Cannes XR is a part of the Cannes Marché du Film, which is the business side of the Cannes Film Festival. For the past two years, they’ve collaborated with Kaleidoscope VR to curate a development showcase featuring the creators of immersive stories who are in the early phases of fundraising for their projects. They had already selected over 20 projects in February for their 2020 edition, but they needed to look to alternatives to a co-located event when the global pandemic was announced in March. They had just two short months to convert their gathering to an online, virtual event, and they ended up collaborating with Tribeca Film Festival Virtual Arcade, VeeR, and Positron in putting on a virtual exhibition of over 50 different projects within the Museum of Other Realities.
I had a chance to see all of the experiences, which I talked about in a previous episode with VR critic Pola Weiß, but I also wanted to touch base with Elie Levasseur, XR Program Lead for Cannes XR, to get more context on the event and process of pivoting online. Cannes XR considers itself to be more of a funding accelerator and incubator than market or exhibition of completed works, but these circumstances catalyzed them to collaborate with Tribeca Film Festival, VeeR, and Positron on putting on a more robust exhibition of completed immersive narrative projects ranging from 6 degree-of-freedom experiences that would have normally premiered at Tribeca, to VeeR’s curation of 360 videos from the festival circuit over the past couple of years, to experiences that could work within Positron’s rotating chair, which would normally be a part of a location-based entertainment installation.
This collaboration that Cannes XR catalyzed resulted in what I see as the closest online, virtual exhibition that I’ve seen that matches the caliber of work that you would normally see when attending a major film festival, and it was all available for free through the Museum of Other Realities.
In talking with Levasseur, I got a lot more context as to just how unique this collaboration has been, and it was a short, two months of development time in order to pull together so many different things. He talks about the evolution of Cannes XR in the past three years as something that came out of VR projects appearing in previous years in the Cannes Next portion of the Marché du Film, but it eventually merited the creation of it’s own event. Levasseur explains that a main difference between Cannes XR and other festivals like Sundance, Tribeca, South by Southwest, and Venice is that they’re focused on the early stages of funding where these other festivals are exhibiting completed projects.
Cannes XR is also collaborating with René Pinnell’s Kaleidoscope VR again as he’s been cultivating a robust community of immersive artists and storytellers. As the exclusive event coordinator for the Museum of Other Realities, Kaleidoscope took charge of collaborating with the MOR, gathering the project builds, and organizing the pitch sessions on Zoom. Cannes XR has been cultivating relationships with funders and distributors, and helped to set up over 200 one-on-one meetings for the group of 20+ projects in development.
Pinnell started Kaleidoscope after his own experiences of going through the the labyrinthian process of fundaising for immersive narratives, and decided to build a social network to reduce the friction and make this process more accessible to more artists and creators. Cannes XR collaborated with Kaleidoscope on the open call for projects, and a lot of the infrastructure that Pinnell has been building happens to be perfectly suited to virtualizing this process that normally has happened face-to-face at a series of International Film Festivals from around the world. If you’re an immersive artist or storyteller, then be sure to check out what else Kaleidoscope has been doing with their monthly, community-funded grants.
This whole Cannes XR event was a bit of a miracle that they were able to pull it off on such short notice. As a result, there were a number of rough edges and bugs within the Museum of Other Realities that I’m sure will be sorted out in future iterations, but the whole event was a pretty remarkable collaboration between the MOR, Cannes XR, Kaleidoscope, Tribeca, VeeR, and Positron. It’s shows that it is possible to replicate aspects of an immersive exhibition virtually, and moving forward I hope that the other immersive festival exhibitions continue to experiment with remote and virtual distribution, and dedicate themselves to doing hybrid events with a physical and co-located exhibition as well as an online and virtual exhibition. Both the Virtual Hamberg (VRHAM) and Cannes XR festivals showed that it’s not only possible, but in some ways more streamlined and a better overall experience avoiding lots of lines and hassles of travel.
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[00:00:05.452] Kent Bye: The Voices of VR Podcast. Hello, my name is Kent Bye, and welcome to The Voices of VR Podcast. So the ConXR Festival happened online in the Museum of Other Realities from June 24th to July 3rd, and up to this point, it's the largest virtual exhibition of immersive stories It's actually a collaboration between four different entities. There's ConXR, which usually does the development showcase that this year again collaborated with Kaleidoscope VR. And then there's the Tribeca Film Festival exhibition, which would normally be shown at the Tribeca Festival, but was canceled this year due to the coronavirus. And so they had an exhibition of a dozen different experiences. And then there was two other exhibitions of other experiences, including VIR, which is an online video platform for 360 videos, as well as Positron, which is a chair to be able to see immersive experiences. So I have a chance to talk to the XR program lead, Eli Lavezur, just to get a little bit more context as to ConXR and their role in terms of trying to become this incubator and accelerator for immersive projects. So that's what we're covering on today's episode of the voices of VR podcast. So this interview with Ellie happened on Wednesday, July 1st, 2020. So with that, let's go ahead and dive right in.
