#854 DocLab: ARTE’s Kay Meseberg on Funding Immersive Storytelling & the History of New Mediums

ARTE is a French German television network that promotes cultural programming that was started in 1992, and they’ve been pioneers in the digital space for a long time. They’ve also funded over 60 VR projects over the past 5 years including many landmark projects including Notes on Blindness, Battlescar, Gloomy Eyes, Alteration, and I, Philip.

Kay Meseberg is the head of mission innovation at ARTE looking at the the “TV of After Tomorrow,” and so he’s been involved in looking at the immersive storytelling potential of virtual reality, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence. Meseberg authored a paper with Regina Kaplan-Rakowski about the “Immersive Media and their Future” where they look into the past to see the evolution of previous communications mediums. They saw that there was almost immediate benefit for every previous medium, and they’re seeing very similar patterns for XR. It’s in part of these insights, that ARTE has been so forward-looking and a believer in immersive technologies as a new medium for storytelling that they’ve invested heavily over the past five years in working with a number of immersive storytellers from around the world to push forward what’s possible from a storytelling perspective.

I had a chance to catch up with Meseberg at the IDFA DocLab where we talk about his journey into tracking the intersection of story and technology, his research into how VR fits within the larger trends of previous communications mediums, the work they’re doing for digital distribution as well as experimenting with location-based entertainment, as well as some of the production highlights from the roster of more than 60 immersive narrative titles that they’ve produced.

We also talk about French media theorist Bernard Miège’s definition of a communication medium as being the “distribution and the edition” and how he’s been getting some recent inspiration from Pierre Klossowski on “Liquid Currency” as well as from MIT’s György Kepes and inventor of holography Dennis Gabor on how technology could be used in balance with nature and the environment.

ARTE has been doing an amazing job of helping to support over 60 different VR projects that have been pushing forward the language of storytelling within VR, and I look forward to seeing more US-based companies follow their lead in helping to fund a lot of pioneering work. Oculus has been funding quite a lot of content in the U.S., but there’s not been nearly as much experimentation of funding cutting-edge narrative content from companies like Netflix, Amazon, HBO, Disney, or Hulu. Without additional distribution channels and experiments with producing location-based entertainment content, then many artists and immersive storytellers have to find alternative sources of funding or do international co-productions. Hopefully there will be more companies who look to see what ARTE has been doing as the European immersive storytelling community has been getting a lot more support and funding to produce narrative experiments.


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Music: Fatality

Rough Transcript

[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 continuing on my series of looking at some of the narrative innovations coming out of the IDFA DocLab this year, today's conversation is with Kai Messenberg. He's the head of mission innovation of ARTE, and they're dealing with the TV of after tomorrow. So ARTE is this collaboration between France and Germany it's like a public broadcasting type of entity that is funding all sorts of really interesting projects. For the last like five or six years they've funded 50 to 60 different VR projects and so they go to artists and storytellers and they give them money and resources to experiment and innovate with what's possible with storytelling within this new medium. So in a lot of ways, a lot of the projects that they've been funding, everything from Notes on Blindness and Battlescar and Gloomy Eyes, you know, these have been really the darlings of this film festival circuit. They've been funding and supporting the future of the immersive storytelling medium. I see Arte's name at the end of credits and so many different projects that I see at these different festivals. So Kai Messenberg talks about Arte, their mission and what they're doing and how they're really looking at the TV of after tomorrow. And, you know, they started streaming in 2006 when Netflix came around in 2007. So they have a completely different model. I don't think there's anything that's really comparable here in the United States. There's public broadcasting, there's Netflix, Amazon, Disney. HBO, but they're not necessarily like funding a lot of innovation when it comes to like the future of immersive storytelling. So it's just nice to see the different mindsets and philosophies of these different cultures and resulting in different economic contexts and structures to be able to, you know, push forward what's happening in the medium of virtual reality. So Cover all that and more on today's episode of the Voices of VR podcast. So this interview with Kai happened on Sunday, November 24th, 2019 at the IDFA doc lab in Amsterdam, Netherlands. So with that, let's go ahead and dive right in.

[00:02:04.322] Kay Meseberg: Hello, my name is Kai Messeberg. I'm head of mission innovation at Arte. I'm dealing with the theory of after tomorrow. That's my subject. So with all sorts of new technologies for internal purposes and for programs, so which deals with immersive media, artificial intelligence, data, new interfaces, new screens, all that kind of questions.

