June 17th, 2021 | by Mathieu Gayet

MIT Open Documentary Lab teams up with belgian startup Lucidweb for long-year VR showcase

MIT Open Documentary Lab (ODL) has partnered with LucidWeb (Belgium) to make a unique selection of award-winning 360º films by internationally renowned studios & VR content creators available for one year.

Through the lab’s platform Docubase, a curated database of the people, projects, and technologies transforming documentary in the digital age, a global audience now has free access across desktop, mobile and virtual reality headsets, including the latest standalone devices such as the Oculus Quest 2.

While there is a growing amount of quality content for immersive videos, the problem is access.  There are very few distribution services that aggregate them. Through the LucidWeb platform, anyone with access to a web browser can see these videos on an easily navigable platform. It’s an important step in democratizing VR and for the occasion, we put together a collection of noteworthy projects that represent the evolution of 360° documentary.
- MIT Open Documentary Lab Director and Docubase Editorial Director Sarah Wolozin.

Docubase is a place to discover innovative documentary projects and playlists, unearth new work, explore techniques and technologies, and find people pioneering storytelling forms. Through this exciting partnership with LucidWeb, Docubase, for the first time, will show VR content integrated into their site. The films will be available to view on demand via mobile, desktop and VR headsets, made available via one URL. To kickstart the partnership, Docubase has selected 10 360º videos  to showcase.

We are very pleased to be partnering up with MIT’s Docubase, together displaying the cutting edge of 360º videos and the way that these can be experienced by viewers. We want to ensure that the film creators who have spent so much time creating their work, have their films viewed in their entirety and many times, by being easy to access.
- LucidWeb Founder and CEO, Leen Segers

LucidWeb’s first step to democratize VR cinema was taken in 2019, when the company collaborated with VRrOOm to make it possible for a global audience to access a selection of Venice VR festival’s content from the VRrOOm website after the physical festival ended. Several film festivals have since followed, knowing that visitors to their content don’t want to or might not be able to download an app to view their content. Whether viewers have a VR headset or are planning to watch 3D content on their phone, they want to be able to access these films simply by going to a website and hitting play.

By clicking the “Visit the project” link in any of the Docubase project pages below, you’ll be able to watch any of these gold star immersive media works on your browser — no headset needed! 

The Best of International Cinema in VR

  1. 12 SECONDS OF GUNFIRE is a 360º video experience produced by The Washington Post and directed by Washington Post design editor Suzette Moyer and senior developer Seth Blanchard, that tells the story of a first-grader’s journey of trauma and loss following a school shooting.
  2. ACCUSED #2: WALTER SISULU is a beautifully animated immersive video by Gilles Porte and Nicolas Champeaux based on the 256 hours of audio recordings of the Rivonia trial, where Walter Sisulu, Nelson Mandela and 6 other persons fought against apartheid. 
  3. BLOODLESS, directed by Gina Kim, poignantly retraces the true story of a camp town sex worker murdered by an American soldier in South Korea in 1992. Portraying the last hours of her life in the camp town, this 360° film transposes a historical and political issue into a personal and concrete experience. 
  4. COLLISIONS by Lynette Wallworth is a groundbreaking 360° film. This Emmy-winning immersive video places audiences in the world of indigenous elder Nyarri Morgan and the Martu tribe of Australia. Morgan relays his first hand account of an atomic bomb test and the resulting collision between his Indigenous culture and the Western world. It’s a visceral and powerful exploration of the collision of two cultures and the threat to environmental conservation and sustainability.
  5. HIGHRISE: OUT MY WINDOW is a National Film Board of Canada Emmy-winning web documentary by filmmaker Katerina Cizek that explores highrise living around the world. It is the oldest example of 360° video in our collection, with panoramic videos shot on a 360° Yellowbird video camera in 2010. 
  6. NOTES ON BLINDNESS: INTO DARKNESS is an immersive award-winning film directed by Arnaud Colinart, Amaury La Burthe, Peter Middleton, and James Spinney, beautifully animated to an audio-diary that writer John Hull recorded over three years to document his experience slowly going blind. Using 360°, binaural audio and real time 3D animations, the film seeks to fully immerse the user in Hull’s interior vision of the world “beyond sight” and his increasing perception of “acoustic space.”
  7. STEP TO THE LINE is a 360° documentary by Brazilian filmmaker Ricardo Laganaro that aims to provoke a shift in the viewer’s eyes about prisoners, the prison system, and themselves by showing the common humanity, differing realities, and racial biases experienced by the inmates and volunteers.
  8. THE OTHER DAKAR is a dreamlike 360º film by Selly Raby Kane in which the viewer follows a girl in her journey through “The Other Dakar”, a place where artists hold the secret wonders of the city. Produced by South African nonprofit Electric South, this piece is also about breaking socio-geographical boundaries of 360º video production.
  9. THE WAITING ROOM is a BAFTA award-winning documentary by Victoria Mapplebeck. Shot entirely on an iPhone X, this documentary follows the intimate moments through the cancer treatment process from the filmmaker’s point of view as a patient.
  10. THIS IS CLIMATE CHANGE is a four-part series by Danfong Dennis and Eric Strauss that gives us a direct 360° look at how humans are affecting multiple ecosystems on our planet. This immersive and visceral experience brings the viewer to the frontlines of climate change.

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