions to professionals before the festival (in particular to prepare them for the Market's pitches, give them an opportunity to meet around the Residencies, for example)... We want it to be a place that is totally identified as welcoming immersive experiences, from the writing to the distribution of each project!

M. Z. - We want to structure and develop our approach to the industry, around the cycle of residencies launched in previous years. During our calls for projects, we realized that new entrants to the sector - coming from other creative industries in particular - did not have all the keys to understanding XR. We want to support them better, because every story deserves it! We need to be able to intervene on a more regular basis throughout the year. The Hub will allow us to strengthen our relationships with our various partners, and offer more opportunities to the selected projects.

M. Z. - The immersive world today is diverse: online, LBE, interactive or not... Being able to be present on a continuous basis will allow us to identify over time what works, and to imagine new devices at our place or at our partners. I really want us to be able to meet the needs of authors and associated events.

NewImages launches its Hub: a year-round, international supportive networking for XR creators

A renewed 2023 edition

M. Z. - The festival in 2023 is a transitional edition. We received the same number of works as last year, about 110. For the Development Market, we even received more applications! However, this is a year in which we want to diversify even more the formats we receive, especially with the installation of a dome to project dedicated content. This is a program that we are building specifically, with a real potential: the network of domes and planetarium is rather attractive! In the same effort, we need to open our spaces even more to the most varied forms possible.

NewImages 2022

M. Z. - You really have to consider the specificity of XR and each format. There are real fields of exploration in 360 video. There are video games that break away from the video game sphere to propose social issues. There are devices that look more like theater, with real staging. Social networks favor the emergence of new formats on Instagram or Snapchat. We can envisage "augmented" web-series. The opportunity for new stories is great! It's up to us to make them accessible...

First conferences...

  • EcoXR: how to produce an eco-responsible virtual world (workshop): how to create a sustainable immersive experience (led by Landia Egal),
  • EcoXR: saving the planet, one virtual reality at a time (conference): designing and producing responsibly (with Landia Egal, Camille Pène, Martin Lambert and Yann Garreau),
  • Unlocking empathy and enhancing self-reflection through new storytelling tools and technologies (conference), during which artist Aya Ben Ron will present her work Field Hospital X,
  • The Changing Face of Exhibitions: A Cultural Odyssey (roundtable) with Julie Corver, Tal Michael Haring, Guillaume Aniorté and Ulrich Schrauth, who will rethink exhibitions in the XR era.

... and case studies :

  • Diane Ranville and Pierre Cattan will present their comic book project, "La Horde du Contrevent",
  • Christopher Lane Davis will talk about "Gumball Dreams",
  • Victorine van Alphen about "IVF-X"!

Workshops will be dedicated to the video game world (Level Up: From Gaming to XR), to the question of representations (Representation Matters: A Workshop on Inclusive Storytelling) or to the promotion of one's XR project (Promoting Your XR Project: Tips and Tricks)!

NewImages 2022

Welcoming the public to the Forum des images

M. Z. - NewImages is one of the few festivals specialized in XR, and it is a real opportunity to work on the distribution of dedicated works to the general public - in addition to receiving professionals during Industry Days. One of the points of evolution for us is to go and find audiences around the Forum, and this all year round. Two days is not a lot of time. We are located in the heart of Paris, in a city with a lot of potential. But all of this requires partners and adapted mechanisms. For example, we discuss with school groups to bring them to the new narratives, and welcome them regularly. For the festival, we try to renew our proposal to open the Competition to the general public, etc.

NewImages 2022

M. Z. - 85% of our participants come from abroad, we must also think about this in our programming. This is our second approach, and it involves promoting projects, proposing workshops between creators, and defining the type of works that we can host. There is a dialogue in this sense with all of our accredited artists, who are sometimes programmers themselves. The immersive experience for culture, the arrival of web3, the new trends... NewImages is one of the essential points of discussion for the industry, with an audience of qualified professionals.

M. Z. - We must experiment at all levels. That's why NewImages accompanies studies and research on audience typologies, etc. There are still keys to understanding, and this can be useful to everyone. How to receive the public, to propose an immersion which respects the work as well as possible, to define the access and the price? We can imagine different types of events, consider a global storytelling within the Forum or our selections, ... It is our will to be able to work on these subjects of programming and moderation towards the public. Mediation with each spectator is essential! It is a discussion that we also have with the creators. How to better understand the meeting with the public?

NewImages 2022

Developing the XR ecosystem

M. Z. - There's a part of the XR ecosystem that wants to open up - including finding new distribution opportunities. This is essential to find new audiences. There are many initiatives towards virtual worlds (the metaverse) in France, Europe and elsewhere. Is this a real opportunity? It is to be followed, but we depend here on the political decisions that will result from it. This is where the XR community has a real job to do in order to discuss the next evolutions, especially in France with the different existing associations. And the potential is there!

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