With Venice VR, the world’s oldest film festival has launched a new competition that is featuring 22 virtual reality films. Several productions are dealing with the impact of climate change. Located in the 4,000 m2 exhibition hall on Lazzaretto Vecchio island near the Lido, the Venice VR program has been curated by the VR expert Michel Reilhac. “As VR grows, it will start invading our lives with all kinds of applications and functions”, says Reilhac. “It is very important to signal to the creatives that it is a medium that they can test, explore and develop as an artistic language.”
The 22 VR works include the stunning film Greenland Melting by U.S. VR pioneer Nonny de la Pena in which the viewer is standing in front of Greenland’s melting fjords while 3D scientists explain why the glaciers are going to melt faster and faster. The increasing air temperatures are only one reason of the problem. As the NASA team has found out, it also has an impact on the glaciers that the oceans are getting warmer which affects them also underwater.
In this cutting-edge virtual reality experience, the viewer is taken on a trip that puts him at the foot of glaciers but also on board of a ship, a submarine and a helicopter where he can watch the vanishing icy landscape from above. Produced with support from The Knight Foundation, the NASA provided data and footage for the production. Besides thousands of photos that were stitched together for this immersive experience, the project also used 360° footage, 2-D video, videogrammetry and photo-realistic computer generated imagery. Furthermore the team also produced the immersive 360° film, Why is Greenland Melting?
The impact of climate change is an issue in various virtual-reality films that are presented in Venice. In the animation film Melita by Nicolás Alcalá that is set in 2026, the world is collapsing due to climate change. Therefore an Inuit female scientist is appointed to find a planet where humans can live. During this mission, an advanced AI is sent to help her to search for a suitable planet. Melita is also about the inner journey what it means to be human.
Besides Venice VR, there are also several VR projects at the Venice Gap-Financing Market which is part of the Venice Production Bridge. U.S. director Nicolás Alcalá and producer Steven Posner presented Melita Part 2 that will follow the AI’s journey through a wormhole to find Aurora, and through her own personal journey as an artificial intelligence.
Another VR project that was pitched in Venice is Tornado by Guy Shelmerdine. “We’ve all seen Youtube videos of storm chasers and their incredible tornado footage. These clips are frightening and impressive – but they always stay on our little screens, safe, two-dimensional, like pictures in a book”, underline the filmmakers. With Tornado they plan an interactive story that can be experienced from multiple perspectives. While a monster tornado touches down on a dark spring afternoon, the viewer must try to survive the ferocious storm. “By the time you remove your headsets”, the filmmakers are pointing out, “you’ll each have been through an emotionally-charged, genuinely affecting experience that none of you will ever forget.”