[00:01:23.423] Elie Levasseur: My name is Ellie. I'm an event organizer, uh, since 20 years now. Previously, I work for two different markets specialized on audio visual industry and digital content. First one was a sunny side of the dock, which is an international marketplace focusing on documentary. I then worked for Cross Video Days, which it's over now, but it was a market in Paris specialized on digital content. So it was including VR, but also web series, transmedia, different formats using a digital platform. Since two years now, I've double job. I work for New Images as responsible of the professional section, the market side, and as program leader for Cannes XR, which is the section within Le Marché des Films dedicated to XR industry.
[00:02:21.993] Kent Bye: Great. So maybe give it a bit more context between the Cannes Film Festival and then this film market that is happening on the side that has lots of different events. And one of those, which is the Cannes XR, right?
[00:02:35.679] Elie Levasseur: Yes, so I know that it's sometimes hard to understand. So there is one event, the Cannes Film Festival. And inside this event, there is two major sections, which is one is the festival and the other one is Le Marché. So we call it the Marché du Film. So this is the business entity of the festival. So this is where, you know, all the distributors, all the producers, networking there, and of course, doing some business. So inside this section of Le Marché du Film, there is one section dedicated to XR industry, which is CanXR. So this is why maybe we have a different positioning than Sundance, Tribeca or Venice, because CanXR is not a festival, but it's difficult to say a market because the market is still not really there, right? So I like to say we are more an accelerator or an incubator for XR artists. And the idea there is much more to provide some tools and to support the rise of the XR industry.
[00:03:42.711] Kent Bye: So maybe give a bit more context as to your journey and to how you got involved into XR.
[00:03:49.893] Elie Levasseur: Yeah, so as I said, I was responsible for another marketplace in Paris, which was Cross Video Days. It was a marketplace supported by the European Commission. So it was focused on every digital content. So when we started in 2013, much of the content there was web series and trust media, you know, web documentaries and stuff like this. And at some point, I think in 2016, for the first time, I think we, in our selection, we had like two or three VR pieces. And this is, that was the beginning. for us of opening our event to XR technologies. And then it was really amazing because only one year after in 2017, I think more than 70% of the project we collect through our call for project were basically XR or AR pieces, project in development. And actually it was quite the same at national level because you know in France we have this institution called the CNC, which provides a lot of support for VR artists. And actually, their program at that time was also supporting transmedia and web series. And exactly the same year as us, they just saw a major shift in the production. And I think that was the year where a lot of French and maybe European producers shift the project. I mean, at that time, they were using different kinds of technologies to provide more interactive and more immersive content. And they feel like maybe when VR and AR come at that point, they feel like that was the perfect technologies to make them dreams true and deliver some interactive and immersive content. So then I was quite curious by this major shift. So I have to quit the event one year later because we move in the UK. And I was really excited by what can we do with this technology. One project was struck me was not on blindness because this project actually, we curate this project at Cross Your Days in 2014. So maybe two years before the first VR project was on the market. And when I saw this project for the first time in 2016, I was really blown by the project. I mean, this technology can really serve a new way to tell stories. And that was something that really impacted me. And I said, okay, this is really exciting and I want to work in that field.
[00:06:38.865] Kent Bye: So it was the first time that ConXR happened in 2018 then?
[00:06:43.093] Elie Levasseur: Yeah, it's a bit more complex than that because at Cannes, they had a section called Cannes Next. And this one, I'm not sure, but I think they had opened it maybe in 2013 as well. So that was the section, you know, to explore everything about digital from VR, but also AI, blockchain, every kind of technology will impact the traditional filmmaking industry. What is for sure is they just opened a section dedicated to XR just in 2018 when I came to Canada.
[00:07:18.302] Kent Bye: Okay. And so this year with the global pandemic and COVID-19, there's been a lot of things that have been shutting down. And so maybe you could talk a bit about March to La Film that you're involved with, and that seemed to be happening here online. And so maybe you could talk about how the global pandemic has impacted both the Cannes Film Festival, as well as the larger film market that you're involved with and Conics are.
[00:07:43.071] Elie Levasseur: Yeah, so, you know, sometimes people tell me, OK, I guess you wasn't really impacted by the epidemic because you are already used to work remotely because I'm based in the UK. So I work for Cannes, but remotely. So it makes me realize that maybe people are not really aware about what are the impacts of the epidemic on an organization like Le Marché du Film. So basically we are at Le Marche des Films, it depends on the month, but we are between 60 and 100 people working for Le Marche des Films. So when we realized by the end of March that we had to shift online and also to work all of us remotely, it was really very tough challenge because we have to redesign all the production pipe with all these people who work remotely from them all. So this is the first challenge. But then if you shift the event online, then you have to ask all the different sections of the Marche des Films. So CanXR, but we have also CanDocs for documentaries. We have CanNex for new technologies and so on. So you have to ask them all this section, what are the requirements for the online edition, what they want to do. And so to choose different applications that make this edition possible. So then you have to choose to benchmark different solutions, see, okay, which ones are good for all the different sections. Then when you choose the application, you have to train people to use that new application and platforms. And of course, at the end, you have a lot of skills. that you don't have in your team because for the very first time we had to stream, we had to organize some online conferences and we of course need some technical stuff to do it. So achieving this shift in just two months time, I can tell you it's really crazy. And for instance, we decided to use Zoom as an application to do our conference. It was like just two weeks before the beginning of the event. So two weeks before the event, We learned that, okay, we will use Zoom as an application for all our conferences. So we have to, of course, train ourselves on using this application, even if we know a little bit, but we have to train ourselves. You need to contact all your speakers and say, okay, let's do some kind of rehearsal on that platform and stuff. And this is the same for one-on-one meetings. So new platform for one-on-one meetings, new platform for conferences, new platform to showcase the VR exhibition. new platform for a lot of different things. So I feel like if you see what we achieve, I mean, I don't speak about CanXR, but Le Marché du Fin, if you see what we achieve in just two months time, I think it's definitely crazy.
