AIFF2016 TalkBack Transmedia & Virtual Reality Platforms April 10, 2016


(upbeat music) – Okay, good morning everybody,
sadly this is the final talk back of the three
that we’ve done during the Ashland Independent
Film Festival this year. We began Friday with
a panel on the history of activist documentary
media with two leaders of significant independent
film institutions, Kartemquin Films, which
we’re honoring this year for the 50th anniversary and New Day Films and this talk back today compliments that and it is, we have here
two leading independent documentarians who are also now pioneers of some of the latest
explorations in documentary form through transmedia virtual reality. They’ve branched out in this direction and the person who is
probably the leading authority on this kind of work, we
were able to bring here from USC to moderate this panel, not only is she an expert in this area, but she’s also a good friend
of these two filmmakers that she’s gonna introduce. So, Vicki Callahan is
an associate professor of practice in the division
of media arts and practice at USC and she teaches
and writes about issues of digital culture, social
media, and remix transmedia, and media strategies for social change. Her books, she’s written
a book on the silence, The Crime Serials of Louis Feuillade. She’s edited a collection
reclaiming the archive, Feminism and Film History, she’s working on a book currently on the silent film star
director Mabel Normand and she’s the organizer of the website, which you should check out, Feminism 3.0 and she co-authors the site
transmedia-activism.com. So, I’m very grateful to
you, Vicki, for coming down and I’m gonna things
over to you and you’ll introduce our other guests, thank you. – Okay, great, is this on? Okay, I’m really excited to be here today, both of these artists I know well and I’ve been in dialogue
with both of them for years on emergent
forms and documentary and how these forms have, oops, sorry, and how these forms also have an impact on issues of media access, authorship, audience engagement, and social change. I’m really interested today, not so much whether technology is
utopian or dystopian, since we know it can be either and if you saw the Herzog film yesterday, Lo and Behold, he did a good job kind of talking about that, exploring that, but much more rather, how we might really ensure that technology,
how we shape and ensure technology that’s not a phantom limb. We think something there
that is not really there and rather a tech that facilitates work, which is ethical,
compassionate, empathetic and produces transformative change. So, we have an incredible
opportunity before us to reach larger and
more diverse communities with this technology and
new forms and indeed, to enter into partnership and communities as co-creators and co-activists. We can move from detached point-of-view to multi-perspectival
and immersed experiences, but I always start with a question, before all that, before the
tech bells and whistles, before the multi-path narrative, before the polyvocal soundscape, what is your objective? What is your desired outcome and also, what does change look like? So, we can start then
with Helen De Michiel, she’s San Francisco Bay’s
media artist and educator. Her narrative documentary
in new media works have earned her a
Rockafellar Intercultural Film Video Fellowship, several NEA awards. She’s also served as the National Director of the National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture and is a
board member in Duritz for the Peabody Awards
for Electronic Media. Her episodic documentary,
Lunch Love Community, is in distribution with Bullfrog Films and she’s currently visiting professor at University of Colorado-Boulder. I’ve actually been teaching
Lunch Love Community in my classes, both my
undergrad and my grad classes for years and Helen
has been really kind to come in a be a visitor
to my class via Skype to talk about her ideas of
the open space documentary. I’m most interested to see
how this work has evolved and how it’s also bridged
to another project related, Berkeley vs. Big Soda, so I’m really interested in both the work and open space doc and
also participatory media. So, with that, I’ll turn it over to Helen. – Thank you. (audience applause) Thank you Richard for bringing
us here on a Sunday morning and having us talk about interesting work that I hope brings people together more then separates us
through the screens, so, let me just briefly
tell you about this project and how it’s evolved and
iterated over the years. Lunch Love Community is a
mosaic of 12 short films from three minutes to 12 minutes apiece, that from 2010 until 2013 and a half, lived online as a transmedia project and the way that we consider transmedia was really as a something
that was, not so much just multi-platform, but
that transcended boundaries. It was a project where
form followed function and it’s target audience,
Vicki, as you kind of asked, or what it’s intention was, was to open up a great dialogue in the food justice world about how we can transform
our food systems, specifically through
nutrition in the schools. So, the films were not just
one long 90 minute film, for example, about this amazing initiative that happened in Berkeley,
from the late 90’s until now and continues on, but has gone through many different kinds of dynamic changes, but also, the project was made to
see how we could flow films into a variety
of different encounters and so, it was designed to inhabit and live in different worlds. A documentary that could
take advantage at the time, in 2010, of expanded
broadband, using social media, and again, we have to
look back at this period as really, it wasn’t that
long ago when we couldn’t look at films online and so, it flowed through social media, it lived for activists, it was shown in, and has been shown in the film world and in the world of
media arts and new media. So, it started off as a
watch and share website where viewers could
literally take the films and re-embed them in different spaces. So, rather than, at the
time, when there were many transmedia, very immersive,
large and complex projects that were being made mostly in Canada and some that were showcased
at Sundance Institute, this project was much more, sort of like, the speedboat on the
ocean of the internet. It was light, it had the films
where they could be taken, used and shown and moved very effectively through lots of different
kinds of environments. Over the years, they were seen online and they were seen in many kinds of events and I’ll tell you about that in a minute, called media socials, which
