Co_Lab_Create at Byron Bay Film Festival

Renowned for cutting edge curation, in its tenth year Byron Bay Film Festival has expanded to include Immersive Content, such as Virtual Reality experiences. Visual Playground founder, Emily Harridge, attended Co_Lab Create at the Festival – a weekend of events and masterclasses specifically aimed at the VFX, Film, Gaming and Virtual/Augmented Reality Industries.

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Emily was invited to speak on one of the Virtual Reality panels. Throughout the event, the panellists discussed the potential benefits of VR, how mass adoption might occur, what content is being created and the narrative possibilities VR presents for filmmakers. Speakers were overwhelmingly optimistic about what the future holds for VR in the world of film and beyond.

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The general consensus was that VR is a great new medium for experimentation – no rules apply in the land where none has gone before. From 360 videos to positional tracking and volumetric VR (“true VR”), VR is a constantly evolving medium.

Although there are no hard and fast rules, VR certainly has technical requirements. Content creators should be conscience of disparate camera heights and overtly fast camera movement, which can make viewers nauseous (unless, of course, this is the intention).

So what of these new, uncharted territories? Legendary Australian actor Jack Thompson discussed the potential VR has for crafting stories from the first person perspective. Brandon D’Silva further explored POV in his short VR film in which viewers inhabit two perspectives – that of the Character’s Point of View (CPV) and the Immersive Passive View (IPV).

Co_Lab Create brought together leading representatives from around Australia, New Zealand and the US of which Emily was the only Melburnian. Writer-director Oden Roberts spoke about pushing the limits, constructing narratives and shared his experiences from working in the US film industry. Go Pro’s Jordan Miller showcased the new GoPro Omni™. Autodesk demonstrated photogrammetry software and some of the new tools in their suite of products.

An array of new VR content was screened, with I, Phillip and Home having Australian premieres at the Festival. I, Philip is a French immersive short fiction piece, shot in stereoscopic 3D while Home is a fully interactive, real-time rendered simulation of a spacewalk.

The jam-packed two-day workshop was organised by festival director J’aimee Skippon-Volke as a networking, collaborative think-tank. Professionals looking to develop their technical knowledge and unleash their creativity were certainly able to do so at Co_Lab Create, whilst enjoying the beautiful coastal backdrop of Byron Bay.

By Nicola Nemaric