The Venice Film Festival has been going on for the past couple of weeks and so has Venice VR Expanded, the immersive digital edition showcasing the latest virtual reality (VR) projects from around the world. Filled with an assortment of films and interactive content it’s been one of the best examples of why a format like this works, as well as highlighting the sheer range of ideas the XR industry can offer.
The organisers provided multiple entry points into the VR festival for home viewing, with a VRChat world designed to look like the famous city providing a gondola ride to a red carpet location where the 3DoF content could be viewed. The same films could also be accessed via Oculus TV if you had a compatible headset like Oculus Quest.
Without a doubt, the best way to experience what Venice VR Expanded has to offer is through Viveport, HTC Vive’s hardware-agnostic platform. What it lacks in ceremony the platform easily makes up for in breadth of content, available via setting up a free account. Over 20 submissions are available from free demos to entire narrative pieces which you shouldn’t miss whilst the event is still on.
Those of you familiar with VR gaming will recognise the likes of puzzle titles such as The Room VR: A Dark Matter and Down the Rabbit Hole, both offering free demos. Yet there are plenty of exclusives which should not be missed. Wevr’s 5-year project Gnomes & Goblins finally arrives in a couple of weeks and Venice VR is the only place you can see the delightful 20-minute demo. Trying not to spoil it, let’s just say the demo really does build anticipation for the main event.
Moving on from the demos there are plenty of wonderful interactive pieces to enjoy and replay. Agence is enthralling thanks to its marriage of cinematic storytelling and AI, offering a seemingly simple setup on the surface yet deeply complex underneath with endless possibilities.
For a slightly more traditional film experience then don’t miss Here, an adaptation of Richard McGuire’s graphic novel. Placed in the corner of a room you get to see the location’s constantly shifting history, watching echos of the past dating back thousands of years. Or if you prefer interactive storytelling then Minimum Mass is a spellbinding piece of work. Placing you inside a real-time, photorealistic CG world, Minimum Mass is all about love, loss and black holes, where you can twist and turn the detailed environment for your own viewpoint on the narrative.
And the list goes on, all of it worth a watch. The selection is an impressive beacon, shining a light on how far VR has come and what it can be achieved above and beyond established formats with a little imagination. You still can still enjoy Venice VR Expanded as it finishes tomorrow (12th September). So instead of the usual evening Netflix binge (which can wait another day), VRFocus highly recommends trying all this free VR content out. And hopefully, there will be more of the same in 2021.
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