The ANIDOX:VR Awards, factual and visual storytelling in emerging media/VR

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The Animation Workshop (home to ANIDOX lab), is for the second year running their new initiative – the ANDOX:VR Award and Exhibition. The Awards include a cash prize and a residency grant for the development of new work.

The 2019 awards included five projects in competition and one project out of competition.

This review will focus on the information available for each project online, usually a trailer and reviews. Unfortunately, I have not experienced the projects as a VR experience yet, due to not being able to attend the festivals the projects have exhibited at. My aim is that the information I provide will be enough to introduce the reader to the project and by following the links, knowledge about where to access the work will be clear.

 

‘Ayahuasca Kosmik Journey’ by Jan Kounen (2019)

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This 18 minute VR film allows participants to immerse themselves in visions triggered by a dose of ayahuasca – a tea made from the leaves and stalks of shrubs found in Brazil and traditionally drunk by ancient Amazonian tribes. The spectator lives through the eyes of the director who has experienced the psychoactive brew.

“Imaginative, architectural and delirious visualizations. More than an imitation of a drug trip, the world presented is a spiritual one. Chants fill the headphones. Snakes slither. And no amount of text we can draft can dig deep enough into the actual experience.”
Review by David Graver on Cool Hunting

You can find the trailer here and a link to the project’s website here

 

‘Homestay’ by Paisley Smith, Jam3 and the NFB Digital Studio (2018)

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The trailer for this VR Animated Documentary cuts directly to the dramatic points of the story. This is the tragic story of a Japanese student who stays with a Canadian family; a look at how complete immersion in another culture can create a clash of expectations and change our understanding of family, hospitality, nationality and love.

The user experiences the story through a voice-over by the director, giving an account of her experience. The visuals embrace technological challenges by depicting a paper cut-out and origami aesthetic, created within game engine Unity.

You can watch the trailer here and read more about the project here

 

‘Another Dream’ by Tamara Shogaolu (2019)

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Winner of the ANIDOX:VR 2019 Award for Innovative Storytelling, ‘Another Dream’ is a hybrid animated documentary and VR game bringing to life the gripping, true love story of an Egyptian lesbian couple. Faced with a post-revolution backlash against the LGBTQ community, they escape Cairo to seek asylum and acceptance in the Netherlands. An accompanying installation allows audiences to reflect on what they have seen, heard, and felt in VR.

Another Dream is part of Queer in a time of forced Migration an animated transmedia series that follows the stories of LGBTQ refugees from Egypt, Sudan, and Saudi Arabia across continents and cultures — from the 2011 revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa region, to the world today.

You can watch the trailer here and find more out about the project here

 

‘Accused #2 Walter Sisulu’ by Nicolas Champeaux and Gilles Porte (2018)

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This 360° video immerses the spectator at the core of the Rivonia trial, which took place in South Africa 1963-64. Accused no.1, Nelson Mandela and accused no.2, Sisulu faced a racist and aggressive prosecutor. The defendants used the trial as a political platform against apartheid, at the expense of their freedoms. The original sound archives of the trial form the narrative, with illustrations by Oerd Van Cuijlenborg brought to life.

You can watch the trailer here and find out more about the project here

 

‘The Scream’ by Sandra Paugam and Charles Ayats (2018)

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Winner of the ANIDOX:VR  2019 award for Best Immersive work (€1000). Bringing to life ‘The Scream’ by Edvard Munch, this VR installation enables the user to interact with the painting. The trailer sets a scary tone: set in an empty museum you are invited to touch the painting…beware of what you might unleash.

You can watch the trailer here and find out more about the project here

 

‘Songbird’ VR installation by Lucy Greenwell / Michelle & Uri Kranot (2018)

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Songbird is a fairy tale with a dark heart. You will be transported to the island of Kauai in 1984 and into a painted replica of a lush cloud forest filled with colourful birds. Here, you are invited to search for the last known ʻōʻō, an iconic black bird with yellow leg feathers and a beautiful song, a bird whose existence has been threatened to the point of extinction.

Watch the trailer here

Online Submissions are open until 20th July, for the ANIDOX:VR 2020 awards.

The ANIDOX:VR Award is supported by The Animation Workshop/Via University College, Vision Denmark, The European Union, Viborg Kommune, The Danish Film Institute, and the Swedish Film Institute. The exhibition is sponsored by HTC VIVE.

‘That Dragon, Cancer’ by Numinous Games

Ryan Green’s infant son, Joel, is dying from cancer. A developer of apps and indie-games by trade, Ryan and his wife Amy have chosen to tackle their active sorrow head-on by creating a game about their son’s life and suffering. Initially funded by a successful KickStarter campaign, the game launched on 12 January 2016. The painful honesty of this project has made it stand out amongst other gaming experiences. I would go so far as to argue it has more in common with the animated documentaries covered on this blog than with the conventional gaming market.

