The world-renowned film festival steps up its virtual offerings of experimental films and interactive experiences.
It’s been over two years since COVID-19 entered our lives, drastically altering the way we socialize, work, and live our day-to-day lives. Nearly every industry, from entertainment to education, has felt the impact of government lockdown protocols and quarantines, but few more so than the live events industry.
This includes the Tribeca Film Festival, which has for the past several years offered a virtual counterpart to its in-person Tribeca Immersive showcase in Tribeca, New York as a way for visitors to experience a hand-picked selection of groundbreaking immersive films and interactive experiences from the safety and comfort of their homes. That said, this year’s virtual showcase might be its most impressive yet.
Beginning now until Sunday, June 19th, anyone with a PC VR or Meta Quest (via Air Link or Virtual Desktop) headset can access a wide range of immersive content ranging from thought-provoking documentaries and fictional short films to genre-defying interactive experiences. While it may sound strange, what excites me most about this year’s virtual showcase is its accessibility. Built by VR creative director Dani Bittman using a combination of VR art tools such as Tilt Brush and Gravity Sketch, the virtual event space is tailor-made for VR headsets and extremely easy to navigate.
In order to access the Tribeca Immersive showcase in VR, you first need to download The Museum of Other Realities, an immersive multiplayer art showcase. The app itself is free, as is the “Immersive Arcade: The Showcase” DLC you need to download in order to access the event. Once in VR, you’re greeted by a vast museum hallway. Here you can customize your personal avatar and learn more about how to communicate with other visitors, snap photos in VR, and interact with the world itself.
There are even a handful of virtual cocktails you can access by reaching over your shoulder and pulling the trigger on your motion controller. Each of these digital beverages features its own unique effects when drunk. The green drink, for example, will turn you into a virtual giant, while the pink beverage shrinks you down to miniature size. Of course, you can always toss down the blue cocktail to revert back to normal. It may sound like a small addition, but it’s these types of details that help bring the venue to life.
Once you’re nice and tipsy, you can then make your way to the main event space. It’s in this colorful plaza that you’ll find every immersive project available for viewing. Each experience features its own unique entryway that serves as an extension of the project itself. Not only does this add a bit of character, it actually helps immerse you in the experience before it even begins, just like the physical exhibits you’d find at the in-person event in NYC.
After paying the $4.99 entrance fee, you can then access each project by making contact with the glowing platforms situated in front of each exhibit. There’s also a miniature exhibit located at the center of the plaza that you can shrink down and explore at your leisure.
We’re still making our way through the full catalog of projects available as part of this year’s showcase, but what we’ve seen so far has us eager to try the rest. Here are just a few incredible projects that we’ve discovered so far:
- Glimpse (Benjamin Cleary, Michael O’Connor) – In this interactive animated VR short, we follow Herbie (Taron Egerton) and his girlfriend Rice (Lucy Boynton) as they navigate the hurdles of a modern-day relationship. In addition to the phenomenal voice acting and eye-catching visuals, this surreal VR film features several interactive moments designed to further engage you in the story. The result is an emotionally-draining VR experience that will leave you contemplating your relationships with others; that is when you’re not crying into your headset.
- Planet City VR (Liam Young) – Imagine if the entirety of humankind lived in a single city composed of various races, religions, and cultures. That’s the premise behind Planet City VR, a thought-provoking 3D animated VR film centered around Planet City, a fictional metropolis inhabited by over 10 billion people. Narrated by a young climate activist, the film raises awareness around the devastating effects of global warming, serving as a warning of what could happen if left unchecked.
- Emerging Radiance: Honoring the Nikkei Farmers of Bellevue (Tani Ikeda, Michelle Kumata) – Best described as a hand-painted animated mural, Emerging Radiance tells the stories of three Japanese-American farmers who found their lives suddenly uprooted after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor during the Second World War. Each subject recounts their lives before, during, and after their time in WWII internment camps. The project offers an unfiltered look at an often-overlooked portion of American history in a visually-captivating manner. The experience is also available as a Spark AR Instagram filter.
As stated previously, these are just a few of the incredible projects we’ve tried so far. Tribeca Immersive’s virtual exhibit features a dozen projects to explore, with even more available on location at the physical exhibit in Tribeca, NY. We’ll be covering more of these ground-breaking projects over the coming week so be sure to check back regularly.
Tribeca Immersive is open to the public now until Sunday, June 19th. Those looking to access the virtual showcase will need a PC VR or Meta Quest (via Air Link or Virtual Desktop) headset. While The Museum of Other Realities app is free, you will need to pay the $4.99 admission fee in order to enjoy the full selection of content.
For a full breakdown of this year’s projects visit here.
Image Credit: Tribeca