[00:02:25.390] Kent Bye: So maybe you could give me a bit more context as to your background and your journey into what you're doing now.

[00:02:31.137] Kay Meseberg: Yeah. Well, I started working as a journalist in the 90s. I was always the guy coming as a first into the office, you know, with a floppy disk, sending the text by emails. I did a lot of... I started to do some interactive productions in the 90s, even some video with real player and stuff like that. And over the time, I turned from journalist into sometimes project manager, sometimes advisor, sometimes heading production, sometimes directing something. Also with a focus on new things coming up. So for instance, I participated with the first video platform for the first German TV in the 00 years. I also did a lot of other award-winning projects. And my idea was always like, how can you combine story and technology to create something out of it, which at the end creates jaw-dropping stuff for all generations. Actually, we achieved that with PolarSea360, with our colleagues from ZDF and ARTE together and a Canadian company called Deep Ink, Thomas Wallner. The first, more or less, documentary 360 back in 2014. And then the whole VR train happened, immersive media and everything, and we built up the ARTE 360 platform. which we are finishing this year and we had a really great roller coaster ride in Immersive Media in the last five years.

[00:03:55.858] Kent Bye: So when was the first time that you tried virtual reality then?

[00:03:59.081] Kay Meseberg: It was with the DK1 in 2014 with the first assets from PolarC360. I see.

[00:04:08.868] Kent Bye: So we're here at the ITVA DocLab and I've seen Arte in the credits for a number of different productions and so have you been like a co-producer of a lot of pieces that have ended up going to a lot of these festivals like at Sundance, Tribeca, South by Southwest, Venice and ITVA?

[00:04:26.167] Kay Meseberg: Arte is just a background on Arte, so we are based on a German-French-German partnership. The two countries producing together program now since roughly almost 30 years. It's also expanding into an European platform with lots of different other languages like Spanish, Polish, Italian and others. Arte is, since its beginning more or less, always interested in new technology. So we were the TV channel who broadcasted in HD back in the days. We started streaming, video streaming in 2006, you know, Netflix in 2007. So we were always interested in new technology and especially our colleagues in Paris like Marianne and Gilles. and all the other teams they have engaging a lot into exploring new kind of ways to tell stories. It can be web series, immersive content like virtual reality. It can be lots of different things like games, etc, etc. The list is really long and with that we got a kind of expertise and so got an expertise we can use to engage and co-produce programs in both countries.

[00:05:32.610] Kent Bye: Well, as I've been covering the space of virtual reality, I've noticed just a trend of how these projects go about, and I see that there's new technology that comes out, the artists and the storytellers get a hold of the technology and they try to tell stories with that new technology, and then They have to get it into the hands of users somehow, either some distribution mechanism, usually at this point it's been consolidated at these film festivals, or if it's a game they could distribute it through Steam or itch.io or Oculus Home or PSVR, you know, if they kind of go through those official channels, but that's more on the gaming side. For the story side, it feels like There's YouTube VR for doing 360 video, or you can put out your own application and wrap it. But there seems to be a gap between the type of content that I'm seeing at these immersive festivals and the distribution mechanisms to get them out into the audiences. And then once it gets into the hands of audiences, then the audience has to learn how to watch it, which is a whole other thing. So it seems like this dialectic between the creator and the audience, but the distribution seems to be the weakest link right now into getting these experiences into the hands of the people. So I'm just curious what you're doing at Arte in terms of the distribution.

[00:06:42.898] Kay Meseberg: Yeah, well, we are in a phase of, let's say, location-based. We had it always, you know, with TV, with radio, it always took 20, 30 years. I recently also wrote an article with a colleague of mine, Regina, about it, Immersive Meter and their future. It always happened when a new medium arrived that it took years to adapt, to find out what is the content you like to do, what is the content that people enjoy. I mean, the first TV productions, you know, they were almost theater, like for the films. And we are at that kind of point, I think, in terms of immersive media. I think it's really crucial to find out how can we jump on that train of new media, of this kind of new medium, but with a really simple entrance point. It needs to be as simple as breathing, as drinking a glass of water, you know, stuff like that. And that's a crucial part which technology is improving and it improved during the last four or five years really a lot. but we are not there. But what we are doing is really a mix of digital distribution and also location-based, so where people see what art is doing in an atmosphere of public places and stuff like that. We are cooperating with a lot of institutions like the Cultural Ministry in France for an event called Microfolie, which happens for hundreds of thousands of people all over France to show immersive content similar in Germany with festivals but also with cultural institutions, museums, etc. The list is long and I think it's really in this period of time of location-based immersive media, so to say, it's really important and it's really interesting to see how this train is going but on the way to become something bigger in whenever kind of time.

