S.Shahna - D.Seitiee

Partners of the VR Lab, Salar Shahna, Creative Director and Delphine Seitiee, Executive Director, co-founders of the World VR Forum, answered our questions.

What is your feedback about World VR Forum 2016 that took place last May in Crans-Montana?

Many things! This first edition could be labeled ”beta version”. We operated in total freedom experimenting and shaping the event following our intuitions.

The task was not easy, but necessary. In 2016, for the first time, VR becomes reality for the general public and new questions are being raised and need answers. Thus, the need to have an open forum mixing researchers such as Professor Philippe Fuchs, working for 20 years on VR; with the brilliant creative technologist and futurist Carl Guyenette, who respectively opened and closed the forum chaired by the eclectic Michel Reilhac. The diversity of the speakers and quality of talks was appreciated by all, and defragmented the debate.

In 2016, for the first time, VR becomes reality for the general public and new questions are being raised and need answers.

It’s fairly safe to assert that in a few years most of us will equipped with VR headsets, the same way we all own smartphones. Therefore, it becomes important to deliver the audience an experience that goes beyond gathering people in a place with HMDs. What we have tested at WVRF Festival, working with the authors, and creating dedicated customized spaces to show their pieces has been test proofed. This is what we have learned, and what was shared to us unanimously by the attendees, confirming we took the right direction in demonstrating VR as a specific new form of art in a collective experience.

Can we affirm that VR is not a passing fad but a true new step of storytelling?

In our opinion, VR is without any doubt a total new medium. While it inherits from art, cinema, and maybe even more from theater; it has its own nature. With VR, the notion of frame doesn’t exist anymore and this is a radical change. The effect it produces on the audience demonstrates that it is here to stay. It is today in an early stage and it will get better and better.

VR is without any doubt a total new medium. While it inherits from art, cinema, and maybe even more from theater; it has its own nature.

Storytelling remains in the heart of VR and needs to define its own grammar. Since its start, some rules have already been set, but they still need refinement; and as technology evolves, the possibilities will go further. The most important thing today is to take advantage of this very unique moment of experimentation and testing in a time where cinema might have just become too framed. VR allows creativity to explode and somehow, indie or majors, every player is equal in this new game.

How can Documentary appropriate VR to open a new dimension to content?

Documentary is about representing reality. In most cases, what is generally called VR documentary consists of 360° movies. Viewing it in the VR headset gives it another perspective thanks to the sense of presence and immersion it delivers.

One important question remains, documentary is not only about capturing the real world, it is about giving a point of view on it.

Therefore, the main challenge for authors is to go beyond a spherical capture of a moment. Doing 360° videos will soon become a common thing with advancement of technology and interactivity will most likely be the key in the coming years. Photogrammetry for instance will allow another level of experience for building striking documentary content in VR.

The main challenge for authors is to go beyond a spherical capture of a moment.

Is it easy to find VR programs on platforms or this offer is still in the early stage of development?

It is just the beginning. We cannot compare the system with the rock solid mechanics of cinema.

The main platforms today are those that were launched by the manufacturers of VR headsets and mobile: Oculus Store (mobile for GearVR, desktop for the Rift); Google PlayStore and Apple App Store for Cardboard and alikes (Homido…); Youtube, Facebook and now Twitter for 360° videos. Also, we need to look carefully at freshly announced Google Daydream which might be the next big thing for mobile VR.

Selection is also an important aspects, and platforms such as Arte360 on mobile offer interesting solutions as containers for content. We need to find the right equation between delivering quality content to users while remunerating the artists.

 We need to look carefully at freshly announced Google Daydream which might be the next big thing for mobile VR.

Why being a Sunny Side partner this year by opening a VR Lab? What are you looking for here?

Sunny Side is a major international hub for professionals working in the realm of documentary. After showcasing amazing VR  in 2015 like The Enemy, it seemed almost natural that such an event increases space and attention given to VR. We expect participants to rise their awareness on possibilities offered by this new medium, and seriously considering it for their future strategies of production and distribution. By taking a major leap this year, Sunny Side foresees the need of building a professional market for virtual reality.

We are convinced that attendees will be sensitive to the quality and diversity of Sunny Side’s VR selection; and we can only be proud teaming up with Jean-Jacques Peretti to succeed that mission.

 By taking a major leap this year, Sunny Side foresees the need of building a professional market for virtual reality.

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Do you have already some key points to announce for WVRF 2017 ?

We do! The first edition gathered a total of 1 500 entries on 3 days, we aim to double for next edition.

We will extend it to 4 days, and open a brand new floor dedicated to market and exhibitors. Our host destination Crans-Montana offers amazing infrastructures for expansion. The heart of the event will remain the congress center Le Régent.

We will also upscale the festival dimension with an increased budget, and deeper collaborations with artists for the installations. While we already had 4 world premieres in 2016, next edition will only be accessible to projects which haven’t been open to the public yet.

New topics in the forum will include distribution and standardisation, while developing on subjects such as transhumanism following David Wood’s skype intervention in the first year. We will also welcome 2 new countries in the debate which are China and Brazil.

Let’s not forget that 2017 will be a moment of assessment, 1 year after VR reaching out to the public, what are the results, economically and emotionally… and what should we expect the upcoming of augmented reality.

Save the dates : May 11-14 2017, Crans-Montana, Switzerland !