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VR distribution and proximity initiatives: when immersive creation goes on the move

France example

Working on the issue of distributing virtual reality content often comes down to the idea of a fixed location, capable of offering the best conditions for the public with a permanent hardware installation. Since the resurgence of consumer VR, many have questioned a more flexible, mobile distribution with turnkey solutions. This is a look back at an underlying trend that has been able to bounce back in recent years to capture new audiences.

Post-festival: What if we rolled out the red carpet near you?

New forms of storytelling have found a welcoming ground within festivals and cultural events. Most film events offer various activities to discover digital, VR, or multimedia works. However, frustration can arise from presentations that are too brief, reserved for a knowledgeable audience, and available at a specific time. Festivals have seized upon this issue as a way to continue their activities, pool technical and financial resources, develop their audience and resonance throughout the year, and integrate into a genuine cultural policy within their region.

The local approach to distributing VR content also allows for targeting segmented audiences. Schools, nursing homes, libraries… The distribution possibilities with adapted packages are actually numerous, with the public’s immediate appetite for discovering new worlds. These new edutainment proposals are welcomed with real enthusiasm by an audience that has not yet (or has barely) had the chance to experience virtual reality content. They can also, if necessary, highlight locally produced content (thematic, historical, or tourist experiences, etc.). For example, the Hauts-de-Seine territory recently acquired more than 650 headsets for its libraries, media libraries, and nursing homes (Project Evasion) with ambitions to produce some content locally.

No matter the vehicle: virtual reality can be moved!

The best example of local distribution? Certainly the Festival Connexions initiative in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, which supports over 50 cultural festivals in the area each year. While Thomas Bouillon and his team (based in Lyon) work alongside numerous events throughout the year, they offer expertise in programming and shared resources (headsets, software, etc.) that can accommodate short-term pop-up exhibitions. These resources can also be made available to major events like the Annecy International Animation Film Festival or the Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival. Notable works include FLOW by Adriaan Lokman and DRAW FOR CHANGE! by Mariana Cadenas Sangronis.

© Bibliothèque de Marcy l’Etoile

For the past ten years, FIPADOC in Biarritz, a key international documentary festival, has had a “Smart” section focused on new forms of storytelling. Since 2023, the festival team, in collaboration with the company heRVé, has been rolling out “Smart Nomade” sessions in the region: at the incubator Le Connecteur in Biarritz, La Cité numérique in Bordeaux, and L’Abbaye Aubazine in Corrèze. This initiative aims to go beyond the festival’s audience and reach a new audience. Notable works include THE PALETTE OF VAN GOGH, ARCHI VR: LA VILLA SAVOYE, and CHAMPOLLION, THE EGYPTIAN.

In 2022, the association Culture 360 launched the VR Bus, labeled Micro-Folie (thus integrating a network of digital museums across France) and supported by the CNC, to bring digital culture to the southern suburbs of Paris. Among the experiences offered, in partnership with the association of producers PXN, are flagship projects of French virtual reality such as A SONG WITHIN US, LA PETITE DANSEUSE, and BERLIOZ TRIP AR. A traveling exhibition titled PopUp Experience will roll out in early 2024 (see the schedule).

VR BUS © XR Must – Mathieu Gayet

And what if it was also about breaking down cultural barriers? This is the goal of the EGYPTOBUS launched by the Louvre-Lens for the exhibition “Champollion. The Way of the Hieroglyphs” (also presented at the Louvre Museum in Paris). This mobile initiative brought VR content (CHAMPOLLION, THE EGYPTIAN) and various activities related to the exhibition to several cities in the Hauts-de-France region in the fall of 2022: Arras, Boulogne-sur-Mer, Liévin, Calais…

EgyptoBus © Louvre-Lens

Already accustomed to showcasing immersive content at around ten Swiss events, the GIFF (Geneva International Film Festival) in French-speaking Switzerland introduced a VR caravan in 2023. This caravan is primarily intended to present part of their immersive programming to school groups and Geneva audiences who are less familiar with the event. This inherently mobile setup is also designed to travel to partner festivals within the country (such as the Locarno Festival this summer or Plateforme 10 in Lausanne in December), showcasing content like FLOW by Adriaan Lokman and ARCHI VR: LA VILLA SAVOYE by Gordon, among others.

© GIFF XR Roadshow

Local initiatives are also emerging driven by producers and creators, such as Gate22 in Toulouse, which has opened its experiences for booking by companies and school groups in the region. With a strong emphasis on mediation, Nataliya Velykanova guides new audiences in discovering these virtual worlds. Recently, she launched “Ukraine. Eternal“, a traveling exhibition (notably in the region’s media libraries) featuring VR works created since the beginning of the war, including the documentaries FRESH MEMORIES by Ondrej Moravec and Volodymyr Kolbasa, BLOODBATH by Victoria Lopukhina and Tim Voronkin, and YOU DESTROY. WE CREATE by Felix Gaedtke and Gayatri Parameswaran.

Soon, the ArtExplora foundation, dedicated to contemporary and digital creation, will be taking artworks on a journey around the Mediterranean basin. This event concept is centered around a museum ship, ARTEXPLORER, which will set sail from March 2024 (for two years) to around fifteen destinations in southern Europe. The next stop is Marseille this June. In each port, a nomadic exhibition space will offer numerous activities for free. The Art Explora Festival will notably present VR films on the theme of women and the Mediterranean: THE ISLE OF THE DEAD by Benjamin Nuel, MEET MORTAZA by Joséphine Derobe, (HI)STORY OF A PAINTING: LIGHT IN THE SHADOW by Gaëlle Mourre and Quentin Darras…

Increasing Small-sized Local Implementations

Networks are expanding… And your library might already be equipped! Whether it’s workshops for discovering innovative digital experiences or more extensive programs, everyday cultural venues have not waited to explore what could enhance their offerings or renew the interest of younger audiences. These initiatives have the advantage of being able to integrate into the communication around a specific location, creating a renewable offer over time. In this spirit, Unframed Collection has partnered with the Carel Network, an association that works with public libraries and media libraries on digital resources, with the aim of offering a cultural and immersive experience tailored to this network.

In partnership with the Carel Network, Unframed Collection has just launched a VR experience offering called Immersio, specifically designed to enable libraries, media libraries, and educational institutions to easily present immersive and interactive works to their audiences.

Take the plunge by contacting the Unframed Collection team to learn more about our catalogue and services!


© Unframed Collection – 2023

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