[00:10:39.797] Kent Bye: Well, and so you also worked with Kaleidoscope VR, as well as the Museum of Other Realities to be able to actually bring a selection of 50 different projects into four different showcases that were at CanXR. So maybe you could talk a bit about like how that came about to collaborate with Tribeca, to be able to bring some of the pieces that would have premiered at Tribeca, and then Kaleidoscope, VIR, and Positron.
[00:11:03.394] Elie Levasseur: Yep. Yeah, sure. When we realized that we have to move online, my first thought was, OK, we need to deliver an event where artists can just showcase their content and continue their activities. That was really the main point. Then, of course, in two months time, I feel like, OK, if we do it alone, by ourselves, it's not possible. So we need to find some partners and to do it together. To be honest, the first call was from Tribeca. And they said to me, OK, We had to consult also ourselves. Would you agree to do something together? And I said, yeah, of course. I mean, we need to stick together because this situation is exceptional. The idea is we have to deliver an event because we are committed to this artist. So we need to do something. And of course, if we can do it together, whatever the branding of the event, we should do it together and we will find a way to do it together. So this is why. This edition is a bit special because, of course, it's one exhibition, but different parts of this exhibition is brought by a different partner. And I feel it was a good option to do something bold because, of course, we can't curate ourselves 55 content in two months. So I think it was a great option. Then regarding the collaboration with Kaleidoscope, it's a bit different because we had this collaboration last year as well. And the collaboration is much more a co-creation. The idea is to identify a selection of between 20 and 30 different projects in development and to offer them different opportunities to showcase and to present the prototypes. So the scheme includes three different activities. The first one is pitching session public on stage. The second one is one-on-one meetings with selected decision makers. And the third one is an exhibition of prototypes where people can meet and mingle around prototypes. So we already did it last year in real life. And the idea this year was to find a way to do it online as well. And the difference was also, you know, at the time we decided to move online, we already had the selection. So together with René, we already made the selection. I think we made it early or mid February. So we had this commitment with artists we already select. And the idea was, okay, we need to find a way to somehow deliver the development showcase. And yeah, I'm quite happy with the result, actually, because so we found an application to organize some one on one meetings with decision makers. So this year, I feel like we had great decision makers on board, a lot of tech players from Intel to HP, Unreal, HTC, Facebook, Google, all these people were there. And so we organized some prearranged meetings between the artists we select and these people. And at the end, we organized 200 meetings online. So this is something CanXR did. And Kaleidoscope was in charge to organize the pitching sessions. So we had six different sessions with four projects and with Q&A with the decision makers we select. And at the More, we had this opportunity to showcase the prototypes and to organize some, so we call it meet the artist sessions. And so people were invited to join the More and to meet with the artists we selected.
[00:14:44.723] Kent Bye: Yeah, so there was a number of different talks and pitches that were happening from June 24 to 26 that were happening through zoom calls that were being broadcast on Kaleidoscope's website as well as on a YouTube channel for Tribeca. Then you had within the Museum of Other Realities, you had these four different showcases about a dozen experiences from Tribeca, over 20 different development projects from Kaleidoscope, a dozen 360 videos from VeeR, and then six different projects from the Positron. So how did the Positron selection and the VeeR selection of 360 videos come about?
[00:15:19.713] Elie Levasseur: Yeah, it's two different stories. Because Positron was actually our main sponsor for the real life events. I don't know if you know that, but In late February, we just announced the opening of a new venue at Cannes dedicated to XR. It was 1,600 meters square in addition of what we had last year. So it was really something really huge with a beautiful venue in front of the seaside with a big terrace. And that was really awesome. This venue was possible thanks to a partnership of Positron. So when we had to cancel this real-life event, then we discussed with Positron how we can move online. And they already started the call for projects for their selection before we decided to move online. Yeah, it was announced on Kaleidoscope website. So the idea of Positron at the beginning was they were supposed to make a setup at Cannes. with 12 Positron chairs. And the idea for them was to curate some project that can fit, of course, with their chairs. And they were offering some kind of support, I mean development support, to make this project fit into their chairs. And so the idea at the beginning was really to make a curation of project dedicated for their Positron chairs. And, of course, it was not possible to do it online. So this is why the Kofra project changed a little bit. At the end, the Select6 project, which was a mix of 360 videos and 6DoF. In the case of VeeR, since they are a distribution platform, a 360 distribution platform, so the deal with them was really to create a 360 video exhibition. And from the beginning, it was decided like this. The only thing is, in their case, they choose to do it maybe one month at the beginning of May. So we had only one month actually to collect the application and to operate the curation. So they did it on Kaleidoscope. And then they just bring together some jury members or a lot of festival curators were there to curate this exhibition. And yeah, this is it.
