#1161: The Many Immersive Documentary Innovations of “In Pursuit of Repetitive Beats:” Winner of IDFA DocLab Award for Immersive Non-Fiction

In Pursuit of Repetitive Beats is a landmark immersive documentary that seamlessly integrates so many different immersive storytelling techniques and XR modalities earning it the IDFA DocLab Award for Immersive Non-Fiction. You’re transported back into the 1989 Underground Acid Rave Scene in Coventry and West Midlands where you go on an epic journey retracing the convoluted steps to avoid detection by the police in order to make it to a warehouse of dancing bodies. Director Darren Emerson from East City Films gives us a masterclass of techniques including impeccable set design of filled with media artifacts of that era, hybrid drone shots, projection mapping, 6DoF interactions, Haptic suit design, volumetric capture, wind effects, a well-considered 4m x 6m location-based entertainment design space with streamlined onboarding and offboarding, multi-modal media integration from diegetic archival video footage, fliers, and photos, a climatic psychedelic and vaporwave dance scene, and innovative integration of interviews that projected as silkscreen projections on fliers. Not only were they able to cover everything you’d want and expect within a 2D documentary covering the topic, but this piece managed to recreate the key components of the visceral an embodied experience of going on a musical adventure. All while using the medium of VR to provide additional historical context every step of the way.

Here’s the jury statement about In Pursuit of Repetitive Beats for winning the top XR prize of the IDFA DocLab Award for Immersive Non-Fiction

This year, the jury chose a project that was an arrival for the immersive creative community. This project is a clear manifestation of this unique medium that uses VR, touch, sound, and lived experience to honor the human need for community and a collective desire to be free, together.  Through documentary, we remember those who are policed, are reckless, are alive, are unlimited and demand to be free, even if for a night. This jury, blindfolded in light, walked through a corridor to experience this story and found ourselves transported, arms raised, with euphoric beats in our chest, and delighted to announce this winner of the IDFA DocLab Award for Immersive Non-Fiction is In Pursuit of Repetitive Beats by Darren Emerson.

Jury Statement for IDFA DocLab Award for Immersive Non-Fiction

I had a chance to catch up with Emmerson at IDFA DocLab to hear about his journey into VR, and the process of creating this project. There are some really amazing behind the scenes videos that show the technical achievements and overall love and effort that went into producing this piece (Part 1, Part 2, & Part 3).

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Music: Fatality