[00:08:33.975] Kent Bye: I know that Simon Wordly has a technology innovation as well as dissemination curves that go through like these four phases of having a concept, an idea, that's kind of like this duct tape prototype in academia. And then there's the early enterprise applications, either the military or elsewhere where you're able to then have a custom bespoke application, but it's customized for each context. So you have a lot of enterprise training applications with the new technologies. And then eventually it gets to the point where you're able to go to the mass consumer scale, and then at some point becomes just mass ubiquity. It's everywhere. But I see that, in some ways, VR is still, in a lot of ways, in that custom bespoke distribution with enterprise training. And so I think in your paper, you're also talking about training applications of other media as well before they go into this mass level. So I'm just curious if what you found when you look at the other media, if it followed this similar trajectory of innovation curves and getting to the point where it was getting into a mass consumer product, and what the different phases were that we could learn from as we look back into the history.

[00:09:40.057] Kay Meseberg: I think it was always interesting to see that with every new medium there was always a benefit for no matter who or what reason, but there was always a benefit added on something. If you compare cinema to TV, for cinemas you had to go somewhere, for TV you made it able that everybody can have a screen at home or several screens. So that was a kind of benefit and I think for immersive media, we need to kind of find out and discover what is the benefit. I mean, we know that about empathy, about really this kind of immersion, as we say, this is already a benefit, but maybe it's not all. Maybe there's something more which distinguish that kind of step, because, I mean, a video game can be as immersive as a VR experience. When I think back and playing Wolfenstein in the 90s, I had immersive feelings as well, you know, but what else is there and what else can let's say foster a development of something like immersive media in that kind of sense that it brings something for the people which they haven't seen like that before. And we had this with the first productions, of course with Notes on Blindness, of course with Polar C360, with Etro Space, with a lot of different productions. But to jump over this kind of gap, to bring that to everybody and to really kind of click moment happens for everybody, that's where we are and that's what we need to find out more deeper, I think. Also in thinking about how can we Yeah, make it as easy as possible to enjoy these kind of productions. Is it really necessary to have a mask where you cut out from outside? Is maybe the transparent way the better one? For use cases, it can be. And all these kind of questions are, I think, really important. And I can go now on philosophy and stuff, but let's take it here.

[00:11:37.573] Kent Bye: What's the philosophical aspect?

[00:11:40.643] Kay Meseberg: I'm kind of, since some weeks, I'm kind of months, kind of rediscovering stuff like, if you don't know, maybe Pierre Klosowski's Liquid Currency, or the works of Georgi Kepes at MIT, also the great inventor of holography. Dennis Gabor. I really like this kind of notion to use technology in a balance with nature and the environment and how can you integrate technology into your living, into How can you make it like part of your life without interrupting your life? You know, this kind of question. How can it be positive for climate? You know, all these questions related to devices and screens, which is kind of really interesting to dip the nose into books or e-books and to find out more about where can all this go to and where can it do something good as well at the end of the day.

[00:12:44.141] Kent Bye: Yeah, in your paper you were talking about the medium and what a medium could be defined as and I think you mentioned like Bajali and how he was talking about there is both the distribution aspect and addition. What is the definition of a medium? Like what does that mean when you start to look at all the mediums and then if you look at the different ways to have some theory around what it even is, what are the fundamental component parts of a medium?