[00:17:43.160] Kent Bye: Yeah, so I was able to go and see a lot of different experiences and to see a lot of the different content. And what was striking is that I was able to see a lot of the pieces that were going to be at the Tribeca Film Festival, but that we're showing here in collaboration with ConXR. And a lot of the ConXR and the Kaleidoscope development projects were projects that were more at the pitch phase, not at the level of being completed like other festivals like Sundance, Tribeca, Venice, or South by Southwest. And so Has this been true in the past as well? Is that ConXR has always been more for projects that are in development? Or have you also in the past shown projects that were more completed?
[00:18:21.192] Elie Levasseur: Yeah. So as I explained, our positioning is slightly different than Sundance, Fabrica or Venice. We don't have a selection dedicated to XR. So our positioning is more like, how can we help project to get finance? Rather than that, how can we help this industry to become mass market at the end. So this is something we are talking with some tech companies. Like how has a festival as can, how can we help this industry to become mass market? Because I think if you work in the XR industry, then I feel like we can share all the same objective, which is become at some point mass market. And if. you have these big tech players investing billions into that technology is because they believe in that technology to become at some point mass market. And for us, if you say, okay, we want at some point, we want to convince a broader audience that this technology is appealing. I think you need some great content and you need stories, you need entertainment, you need emotions. You need all this kind of stuff that we have at the Cannes Film Festival because we have great storytellers there and great artists. And these people are at some point able to create some content that can appeal to a broader audience. And I think the other point is like, because we are the Cannes Film Festival, we are the great exposition with a lot of journalists there. And this is something also we can help to evangelize the mass audience to the medium. So for me, the idea of CanXR is more like, okay, how can we help this industry to become much more mass market? And I think we can provide a lot of different types of services that can be helpful for the people of this industry. The first one is, for instance, if you look at what's happened to other festivals, We never saw an XR piece selected in the official competition. It's always on the dedicated competition, which is super great for sure. But I was wondering, OK, why don't we have an XR piece which is selected, for instance, in the main CanFim Festival selection, official CanFim Festival selection? Why it never happened so far? And I think that when we discuss it, I think that we need to identify what are the impediments why such a thing don't happen and I feel like that can be our role as CanXR to identify the impediments and to provide new solutions to help some VR artists and some XRPs to be considered as a great movie selected in official selection.
[00:21:25.518] Kent Bye: Well, so with all the global pandemic and everything going into virtual conferencing, I've attended over a dozen different virtual conferences and it's still got a long ways to go to be able to recreate what it's like to be at the same place at the same time. A big thing is people committing their full attention and energy to be present. and available for conversations. And imagine that something like a film market where you're talking to investors, you have maybe some formal meetings, but also some informal conversations that are happening. But as you've been transitioning into trying to do this film market and organizing all these meetings and having all these talks and displaying all this content, Like how do you make sense of whether or not it was successful? I'm imagine that in your mind you're like, okay, this is not as good as if we were actually meeting together, but Now that we're doing things online. How do you assess what was successful and what needs some more work?
[00:22:24.799] Elie Levasseur: Yeah, it's a good question, but i'm afraid I don't have uh, yeah, it's uh, Of course, it's far more complicated except of course we have feedback from different people but this is true that It's far more complicated to evaluate what you do online because you don't have all this informal conversation that happens traditionally in the real life. It's far more complicated to have them. Except, of course, we have some WhatsApp group and we exchange some email, but it's for sure it's something complicated. But I'm not maybe answering your question, but I think it's important to say that We absolutely want to, I mean even if the situation will be solved, I mean the epidemic situation will be solved in 2021, we want to do a virtual exhibition for next year for sure. I mean we will have something hybrid next year with hopefully we will keep this amazing venue we had secured this year at the Palm Beach but on the top of that we want something virtual. I think it's important because As an international event, we have some kind of responsibility regarding the carbon footprint and stuff. And so we built this year a proof of concept. I think we built something we can be proud of because we can say, okay, we deliver 55 XR pieces into an exhibition, virtual exhibition. Of course, it's not the same that in real life, but I think it works and We made it accessible online, but we made it also accessible through a network of local LB. So we had some LB in Taiwan, in China, in France, in Spain, in the US and in Israel. I mean, the format, I want to explore that format. I think we can really improve that and make something even bigger for next year. I don't want to be, You know, yesterday I have this thought because I have a little daughter, as you know, two years old, and I have this thought yesterday. I said, okay, I don't want to be in the shoes of a tobacco company in 20 years when my daughter will ask me, okay, but why don't you change? I mean, you were inviting like hundreds of people every year to your event. Why didn't you try to change that? And I think now, what we prove with the more is like I think we can have a proper and beautiful exhibition of XR pieces online this is possible this is something different than real life but this is something possible and and if we keep going on this experiment at some point we will find the way to do something really amazing I think and so Maybe also this is something possible because, as we discussed before, we are not really in the same position as Tribeca, Venice or Sundance, which already have amazing selection. We are not really in this case. Maybe we are the underdog. And so, I mean, it's more, maybe it's easier for us to explore some new way to exhibit VR content.