was where the short films were like theater meets the town hall. People would come together for dialogue because really that’s what
the films were meant for was to create a sense of
dialogue with real people and a real audience to talk
about real food justice issues. So, that was, in many
ways, kind of the intention and over the years, the
films evolved online and eventually became a DVD that’s now in non-theatrical distribution
through Bullfrog Films and what was remarkable sort of about this is it reverse engineered,
off the internet, they are no longer all
available online for free, but they’re all available
from non-theatrical and I’ll tell you about that in a second, but what I’d like to
do now is just show you one tiny, three minute
piece from the project and you can go to the website and also learn more about it, but this is just to really give you a flavor of the original Lunch
Love Community style of film of which there were many different styles among the 12 films, which I
really enjoy talking about. – Most gardens, most
all gardens has started with one interested parent,
who’s coming to the classroom and say, you know, I know
gardening, can I take half-class and then it just
starts unfolding from there. One parent, one teacher, one class. When they start growing things, when there is an interaction
with soil and it’s okay and there’s plants and there’s good food, and look at this place, it’s beautiful. It invites that. They are actually transformed
by what they grow. (children chattering) This month is what month is it? – May – [Voiceover] May. – [Voiceover] June, July,
August, when I come back, it’ll be September, that’s
how high the corn’s gonna be. (children laughing) This is kind of like a life laboratory. The kindergartners all
learn about flowers. The first graders learn about worms. Second graders learn about insects. It’s about feeding, it’s about nourishing, it’s about teaching the whole child. Kids, look here, anybody know this tree? This is actually a pomegranate. Do you know the name of this plant? – [Voiceover] Plant eaters. – [Voiceover] Plant eaters, very good. We had no garden here, it
was under construction, so I went in, tore up some
of the lawn on the side of the school, and we planted Fava beans and the kids were so excited, we taught you science
and math and ecology, all in one patch of Fava beans. You don’t need a big garden, there’s so much you could
do with one seed, one plant. Just get the kids outdoors, touching, kinestetically tactile, ’cause what they say is if
you say something to them it goes in one ear out the other, if you read to them, they
take in a little bit, but if they actually get it in
their bodies and their hands and their senses, they absorb it. (children chattering) I think it’s definitely making a change, making a difference. (audience applause) – So, the project
originally had started off as a vision for a long-form film, but, given the fact that
we had to raise money, I and my co-producer, Sophie Constantino, both knew a lot about the
possibilities of the internet and the very interesting
space that we could create in, both being able to have a social practice as well as an aesthetic
documentary practice, as well. So, at that moment in
2010, we created these seven short films,
always thinking there was going to be a long-form
film, but at the same time, due to what funders had
wanted to see as impact, we developed this form
that was really interesting called the media social,
so we could take several of the short films, work
with a local organization or partners, and create a kind of event where there would be
local experts or parents or people who are really
advocating for food justice and create these kind of
live events with the films. So, when I, again, when
we talk about transmedia, the films lived online and
had lots of participatory commentary, moving through
different kinds of worlds or blogs, we could keep up with
the analytics and so forth, but, also, we’re really
grounded in a real life kind of experience with real
people because my idea of open space documentary is
that, these films have a way of triggering dialogue,
rather than trying to force you or persuade you to agree with a particular point of view. So, for me, that’s what
was really interesting about making these short stories. So, over that period
of three or four years, with a lot of dialogue
and interactive engagement with communities and different ideas, I, in 2012, dropped the idea
of making a long-form film. I thought, why not,
there’s still more stories, there’s still more interest out there, so what happened then was
continuing on with the idea of a mosaic of shorts that
people could quote “use” or share in many different forms. So that, to me, is the promise
of the idea of transmedia. Vicki, you think, yes, okay. And so, eventually
though, given the way that the internet works for anyone
who works in media online, you know that you are a gardener for life with that project because if
you don’t take care of it, it will decay and go to seed
because you’re constantly tending the technologies. So, what we decided to do then was to create a DVD and a streaming
product for a distributor, so it all went offline
and I have this slide here of what it looks like, which is four films in a theme called Heart,
four films in a theme called Body, and four films
in a theme called Mind and also, conversation
and discussion guides so that the films again, could
be used in this open space model where they trigger
again, real life conversation, and so, what really
came out of this project was how to build
relationships, which for me, was really great, it was a
way to immerse in a community, which was my community
of Berkeley, California and as a mother, I really
couldn’t travel a lot to parachute into foreign
countries (laughs), drop in and make really gigantic films because it just wasn’t where I was at. So, this was like a really
great project to work around to grow into my community and understand what the issues were, so,
the media social concept was not only, we didn’t
only take it around the United States and
different environments, but also locally in Berkeley. So, what happened and you never know this when you’re starting to make
a film project like this, by 2012, the funding for all the programs that you will see in the
Lunch Love Community Project from the feds, had disappeared. So, a whole new generation of parents had to really come together to figure out how they could save the
