Virtual reality films come to Cannes film festival

Virtual reality films come to Cannes film festival but Steven Spielberg sounds warning

Director Steven Spielberg says virtual reality films are here to stay but calls them “dangerous” as VR film makers show off their films in Cannes.

CANNES, FRANCE (MAY 16, 2016) (REUTERS) – Acclaimed director Steven Spielberg has called virtual reality “a very dangerous medium” but he admits VR films are going to “take hold in a profound way”.

Spielberg has been in Cannes promoting his latest feature The BFG and was asked for his view on the technology that has got people talking.

“The only reason I say it is dangerous is because it gives the viewer a lot of latitude not to take direction from the story tellers but make their own choices of where to look. I just hope it doesn’t take away from the story when it starts enveloping us in a world that we can see all around us and make our own choices to look at,” he told Reuters.

There are many virtual reality film makers in Cannes showing off their movies. One of them is Eric Darnell, who is director of animated VR experience Invasion. He thinks VR films will shake up the industry.

“It’s not in my mind just an extension of cinema. It is its own thing and we have to discover so much about what are the tools in our toolbox. You are the cameraman so wherever you look becomes the pans and it really is just a brand new language.”

Darnell’s six-minute VR experience, Invasion, tells the story of a mythical world that is invaded by aliens who are then outfoxed by a rabbit.

There’s much debate in Cannes as to whether virtual reality is here to stay or just a film fad, but Darnell thinks it’s the future.

“It’s here to stay. Right now there’s this gee-whizz factor and sometimes it’s a little nerdy, you know ‘hey it’s 3D!’ But it’s so powerful. You know all you need to do is put a headset on. It’s hard to describe what it’s like until you do.”

Another VR film showing in Cannes is Giant, which was directed by Milica Zec and produced by Winslow Turner Porter. Like Giant, audiences have to wear a headset to experience the film and are transported into a 360 degree environment. Zec says this immersive experience means audiences can choose where they look and what they see.

“You have to think that now you have 360 degrees that you have to cover and as a creator of virtual reality you have to let go. Where your audience is going to look at you really don’t know.”

There are a number of VR films being shown at the festival away from the main movie theatres. Both directors, Zec and Darnell, say the technology still has a long way to go but that virtual reality films will one day become the norm.

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