Our series of inspirational talks will help you find out where this immersive frenzy is going, why cinema should be open to using XR and what benefits film professionals can get from, or bring to XR. Whatever your field and level of expertise – be it film, tech or other – join us to hear some exciting case studies and learn about creating and distributing immersive content!
9.00 – 9.10 Welcome 9.10 – 9.40 Evette Vargas, “The Art of Writing Immersive XR Narrative” 9.55 – 10.25 Iris Verhoeven, “Digital Experiments in the Search for Film Experience for Children and Youngsters” 10.40 – 11.10 Marina Petrakova, “Do I Create an XR Experience or Does It Create Me?”
A short break – 10 minutes
11.35 – 12.05 Rich Warren, “Introducing Immersive Storytelling to Traditional Audiences” 12.20 – 12.50 Pierre Friquet, “Immersive Technologies at a Crossroad: Mature for the Experts but Still Obscure for the General Public?” 13.05 – 13.35 Sandra Gaudenzi, “Immersion, Beyond VR” 13.50 – 14.00 Closing statement by the moderator & organizers
Join Evette Vargas, award-winning writer, director, producer and immersive storyteller, for an in-depth presentation and demonstration about how to write professional scripts for immersive, XR narrative experiences. Vargas has written XR experiences for The Current War, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Dark Prophet, starring Henry Rollins, among others.
Evette Vargas is an award-winning writer, director, producer and immersive storyteller. Named by the New York Times as an “Artist to Watch,” Evette has produced series for Amazon, MTV, Bravo, DirectTV; and interactive content for Fast And Furious, Lord Of The Rings trilogy, Madonna and Wu Tang Clan. Evette’s digital series, Dark Prophet, starring Henry Rollins, was in contention for two Emmys. Evette has sold seven pitches, including her drama series, Muses, to TNT Super Deluxe. Evette is creating a drama series for MGM Television with Marc Guggenheim and Rosario Dawson, developing a drama series for Entertainment One with Peter Johnson, and penning the Mix Master Mike feature biopic. Evette wrote, The Current War VR Experience, a companion piece for the film, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, and was commissioned by Final Draft to create the Evette Vargas Immersiveplay — the professional script writing template for VR, AR, XR writing. Evette is a member of the Writers Guild of America, Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and Producers Guild of America.
Iris is director of JEF, the new (since 2017) organisation for youth film in Flanders, Belgium. JEF deals with distribution, film education and media literacy activities in schools and leisure time and organises a yearly youth film festival in 5 cities. The festival has initiated the biggest medialab in Flanders and the online platform JEF in the hospital, a project for children in hospitals and rehabilitation centres, which went international in 2018.
Before she was the business director of the European Youth Film Festival (Het Jeugdfilmfestival) for almost 10 years where she was responsible for the business part and the medialab. Before the festival she worked at the University of Antwerp doing research on museums for contemporary art and the audiovisual field. Previously Iris was the director of a cultural centre in Antwerp. She is a member of the board of directors of oKo (Flemish Federation of Employers in the arts sector) and of Sociare (sociocultural employers federation).
Iris studied Politics and Sociology, Comparative Cultural Sciences and Cultural Management and resided two years in Barcelona for studying Catalan language and art at UAB. Last year she finished the LinC leadership programme from the University of Utrecht and Antwerp Management School.
Let JEF take you on their journey of digital experiments in the search for more film experience for children and youngsters. Almost a decade ago they started experimenting with digital art installations and games. JEF is a strong believer of the impact that film experiences can have on children and youngsters. Next to more traditional film screenings they have been experimenting with their medialab and VR, AR, MR at their festivals, in educational materials for schools and recently created some own installations that travel around Belgium. This layered content creates more in depth experiences. These experiences enlarges young people’s knowledge on current possibilities and techniques and enlarges empathy and understanding for characters in the stories. They collaborate with a variety of artists and showcase creations of students, professionals but also academic work in progress and even co-create with children when possible. Iris Verhoeven, director of JEF is happy to share insights in this interesting journey they have been on these last 10 years and would be great sharing ideas with participants at Riga IFF.
Immersive technologies have reached a crossroad between maturity for the experts and still obscurity for the general public. Yet, so often confused with a futuristic cinema, VR already has its own language. The uncharted territory of the new grammar draws from ancient traditions such as cave painting and oral storytelling. VR goes beyond traditional storytelling and captures the idea that engaging the audience requires interaction between the content and the user. In any virtual reality experience, you become an avatar of yourself, or a digital body in which you live and act within.Where am I? What am I? What can I do?
This talk will reveal the new forms of immersive human-computer interactions, establishing body-based storytelling techniques. It will expand on both the grammar and workflow of immersive and interactive productions
Sorcerer’s apprentice, PYARé is a digital artist, creating immersive worlds. His intent is to make people reconnect with their body and sense of self through art and technology. Coming from a film background he focuses on creating content for the 3rd digital revolution, which is designing Reality through spatial computing (VR, AR, …).
Passionate in virtual reality since 2010, he has designed more than a dozen XR experiences (interactive, fiction, documentaries, dome, music videos). His VR original fiction (co-created with Ando Shah), JETLAG, won the best live-action award at the Kaleidoscope VR festival Vol. 1 and was selected at Cannes Next in 2016. RED PATTERNS, a room-scale VR experience for the HTC Vive, was selected at the World VR Forum and was awarded at the Festival du Nouveau Cinema in Montreal.
