Five Ways FIVARS Sets the Standard for the VR Film Festival World
FIVARS is not your typical film festival. Since its inception in 2015, the Festival of International Virtual & Augmented Reality Stories has been exclusively curating and promoting the world’s best immersive content. Having discovered or showcased over 150 pieces from thousands of submissions around the globe since it began, FIVARS has selected and exhibited experiences that are consistently full of contemplation, surprise, delight, controversy and wonder.
“When we launched in 2015, I was very strict about not calling it a ‘film festival,’ because it was important to distinguish spatialized, immersive experiences from traditional flatties,” says Keram Malicki- Sánchez, FIVARS Founder and Executive Director.
“Now we have Spielberg’s Ready Player One in the rear view, plus half a decade of VR marketing behind us, and there is far greater awareness of the tech and what it can deliver,” Malicki- Sánchez clarifies, “so rather than referring to FIVARS as a VR festival, we can focus on the experiences themselves, first and foremost. To amplify VR as the main attraction would be like saying TIFF is a festival about movie projectors.”
While other film festivals are dipping their toes into the immersive space by incorporating Virtual Reality elements, presenting a new medium can be more complicated that it seems. FIVARS set itself up as a UX test bed from the outset.
Thus here are five reasons FIVARS continues to set the standard for the VR Film Festival World:
Malicki-Sanchez divides his year between two of the world’s largest film hubs: Toronto, Canada and Hollywood, California. As a professional actor of 30 years (American History X, True Blood), he has long-standing relationships with the film industry, and, as editor-in-chief of decade-old game journalism site IndieGameReviewer.com – many ties to the independent game industry. Malicki-Sanchez is Polish and Ecuadorian, and his mother has lobbied for the rights and increased media opportunities for visible minorities for decades. All of these things come together in his curation style.
2- World Premieres and Exclusives:
FIVARS was the first festival to set up submissions for Virtual Reality projects on WithoutABox.com – an Amazon company used by content creators to submit their work to major festivals. FIVARS finds many of its key titles through this engine, but also through a network of global content partners from Asia to South America.
3-No Line Ups:
While some festivals can have you standing in line for longer than it takes to watch a catalogue of Virtual Reality pieces, FIVARS has mastered the art of user experience. By underselling their two-hour blocks and assigning an additional paper ticket to a finite block of time, they can assess the total number of available minutes per station, like inventory. “While we are always learning and stumbling, our years of trial and error always benefit the end user.”
4-Hygiene & Care
The question of hygiene has always been a sticky one to plague the VR industry. From waste-producing disposable face masks to strong-smelling alcoholic sanitizing wipes, the solutions are few and far between. Dedicated to ensuring the health and safety of their attendees, FIVARS has partnered with CLEANBOX, a modular UV solution for VR and AR headsets that eradicates 99% of contaminants. They also outfit their HMDs with vinyl liners that prevent soaking up sweat like a sponge, along with many ergonomic and personal privacy considerations.
Delivering the content to attendees in a seamless manner has been a struggle for many Virtual Reality events and festivals. FIVARS has worked with a variety of partners and has recently joined forces with CONTRAVERSE to develop a player that is better able to manage the festival’s content. In addition to minimizing turnover, the content creators benefit from the app’s back-end metrics. Providing insights like heat maps, number of views, and notes from attendees, creators are able to incorporate this feedback into their next productions.
The fourth annual Festival of International Virtual & Augmented Reality Stories (FIVARS) is set for Sept. 14-16 (the final weekend of TIFF) and will mark the launch of the newly renovated and rescued historic Matador Ballroom where everyone from Johnny Cash to Leonard Cohen has performed over its hundred-year history.
Where: Matador Ballroom (466 Dovercourt Rd.)
When: Sept. 14-16, noon – 9p.m.
Tickets: timed entry and walk-ups (if available), $42 (plus S.C.)
FIVARS is a presentation of VRTO. The annual event seeks to change how the film industry and the content consuming public view what’s possible with VR technology. It is organized by Executive Director and Founder Keram Malicki-Sanchez. FIVARS is produced by VRTO (Virtual Reality, Toronto) and Constant Change Media Group Inc.
Social: Twitter and Instagram @fivarstories
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