Sundance’s Curator Explains Why Virtual Has Become Reality
This article originally appeared in [a]list Daily
By John Gaudiosi
This year will likely be etched in history as the birth of virtual reality beyond gaming. At the 2015 Sundance Film Festival (which just wrapped up February 1), the majority of the New Frontier technology projects focused on VR. Everywhere you turned there was someone immersed in a short story being told through an Oculus Rift, Google Cardboard, or Samsung Gear VR. Indie developers have embraced the technology that was literally born at this very festival three years ago, when Lucky Palmer debuted his Oculus VR prototype to attendees in collaboration with journalist Nonny de la Peña for the VR experience, “Hunger in Los Angeles.”
Shari Frilot, who’s been curator of the New Frontier showcase since 2007, watched as Luckey’s technology first wowed gamers through Kickstarter, then enticed Mark Zuckerberg to pay $2 billion for Oculus VR, opened up new gaming experiences like CCP Games’ “EVE Valkyrie” (which was on display at last year’s New Frontier), and now has given independent filmmakers a brand new medium to explore storytelling. Frilot explains why Hollywood is mesmerized by VR and why storytellers are experimenting with gamification in this exclusive interview from the festival.
What impact do you see companies like Facebook, Samsung and Sony getting behind VR having on it as a medium for filmmakers of all types?
There’s a certain validating quality to it, but there’s also the resources, experience, and the financial power and infrastructure that these companies can provide to something that’s quite experimental at this stage. It paves the way for others to make the leap to this medium.
It’s important that Facebook bought Oculus because people know what Facebook is. They maybe didn’t know what virtual reality was, but Facebook buying Oculus creates an awareness of what virtual reality even is. So on the basic level of pop culture awareness, it really helps.
Companies like Sony, Samsung, and Fox have infrastructures that they’re invested in bringing things to market. So they can be there to work with the content creators to get things finished, and to pick up the slack financially to make sure that works get made and advertised. Remember, anything that you’re trying to put out there that’s telling a story also has to be marketed, so all that experience of marketing and distribution will be tapped to grow this field of virtual reality.
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