cooking, the gardening and the school lunch program
in the Berkeley schools, that had started by a group of parents, in a community, in the late ’90’s, so, one thing that had
occurred to me in this period of time, looking back now
on making this project, was it wasn’t a film that
could follow only one particular hero or heroine,
it was a complete community that made this story happen. So, the shorts are all different aspects of all the kind of different citizens and kind of, grass roots efforts that came together, different people, on the stage at different
times from Alice Water to a parent in a health dispared community helping to make things
really change for children in terms of awareness of nutrition. So, building all these relationships, I’d go to food policy council meetings, I’d watch, I think I was
not really an advocate, but I stood aside,
things started to evolve where by 2013 and I’m going
through this really quickly, a group of parents and
advocates in Berkeley decided the way that
they were gonna be able to save these programs,
which, by this point, possibility the only artifact
that would have been left from this amazing, what
would I call it, project that Berkeley was undertaking,
would be the films, because everything could’ve disappeared. So, the parents, again,
10 years, 12 years later, get together with specific
advocates around the region and decide that they are going
to put together a soda tax to try and save the school lunch program and cooking and gardening
programs in Berkeley. I was there and in the last
few weeks of the campaign, they had a little bit of
money and they decided to ask me if I could
bring a little tiny couple of crew members to shoot the
last five days of the campaign. I had also shot a series
of different media socials in Berkeley, where,
advocates had come together with our film to explain to
communities of color in the area really what the soda
tax possibilities were and it was called Measure D and so, what happened then,
after that was last year, in 2015, again, they had
a tiny more bit of money and they asked me to make
a short film that would tell the story of what
happened in Berkeley in a few minutes so that
again, it could flow and be distributed through
social media online in order to inspire other
communities around the country to consider the idea of
putting together a soda tax or at least talking about
these health issues. So, I’d like to show that
film if you don’t mind. It is 12 minutes long and I hope that you find it to be of interest to discuss. (kids chattering) (calm music) – [Voiceover] The Center for
Disease Control has predicted that if we don’t change
how things are going, 1/3rd of all of children
today will develop diabetes within their lifetime. – [Voiceover] This is a
tsunami coming to get us, so, that’s why we have to
do something very bold. – [Voiceover] You have sugary drinks that are still available, so cheap, over a million dollars a day is spent marketing to kids. (calm music) – [Voiceover] You see kids
drinking sodas all the time, as if it’s water and then growing to learn about the impacts of that on their health and also not being aware
of long term impacts of soda consumption on a regular basis. – [Voiceover] I mean,
so what it’s Berkeley, like these issues aren’t affecting
every community in the US and frankly, around the planet. (calm music) – [Voiceover] How we can
win is if we get neighbors talking to neighbors. If we can get people taking
time out of their lives to communicate why it’s
important to neighbors. Then we have the potential of winning. – [Voiceover] Coke in the
king has more for you. Coke in the king’s your best buy too. – You know, used to be that diabetes was an old people’s disease, but if you’re 14 and pre-diabetic, and 20 and
got full on type II diabetes, and you’re doing insulin
replacement for the next 40 years of your life, and going
to the hospital and having diabetic comas and having
lower leg amputations, I mean, what is the
cost of that to society? – And we know that there is a saturation of marketing around sugary drinks and that in fact, is even higher in African American/Latino communities and lower income communities. – [Voiceover] The Latinos
that worked on this campaign feel more empowered. They came together for something that they knew was the right things to do. Once I learned that one
in two Latino children will get diabetes in their lifetime, I thought about my nephew, who at the time, was I think three, and I thought, he could be one of them. – [Voiceover] This is how much sugar is in one can of Coca-Cola. Which one of you would take this and dump it down your throat right now? – [Voiceover] There is
something that our children are being and we, as
families, are being assaulted with daily and that is
sugar sweetened beverages. – [Voiceover] We are charging the people who distribute the soda, not the retailer, not the manufacturer, the people who put it in their trucks and bring it to Berkeley
to that corner store, so it’s not the store owners that are being charged the tax,
it’s the distributors. – [All] Children’s health,
not big soda wealth. Children’s health, not big soda wealth. Children’s health, not big soda wealth. – I think this measure
provides a very actionable way to reduce sugary drink
distribution and consumption through the proposed tax. – [Voiceover] The reality
is, is that this cent is going into the general fund and is not earmarked to do anything except to hurt business. – [Voiceover] An additional
20 cents per 20 ounce is quite a significant amount to put right in the front face of the customer. – [Voiceover] It’s a tremendous
step against opposition that has notches on it’s guns, but they’re not gonna
notch one more in Berkeley. – [Voiceover] Counselor Mio. – [Voiceover] Yes. – [Voiceover] Counselor Moore. – [Voiceover] Yes. – [Voiceover] Anderson. – [Voiceover] Yes. – [Voiceover] Counselors, unanimously. (audience applause) – [Voiceover] There’s
gonna be a lot of lies, they’re gonna be sending
people door to door with distortions and misinformation and it’s gonna be tough,
so we all need to work. We all need to work. This is the beginning,
this is not the end. – [Voiceover] Take a
closer look at Measure D, the Berkeley beverage tax, and you start to notice something strange, holes, lots of holes. – [Voiceover] Major funding
provided by the America Beverage Association California PAC. – People are coming from outside of our community and spending unlimited amounts of money to tell you that this is