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I first heard about That Dragon, Cancer on the Reply All podcast. Further investigation revealed an enormous amount of online media coverage. Wired Magazine has published an extract from the first scene that Ryan conceived, viewable at this link. It is a close reconstruction of a terrible night Ryan spent with Joel. He was forced to accept his limited ability to help his son. From this came the idea of a gaming experience where the player is not necessarily granted influence over the outcomes in the story. The significant absence of control leaves the player with no option other than to accept their fate, and that of Joel.

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Christianity strongly influences the Green family’s perspectives regarding Joel’s plight. The game is very much rooted in the tension first articulated in the Book of Job. In essence this ancient text asks why do the innocent suffer? The world being Godless, might seem to be a conceivable answer to a bourgeois atheist like myself, but it is clear that the Green family’s faith and prayers are vital tools that are helping them through this ongoing tragedy.

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From an outsider’s perspective, I would argue that there is something more tangible than prayer helping this family; the power of catharsis. This game is the method chosen by Amy and Ryan to address their pain. Every ounce of personal tragedy evident in the game play, is suffering that they are not going through alone; suffering that they have had to pick apart and understand in order to make it communicable to others. I cannot begin to understand what it would be like to watch your child battle with cancer for three years, but this game is the best that Ryan and Amy Green could do to show me.

That Dragon, Cancer is available for purchase and download here.

‘Silent Signal’ work in progress website by Animate! Projects

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Image by Samantha Moore for Silent Signal.

Animate! projects with the Wellcome Trust has commissioned six artist/scientist teams to put forward ideas for possible animated works under a project called Silent Signal.

“Silent Signal explores how research into genetics, cell biology, immunology and epidemiology is advancing our understanding of how the human body communicates with itself, how it adapts to fight disease and how environment affects the chain reaction. Six biomedical scientists who are furthering these fields with cutting-edge research are collaborating with six artists who use a variety of animation techniques and new digital technologies in their artistic practice. Through these collaborations audiences will be engaged with the biological processes that their bodies perform with an artistic approach to communicating the science.”

They have published the process on their blog http://www.silentsignal.org/, which is a fascinating insight into the collaborative relationship between the scientists and artists. The site also shows work in progress of various applications of animation  from animated documentary, participatory animated documentary, game art through to interactive experiences using animation.

http://www.silentsignal.org/

http://www.animateprojects.org/

 

Call for applications to DOK Leipzig’s Net Lab

“An inspirational conference lab on the current trends of new media providing access to new information, intense networking and individual support for transmedia projects linked to documentary or animation.

Friday & Saturday, 1 & 2 November 2013

The DOK Leipzig Net Lab 2013 is a two part conference lab open for transmedia creatives, thinkers and makers. It offers intense individual support for your cross-media project, with an in-depth look at interactive storytelling and media architecture.

Film-makers, media professionals and transmedia creatives are invited to apply with their multi-platform projects linked to documentary and/or animated film. Up to eight projects will be selected from all applications and the head producer and two team members are invited to participate.

Deadline for project entries: AUGUST 18, 2013

Filmmakers, media professionals and transmedia enthusiasts without a project are also welcome to attend. Please apply till: SEPTEMBER 18, 2013.

We offer participants with and without projects new insights and inspirations on transmedia storytelling and production and provide a platform to exchange, network and join forces with experienced colleagues and media professionals.

Costs:
Participation fee with project (day 1 and 2): 250 € per project incl. 7% VAT and one festival accreditation amounting to 80 €.

Participantion fee without project (day 1): 120 € per person incl. 7% VAT and one festival accreditation amounting to 80 €.”

More info at: http://www.dok-leipzig.de/industry-training/training/dok-leipzig-net-lab

Future Documentary Sandbox – UK interactive doc scheme

Future Doc Sandbox website

An interesting new scheme which partners academics with creative companies to develop new documentary ideas:

‘Future Documentary Sandbox will ask how can we hold on to what is great about documentary – its ability to elicit empathy, impart wisdom and inspire change – whilst exploring the new forms that are enabled by the internet, mobile phones and changing audience behaviours.

A Future Documentary Sandbox project might be interactive or responsive to the environment that people engaging with it are in.

It might harness games mechanics to help people ‘discover’ content.
It might use second screen technologies or create new experiences with pervasive and locative media.
It might combine new ways of navigating content with live data.
It might explore multiple points of view around citizen science, history or journalism.

Projects will be encouraged to explore new models of authorship, ownership or sharing.

Collaborations will be funded by the REACT Hub for a three-month period to develop an innovative prototype and explore its potential market/business model.’

Applications can come from academics at partner universities Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter and University of the West of England as well as those from institutions who make joint projects with partners.

Up for grabs: a commission of £50,000 including a £10,000 R&D grant for the creative company, plus business support.

Application deadline Friday 12 April 2013.
http://www.react-hub.org.uk/future-doc-sandbox

Let us know if you apply – we’d love to hear more!