[00:13:07.758] Kay Meseberg: Yeah, it's really interesting. We took for this work the work of Bernard Meech, a French theorist of media. He says something completely simple. He says a medium needs two things, the distribution and the editorial process of content. So it can be radio, it applies to TV, it applies to cinema, it applies to lots of internet digital products, e-books, books, etc. games, video games, obviously. And that's a bit the crucial part, to have immersive media as a medium. It is in the process, as we see it at ARTE and a lot of other institutions, it is something that is provided by the people working on that kind of content. But I think it's really crucial to have it, because otherwise it can be, like we say in French, n'importe quoi, everything. It can be a big mess, but also a big joy, but you know to kind of funnel and create Best experience possible you need people who have great experience in creating Content and stories and all that and that's a bit the point to do here Because the way you bring something to someone and to say, if you miss watching this, you really miss something, is sometimes in immersive media today not really given. It's a bit like big marketing campaigns and stuff like that, but not that often on an editorial level. We always try to do that and I see other people doing it. but I think it's crucial for understanding of the biggest amount of people possible for that kind of medium that you kind of take them by the hands in creating experiences which are media experience so to say and not only technology experience or not only art experience or not only alphabetic experiences, you know, to combine the stuff together in a sense that you create click moments, that you create a kind of aha moments and that you're kind of able in our media economy today to create something sustainable for everybody involved.

[00:15:15.148] Kent Bye: So it's the content and the distribution of that content. So you can look at books, films, TV, virtual reality, augmented reality, potentially even artificial intelligence, trained neural networks. You could start to think about that as content that is being distributed out. But if you look at these new emerging technologies, whether it's XR or AI, how do you start to define what that content is in contrast to the existing media and the existing content?

[00:15:41.578] Kay Meseberg: I mean, even though we are now in year five, six?

[00:15:46.380] Kent Bye: Well, 1968 would be 50 years, or 51 years overall, but yeah, in the 90s. But in terms of the modern resurgence, yeah, from 2012 into the Kickstarter to then the first kits of 2013 is when it was in the hands of developers. So yeah, anywhere from seven years now, at least from 2012, I would put that as the kind of modern resurgence. But I mean, it's difficult to pin because there's been continuing innovations since 1968, really.

[00:16:13.609] Kay Meseberg: The Lumière brothers, they were doing 360 projections already, so obviously it's really hard to pin. But I think the main question is, a bit like I said, the benefit, but this kind of moment, because distribution is more, let's say, how we see it, the industrial side of it, while editorial is more the author, journalist, editor side of it. and today it is not really sustainable as it is still. Exploration phase, I think. A lot of talents are coming to it, a lot of people are trying out things, a lot of people from different backgrounds, games, cinema, etc. But it is not at the moment of either having the cinema as a physical place or the soap opera as a driving format. or live reporting for radio, which were kind of click moments to really create something out of it. And will we arrive somewhere? It's always hard to predict, but I think we need that kind of moment that it kind of makes click the one or the other way, that it is just convincing, you know, and it's not only pushed into market, but it's also convincing in a deep understanding okay, this is really something I cannot get in games. You know, we see things where there are little click moments maybe, like Beat Saber and, you know, kind of big productions or even Job Simulator, you know, it was a kind of thing like, ah, okay, you know, this is doing more than what I had with other kind of mediums, but I think it will just need that kind of moment that you have to discover and to understand and And when I see, when I watch kids handling with AR or with other kind of things today, I see that it is getting more and more natural and normal and just the way to use it is just getting a kind of normal thing. And I think this will support really a lot the creation of a sustainable industry in that kind of, sustainable media industry in that kind of field.

[00:18:32.502] Kent Bye: Well, if we look at video game and video game distribution as an analog, you have different technology platforms where you have mobile, like mobile phones, you have maybe the Game Boys and the Nintendo Switches, where it's like self-contained units that are mobile, and then the consoles, which are more hooked up to a TV, and then the PC gaming, and then the arcades, which, you know, in the United States have really gone down over the years, once the video games got to the point where the graphical fidelity and the content was Arguably better than what you would get an arcade, but I think with virtual reality we're seeing in some ways a resurgence of those arcades those location-based entertainment experiences where the technology is so expensive that just not practical to have like the type of experiences that you could have with motion platforms or haptic devices or smell and able to prototype a lot of the future where things could go with the limits of what could happen and then maybe even beyond the arcades into like arena scale or like the Madison Square Gardens like 18,000 people sphere and the dome experiences so but for our day I'm just curious where you see fitting into that because there's need for 360 video distribution there's need for getting a artistic story content into people's hands, and then also content that is maybe location-based entertainment. So I'm just curious where you're focused at in terms of distribution of this immersive content.

