The Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) continues its push into VR with new commissions Ghost, Toast and the Things Unsaid and Into the Prehistoric Aquarium.
Each is a cross-disciplinary collaboration that takes live performance – theatre, dance and puppetry – into the realm of VR.
ACMI director and CEO Katrina Sedgwick said VR technology had the ability to bring live performance experiences to a broad audience.
“As VR becomes a new tool for artistic expression we are excited about how leading practitioners who work in live performance can harness it and speak to audiences in new ways on this rapidly evolving platform," she said.
“Through our expanding commissioning strategy, along with our co-working space ACMI X, ACMI is supporting artists from across the creative industries to explore cross disciplinary collaborations and embrace new technologies to speak to audiences through the moving image."
Ghost, Toast and the Things Unsaid opened over the weekend as part of Melbourne’s International Games Week and will run until November 13. The film was commissioned in partnership with Google’s Creative Lab, and was produced by creative agency Sandpit with technology build partner Grumpy Sailor.
The ACMI exhibit is based on a play first performed at the Adelaide Fringe Festival. It incorporates a 360 ÌŠ video recording of the live performance into a 16 minute VR experience. Audiences enter into the lives of two characters, Maude and Steve. The audience choses to become one of their ghosts, entering into their memory of their character and discovering what went wrong in their relationship.
Sandpit director Dan Koerner said the ACMI commission had given his company the ability to tell a made-for-theatre story in a new way.
“At Sandpit we love telling stories using a huge range of tools. The ACMI commission to make Ghosts, Toast and the Things Unsaid into a VR film has been a great example of this; moving from digitally augmented live performance to virtual reality with a great team of performers, composers, designers and developers. The project has allowed us to use technology to fully immerse audiences in a way that is surprising and we hope, quite moving,” said Koerner.
Into the Prehistoric Aquarium, by Sydney-based puppetry company Erth, is set to shoot in early 2017 and be presented at ACMI halfway through the year. It will be co-presented by ACMI and Screen NSW, and was developed with support from Screen NSW and the ABC’s 360 Vision initiative.
Dubbed the first 360 ÌŠ degree VR puppetry experience of its kind, the film takes audiences underwater to a bygone Australian landscape. Into the Prehistoric Aquarium will be filmed in a single shot, beginning at the bottom of the ocean and ascending to shallower waters. The viewer will be met by a number of prehistoric marine creatures and will be the centre of attention – surrounded by creatures that swim about and investigate them.
ACMI’s first VR commission, Stuck in the Middle With You, made its debut in March 2016 and is now set to become part of the centre’s permanent Screen Worlds exhibition. Into the Prehistoric Aquarium will also become part of the exhibition following its initial release.
Jointly directed by filmmaker Matthew Bate and director/choreographer Gideon Obarzanek, Stuck In the Middle With You places the viewer on-stage during the performance of a live dance work, originally choreographed by Obarzanek for the Sydney Dance Company. It was recently selected in the International VR films Competition for this year’s Geneva International Film Festival Tous Ecrans.