Synchronous 360 VR at MIFF

09/08/2016 at 8:15 am / 0 Comments

Last week, we published an interview with MIFF VR Producer Steve Spangaro on the bespoke VR Intro he created, with Worldview, for MIFF's first ever VR program. The Devisor of Sync VR (including Rotary VR), he gives us an overview of the Synchronous 360 Video Playback we're using for four of the VR experiences, enabling audiences with no prior exposure to VR to experience this new technology as seamlessly as possible.

MIFF 2016 will be the first time a major film festival presents virtual reality 360 video in a manner consistent with the way it presents cinema content:

  • Patrons book in for a specific content session
  • Everyone attending the session experiences the content elements simultaneously
  • Each session involves a fluid progression through interstitial and filmmaker works as programmed by the festival for a given session
  • All media is triggered remotely meaning patrons are not required to input any menu/navigation selections
  • The audience doesn’t see any technology interfaces or superfluous third-party branding
  • The staging and layout is optimised for the particular medium being presented, including scope for a live speaker element before and after the screening
  • The session finishes on time and at the same time for everyone, enabling tight turn around of back-to-back sessions.

MIFF VR’s ‘film festival’ characteristics are enabled by the custom built MIFF Sync VR platform, working in conjunction with its Rotary VR staging method.

Synchronous 360 Video Playback

Owing to the nature of 360 video, the MIFF Sync VR platform only supports playback of works delivered to MIFF as discreet, linear 360 video movie files (as opposed to being supplied as mobile or desktop apps). As such, the MIFF VR 2016 works to be delivered via the Sync VR platform are:

The MIFF Sync VR platform enables patrons to simultaneously experience a given 360 video work as it plays out. Moment by moment, the users are ‘together’ as the story unfolds while, of course, each is free to look around wherever they like within a given 360 video scene.

Seamless Content Delivery

Being a media platform, MIFF Sync VR also enables the festival to program a line-up of 360 video clips to play one after the other in a smooth fashion without any breaks in flow for the viewer. As soon as one clip has finished, the next one starts playing.

Trailers, sponsor messages, festival promos, branding interstitials and shorts can all be scheduled as programming needs dictate. Then the lights come up (or in this case the headsets come off) and everyone exits at the same time with the same content in mind … ready for the debriefing discussions that are the heart of film-festival culture

MIFF patrons of varying technical know how-will be able to experience 360 video with the only demand placed upon them being that they take a seat and get comfortable with the VR headset and headphones before the show begins. They won't have to navigate content elements at any stage: the MIFF Sync VR platform handles it all in the background.

MIFF patrons of varying technical know how-will be able to experience 360 video with the only demand placed upon them being that they take a seat and get comfortable with the VR headset and headphones before the show begins. They won't have to navigate content elements at any stage: the MIFF Sync VR platform handles it all in the background.

In this first year of MIFF Sync VR, a 50-second MIFF VR Intro will play immediately before the 360 video work being featured in a given session. A 360 video clip of the Regent Theatre has been created and the patron – having just put on their VR headset – will immediately feel as if they are actually seated in the theatre with a static MIFF VR logo projected onto the cinema screen directly in front of them.

Once everyone is settled into the virtual realm, with their VR headset lenses and headphones levels adjusted, the MIFF 2016 cinema trailer will start playing on the screen of The Regent Theatre. So MIFF VR patrons will enter VR in a way that emulates the conventional MIFF screening experience and in doing so provide a sense of thematic connectedness across MIFF platforms, old and new.

Sync VR Specific Staging (Rotary VR)

These MIFF 2016 VR sessions will be delivered to groups of eight people at a time and the approach includes a novel approach to the seating arrangement for the participants.

Patrons will be seated in a circular arrangement around the MIFF VR Announcer, who greets them at the start of the session and talks them through the personalised adjustment of their VR headset and headphones.

 

With VR being entirely immersive, the convention of having film festival participants all look toward a shared screen no longer applies, and therefore MIFF is free to employ the circular seating formation without any negative impact to audience enjoyment.

With Rotary VR, every member of the audience enjoys the same spatial relationship to the announcer in the centre of the space and within the group generally. It’s an open, egalitarian kind of setting.

The combined MIFF Sync VR platform and Rotary VR layout enables the event staff/volunteers to reliably prepare the session so that every user enters VR facing the same way. Patrons will transition from seeing the MIFF VR announcer in front of them to seeing the Regent Theatre screen in front of them.

Once their curiosity to look around takes hold, spectators watching a Sync VR session play out will be able to gauge where each of the participants are looking at any given time relative to one another. So a Sync VR experience can also be a novel and even informative spectacle for third parties.

For a 360 video filmmaker observing a MIFF VR session, watching a MIFF Sync VR session play out amounts to a fulsome, real-time indication as to how a given group of film-goers are responding to the visual and auditory cues in their work.

The MIFF VR program runs from Tuesday August 9 until Sunday 14 August 2016.



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