[00:19:52.041] Kay Meseberg: Yeah, well, we do work a little on digital distribution, but also location-based in terms of events and happenings with different partners, production companies, and creators, and institutions. Usually, our role is a bit like maybe exaggerate but it's kind of maybe door opener for something so that we support new technologies and new emerging things and then we see what happens and when it turns out as something standardized we integrate it in like a normal program maybe but we are not in this kind of middle path of business building and business development that is really not our focus in terms of how ARTE functions you know we are public broadcaster We were at the beginning a political project turned into a medium which is widely known for high quality documentary fiction series and interactive slash new media slash immersive media productions and we are not a research institution but we work together with them you know so Our goal is to be upfront with things, so the new device is coming which creates a hologram between us and this interview and we can interact with that. That's where we see future, where we want to do stuff. But we are not that much into create a business backbone for that kind of medium that is part of other institutions. But we advise and we We have a huge knowledge of stuff and a great network within Europe and beyond, in Canada and the States and in other countries, where we really, really like to look into things and to kind of discover what is new and convincing and hopefully at the end jaw-dropping.

[00:21:46.853] Kent Bye: So for you, what are some of the either biggest open questions you're trying to answer or open problems you're trying to solve?

[00:21:55.576] Kay Meseberg: Well, there are no problems, there are only challenges. I don't know who said it first, but it still rings bells. I think personally, myself, I like challenges because it avoids being bored by stuff. And the second thing is in this changing media landscape today, You need to look into innovation and innovate yourself and think about what your role is and how things are changing and how you can adapt things and how can you gain from innovation and from change. So you need to proactively work on the tomorrow with your knowledge from the past. So there is just no other way than doing that. We saw things going down and we don't want to. I don't think we will, but it's an imperative, I think, to be clear and to observe and to adapt for your organization and for your staff what is happening.

[00:22:56.230] Kent Bye: And finally, what do you think the ultimate potential of immersive technologies and immersive storytelling might be and what that might be able to enable?

[00:23:08.289] Kay Meseberg: Well, there's always the angel and the devil on the shoulders. First, I see a great potential for educational stuff, for B2B, for learning stuff at different kind of jobs or activities. Experience also, and this is interesting in history for instance, to experience history in a good sense, to understand things. It can really empower to understand things better. I mean, experiencing things also physically, and so to understand things better. That's, I think, a huge gain and goal for immersive media. It's just that it needs to be careful to ride wave after wave of, and now this is possible, and now this, and now this. Yeah, okay, that's great. It's always great to push technology, but to bring sense in it in a sense of, let's say in a natural sense of behaving and the way you interact with people that you kind of adapt and learn from that also to interact with technology and then through technology with people. I see it already as a huge milestone, I think the last milestone in Massive Media in its general sense. We achieved with it something I wouldn't have imagined before when I started. I was really so surprised. I mean we did the first LBEs for Polar Sea for 20 people, 50, 100, 500, 1000 and growing and obviously it's calmed and cooled a bit down because there were some over promises. even for us But it's still I mean if you go to festivals like that or like here it fell to others it replaced completely already the whole New media section, you know, which is now kind of AI slash immersive media section and to learn from it and now to go into next steps that this I think We have to do and to find out I'm quite convinced that we will arrive somehow and sometime at something which creates experiences that are just natural, waved into our environment. that kind of assist, that kind of create experiences in the wild without lots of hassles and devices and things like that. So my kind of dream is to look into it as a technology that maybe arrive one day at the point where it works like breathing, you know, where it works like a completely natural way and is integrated in daily life and stuff like that. That's something quite exciting.

[00:26:07.281] Kent Bye: Anything else that's left unsaid that you'd like to say to the immersive community?

[00:26:11.962] Kay Meseberg: It's really, I was surprised some years ago. I mean, I was like, I tiptoed in it a long time after a lot of other people. And I was called one day on a Twitter list, VR veteran. But I only did one, two, three projects. Time is really crucial, I think. I remember talking to Antoine and Pierre from Atlas when they still had Occhio. You remember back then when you did this kind of video and he was like, yeah, but Kai, it was like nine months ago. It was like, oops. So I think in a community we need to consider this kind of rollercoaster ride we had in the last years. It just happens normally within 20 years maybe. It was so dense and compact and full of experiences and full of steps and full of impressions. and new friends and new contacts and this and that. I think it's a good time to let the dust settle a bit and to take one or two books and to think about what happened while reading and building out of that new stuff. It was really an exciting time and I think more exciting times are coming.