against your interest, how egregious is that,
how offensive is that? That they think they can buy your vote. – You know, this is a public space and it shouldn’t be for sale like this to big corporations to try
and change people’s minds or confuse them or manipulate
them, it’s outrageous. (protesters chanting) – The people that they
hired were people of color. They’re probably making
15-20 bucks an hour just to put up posters
and wear that shirt. I’m sure they needed the money, but it also falls into their tactics. It’s who they advertise to. It’s who they sell these products to. it’s why the health disparities are probably the way they are. So that infuriates you, it
makes you want to work harder. It makes you want to go out
and knock on an extra door. – The key thing, initially,
was to get everybody to believe that we could
win and that to win we had to work together and
the thing’s we had to do was to build this grassroots army and if we could do that, we could counter the millions of dollars that the industry would spend against us. – [Voiceover] How you guys doing? I am with the education
campaign for the soda tax in Berkeley, have you heard about it? – Uh, yeah, yeah definitely. – [Voiceover] If we do
nothing, I guarantee, less than half of these people vote. The only way many of them
will vote is human contact. (knocks at door) – Hey there, I’m with
the Yes on D Campaign. – [Voiceover] When you have
hundreds if not thousands of people going door to door, it had a power beyond
what you can do in mail or media or anything else. – Today I’m volunteering with the Yes on Measure D Campaign, soda tax. – Okay, I’m planning on
voting yes on Measure D. – Awesome, awesome, awesome. – Working in my favor was the
fact that I was canvassing in my own neighborhood,
so that stood out to me as this familiarity, and
that definitely stood out as soon as I hit the
kind of ground running and I’m actually talking with people that I’ve already had an investment with outside of this issue. – Great, thank you so
much for your support, you have a great night. – Once Berkeley makes this
happen, more communities will see it, more Latinos
will be more educated. They’ll see, there’s
something going on here. – I’m a volunteer with
the Y on D Campaign, in favor of the soda tax, are you familiar with the
soda tax here in Berkeley? – Lack of money was a huge problem. All the people that hadn’t been paid, all the legal fees that
we had pushed to the side. – We ran out of lawn signs. They were very popular. We had a thousand lawn
signs out and we had a thousand more requests. – People would come from
the street and they’d see us and they’d come in
and give us their change. Here, I don’t have much,
but here’s 20 bucks or here’s 50 cents or something, you know? (hopeful music) (crowd murmuring) – We know why big soda has
been pouring so much money into Berkeley and into communities
all across this country. It’s not just their
advertising and marketing, it is politics, they are scared to death that there are going
to be some communities that stand up to them
and say, “No, we want “to protect our kids, we don’t want those “soft drinks to create
the public health menace “that we now have in this country.” (audience applause) – We knew it was gonna be tough, but at the end, we knew
it was gonna be okay because people started stepping up. (upbeat music) – I’m up at night and it’s
about 3 o’clock in the morning and I get an email and said,
we’re thinking of helping. – [Voiceover] I just wanted to call and confirm that you know
where your polling place is? – [Voiceover] We did
not stop phoning until 8 o’clock that night. (people chattering) – During the campaign,
I had the feeling that we were gonna win. (audience applause) – Eight precincts reporting, I can say that the yes percentage, 73%. (applause) Can you believe it? (cheering) – You are the ones that did it. We built an incredible
coalition here in Berkeley, upon the steps of many
other already existing relationships, and that
was what was so beautiful. (applause) – This is still a government
of, by and for the people. (applause) – In California, becoming
the first city to pass a soda tax, heads up on this one, folks, more than three quarters
of voters saying yes, they really do wanna have
a penny tax per ounce on sugary drinks, charge
us more because it’s good for us, those in
favor say that it will curb people from drinking
soda, sweetened tea, energy drinks, all evil and bad, folks. I don’t know about that. – This campaign, Berkeley vs Big Soda was the first sugary drink tax
to pass in the United States. There have been 30 some other attempts. there are people who say,
well, that’s Berkeley and no one else can do it, and I say, that’s absolutely wrong,
everyone else can do it. – You know, once Goliath has been beaten, others think, well maybe we can too and that’s the important part of it. – Our work may encourage
other communities of color, throughout California,
throughout the nation, to do similar efforts. (hopeful music) – Lettuce, dinosaur kale and uh– – Although I did graduate with from school with a particular disdain
for the political process, for me, it was seeing
how empowered they were for people at such a young age to actually have their voice heard,
I was just thinking, wow, we’ve really done something huge here and this doesn’t stop tonight. (audience applause) – So, just really quickly, to wrap up because there is a little
bit of a participatory media, tiny story, Vicki, that
you can ask me about later. I just want to say that we are working on the shoulders of all
documentary filmmakers who dare to go out into the social world and bring these films to audiences and now, my final slide, as of last week, in about a
week that it’s been online, this little film, it’s had
15,500 actual video views, so, I guess we have to ask
ourselves in many ways now. Is transmedia a really
powerful tool for personal, I think, transformation, as
well as social transformation? And I’d like to leave it at
that and then move on later and sort of fill in the gaps
of questions that you may have. Thank you. (applause) – Okay, I just have to talk really close. Okay, so let’s move on
to Brad and we’re gonna have a little bit different
structure with Brad because Brad and I used to be colleagues at UW in Milwaukee, and so we’re used to barking at each other
and being in dialogue with each other, so we’re actually gonna just talk a little bit,
after, have some questions pointed to him about his work, but just let me say a
little bit about Brad. He’s an award winning
