Sundance 2018: VR and a Kardashian

It’s true, a Kardashian walked right in front of us on main street. We think it was Khloe. We’re pretty sure we saw Ethan Hawk twice. We watched tributes to Tupac and poetry at the arts and inclusion reception. We also saw a screening of some cool short films presented by Lenny, a preview to Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner’s translation of their newsletter into a new HBO series. But the highlight of Sundance was learning about amazing ways VR is being used in film and other entertainment spaces.

We loved designing for Mozilla’s VR the People panel supporting creators in the mixed reality space, and were super excited to be in attendance. The talk focused on how VR storytelling is pushing boundaries in the film and entertainment industry and featured Mozilla Senior Vice President of Emerging Technologies Sean White, founder and CEO of Emblematic Group Nonny de la Peña, artist and entertainer Reggie Watts, and immersive director Chris Milk, CEO of WITHIN. We also had the chance to participate in immersive journalism for Emblematic Group by giving our thoughts on camera about women in technology, to be used in an upcoming “immersive volumtetric demonstration” piece with leading edge VR.

The Sundance’s New Frontier Institute supports independent artists working at the intersections of art and technology. Their space is where all the VR happened, and it was super exciting work to see.

A few of our favorites:

Chorus by Tyler Hurd

Group of 6 of us were able to experience VR together as female warriors fighting evil. We each chose a gem stone and were then transformed into our character. Giant cats ran next to us through a meteor shower. Lasers blasted from our hands. We saw, heard and felt all of this through our light weight equipment, including SubPacs which allowed us to feel the action through vibrations on our backs. We battled, we died, we were re-born together and triumphed. It was awesome.

SPHERES: Songs of Space and Time by Eliza McNitt

Someone came out of this saying they had just had a spiritual experience. It was true, SPHERES connected body and mind in about 10 minutes. This dreamy, science-y experience transported us to space, tapping into auditory and visual senses. We saw and heard stars being born, looked down into a black hole, watched and listened as our voices became disruptive ripples in the universe. The experience was ethereal and informative, and we’re eager to see what McNitt does next.

We left Sundance feeling really excited about the new ways VR is being used beyond gaming. Efforts by Mozilla, Nonny de la Peña and others to make these technologies accessible to the average person should help change the way we think about emerging technologies, creativity, even activism. The Brigade can’t wait to be a part of it.