[00:27:30.127] Kent Bye: You said you worked on two or three projects and I know I've seen just either from Atlas 5 projects or a number of different projects at festivals, Arte being in the credits. Can you just briefly list some of the big projects that you've helped support and fund over the years?

[00:27:44.965] Kay Meseberg: Well, I can say that as Arte, me myself, you know, I was sometimes more or less into projects, but the first was Polar Sea 360 with Thomas Wallner and Deep Ink, Liquid Cinema, which turned later Liquid Cinema, and we saw that, and then we created the Arte 360 platform, where a lot of other projects were published. Notes on Blindness was an app, but also with one chapter on it. Okay, The Edge of Space, Mont Blanc, Climb and 360, which was the first and copied after that quite often. We had the Stratosphere program, we had a project with Noni de la Pena, We Who Remain, which is really great. Minus 22.7. Oh gosh, we had this whole art trip series of paintings where you step into paintings like The Cry and a lot of other paintings. Obviously iPhilip as one of the outstanding fictional projects. We were lucky to have some first projects, you know, also to work with a presenter in the 360 environment like Art Stories. We had like 50, 60 different kinds of projects and now in our back catalogue. And what I just want to add is it was really crucial to work for all these projects with people who know the business of dealing with stories and creators. So my goal was to pass out these projects always to editors, commissioning editors at Arte, who work normally for TV but also sometimes for interactive projects and to bring with that the company into the project, but also to have their knowledge of dealing with new things. So I'm a really huge fan of working on new media, but with people and using their background and their knowledge on everything to not create kind of bubbles and laps behind. but to be really integrative with that and that turned out as a good strategy for the 50-60 different kind of projects we had now for Arte360 and I mean I think I miss some

[00:29:50.951] Kent Bye: Was it Battlescar and Gloomy Eyes?

[00:29:53.612] Kay Meseberg: Yeah, the new ones. Gloomy Eyes is modeled by our friends in Paris and Battlescar as well. Even though I know the prototype since a long time, we were thinking together. I think Gloomy Eyes was a bit, in some parts, also a feedback from iPhilip. You know, we just had iPhilip and it was great and then we said, yeah, but what if we can move with the spectator, can move within the scenes? I'm sitting here and I look to these people, but you know, maybe I want to see them from the back or, you know. With that, that was one of the feedbacks and I think one of the things that led to Gloomy Eyes, which is really great to have also people from cinema there, you know, Colin Farrell and Max Riemel from Germany. And same for Battlescar, which is still for me, I mean, the punchline is one of the greatest. What if punk was invented by women? It's great to have these kind of projects where just reading about it makes you curious and kind of pulls you into something.

[00:30:52.333] Kent Bye: Well, there's a small group of people that have had an opportunity to go to these festivals and see a lot of these projects and I've been to enough of the festivals and see Arte's name come up a number of times and I know that a lot of the projects that you've been supporting have been helping to push forward the medium of virtual reality and it's just nice to see in the larger context of not a lot of taking a chance or risk of putting financing into these projects then, you know, I'm just grateful that somebody's out there pioneering and investing and trying to push forward the medium and hopefully with these projects as they get out there and an audience can see them that they'll have more and more people get involved in both producing and distributing these projects. So I just wanted to thank you for joining me today and kind of unpacking that a little bit more and helping me kind of fill in a gap of the story of what I've been seeing unfold. So yeah, thank you.

[00:31:39.467] Kay Meseberg: I thank you very much for having me. It's great to share experiences and to share what we think, what I think. And I hope this conversation will go on. I mean, also with the community, it's always feedback loops. And at the end, something outstanding will be on the table.

