Sundance’s ‘biodigital’ film festival will try to bridge the gap between VR and reality

Next year’s Sundance Film Festivalwill rating a momentous return to Park City, Utah, after in-person festivities were cancelled last year. But Sundance isn’t giving up on the digital scaffolds it used to stream films and bring cinephiles into a VR social hub last-place January. As part of its New Frontier exhibition, Sundance plans to expand The Spaceship, its virtual venue where attendees can chat together and explore VR and mixed world artwork installations.

In an effort to connect Sundance’s in-person attendees with its world online audience, the Festival will too propel a “Biodigital Bridge” in Park City. Shari Frilot, Sundance’s Senior Programmer and Chief Curator of New Frontier, describes it as a human-scale screen where physical and digital attendees will be able to interact with each other. Developed together with the immersive studio Active Theory, the connect will give basic converse help, but it’s principally a mode for Sundance-goers to see how other attendees experience the event.

Sundance New Frontier curator Shari Frilot.Sundance New Frontier curator Shari Frilot.Sundance Film Festival

Frilot says New Frontier has been propagandizing the concept of biodigital knowledge for several years now, predominantly through an exploration of how technology can meet with our lives. Think of the path that an app like Uber, or even Google Maps, has reshaped the lane we steer physical spaces. But now that the pandemic has forced us to are dependent upon our tech more than ever — Sundance wouldn’t be feasible without it last year, after all — the word seems almost prescient. It’s more than really a buzzword: Frilot says she’s interested in exploring the technology that best provides humanity, or Team Human, as media theorist Douglas Rushkoff articulated it.

Last year, I saw Sundance’s online platform last year to be a fascinating acces to explore the gala and interact with supporters. The core of the experience is the aforementioned Spaceship, which grants attendees on computers and VR headsets to mull about together. On a laptop or desktop, it resembles a stripped down version of Second Life. You are walking as simplistic avatars, and if you have selected, you can also flip on your webcam, which completes your avatar’s chief with a live video feed. Since Sundance’s programme is built on WebXR, a road to deliver virtual reality over the web, you can enter that same cavity in VR by slipping on any headset and inspecting Sundance’s website.

Sundance Film Festival 2022 New FrontierSundance Film Festival

Compared to SXSW’s VR platform, which seemed beautiful but chiefly felt like a virtual barren, it was clear that Sundance got something right last year. After isolating for most of 2020, being able to see many of my cinephile friends in VR concluded last year’s Sundance feel special. So for next year, Frilot says, the fete is going even further. The Spaceship will be upgraded with a brand-new Cinema House, where attendees on computers and VR headsets can goal episodes livestreamed from Park City, as well as room-scale discussions.

On the floor, Sundance will too have a new infinite announced The Craft, which will let in-person attendees visit New Frontier exhibits, artist discussions and committees. There will too be VR headsets to use, though the carnival is also encouraging people to generate their own gear if they’ve got it. Sundance hasn’t finalise its directory of New Frontier exhibits more, but Frilot tells me numerous creators are optimizing for the Oculus Quest 2, so fest-goers can experience their work without being connected to a PC. But there will likely still be fragments that require a serious VR rig. Sundance’s famed Egyptian theater will also host some New Frontier concerts, which will occur both on the sand and virtually on the Spaceship.

Sundance's new virtual Cinema House.

You’ll need a $50 Sundance Explorer Pass to access all of these virtual goodies, which is doubled what it rate last year. It’s a pity to see the price mount so fast, but it’s too pondering of the deeper commitment the fair is impelling in its digital scaffolds. Notably, the Explorer Pass is also open to people around the world, whereas Sundance’s virtual screenings are limited to U.S. attendees.

“[ The virtual programme] is not just this thing that we’re trying, we’re actually double-faced down on this, ” Frilot says. “This points to the vital landscape of how cinema and storytelling is going to evident[ going forward ]. We’re now to not only contribute to it, but to meet it and patronize it.”

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