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Looking at one of the best VR experiences from Venice Film Festival

Checking out Le Bal de Paris

By Tom Ffiske
VR/AR and metaverse analysis every Wednesday and Sunday // 3 April 2022 

For April Fools, I made a spoof event called the Super Mega Ultra Metaverse Summit. Fancy an overly expensive cryptocurrency to spend in a complicated virtual world? You got it!

Supported by:

Black Public Media

Vibing with fawns in Paris

A recent immersive experience showcased how a blend of actors and location-based experiences can make for a great experience with a partner. I was invited to see Le Bal de Paris, created in collaboration with Blanca Li Dance Company and CHANEL. Running in the Barbican in London, a group of people don Squid Game masks and dance the night away in a fantastical world of frogs, fawns, and felines. It won best VR experience at the recent Venice Film Festival.

My group started in a dressing room selecting a range of attire, and then proceed into an elongated ballroom sequence, where the actors encouraged people to dance together (much to my post-work begrudgement). I won’t spoil further, but the party is guided through a range of amusements and delights that make full use of the VR hardware (HTC with a backpack) and trackers (arms and legs).

A few reasons why it did so well, and why it may have won the award:

  • Professional safety. The participants were guided safely by professionals who helped people wear headsets properly.
  • Guiding participants. The world morphed and changed, guiding people through the virtual world that made creative use of its limited space. Mazes, trains, dance halls – the world moved around to ensure people are going around the same space, even though it felt much more expansive.
  • Creative smells. A potent sense for humans, the tactical use of smells brings people deeper into the absurdist world of Le Bal de Paris. A rose bush has more poignancy when its fragrance wafts near the virtual image.
  • Touch the world. The tactical use of barricades help to simulate bannisters in ballrooms, while a wind machine brought a sense of speed to tram journeys through Paris.

One downside was that the tracking was not perfect, including with key moments from the actors who danced in the centre. I also found the elongated dance sequences to be dull by its end, though I reckon that going with a partner after a drink would make them a ton of fun.

Overall, well worth a look if you have the opportunity. Further details on it can be found here.

Supported by Black Public Media

Creative technologists from Brazil, Canada, Ethiopia, South Africa, and the United States will participate in PitchBLACK Forum: Immersive. The winner will receive $50K USD in funding, and the runner-up will receive $25K. Projects include AI, 360VR, 6DOF VR, projection mapping, and AR projects. Watch the contest on Wednesday, April 27, 2022, at 13:00 ET and 19:00 CET.

Register to watch PitchBLACK live on April 27th

Never assume an idea has already been done

Donn Gurule, Founder and CEO

What is your background?
I was a campus rep for UC Berkeley at Apple in the 1990s, and also part of Apple’s turnaround team. I later started an enterprise hardware company that specialized in visual effects. My clients included JJ Abrams, Apple, Warner Bros, and playing a part in hundreds of feature films with IMAX digital mastering, called DMR.

What are you working on, and what’s a key learning that you’ve had from it? 
Search technology hasn’t evolved much since the 1990s. It’s still mostly just a neatly-organized card catalog. Search was never built to work with context, either. 

Enviropedia is working on a next-generation search engine that excels in spatial environments, like augmented reality, virtual reality and metaverse environments. It expands search to identify related people, places, things, and events, all organized chronologically.

The key thing I’ve realized throughout this journey is how inefficient a search engine actually is. We are missing out on massive amounts of valuable insights. If I asked someone to find all the people, places, things, and events associated with any location over the last 10 years, it could take weeks, months, or longer to compile that set of information from even a limited set of sources.

If you had to give one piece of advice, what would you give? 
Never assume that someone else has already done your idea. You’d be shocked by how many ideas die on the vine because of assumptions like that.

If you want to know more about his work, go here to find out more. 

Jobs board

DISTRIBUTION AND TOURING PRODUCER. Marshmallow Laser Feast is looking for someone to join our team as a Distribution & Touring Producer. You will have a desire to work at the bleeding edge of immersive storytelling and help shape how that work is distributed globally. We see the development and distribution of MLF’s own work as key to the future success of the business, a key revenue stream and integral in building global brand awareness. This new role will be a vital part of the core team that formulates and realises this ambitious vision. Learn more. 

Find more roles here. 

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Curated by Tom Ffiske every Wednesday and Sunday, and enjoyed by over 5,000 professionals.

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Meditative with the VIVE Flow. Photo credit: Tom Ffiske

Tom Ffiske

Editor, Immersive Wire

Tom Ffiske is the Editor of the Immersive Wire, a twice-weekly newsletter on the immersive industry.