filmmaker and president of 371 Productions, he’s won two DuPonts, one for the recent Aljazeera
America Hard Earned and another for his, oh, oh yes, sorry, and another for his 2001
film, Ghost of Attica. His first virtual reality
film, Across the Line, about accessing abortion
amid hostile protests premiered at Sundance in 2016 and has played all over,
including South by Southwest and soon Hot Docs in Tribeca. His 2012 movie, As Goes
Janesville, which was on PBS, and Independent Lens,
was nominated for a news and documentary Emmy. His career includes work with
Frontline and Bill Moyers, and his company also takes
on other media projects to Executive Producer for Precious Lives, radio podcast and print
series about young people and gun violence and
BizViz is his corporate accountability app available for iPhones and that’s just kind of tip
of the iceberg with Brad. Brad and I again, have
been kind of exchanging some ideas on VR and I know of his work with his collaborator, Nonny de la Pena, I actually was very fortunate to work with Nonny, she’s kind of a superstar Ph.D in our program at USC,
Media Arts and Practice, which is a critical arts making Ph.D. So, I sort of know of her work and I was really excited
when Brad’s working with her. So, actually, I wanted
to start out with this, ’cause I knew of your own work, maybe just talk a little
bit about the collaboration. How much did you have to
give up, directorial control, for the new form or was it different from filmmaking in general,
maybe we’ll start with that. – Sure, do you want me to
show the quick video first? – Oh, sure, I’m sorry, my bad. – Uh, no, no, it’s your good. I was just gonna show a quick, this is like a one minute video, just gives you an overview
of Across the Line and then we can start with that question. (somber music) – [Voiceover] Wicked Jezebel
feminists, you’re worthless, you’re a piece of trash. Maybe your parents
should have aborted you. – How do we get people to understand and become a witness and be on scene and experience what these
young women have to experience? – [Voiceover] Shame on you. God’s going to destroy
you in the lake of fire and you won’t be smiling then. – I don’t know that
people really understand what it feels like to have people telling you what to do with your body. – We see virtual reality
as an amazing opportunity to actually put someone
in someone else’s shoes. – Oh my gosh. – And to show what people go through when they try to access healthcare at some health centers in this country. – We really thought
there would be something very interesting with combining
the 360 spherical video with the CG-created
volumetric virtual reality, so that individuals could
feel like they were on scene, you know, as witnessing
somebody else’s experience. – [Voiceover] Do you know where
we should go for the clinic? – [Voiceover] You’re here to
pray at the abortion clinic or you’re here to go
to the abortion clinic? – [Voiceover] And then
be there themselves. – [Voiceover] You’re a
wicked woman, you know that? What do you think you’re doing here? What do you think you’re doing here? – This was really challenging
because we set out to do something that was documentary style but adapting it to this new medium. – Then we had to do a
motion capture session where we motion captured both
body and facial recreation. – Wicked Jezebel feminists, yeah you should’ve been a whore. – We went through this
whole workshop process where a woman who’s background is
in a trauma informed theater, would work with the women
to surface the emotion of those stories and
Christina, she’s a woman who has gone through an abortion herself. We tried to lift that
story up and bring it as close to possible to consciousness, then go shoot the documentary scene. – That immersive experience
will allow people to see what it’s actually
like for these women. – I don’t think you can
divorce violent things that happen from the
violent hateful rhetoric that is it’s fuel. Once they see it, once they experience it, they are gonna say, this is wrong, women, men, young people,
they should not face this abuse and harassment
outside of health centers and I think this is a game changer. (relaxed music) – So, actually now seeing
this, I have another question for you first. This is how Brad and I go, I give him 10 questions for
every one he can answer, but just because, I’d
like to talk a little bit about the logistics there,
in terms of the Planned Parenthood piece, how did
the documentary filming contribute, in other words,
what is it that we’re seeing in the video, I know
Nonny likes to work with audio first, so maybe
if you could just talk and then, does the video
around that audio piece, so maybe you could just
talk about the logistics of how this is done. – Sure, great question, Vicki. So, in virtual reality, first of all, you have this intense limitation, which is, the camera sees
all around and up and down, so it’s not like traditional documentary where, you know, for 65 years we were just trying to get the cameras to be smaller and the equipment to be more portable so it could go like
this and follow people. Now you can’t do that in virtual reality, so we had to figure out a way to do this and get as close to documentary
as we possibly could, so, you heard a little
bit about the workshop, that was partially to
kind of get to a point where we’re getting some
of that emotional truth that makes good documentary so successful and then, and we can talk about this, there’s some big ethical issues, I think, that get raised because what we did is, we basically took a camera,
put it inside the car, Christina and her friend
Sam, both of whom had accompanied each other to
Christina’s abortion in her past, were essentially re-enacting
a scene from their lives and then, as you saw, we
had kind of brought it back to the surface, but,
it was a set-up, in a sense and then, when they drove
through the protesters on location, whatever happened happened, so that was truest to verite documentary and the catch, the ethical catch, which we could probably talk about too, is, of course, the man
who comes over and talks to Christina in the
piece, has no idea that there’s a camera there. Now, we did do three runs
and by the third time, someone said, “I think they
have a camera in there,” you know, so, I think that
they kind of figured it out. The audio in the CG in the third scene, there’s three scenes, the
first scene is sort of a reenactment of an appointment
at a healthcare clinic. That was workshopped and developed from Christina’s story and
