Sundance Film Festival’s New Frontier has often been on the sidelines. It’s a section of the film festival dedicated to tech-addled and other innovative projects, those outside typical independent films. This year, the New Frontier program is making a big change, focusing steadfast on virtual reality and augmented reality—with 20 VR experiences, 11 installations, in addition to other projects on display.
Dear Angelica was illustrated fully within VR
Included in the showcase are some familiar things, like the Rez Infinite Synesthesia Suit, a haptic wearable suit that vibrates in beat with the game, which first made an appearance at the Playstation Experience last year and had an installation later in Tokyo. But there are also some notable first-time premieres, such as Dear Angelica, the latest animation from Emmy-award winning Oculus Story Studio. But with this animation, Dear Angelica was fully illustrated within VR using the Oculus Story Studio art tool Quill.
Below is a glimpse of just some of the VR, AR, and other tech-enabled installations and films that will be on display at Sundance’s New Frontier 2017. You can read a full list of all the programs included in Sundance’s 2017 New Frontier here.
Journey to the Center of the Natural Machine / U.S.A. (Artist: Daniella Segal) — From stone axe to super-computer, our brain’s evolution has been guided by our tools, evolving it into the most complicated object in the known universe. Explore a holographic brain with a friend on the Meta 2 Augmented Reality Headset, and rebuild your relationship to the Natural Machine.
NeuroSpeculative AfroFeminism / U.S.A. (Artists: Ashley Baccus-Clark, Carmen Aguilar y Wedge, Ece Tankal, Nitzan Bartov) — A three-part exploration of black women and the roles they play in technology, society and culture—including speculative products, immersive experiences and neurocognitive impact research. Using fashion, cosmetics and the economy of beauty as entry points, the project illuminates issues of privacy, transparency, identity and perception.
Pleasant Places / United Kingdom (Artist: Quayola) — A return to, and a modern elaboration upon, Vincent Van Gogh’s Provence landscapes, this series of digital paintings interrogates and reframes concepts of representation and perception through image manipulation and augmented reality. Using bucolic and contemplative images, juxtaposed with raw data visualization, this project suggests alternate modes of visual synthesis.
Synesthesia Suit: Rez Infinite and Crystal Vibes / Japan (Artists: Tetsuya Mizuguchi, Ayahiko Sato, Kouta Minamizawa) — Experience a multisensory climax with pounding beats and stringed instruments in acclaimed PlayStation 4/PS VR game Rez Infinite, or feel vibrations of candy-colored psychedelic sound rippling through the Crystal Vibes universe. Audiovisual and vibrotactile textures combine to push the frontiers of technology-mediated sensory experience.
VIRTUAL / AUGMENTED REALITY
ASTEROIDS! / U.S.A. (Artist: Eric Darnell) — From the director of Madagascar comes Baobab’s VR animation. Journey the cosmos aboard the spaceship of Mac and Cheez, an alien duo so mission-focused they forget what’s important in life. It’s up to you to show them what really matters. Cast: Eric Darnell.
Chasing Coral: The VR Experience / U.S.A. (Artist: Jeff Orlowski) — Zackary Rago, a passionate scuba diver and researcher, documented the unprecedented 2016 coral bleaching event at Lizard Island on the Great Barrier Reef with this exclusive underwater VR experience.
Chocolate / U.S.A. (Artist: Tyler Hurd) — This VR music video experience for the song “Chocolate” by Giraffage sets you in a cat-centric world of sparkling, colorful chrome with a tribe of people doing a ritualistic dance just for you, their robot god, to provide them with their precious resource, cute lil’ chrome kitties.
Dear Angelica / U.S.A. (Artist: Saschka Unseld, Key Collaborators: Angela Petrella, Wesley Allsbrook, Maxwell Planck, Ryan Thomas) — This project is a journey through the magical and dreamlike ways we remember lost ones and, even though they are gone, what remains of the ones we loved. Cast: Geena Davis, Mae Whitman.
Hue / U.S.A. (Artist: Nicole McDonald, Key Collaborators: KC Austin) — This is an immersive and visually driven interactive film about a man who has lost the ability to see color. Participants reawaken the protagonist’s sense of wonder and imagination through empathetic action as color and connection return to his world view. Cast: David Stratham, Benedikt Negro. (Seen above in the header image.)
