Byron Bay Film Fest enters virtual realm

29 April, 2016 by Staff Writer

Co_Lab_Create participants make use of virtual reality head mounted displays.


Byron Bay Film Festival 2016 will screen in "virtual realms" with the introduction of virtual reality head mounted displays for patrons.

The festival, which runs from October 14-23, will follow the lead of international festivals such Cannes, Tribeca and Sundance and establish an immersive storytelling component. 

BBFF's Technical Director Osvaldo Alfaro and Festival Director J'aimee Skippon-Volke have a longstanding passion for immersive mediums having established GreenhouseFX 3D|VR in Goonengerry, deep in Byron’s Hinterland, in 1999.

Skippon-volke said rather than jumping on the bandwagon they were hitting the ground running.

"We've developed a number of initiatives for BBFF2016 which will be held in its new timeslot of October this year which will introduce VR to Byron Bay and its Filmmaking and Creative Communities," she said.

"This new facet to our festival really excites me as I've been passionate about immersive user experiences including VR since the early 90's", said Alfaro.

The festival has introduced two new categories and associated awards for BBFF2016. 

The first will be the inaugural Best Achievement in a Virtual Reality Experience – a field suited to filmmakers engaging in the relatively new 360-degree film capture techniques, made possible by the newer panoramic camera rigs that house an array of cameras such as GoPro's. 

The second will be the Best Achievement in an Interactive Virtual Experience more suited to worlds and experiences created within a game engine.  

Skippon-volke said technology continued to break the boundaries between reality and imagination, "and offers us new forms of entertainment which are more immersive, where you truly are transported to other realms," she said. 

"While our event remains focused on creating a shared screen experience for our audience we're keen to explore the possibilities that Digital Immersion creates as this new technology evolves. "  

As well as providing workshops for anyone interested in the medium, the Festival will also identify six to eight artists and filmmakers in order to help them evolve their work into virtual realms. 

Selected artists will receive access to VR tools an/or mentoring and support from established VR developers with the work created then showcased at the festival and on-line.

There a number of VR initiatives currently in the works across Australia.

Ncube8 is supported by Festivals Australia and is a VR initiative aimed at introducing the medium to a wide-range of traditional artists including filmmakers.   

Co_Lab_Create is a networking and discussion-based event aimed at the film, visual effects and gaming industries. 

Skippon-Volke said: "In our opinion these three (film, visual effects and gaming) industries together will develop and create the digital entertainment and electronic culture of the future. 

"VR and Augmented Reality will continue to evolve in the years to come and what is ground-breaking today will seem primitive in just a few years" J'aimee added.

The new VR categories will be open soon but 'traditional' film entries for the 10th Byron Bay International Film Festival are open until June 10. 

The festival will start to roll-out workshops for Filmmakers and artists in early July. 

Artists and filmmakers interested in being considered for VR/AR Incubation should contact