Event: interaction and creation at VR Arles Festival
INNOVATION. Launched three years ago, the VR Arles Festival has already changed a lot. Imagined by the photography magazine Fisheye, it welcomed 35,000 people in 2017 and still takes place in the same place, in the premises of the Convent of Saint-Césaire in the old town. It is organized with the same partners, BNP Paribas, Les Rencontres d’Arles and Intel, which supplies the machines, and the vocation does not vary: to show that virtual reality is not just a story of animations for thrills, like a roller coaster or walking over the void, but a deposit of creativity, innovations in storytelling and emotions.
The twenty works proposed until August 26, 2018 are divided into the same categories, fiction, documentaries, artistic creations. ” But we realized that passing people came with their children and we always wondered what to show them, ” notes Benoît Beaume, editor of Fisheye. Hence the addition this year of four works aimed at the youngest (from 6 years old), including a VR version of the Little Prince or the documentary In the skin of Thomas Pesquet, in a specially arranged room.
As in 2017, the festival plays the card of the ceremonial of the classic cinema session. The spectator reserves his place at a ticket office, waits for the session in the shade of plane trees on a chaise longue before being led for the viewing in one of three rooms immersed in darkness and silence. After some instructions on the use, not necessarily obvious to everyone, of a virtual reality headset (several models are available according to the movies, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Acer, Mirage Solo), it’s gone for three, six, twelve, twenty minutes (rarely more) of “projection”.
A real installation more than a film
The novelty lies at the level of interactions. “More and more people have already done virtual reality when they arrive,” explains Benoît Beaume, ” they have tastes, they are looking for something and already have some hindsight on the possible contents.”Hence the idea of giving the spectator more opportunities to intervene in the 2018 selection. This is particularly the case with the immersive experience that won the award for best film. Treehugger: Wawona consists of a dive around and inside a giant redwood tree, following the path of a drop of water from the roots to the top of the tree. But it is more than a film but a real installation. Wearing his helmet, the spectator is also equipped with sensors on his hands. He is invited to entwine a dummy trunk made of foam, palpate it, press his fingers into it or make his hand run, to perform large movements with his arms and to drive his head into a cavity allowing him to have points of view from inside the trunk. Each action is reflected in the 3D animation.
In I never promised you a garden, the audience must interact with flowers to prevent them from fading and thus bring about the end of the experience. For Firebird : the unfinished, the two controllers of an HTC Vive serve as a hammer and chisel to free an animated statue from a block of stone, before starting a choreography in a museum room.
I never promised you a garden ECAL/Mélanie Courtinat from ECAL on Vimeo.
Less rich in terms of interactions, Staphyloculus is a fun mise en abyme that places the viewer in the Californian desert in the middle of a virtual reality device. We find the cables, the HTC Vive headset and the two infrared emitters on tripod used to delimit the space. Microorganisms cling to the controllers, and at some point the viewer can enter and exit a spherical image (that of the set) that changes in volume.
Roxham 2017, on the other hand, is a pure journalistic documentary devoted to a crossing point of illegal immigration from the United States to Canada. It consists of 32 photographic portraits associated with a sound sketch, but it is the spectator who chooses the order. The short animated film Vaysha VR, adapted from a short story by Bulgarian author Georgi Gospodínov, tells the story of a young girl who sees the past in her left eye and the future in the right. The viewer can therefore, at certain moments, close one or the other to follow two different scenes ! As if the notion of passing time also became virtual…
PRACTICE. VR Arles Festival, until August 26, Saint-Césaire convent in Arles. See the programming on the official website.