The DocLab at the International Documentary Filmfestival Amsterdam (IDFA) was started in 2007 by Caspar Sonnen, and it’s very similar to the New Frontier programming at Sundance as it’s looking at how what new forms of storytelling is emerging from the affordances of emerging technologies like VR, AR, and AI. Sonnen cites John Grierson’s definition of documentary is the creative treatment of actuality” as the underlying guidance for what an “immersive documentary” could be. Rather than capturing footage of real life events, a lot of the projects at DocLab use emerging technologies to be able to catalyze a very specific phenomenological experience with the participating audience through calling on memories, cultivating unique social dynamics and interactions, recontextualizing space through location-based augmented reality stories, and a whole class of experiences that typically fall within the categories of immersive theater, biographical memoir, or ice-breaking social games.
I talk with Sonnen about the history of DocLab, the trends of immersive storytelling, and the evolution of virtual and augmented reality as storytelling mediums. We also cover some of the experiential highlights of the conference, and I provide a wrap-up at the end of some of my other experiences that I had there as well.
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