[00:31:58.780] Kent Bye: Thank you so much. So that was Kai Messenberg. He's the head of mission innovation of Arte. He's dealing with the TV of After Tomorrow. So I have a number of different takeaways about this interview is that first of all, well, like I said, at the top of this podcast, Arte is a lot of ways doing some of the most work to be able to support the future of immersive storytelling within virtual reality, just by funding a lot of these different projects, giving money and resources to artists and storytellers, people who know story to be able to experiment and see what's even possible with the medium. So I can't underestimate the impact that they've had and being able to continue to push forward what's possible with the medium, just a lot of great experimentation, just even that battle scar and gloomy eyes this past year, I think have had so many different narrative innovations. Notes on blindness, of course, is one of the the early darlings of the virtual reality storytelling what's possible to do within setting a context of what's it feel like to be able to lose your eyesight and tell the story a really impactful way of using specialized volumetric storytelling so Kai is somebody who has been on the bleeding edge of technology over many different years, starting as a journalist and really interested in seeing what's possible in terms of narrative and storytelling. So Kai also has been looking back into the history, looking into the past. And so he wrote this whole paper with Regina Kaplan-Rakowski. It's called Immersive Media and Their Future. You can Google it or it's going to be in the show notes here. I'll link off to the PDF. It's this paper looking at the history and the evolution of different communications mediums and that whenever a new medium comes about, which is defined by Bernard Miche, the French media theorist, two very simple prerequisites that there's editorial content or the actual like story or whatever you're distributing and a method and means of distributing it. So those two things, you have content, you want to distribute it and having a medium can basically define how that gets into people's hands. So with virtual reality, it's a new medium, because you have the all these new immersive technologies that now you have new ways of putting specific content into that. So in thinking about artificial intelligence, you know, is that a medium? What are you actually putting into that? They're looking at all these new emerging technologies, everything from virtual and augmented reality, I'm looking at the context of things that used to be called transmedia, new media, that pretty much all of those sort of new media emergent fields have been replaced by VR, AR, XR, artificial intelligence, data, new technology screens, new mediums. So looking at the future, but, you know, in his assessment, they looked at the evolution of all these different communications medium and the He said that like every new medium that comes out has instantaneous impact of what the benefits of that medium are for all these different contexts. And that's something that I've been exploring in the podcast here. And I'd say, yeah, it's pretty safe to say for every context, there's impressive uses for VR and that we're still learning about what those are. But I think about it like the ultimate potential of VR. There's a number of different talks that I've talked about trying to break down all the different contexts of those and what the true affordances of the medium are. And I'm probably going to actually put that in as a video on my Patreon, because I've given talks about it before, but to actually put a video there within my Patreon so that you can check out that video and get more context into what some of those underlying applications and benefits are for the medium itself. But just looking at the trends of the history, Arte identified that this is going to be a thing. This is not going to go away. There's so many compelling cases that it's almost an inevitable that in the future that, you know, more and more people, this is a technology to be able to use just because there's so many different compelling use cases that, like I said, we're still trying to figure out. But because of that, they've been on the bleeding edge of trying to push forward what's possible with the medium and specifically looking at the artists and the storytellers and that's something that I've also definitely seen and there's a huge difference for what's happening in Europe and the different artists that are being able to sustain themselves versus what's happening in the United States where it's basically like do or die left up to the modes of capitalism that unless you're able to very clearly say that this is gonna have a very specific return on the investment then it's very difficult for artists to be able to experiment just for the sake of experimentation and discovery it has to be sort of productized in that way and because of that it's sort of like reduces it down to the least common denominators and I think there's less likely to do experimentation without knowing for sure how this is going to be productized and put out there so I Arte right now seems like that they're doing these different experiments and in terms of distribution they've had their own platform to be able to do digital distribution that they've been working on for like 360 videos and whatnot and they've also been doing the location-based entertainment because the demand is there like you have these experiences and they're out there and they'll be sold out things at art galleries that happening at like the Sachi gallery and UK, and there's different locations around the world. Diversion Semina is a distribution partner with Arte, where they've been really trying to be on the front lines of trying to figure out some of those distribution problems and getting it into these different museums and whatnot. And I think that, you know, in the certain museum context, art galleries and other location based entertainment contexts that there's certainly a huge demand for this. Ayahuasca is an experience that premiered at Tribeca. It was also being distributed by Diversion, and they have had it at a number of different festivals that have been at Geneva International Film Festival, and then they had another iteration of it at IDFA DocLab. So with that, they're trying to find what is the way for you to go into this environment and have other things that are happening within the context of, you know, you