[00:25:43.493] Kent Bye: Yeah, that's a good point. And because you are a film market and trying to help raise funding for some of these projects, I imagine one metric for success that you could look at is whether or not you are helping to enable the funding of some of these projects. And so can you speak in some general terms in terms of if you have some metrics of success to see whether or not there are some projects that were able to make some progress of getting more funding and resources to move forward?
[00:26:10.020] Elie Levasseur: Yeah, at this point, this is something actually, usually we following up with all the artists in September, because so we call them, I don't like really to survey because people don't like to answer to survey. But usually what we do is to call them like two or three months after. So we asked them, okay, did you raise money at Cannes or with people you met at Cannes? Because what Usually what we can see on the market is it's difficult in the XR industry to have deals during the event. It's not really like this. I mean, people need to discuss maybe several times in the year to finalize a deal. So we have some exceptions by the past, but that was really exception. We don't have really deals that close during the festival. But what we have is we have connections, and we have some producers say, OK, this guy I've met at Cannes, but we met each other also at this and this and this festival. So it's difficult to say we are responsible of this deal, because usually people met several times in different festivals. But we can say, OK, we actually introduced them to these people, and so this is useful. This is the way how we track and how we follow up with artists.
[00:27:37.565] Kent Bye: And I know that Rene Penel from Kaleidoscope has created his own website to be able to gather XR artists from around the world. They've started different community grants that are being given out there, but also he's been a part of last year and this year of helping to curate the selection of projects. And so maybe you could just talk about the relationship between ConXR and Kaleidoscope, how that collaboration works out between, you know, if you have an open call or if he's sort of helping to lead that curation or like how that works.
[00:28:06.666] Elie Levasseur: Okay. First, okay, we launched our call for project on their platform and we make sure that the platform is accessible to everybody because as a festival, this is important for us that the call for project is not limited to Kaleidoscope members. So we use Kaleidoscope as a platform to launch our call for project because we feel like if you have a call for XR pieces, then to announce it in the nest of All the XR Artist is far more efficient and we can see it in the numbers of applications we add. Then we use also Kaleidoscope to organize the reviewing of the project. So I'm part of the reviewing, René is part of the reviewing, but we also invite a few curators or programmers to join the reviewing committee. And then we add a session. We choose all together what's going to be the selection. So from that point, what we did this year, but it wasn't the same last year, but what we did this year is, so as I explained before, the CanXR development showcase include three different activities. On-stage meeting session, one-on-one meeting with decision makers, and prototype showcase. So this year, what we did is CanXR were responsible of inviting decision makers and organizing one-on-one meetings between So selected artists and decision makers. Kaleidoscope was responsible of organizing the pitching session. So get in touch with the artists. So yeah, this year it was online, but last year it was in real life. And they were also in charge of collecting the bills to organize the prototype showcase inside the mall. So this is what we did this year. Last year it was a bit different because we were collecting the bills and we were Actually, we were in touch with all the artists last year, and this year, we divided the job like this. I mean, Kaleidoscope was more in charge of artists' relationships, and we were in charge of decision-makers' relationships. So this is how we organized this year, but maybe it's going to change last year. Also, Kaleidoscope has more, of course, experience than us about what are the requirements to showcase inside the mall. So we feel like it was more efficient if they were in charge of this issue.
[00:30:44.145] Kent Bye: Yeah, so I guess the pitches and the prototypes, was there a lot of overlap between those two? Because sometimes when I would see a prototype, I would want to have more context, or I would want to see the video, the prototype, along with the pitch right next to it. And it's sort of like when you're online, There's some information that's in 2D and then some information that has happened in a pitch session, which is a video that's somewhere that either I was there or not. And a prototype, I can see the prototype, but then sometimes I would see the prototype and then I would be lacking a lot of context. So I feel like kind of an integration of all these things might be needed, but it was sort of like, split up. But I'm just, you know, as you move forward and think about this, you know, it'd be great to be able to, like, get all the information you need from a streamlined, either immersive experience, or if it's online, it seems kind of fragmented in that way of seeing a piece, but like, needing more context. And so just curious to hear a little bit more as you move forward, how you might streamline some of that.
[00:31:40.745] Elie Levasseur: Yeah, yeah, I agree on that point. And you're right saying, okay, the one on one meetings was on one platform called b square, the pitching session was on zoom, and the prototype showcase was in the mall. So yeah, as you said, it was really fragmented, but it's difficult because prototype showcase can only happen inside the mall. Pitching session, we had this stream inside the mall, but when we speak with a lot of decision makers, they ask us, okay, please do it in 2D because we are not sure that we can attend the pitching session. I mean, 45 minutes pitching session inside the mall and then another 45 session to meet the artist and try the prototypes. It was at the end, it was like few hours inside the more and it was complicated for different thing. First is, I mean, all the decision makers don't have a rift or a vibe. Some of them have a, on your quest for instance, and the quest is not compatible so far with the more. And the other thing is we feel like, It was maybe at some point, it was great to see each other's faces. And pitching session, online pitching session was great for that. Even if it's not a physical relationship, at least they can see each other's face. And I think before a meeting inside the mall through, of course, avatars, I think it was great for them also to see each other. But, yeah, I mean, there is no, maybe, yeah, we have to think about it. Maybe there is no ideal solution and it was a bit fragmented this year. Yeah, but it's a good point. Let's think about what we can improve for next year. But maybe it's also, OK, we chose the Moor because we feel like it was a really cool space, especially in terms of design. I like the beauty of the Moor and I think it's It's a place appropriate to showcase some XR pieces, artistic pieces. It's not really the case of all the other platforms I saw used by other festivals. But on the other hand, the reality is, the more is maybe in terms of accessibility, it's not maybe the best platform because so far it's only accessible to Rift, and Vive. So you need a headset and you need a tattooed headset. So it's maybe not the best platform in terms of accessibility. And it's true that a lot of our decision makers and participants struggle a bit to have the right tattooed headset to be part of the body.