Life of Us / U.S.A. (Artists: Chris Milk, Aaron Koblin, Pharrell Williams, Key Collaborators: Megan Ellison, McKenzie Stubbert, Jona Dinges) — This shared VR journey tells the complete story of the evolution of life on Earth.
Melting Ice / U.S.A. (Artist: Danfung Dennis) — We take viewers on a transcendent exploration into the devastating consequences of climate change on Greenland’s ice sheet. Stand under collapsing glaciers, next to raging rivers of ice melt and witness rising sea levels—all visceral warnings of our planet’s future.
Mindshow / U.S.A.(Artists: Gil Baron, Jonnie Ross, Adam Levin, Key Collaborators: Jonnie Ross, Gil Baron) — Make VR cartoons with your body and voice. Teleport into different characters and act out all the parts. Create with your friends by passing scenes back and forth, then share your shows in VR and on social media. Cast: Dana Gould.
Miyubi / Canada (Artists: Félix Lajeunesse, Paul Raphaël, Key Collaborator: Owen Burke) — Experience love and obsolescence as a Japanese toy robot, gifted to a child in the home of a fractured family in 1982 suburban America. Cast: Jeff Goldblum, P.J. Byrne, Emily Bergl, Owen Vaccaro, Richard Riehle, Ted Sutherland, Tatum Kensington Bailey.
Orbital Vanitas / Australia (Artist: Shaun Gladwell, Key Collaborator: BADFAITH) — This virtual reality experience presents a surreal sci-fi mystery and meditation on death. Initially placed in Earth’s orbit, participants soon notice an enigmatic form floating toward them. What takes place next makes perfect use of the VR format.
Out of Exile: Daniel’s Story / U.S.A. (Artist: Nonny de la Peña) — In August 2014, Daniel Ashley Pierce’s family verbally and physically accosted him before kicking him out of the house because they disapproved of his sexuality. Built directly around audio Daniel recorded from that encounter, this project includes thoughts of hope and triumph from Daniel and three other LGBTQ youth. Cast: Daniel Ashley Pierce, Kyle Wills, Julene Renee, Cyntia Domenzain, Angel VanStark, Phoebe VanCleefe.
The Sky is a Gap / U.S.A. (Artist: Rachel Rossin) — The viewer is allowed to precisely move time with space by the use of a positionally tracked headset. Existing in the physical and virtual realms, the installation depicts a pyroclastic explosion inspired by Zabriskie Point, where the scene’s progress is physically mapped to the participant’s forward and backward movement.
Through You / U.S.A. (Artists: Saschka Unseld, Lily Baldwin) — Dance is used to inhabit a common mortal story of love born, lived, lost, burned and seemingly gone forever—only to be found again. Cast: Joanna Kotze, Amari Cheatom, Marni Thomas Wood.
Tree / U.S.A. (Artists: Milica Zec, Winslow Porter, Key Collaborators: Aleksandar Protic, Jacob Kudsk Steensen) — This virtual experience transforms you into a rainforest tree. With your arms as the branches and body as the trunk, you experience the tree’s growth from a seedling to its fullest form and witness its fate firsthand.
What If / U.S.A. (Artist: Rosemarie Troche, Key Collaborator: Bruce Allan) — A conflicted Christian man carries out a mass shooting. In his past: a same-sex hookup and self-loathing. What if events had unfolded differently? What if his partner had convinced him to face himself? Could that simple act change the course of history? Cast: Zachary Booth, Mitchell Winter.
Zero Days VR / U.S.A. (Artists: Scatter, Yasmin Elayat, Elie Zananiri, Key Collaborators: Mei-Ling Wong, Alexander Porter, James George) — The story of a clandestine mission hatched by the U.S. and Israel to sabotage an underground Iranian nuclear facility told from the perspective of Stuxnet, a sophisticated cyber weapon, and a key NSA informant. Audiences experience the high stakes of cyber warfare placed inside the invisible world of computer viruses. Cast: Joanne Tucker, Eric Chien, Liam O’Murchu, Ralph Langner, Olli Heinonen, David Sanger.
The Sundance Film Festival will be underway from January 19th to 19th in Park City, Utah.