have this experience, it's like a 20 minute experience or so. But there's also like, different videos you can check out, because you know, how can you make it so that you're not feel like you're kind of waiting in line. So creating a whole museum with different things to listen to music to watch different videos and to see different artwork before you actually go into the VR experience. So you have this kind of onboarding where you're able to learn a little bit more about the project and what's it mean to do the psychedelic ayahuasca journeys in the Amazon, and to see different artwork and learn more information before you actually go have your own embodied experience of that. So that's just an example of some of the experimentation for distribution that was happening at the doc lab this year, happening at the eye museum. So collaborating with a local museum to have this like location based entertainment, experience that you could go and see. And so that's both experimentation for the art museum to see, okay, yeah, actually, there's a huge demand for this. And ayahuasca was one of the experiences that sold out pretty quickly as well. They also were experimenting with ayahuasca experience to do in a dome experience. And so to see how These planetariums that are around the world can start to maybe upgrade some of their projecting system or start to experiment with collaborating with some of these immersive pieces to be able to have new audiences come in to talk about, you know, instead of just showing the stars to kids, there's going to be this artistic content of like a psychedelic experience that like the ayahuasca. So there was also a lot of experimentation here at the doc lab with the dome experiences. And I'll be talking to one of the dome artists, Michaela French, more about what's happening in the dome world and talk to Casper a little bit more about his experimentations with distribution as well. But getting back to Arta, you know, they're looking at location-based entertainment and they're working with the collaboration with other folks like diversion cinema in order to get some of these projects out there, but also just thinking about location-based entertainment as the primary mode of. distributing some of these experiments that they've been funding, like you said, like over 50 to 60 different experiments of immersive storytelling over the last like five or six years. So I'm really excited to see what Arta is doing. And for me, it also shows a huge difference between the culture of what's happening in Europe and just a general supporting of the arts from government and these different types of institutions like Arte, you don't have that here in the United States. And so it's a little bit more of artists that want to get funding to be able to do it. But because there's no money that people really investing, I'm super disappointed that there's not more work on this that's happening from companies like Disney, Amazon, Netflix, Hulu or HBO, you know these entities that are like the leading streaming platforms Like they really should be funding more artists to be able to experiment with stuff even if they aren't putting it on their platform exactly but to think about location-based entertainment and to have a whole pipeline to be able to Keep the innovation happening what the future of immersive storytelling is you have a lot of things that are happening at like comic-con and these you know South by Southwest where you have like these immersive theater type narrative innovations. But there's a lot of work that's happening that can be scalable and put into different aspects of digital distribution that's happening in these festivals like Sundance, Tribeca, South by Southwest, Venice, Cannes, and IDFA DocLab. A lot of these places where there's the frontier of what's happening with this content, I'd love to see more funding of projects and experiments that are happening at these festivals coming from these companies that have a huge amount of money and have the opportunity to be able to innovate. they're not really investing enough within the content and the future distribution of this type of content. So I know that Amazon has had different like 360 videos and they're, they're doing stuff, but I just think that there can be a whole lot more based upon what's happening with Arta. It's like, look at what they're doing and, you know, get it together people. Come on. There's lots of artists that are out there that like need money and need funding. The American based companies are just not doing enough to be able to really support the future of immersive storytelling and look to see what art is doing and then take a page out of their book and start funding artists and storytellers to be able to make and create different narrative experiments. So, that's all I have for today, and I just wanted to thank you for joining me here on the Voices of VR podcast. And if you enjoy the podcast, then please do spread the word, tell your friends, and consider becoming a donor to the podcast. This is a listener-supported podcast, and I do rely upon donations from people like yourself in order to continue to bring you this coverage. I really do need the support from my listeners, and I have a lot of big plans for what I want to do in terms of a memory palace of all space and time to be able to continue to expand out into artificial intelligence and philosophy and mathematics and other domains of really trying to, you know, fuse together all these interdisciplinary insights into the future of spatial computing. There's so many different disciplines and domains that are have a piece of the puzzle that I'm trying to put together here. And so I've got lots of content already captured. And so like I said, if you'd like to support this podcast, I'm going to be posting a video of the ultimate potential of VR, like Kai said, you know, what are the affordances of all these different contexts of the medium and trying to really suss that out. And that's something that I've been doing a lot of work on and presenting on. as a talk, and I'm going to put that as a video within my Patreon. So you can go there and join up and get more information there. But, you know, just to support the work that I'm doing here to try to educate not only you, but the entire community as to what's happening with the evolution of this medium. So you can become a member and donate today at patreon.com slash Voices of VR. Thanks for listening.

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