[00:34:27.779] Kent Bye: Yeah, until there's like offline rendering 5G distribution or to be able to stream VR experiences that are high resolution, that's sort of technology that I haven't seen a good prototype or demo of, but that is maybe a catalyst. In order to have the accessibility of the Quest, you would need to have a completely different distribution platform to be able to actually get that content because it is 65 gigabytes and it does take a while to download if you download each of the four DLCs. If I were to add one suggestion or comment, it's just that to have everything start all at the same time, maybe think about potentially starting with the online exhibition to at least give people time to check out the experiences. before they sort of dive in to start to have people talking about it. Because there's a lot of discussions about people talking about projects that people haven't even had a chance to see yet. And so it took me at least two or three days to get through all the content. But by that time, all of the online content was already over. So you're kind of like watching the content in the absence of actually seeing the experiences. And so to kind of think about if in the future, you actually do need to have things still fragmented because you can have an emotional connection with somebody that's, you see their face and you see them pitch on Zoom, you know, that's a better bandwidth, but maybe having people an opportunity to actually have seen the prototypes before they actually see the pitches, just so they have a little bit more context and just to see how to maybe kind of space that out in a way where you have it more spread out a little bit, because when you meet face-to-face, you can do it all in parallel. But when it's online, then it's a little bit more difficult because you have to really dedicate yourself to context switching in a way that makes it difficult to go from Zoom and then to jump in into the pitch session and then to go into the more and, you know, go into the meetings. So, yeah, that would be my suggestion is to maybe launch the online first and then give more space and time for these other things to kind of follow afterwards.
[00:36:23.275] Elie Levasseur: No, that's super interesting. Thank you for your comments. Yeah, yeah, I mean, we have, of course, yeah. There is another interesting point is like, since we have a lot of, you know, tech players committed to XR, I feel like it was maybe the breakeven of the event online is maybe easier to reach than in real life events. And I think that if we have more time for next edition I think we can involve tech players in this edition and have maybe a much more robust also solutions. I say it because I was amazed you know this year for the very first time I had some call from tech players say okay can we help in some way happy to provide some platform or some I mean in-kind partnerships And it was the very first time, I mean, actually, usually I have to call them to see what we can do together. And for the first time this year, it was different. So I feel like even for tech players, having this kind of online virtual events, maybe they're also much more interested to partner with us. So maybe something we can rely on for the next edition and to bring something which in terms of accessibility, I think we can do far more better. And maybe with the help of these players, we can achieve that.
[00:37:56.766] Kent Bye: Great. Well, just to kind of wrap things up here, I'm just curious for you, what do you think the ultimate potential of immersive technologies and immersive storytelling might be and what you think it might be able to enable?
[00:38:10.973] Elie Levasseur: Yeah, I think I like to compare the situation of immersive storytelling with the beginning, the early days of cinema, actually. I think we are quite in the same situation there. When we are back in the 1920s, when this moving image came up, you know, as a new medium, we saw a lot of different artists, you know, painters or choreographers trying to use this new medium and see how how they can integrate this new medium into their existing arts. And I feel like we are a little bit in the same situation. I feel like, OK, we are the traditional storyteller. We are the choreographer. We are the artist. And they all feel the potential of this new medium. And they try to play with it and how to integrate in their own vision and their own art. But I feel like this is just beginning. And maybe at some point we will have a new generation of artists playing with this tool from the very beginning, you know, and when maybe in so in 15 years, for instance, we're going to have some new artists who start to work from the very beginning with this medium. And I think this new generation, maybe We'll use this medium in a totally different way. And I think we're not going to have, you know, XR applied to storytelling or XR applied to opera or XR applied to painting. We're going to have a new art, a new form of art, which is difficult now to imagine what's going to be clearly. But I think we're going to have a new, a new form of art mixing, maybe combining different artistic practices, but something different, something which is going to be different than cinema and than circus or than opera. And so I feel like when we're going to have this new form, the industry around this new form will be set up exactly with the cinema. You know, at the very beginning, people were looking in the small Lentils to see some kind of new moving images during like 30 seconds. But at some point, OK, we transform these moving images into a show, and then we create dedicated places to watch these movies, which are movie theaters. And I think the same, we're going to have maybe a new form of art with a new dedicated space and with new business model between all these players. And maybe in 15 years, having an extra section into a movie festival would be just amazing. Maybe XR is going to have its dedicated events, its dedicated places, and its dedicated artists. And we are far from imagining what will be this new form of art, because all of us, we are trying to explore a new language, a new form, and it's going to take a little longer to have something really finalized. But this is the way how I see it. I mean, I'm sure that what is exciting is I'm sure about the potential of this technology. I'm sure that this is going to bring a new form of art. This is going to bring a new potential for humanity to create stories. I'm sure of that. I'm not sure about the device. And I guess that the device will change in the next few years. But I'm sure that at the end, we're going to have this new form of art. This is something I really believe in.
