Everything old is new again

In addition to the time that I spend creating stories in the present, I spend a fair amount of time thinking about the nature of storytelling in the future. This past August, I had the pleasure of participating in the “Future of Storytelling” panel at the NEU Future Forum in Beijing. Though our panelists had prodigious technical chops, we focused upon the creative aspects of storytelling and content creation. Given the day’s packed agenda, our panel of five had just a half hour of time, so I needed to be succinct (which doesn’t come naturally). As the microphone made its way to me, I thought about all the things I could say about the future of storytelling: how the technology will sublimate itself, how content will become increasingly immersive and adaptive, and how an active audience will be assumed. It’s all been said before, and is not really that important. Ultimately, I came back to this: (full post on AWN)

 

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Everything old is new again

Cooking up a Chinese VR short

360 view: http://vr8.tv/88/3F1840

Earlier this month, immersive content development took an experimental step forward with China’s first improvisational VR “table read” on the interactive cinematic VR short film, FOUR DISHES AND A SOUP. (full article on AWN)

360 view: http://vr8.tv/88/3F187D

Cooking up a Chinese VR short

The only VR metric that matters

Raise your hand if you have a family member who uses VR every day. (article on AWN)

The only VR metric that matters

SIGGRAPH Asia Macau musings

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Early last month in the gambling haven of Macau, I attended a SIGGRAPH conference for the first time in a long time. My initial SIGGRAPH experience as a student volunteer in 1993 was eye opening, and I was a regular attendee and occasional speaker for the next 15 years – including the very first SIGGRAPH Asia in Singapore, 2008. As an outsourced event, SIGGRAPH Asia has always been a distant relative to “SIGGRAPH SIGGRAPH” (as many folks comparatively refer to the “real” conference), but the initial offerings in Singapore and Yokohama were respectable.

Cut to today. Scarfing down a plate of Doritos at the SIGGRAPH Asia 2016 opening reception is a far cry from doing shots off the back of an SGI Onyx at the Nixon Library in the heady days of 1993 (though perhaps an appropriate analogy for the austerity arc of the graphics industry over the past two decades). Twenty years ago, there was a palpable sense that “anything is possible,” even though much still was not. Now – at a time when anything essentially is possible – we seem to be holding back. These days, CGI is like Doritos: tasty but predictable. And the VR game-changer has yet to emerge.

I attended all four days of the SIGGRAPH Asia conference and decided to distill my notes into three key observations (I’m a big fan of The Rule of Three). The following takeaways are… (full post on AWN)

SIGGRAPH Asia Macau musings

The art of indirection

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The following is a transcript of my presentation on VR storytelling principles, “The Art of Indirection”, delivered on December 1st at the 7th International Conference & Exhibition on Visual Entertainment in Beijing.

I’m here to talk about the development portion of the entertainment workflow, specifically related to virtual reality. My own background focused upon production during the first half of my career, the 12 years I spent with Walt Disney Feature Animation. After moving to China in 2008, I shifted my focus to development. This development work began in traditional areas of film and television – which I have taught here at the Beijing Film Academy – and shifted to virtual reality over the past year.

Virtual reality requires a different way of thinking. I believe you’ve heard this already. There have been great comments made today on this point, not restricted to virtual reality, but related to any new means of storytelling. When Demetri Portelli talked about shooting at 120 frames per second in 4k, he said something obvious, but also easily overlooked: the director needs to think differently about how to direct; the actors need to think differently about how to act; everybody involved in the production chain needs to review their assumptions, to adapt and expand upon what’s possible in the new media environment. This applies to VR as well. It’s easy to bring your preconceptions and old ways of working into play. In this respect – and I’m not the first person to make this observation – the current state of virtual reality is very much like the early days of… (full post on AWN)

The art of indirection

iAVRrc PROJECTS rollout

Thanks to Toni Cruthirds of The New York Times for these snapshots from the rollout of the inaugural iAVRrc PROJECTS slate at the 2016 T-EDGE VR Summit late last month.

Kevin Geiger iAVRrc PROJECTS 1

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VR view:  http://vr8.tv:88/3F0460

iAVRrc PROJECTS rollout

iAVRrc PROJECTS

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As announced at the T-EDGE VR Summit in Shenzhen on May 20th, the Beijing Film Academy’s International Animation & Virtual Reality Research Center (iAVRrc) has launched iAVRrc PROJECTS, a program that facilitates the development & production of compelling content in augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality (MR). The first four iAVRrc PROJECTS represent a variety of approaches to immersive media, with Chinese culture as a common thread, and edutainment as a common goal.

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STORY FOREST is an interactive virtual reality story experience in which viewers enter a space populated by a hand-painted VR bamboo forest. A master painter stands amid the trees and tells a story, illustrating as (s)he goes. Under the master’s guidance, the viewers contribute story suggestions, which are incorporated into the tale.

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HUTONG HUNT is an augmented reality treasure hunt set in the hutongs of Beijing. Players compete against the clock and each other to find a hidden treasure. Animated AR stone lions, door gods and dragons offer clues, but also provide distractions. The hunt converts to VR for the finale, when players “dig” for the treasure and face off against fearsome guardians.

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FOUR DISHES AND A SOUP is a scripted cinematic virtual reality short film set during a traditional Chinese New Year meal in mainland China. Two stories are told: one of a young man’s return home, and another of a young woman’s return home. The audience experiences each scenario as the young person, from the point of view of the VR camera.

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WAY OF THE WARRIOR is a mixed reality holopresence experience in which actual reconstruction of a terracotta warrior in Xian is streamed via live holography to museums around the world. The ongoing live reconstruction is supplemented by a photo-realistic computer-animated terracotta warrior, who describes his life in ancient China.

Interested parties may contact:

Kevin Geiger
Executive Director
International Animation & Virtual Reality Research Center
Beijing Film Academy
holler@kevingeiger.com

iAVRrc PROJECTS