then we did it, improv, sorta. The second scene is the
one I just spoke about and in the third scene, you
become Christina, essentially, and then you in the volumetric experience in the HTC-5, which lets
you walk through a space, you actually walk through
all the protesters and everything they say
is audio that we captured from around the country. In fact, everything in
the piece that you hear any protester say, is sync sound, is audio from around the country,
but as you point out, documentary is a very different thing and we were trying really hard to move beyond what the approach has been so far in most VR documentaries, which is to put the camera in the middle
of a volatile situation and essentially just go
and get out of the frame and we wanted to make
something that’s more in the spirit of the
work that I like to do. The work that Kartemquin likes to do, which is to be much
closer and more intimate with your subjects and with the scenes. – Well, maybe, and I can come back to this question of collaboration, ’cause actually it’s something I have a
question for both of you, but, let’s just follow up
on this ethical question a bit, because we have this technology and I’m less kind of
concerned about the hybrid kind of component than
just the technology itself and I’m wondering about,
if you could speak just about this question of
technology sensationalizing or turning it into a spectacle, when you have such complex issues at stake and also, about this
question of immersion, right, does that prevent
us from, to what extent, yes, it puts us in that person’s position, but does it have a sense of really losing where reality ends also,
or does it connect us to those different points of view. We’re so, in a silo, in some sense, and that’s another
question I have about VR, the kind of future of VR,
how we could make it better, but, maybe we could just start with that kind of question of spectacle and also the immersion
experience, in terms of ethics. – Okay (laughs), I’ll try. So, maybe I’ll tell a story
of how I got started in this. So, you saw the three
of us who collaborated Nonny, Jeff and me, so Jeff
and I both live in Milwaukee and I know his wife pretty well, so we were at our local
co-op, our food co-op, eating whole foods and organic foods, which has a very generous
school nutrition program, by the way, yes, and we
were over in the meat aisle and Kelly, his wife,
said, “You really have to “talk to Jeff about these
cameras he’s working with,” and stuff, Jeff is actually
a very shy and introverted person, so it took a little while, I was like, “Well, what are you doing?” He’s like, “I’m messing
around with cameras,” Like, what, what are you doing, and finally, he said, “I’m
working in virtual reality,” and I’ve been sort of in
these chat rooms for about four years talking to the
guy who started Oculus and Nonny and a bunch of people, there were not that many,
like 15 people basically, who were messing around in virtual reality and one of the things that
has always been a goal in filmmaking, I mean, not just me, Kartemquin in this tradition, all these verite, social,
engaged documentary filmmakers is to immerse you in a
story so that you can understand what it’s
like to be somebody else and to have their experience and maybe open up some
kind of empathic pathway that leads you to social change, or to get involved or some kind of action and so, I just was like,
Jeff, we should try to do something with
this in the social issues space and the first thing
we actually tried to do and I think we’re gonna
circle back to it now in a project, is work
with Boys and Girls Clubs and try to give people
the experience of what it’s like in that very dangerous space that exists between school
and the club for a lot of kids and so, anyway, that was like
where our first project began and we started talking
to Boys and Girls Clubs, but, at the end of the day,
there was sort of like, I don’t get virtual reality, so, now they’ll get it, I think, and then we, I had
already been working with Planned Parenthood, we
had done a project called Be Visible, where women
shared abortion stories to try to reduce the
stigma around abortion, women of different ages, different races, and different kinds of stories, so there was already a relationship there. At the same time, Nonny
had a piece about Syria and what it’s like to be on
scene when a bomb goes off in a lepo, at Sundance the previous year and Dawn Laguens, who you
saw in the short piece from Planned Parenthood,
saw that and was starting to Nonny about VR, I was
talking to their user experience people, Molly Egan, about VR, and then at a certain point, we realized there’s this huge
opportunity to collaborate and so they got Nonny and me together and we figured it out, but I think, go to your question, to me it’s much less about spectacle. I mean, honestly, I
think technology is cool and I love messing around with stuff, but, I think that if it’s just about you putting on the goggles
and having a wow experience and then that wow experience
is over right after, then what’s the real point
if your goal is to try to bring more people
into a community of care around a particular issue. With this piece, we’re
particularly interested in some of the engagement
campaigns we’re doing. One of them is gonna start
hopefully in the summer with conservative women in the south who may consider themselves to be pro-life or just not engaged with
the issue around abortion, but, they’re very anti-bullying and we think that there’s
an opportunity there to go door to door with these and to show, probably a
shorter version of the film as part of the door to door campaign. So, that’s the other
thing, it’s so portable, you know, like, it lacks
scale in some important ways but on the other hand,
it has a kind of intimacy in scale as an experience
that allows you to do those kinds of campaigns
that you might not be able to do if you picked
up this and just said let’s watch a flat film together. You know, you’re in that
space, you’re concentrating. So, I hope that goes a
little bit to your question. – Yeah, I think that
it kind of goes to this kind of follow-up question I have too, so scaleability is one issue, but also, what other,
just as now you’ve been working it, what other
sort of changes do you think VR needs because
again, it’s still that, you’re immersed in
something and then you take the headphones off, it’s
great that you have, using these as part of
an engagement process, that’s, I think, one step, but also, what also I’m thinking about too is just even in terms of the technology, sort of like more interactions