[00:42:01.835] Kent Bye: Great. Is there anything else that's left unsaid that you'd like to say to the immersive community?
[00:42:07.840] Elie Levasseur: I just want to say, I mean, we are experimenting tough times right now, especially for artists. I think, of course, all the festivals and the LBE players are going to be impacted. And so the art is going to be impacted for sure. But I really trust in the potential of the medium, so I think we're going to find the solution to maintain the activities of the artist and to try to make the market rise in the few years. I'm really confident to that.
[00:42:46.543] Kent Bye: Awesome. Well, I'm really glad that you're able to have these partnerships with all these different companies and to pull off what seems to be a little bit of a miracle in just two short months to be able to pull all this together. I think there's a long way to go to make it really feel integrated and less fragmented and the technology is like the first iteration and so there's still some glitches here and there. But overall, I'm really optimistic to see where this goes in the future to have a commitment to this type of hybrid event, especially to make these type of gatherings more accessible for people. And I think what Khan is doing is a great model to allow people to have access to the prototypes and these pitch sessions. I think it makes sense to have this hybrid feature as you move forward. And it's just great to see what you're able to do this year. And I look forward to seeing how it continues to evolve and this will probably be the worst that it ever is and it just will continue to get better and better and better over time. So I'm excited to see what you've been able to achieve this year and look forward to what happens in the future.
[00:43:41.841] Elie Levasseur: Thank you. Thank you very much, Kent. And of course, you are invited, whatever we're going to do next year, you are invited to join either in real life or virtual, but happy to have you in.
[00:43:54.451] Kent Bye: Awesome. Thank you. So that was LA Levasseur. He's the XR program lead for con XR, which is a part of the March to the film for con film festival. So I have a number of different takeaways about this interview is that first of all, well, the March to film is a film market, which is the business side of the con film festival. This really was a fast turnaround. It was like two months for them to be able to take what was going to be a co-located event in France with all these different. exhibitions of the content and the positron chairs, and they had to translate it all online. And what Ellie said was that, you know, it's pretty much impossible for them to do it by themselves. They really needed to collaborate with other people. So their collaboration with Tribeca was able to show a lot of the different experiences that would have premiered at the Tribeca Festival back in April. There was a collaboration that Tribeca did with Oculus to be able to show their 360 degree program. And so this was just to show their six degree experiences that up to this point haven't been able to be seen. And it worked actually really quite well for Tribeca to be able to show a lot of their different experiences there within the Museum of Other Realities. Overall, there's like a 65 gigabyte download to be able to download all four different showcases. And the main part of the Konexer Festival is the development showcase. So it's their collaboration with Kaleidoscope, where they brought together over 20 different projects, and it was kind of fragmented across three different platforms. you know, given that there was only two weeks, that's all they could do. But even if they had more time, I think that's probably what they would end up doing anyway, because there's differences in mediums and what is the best use of each of the mediums. They were broadcasting these Zoom calls within the Museum of Other Realities, but there weren't a lot of people that are actually watching them in there just because it was a lot better experience just to watch it on a video monitor and to be able to see people's faces and be able to interact with them through the chat. If you were in the Museum of Other Realities watching the stream, then you actually had no way to be able to communicate back. You'd be a lot better if you were on the zoom call or having some other way to be able to actually communicate directly with the different pitch sessions. So there was a pitch sessions that were happening. Then there was the one-on-one meetings that Khan was taking charge of both curating a lot of the different funders and distributors and folks that have the financial resources to be able to actually kickstart a lot of these different projects. And so they were in charge of that end. And then Kaleidoscope took care of. gathering together all the different projects and putting together in the museum of other realities and then putting together these different pitch sessions. As I would go through and watch the different experiences, then my thought was that it'd be nice to be able to have a little bit more context of this program, but I also wasn't funding any of these at the same time. So people who were more likely using the 2d website interface to be able to get a little bit more context, but. In the future, it would be cool to be able to see all these things come together. If a pitch session happened on the first couple of days, then if it was running for another week or so, is there ways for people to be able to go in there and be able to see everything together? So obviously when you go to a face-to-face gathering, there's just a lot of informal connection and ways to build relationships that is still at this point really difficult to replicate on the online sphere. They're kind of having a variety of different platforms to be able to do the Zoom calls and the pitch sessions and the one-on-one meetings and the museum of other realities to be able to actually see the experiences. Again, my big takeaway was it'd be nice to be able to maybe open up the online exhibition to be able to actually see the prototypes and some of the different experiences before all the meetings start. Because for me, I just want to see the content, but then it means more to be able to actually see the experiences first and then perhaps catch the pitch sessions or the other talks about different topics and industry afterwards. But there were an online event that was really matching what was happening in con when it would have actually physically happened. But just to think about bumping up access to the online exhibition, just to give people an opportunity to see the experiences and then the opportunity to kind of talk about it, to have everything in parallel all at the same time, just makes it difficult to actually have some cohesive conversations when nobody's been able to see any of the online exhibition yet. And that most of the different deals that happen, Ellie was talking about how there's like a cadence of different events that you go to, and then you end up meeting these different people at these different events and then have these conversations that go over time. And then eventually a deal is