Paris (AFP) – “It has nothing to do with cinema, I felt like I was there, disconnected from the outside,” Hajar El-Missawy, 21, said after her first virtual reality experience this week in Paris.
Having “accidentally” passed in front of the NewImages Festival, this student actually wants to watch the fifteen-minute documentary presented to her in a 360-degree helmet.
This is what the Photo Forum in Paris offers, among others, until June 12, with the fifth edition of this “International Festival on Digital Creativity and Virtual Worlds”.
Virtual reality (VR) is present at most major film festivals, from Sundance to Cannes to Venice. But the rapid development of this sector is still unknown to the general public.
For years, it was supposed to hit the biggest number without ever really succeeding, especially because of the cost of the equipment.
Michelle Ziegler, Festival Director, understands that democratizing this technology takes time.
“Virtual reality is widespread in professional sectors such as audiovisual, automotive and architecture. In public places, the same is not observed yet,” she admits.
But she insists to AFP that “a step has been taken”. “What’s new is these immersive experiences where audiences can participate in many of them. By interfering with games and developing new narratives, this makes virtual reality accessible to all.”
– ‘You are history’ –
Virtual reality is also popular with artistic creators.
Among them, Morgan Omer, a German-Vietnamese photographer and director, who attended the festival “Madame’s Pirates: Become a Legend”. The story “The Greatest Pirate of All Time”, told by a grandmother to her granddaughter.
The viewer is drawn away by a palette of settings, an intense series of actions and transitions between the granddaughter’s imagination and the real life of pirate Ching Shih.
“It’s an immersive experience of about fifteen minutes, combining animation and reality; it’s like you’re going to the theater but instead of being on the balcony, you participate in the rise of this pirate,” he explains.
If virtual reality has no secrets for Morgan Omer, then it is quite the opposite for Stefan Foenkinos.
This French screenwriter and director presents his first project in augmented reality.
Another technology that “through your smartphone’s camera or a helmet on your head, superimposes virtual objects on reality,” noted Nomirama, a media specialist in digital society and technology innovation.
“For normal people, including myself, I would have thought it was about putting on a helmet and going to kill the dinosaurs,” he says.
Five years ago, a screenwriter adapted Tania de Montaigne’s work, “Black” about the story of Claudette Colvin, an African-American girl from the 1950s who had never ridden a bus, at the age of segregation.
“We first created a stage show with projections by Pierre-Alain Giroud,” he explains, who is also a director and screenwriter. “It was he who wanted to take the next step with the augmented reality project, and he already knows this specific material.”
Fiction being his favorite field, Stéphane Foenkinos nonetheless says he is “passionate” about virtual reality and what he has been able to bring to his work.
“When you’re sitting on the bus, in Claudette Colvin’s physically recreated seat, you’re not out or on the date, you’re history,” he confirms.
“And I think in terms of sensory, auditory and emotional experiences, we’re still at the beginning of something, even though we’ve been talking about virtual reality for several years.”
Now Stephan Foenkinos hopes that this festival will allow him to attract the attention of French and international investors to develop his project.
© 2022 AFP
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