with other participants, rather than again, this
kind of solo experience of VR which is a little,
we’ll get to that question. – Totally, I mean just yesterday morning, my best friend growing
up’s parents were in town in Milwaukee, where I live,
and I got Dr. Chorches, who I call Dr. C, to put on
the headset and you know, give it a try and then my
son was doing it and stuff and exactly what you’re talking about, it’s a very isolated experience. You’re sitting around a breakfast table and one person has, you
know, this on their face (laughs), it’s not really the way to have a social experience, but the technology is so nascent, and there’s a lot of stuff
coming down the pipe, so one of it is, I can’t
remember which company, maybe it was Oculus, which is Facebook, has figured out how to
sync up to 1800 of these and so where they’re heading
in the entertainment space is definitely where you
have a shared experience of all kinds of things,
whether you’re having a shared experience of a
concert all around the country or you’re having a shared experience of a sporting event or of
watching a movie, a VR movie. That’s the direction they’re headed in, but I think that gives you
an enormous opportunity for engagement and interaction, so, in the headset, and
some of you, if you want to try it afterwards, there’s
a swivel chair over there we can show you what
it’s like in the Gear VR which has more functionality
than Google Cardboard is just the sort of, you
know, rudimentary form of VR and then it kind
of has different steps. I have the HTC Vive up
on the screen there, that’s the walk around experience
that we did at Sundance, but Gear VR is becoming very affordable and you just slide your phone in and because you have more functionality, you can look in a certain direction or move your head and
then you can tap the side and you make choices, so
there’s the opportunity soon to be able to
interact with other people and have a multi-person
participatory experience. There’s also opportunities to interact. There’s a woman named
Paisley Smith who’s gonna be with us at the IDA thing
that we’re doing in two weeks. She’s created this really
cool VR experience. It’s just a simple question. It’s what would you do
in a self-driving car if you were about to
crash and you’re given three different choices,
so it’s an ethical problem and again, you get to
choose very seamlessly what you would do, I mean you just tap. You look at your choice and you tap and then your choice plays out. It’s a very, it’s an animated experience, almost with stick figures,
so, you’re not gonna go careening down the cliff on Route One, but, it’s still a pretty
powerful experience. There’s a lot of people,
you know, engaging with it that way and I think,
ultimately, what we like to do, even with this experience,
is to build it out with branches so that,
what I’m really interested in as a documentary filmmaker is also, who are the protesters and
why are they showing up, some of them told me,
in the research we did, I spent a lot of time with protesters, some of them told me
that they had streaks of 500 and 600 days straight that they have gone to a clinic to
spend four or five hours of their day protesting. So, obviously, very convicted people and I wanna know more about
them and their background and want to also know more about the women who are coming to seek an
abortion and more about the staff and so, there’s
some HR possibilities in that as well, to bridge
some gaps of understanding, but again, just functional
wise, to be able to branch, in the, like a game, because it’s actually built on a game engine,
in fact, it’s built on two game engines, which was
a gigantic pain in the rear, but, yeah, there’s lots
of opportunity to do that kind of stuff. – Okay, so, that actually
makes me kind of think about also, too, the kind of question
of empathy and dialogue in VR, so, do you think,
’cause again, we can see all kind of documentary
films that create incredible empathy, right? Did you find working with
this that it was more and we’ll see this too, as
people try this out too, did you find that the
empathy was more powerful with the VR than other documentary forms and also, this question of dialogue. I think that’s really important, the way you’re talking about utilizing it, both as one part of community engagement, not an experience in and of itself, and then, also, with multiple voices being revealed in that experience. But, let’s kind of go back
to that empathy question, ’cause you’re someone who’s
made a lot of documentary films. – Yeah, I mean, I
definitely am not a person who thinks that VR’s
the new thing and it’s gonna replace long-form documentaries and short-form documentaries,
and transmedia, I mean, it’s all just
good stuff in the garden to use, it’s just a
matter of deploying which form works for your goals, exactly. So, you know, and I work in radio also, and in app design, so,
it just depends on what the goals are, I do want to say like, one of the highest compliments I got was actually a man named David Simpson who’s an editor that
works with Kartemquin, for a long time and very frequently, and he came through very,
he was a big skeptic and came through our booth at Sundance and he came out with tears and said, “You guys have done it, you’ve done what “I tried to do in a 90 minute documentary “in seven minutes and
I’ve had this complete “emotional experience
that I’ll never forget.” but again, I don’t want
to set up a binary, I mean, it’s not one or the other, at Sundance we actually have
some research behind this because we have the
good fortune of working with Planned Parenthood and so, about 60% of the people who came through had an emotional experience
that resulted in tears and we also created a kind
of decompression space, not as much as we wanted, but we feel like that’s
actually a necessary part of the experience
is to talk about it. So, at Hot Docs, is the first place that really has been accommodating to do this, where we set up some
couches in a separate space and that, what’s I’d really like to do, is have different
participants in conversation with each other and then find ways, if they’re motivated, to get
involved in one way or another, but you kind of need that, it’s like the announcement
I made at the beginning, is like, it’s not far just to throw people into this experience. There was one man who went
through it at Sundance and it turned out that his former wife had gone to get an abortion
while they were divorcing and they were going through