done, but that doesn't necessarily happen right there on the spot. So they tend to follow up with people later to be able to see, you know, whether or not they were able to cultivate some of the relationships and raise the funding that they needed. So the thing that was interesting was ConXR comparing itself to other festivals that actually have a selection of different projects like Sundance, Tribeca, South by Southwest or Venice. These are existing film festivals, but also have some of the most mature selections of different experiences. Of course, there's lots of other different regional festivals as well as places to be able to show some of these different selections. You know, the ones that I'm mentioning are not the only ones, but. In terms of the world premieres and where the creators are trying to premiere stuff, then there's sort of a rhythm that happens over the course of the year at these major festivals. And, you know, the film festivals actually have other major film festivals that don't necessarily have immersive exhibitions yet. So Ellie was saying that, you know, because they're a little bit of an underdog, then they have the opportunity to be able to innovate in different ways. And so as we move forward, it'll be interesting to see what Venice does, what Sundance does next year, because I imagine that both of them are going to have to do some sort of virtual exhibition as well. And so. just to see what's possible for the Museum of Other Realities, they were able to do quite a lot within the two months they had. There is a lot of different technical glitches and details that I ran into for a variety of different things, and I think over time they'll be able to resolve a lot of those. I think probably the biggest one was with the Kaleidoscope Development Showcase. you went into a 6DOF experience and that there is no way to kick back out and exit if it's just like an endless demo, then you end up having to do a hard reboot, which was pretty annoying after you had to do it a number of times. But other than that, you know, it's a pretty seamless experience to be able to go in and see these different experiences. I would like to see in the future maybe a little bit more effort for the people who are showing their development showcase to think a little bit about the installation, because as some of these projects go out and start to show at major film festivals like Sundance or Tribeca, then the whole installation aspect is a pretty significant part of that. And I'd say probably of all the different installations that were there, all the different showcases, the Book of Distance had a really amazing one. I really love Alinea, as well as Minimum Mass. And actually, the Great Sea had a really great character that was a part of their installation. So just thinking about what is the magic circle that you're setting within that installation space to be able to go from the wide world into a little bit of a taste of what your world is about. And functionally it kind of serves as a memory palace for me as I start to see a little bit more context before I actually enter into the experience. It just helps my memory to remember experiences coming in and going out. So that's something that in the future that I'd recommend the development showcase also consider is the actual installation, especially if it's virtual, because you're not actually have to build out the installation, but as these pieces go out and potentially show at some of these different festivals, then the installation portion is actually a pretty key part. So yeah, just some interesting little tidbits here. One is that, you know, there's a lot of major tech companies that were paying attention and reaching out to ConXR to be able to see how they can help out. 65 gigabytes of downloads is not a great experience. You need to have a high end PC. But, you know, at the same time, that's pretty much what you would see if you were going to actual festivals. So it's able to replicate that. But accessibility is an issue. If people don't have that, then You know, what are alternative ways to be able to potentially stream experiences through 5G or remote rendering? I haven't actually seen a compelling demo or there's not actually much catalyst to do that. So it'll be interesting to see how this continues to develop technology wise, but certainly it's a lot of effort to be able to like download 65 gigabytes of content to be able to see all of these different showcases and prevented a lot of people from actually being able to participate. But, you know, when you compare that to the costs that it would require to travel around the world and go to the conference, then, you know, you're talking about hotels and travel and entry fees, then to be able to actually have a VRPC is probably a good investment for people. And at this point, it's the best alternative to traveling around the world to seeing some of these different experiences. So this is one step towards making it more accessible. And I think the user experience of everything is just going to continue to improve and evolve over time. And I hope to, at some point, touch base with the developers of the Museum of Other Realities and touch base again with Rene Penel from Kaleidoscope, just to get a little bit more context and update for all the things that he's doing, because he's a pretty key part of helping to curate the larger immersive industry, especially when it comes to the artists and the storytellers that are creating these different projects and using the kaleidoscope.fund platform to be able to do community grants and all sorts of really exciting things that they have going on. to have ways that are really helping the artists to figure out how to pitch and to raise money for these different projects. As everything's been shutting down from the normal methods of traveling around the world and meeting with people, Rene was already trying to figure out a more efficient way to do this fundraising process. And so a lot of the stuff that he's built is already really geared towards that. So having different partnerships with ConXR and other entities that are already trying to bring in these different distributors, then it's just part of the overall funding ecosystem that is In some ways, it's just very broken, the distribution and everything. It's a bit of a chicken and egg problem where the distribution for these pieces is not fully fleshed out. And so you need to have funders that are willing to fund things that may only be shown at some of these different festivals. But I think it's still important to do this type of work because it's on the bleeding edge of trying to experiment and see what's possible with the future of immersive storytelling. So that's all that I have for today, and I just wanted to thank you for listening to the Voices of VR podcast. And if you enjoy the podcast, then please do spread the word, tell your friends, and consider becoming a member of the Patreon. This is a listener-supported podcast, and so I do rely upon donations from people like yourself in order to continue to bring you this coverage. So you can become a member and donate today at patreon.com slash Voices of VR. Thanks for listening.