His latest independent VR work is SPACED OUT, selected at Sundance New Frontier 2020. It’s an aquatic VR experience which uses the first waterproof VR headset by Ballast Technologies, that allows users to be submerged in a swimming pool while breathing from a snorkel.
Recently I directed the most attended multi-users VR social live concert for Jean-Michel Jarre. It was a world breaking record with nearly 3,000 VR users and 600,000 streamers watching live for Music Day on 21st of June 2020. After living in India, South Africa and Canada, he’s now based in Paris, France.
Selected VR works
2020 ALONE TOGETHER – virtual concert for Jean-Michel Jarre – 40 min
2019 SPACED OUT – aquatic VR experience for world’s first waterproof VR headset – 9 min
2017 RED PATTERNS –interactive VR experience for HTC Vive, 8 min
2016 WHITE PATTERNS – 360° fiction, 21 min
2016 BLACK PATTERNS – immersive dome fiction, 31 min
Do I create an XR experience or does it create me?
Array of spheres that employ VR is vast – it ranges from marketing to film industry and from modern coaching experiences to setting boundaries of the new feminism.
VR is often looked at from the perspective of business and content creation but in 2020 – a year marked by the Covid-19 pandemic – it is clear that the XR industry is not only an extension of conscience or business development tool but also a habit that can make a change in human perception. What am I capable of? How do I look? In what kind of society I live in? What are my creator’s boundaries in the XR industry? And finally – who are the creators of XR?
Consciously or unconsciously XR changes general perceptions and creates opportunities in all spheres, from rehabilitation and education to creation of micro communities and development of innovative products. How does society benefit from it? And why is it a unique habit that shows new opportunities without assessing the content quality? This talk will look into why it is beneficial for all sides involved that the XR world is diverse. And, after all, is diversity a trend or a new ethical necessity?
Having a clinical background by education, Marina has diverse experience working in tech startups and healthcare sectors turning her to love developing innovative solutions of XR and delivering out of the bubble therefore highlighting additional value in different sectors from healthcare to education. Marina has extensive experience in building diverse and inclusive learning space being a core team member of Riga TechGirls community for 5 years, organized more than 60 workshops and 2 hackathons to educate and inspire women in tech. Co-founded VREACH company aimed to deliver VR experiences as therapeutical approach in rehabilitation and currently operates as CEO.
Participated in various cross-industry projects as team leader, XR visionary and mentor, – more than 20 hackathons, among all Riga Goes VR 2018 Best Idea prize winner and Riga Goes VR 2019 grand-prix winner with VR experience for adaptational trainings in autism which currently is part of startup VREACH.
In 2018 she co-founded the Extended Reality community of Latvia aimed to provide transparency of the XR industry among experts.
Serving as RTG IT mentor and ambassador focusing on startups and IT souls to grow.
Introducing Immersive Storytelling to Traditional Audiences
Since its inception Encounters Film Festival has traditionally showcased new and emerging talent in moving image on the cinema screen. In 2016 the festival introduced a new strand, Immersive Encounters, to provide a platform for new and emerging talent who were exploring the moving image beyond the cinema screen. Our intention was to do this organically to gently ease our audience into new XR formats so that they feel comfortable and can focus on the format rather than the technology. This approach has allowed us to introduce not only Virtual Reality to new audiences but also Holographic performances, Augmented Reality and other mixed media art work.
Rich Warren is the Festival Director for Encounters Film Festival, the UK’s leading short film, animation and VR celebration. Based in Bristol, UK, the festival prioritises the showcasing, supporting and progression of new and emerging talent in the moving image. The 26th edition of the festival took place from 18th September to 11th October 2020.
Rich began working for the festival in 2008 however during this time he has also had the opportunity to continue his support of new talent with roles such as the Talent Scout for the National Film and Television School, UK and a sabbatical year in Sydney working with indigenous talent. He also holds an MFA in Curating.
Isn’t it interesting that the word “immersion” has gained traction in the last 5 years with the emergence of VR as a mass media proposition? As if we were not constantly immersed in “physical reality”, as if linear stories were not immersive, as if our fantasy was not the most immersive media ever invented? And even if we wanted to stay within the digital world… Do we really need headsets to feel immersed in a story?
This talk will speak about digitally mediated immersion outside of VR, AR & MR. It will use examples of expanded audio, locative narratives, serious games and immersive museums in order to challenge your notion of immersion. It will question “what do we actually want from immersion” and claim new immersive possibilities in interactive storytelling.
Dr. Sandra Gaudenzi consults, researches, lectures and writes about interactive, immersive and transmedia narratives. She is Course Leader at the University of Westminster of disLAB, the first UK MA to be totally dedicated to interactive storytelling. She has played a leading role in the development of the DCRC’s i-Docs Symposia and website and is part of its research group, with whom she has co-edited and published the book “i-docs: the Evolving Practices of Interactive Documentary”.
Between 2015-18 she was Lead initiator and Head of Studies of IF Lab, a European development lab for digital storytellers. Recent projects include Digital Me (2015) and Corona Haikus (2020).
Emerging Regional Expert in Audio-Visual Content Financing with 10+ Years’ Experience in Culture Management. Raised in a small town of Lithuania, globally minded, networker & promoter by nature. I do consulting on creative content development, public financing strategies within the context of the audio-visual industry. My interests are films, art, culture, video games, innovation, women empowerment & XR. Currently I work with interactive content production company GLUK MEDIA, in my free time I develop a network of Women in Film & Television Lithuania (WIFT LT). Last year I did a Women Go Tech mentorship program and became a coach in the International Coaching Community.