a very traumatic time and then she committed suicide
about six months after. It was very traumatic
for him and he came out, and I felt like we didn’t
have the resources in place actually, for him, so, it’s
something to really prepare for, if you’re working in this
kind of emotional space. – So, let’s go back to the
question I started with then, finally, that question of collaboration. How much did you have to give up because this is a really complex project with technology in a partner that is also bringing that technology onto you, was it any different than
collaboration in filmmaking in general, or did it feel
like you were giving up more control and just kind
of speak to that question. – Sure, well, first of
all, do people know Nonny de la Pina, have you heard of her before? Well, she’s known as
like the godmother of VR. She’s been in this space
for over four years doing immersive journalism
and her pieces are incredible. So, I will admit that I
was pretty intimidated at the beginning, we finally
connected on the phone and I was just kind of
trying to be very respectful and sort of saying, we’d
like to collaborate with you, but she has really defined
a whole field of filmmaking, essentially, with what she’s doing and if any of you get a
chance to see her work, one of them is on the New York Times app and by the way, this is
probably gonna be on there, we’re not quite sure, but we think so, but it’s called Kiya, K-I-Y-A,
and it’s the experience of being in the middle of a
domestic violence incident. It’s all taken from audio
reconstructed from 911 calls and from her interviews
with the participants, very powerful stuff. So, once I got over whatever
intimidation I felt at first, it turns out Nonny, like
most really great filmmakers, is just all about the work, so we got together in Los Angeles, it was kind of a crazy experience ’cause her company is
soaring and there’s like five thousand people coming
in and out of her offices all the time and eventually
we found the focus to sit down for about four hours and really figure out
how, what my background is in documentary and what her background is in this recreation and animation space, could work together and it was dicey, we actually got to a
point where we thought that they weren’t
compatible, ’cause it’s such a leap to make when
you’re in the second scene to get to the third scene and we weren’t even there, we hadn’t even really scripted it out yet, but we were pretty
doubtful and then we both took long walks out away from each other and then we came back and
we kind of figured it out and this way that you could
become the protagonist grew out of that, so, I think it’s like, 80% successful, I still think that certainly in the
Cardboard, there’s a lot of room to improve and the
HTC Vibe, I think we’re getting pretty close to it, but, what you want is a
more seamless experience and we’re not quite there yet. – Okay, I think what I’d like to do is do you want to show
your clip right before you do the demo or do
you wanna show it now or? – Oh, well. – Which is more helpful to you? – I could show the how-to
clip at the very end. – Okay, let’s do that then, ’cause what I’d like to do is actually open it up to people, so, thanks Brad, so I’d actually like to open this up to the audience and see what kind of questions you folks have. Yes and there’s one right there. – [Voiceover] I had a question abut how, when a bunch of people are sitting around with a
bunch of stuff on your head, can be communicating with others? How does that become a group experience? – Sure, I mean, part of it
is, you gotta take it off, the group experience, but
part of what I was talking about is actually through
the technology itself, so, if you have a chance,
anyone who comes after, I can show you in the
Gear VR, the experience is much richer, you’re
actually like in a store where you can choose to
view different things and there are ways that you
can enable to communicate, it’s just like multi-person gaming, so, younger people who
are very used to being in conversation with
multiple people at once, either using Snapchat or WhatsApp, or using games, it’s a
very easy leap to make, but, VR, for those of us who aren’t, it’s a little bit of a learning curve, but eventually you’ll be able to just see who’s online, see who’s
watching this at this time, have a conversation, move
over to this space and do it. I think some of the
things are being developed look and feel a little
bit like Second Life, if people are familiar with that, maybe without the avatar, but with the same idea of
going to different spaces. – [Voiceover] Thank you. – [Voiceover] I wanted to
ask a question about language and I think it’s Merleau-Ponty, you know, talking about POV shots, which is, you know, and
he was criticizing it, he was saying a POV shot in a movie, if you want to make the audience feel what it’s like to be drunk, it’s a great actor
walking across the room, that’s how you convey drunkenness, so I think, what I want to challenge you a little bit about is,
and I think you guys have been pretty good in being careful, but you keep hearing people say, “Oh, we’re giving them the
experience of what a women “going through these lines,” well, no, that’s not her experience. This is the sensation of it, but it’s not the experience. When we do a documentary, we always talk about the back story, and at some point, we’re saying, this is who this person is, this is who their parents is, you’re not carrying a fetus, they come with a history and a thing that makes it their particular experience, so I think it can create empathy, which we’re all looking to, which is to understand and have a sense of what someone else may have felt, but it’s not the same as their experience. So, as this moves forward, I think it’s important
that we make a distinction, otherwise people are
gonna be misled to think, I felt what they felt. – That’s a great point and I just wanna respond a little bit. That’s a great point and that’s actually one of the frustrations of not being able to do the kind of branching
that I was talking about so that you can make it clear
that you’re telling a story about somebody and this
is their experience and frankly, what happened
is, we ran out of money and time and everything else to be able to do that kind of thing,
but, thank you Gordon. – And actually, I want
to see if Helen can jump in on this too, because it’s a question for you as well, right? When we see your short
films, we were actually, Helen just did a piece in
medium that’s really great on this context and
co-creation that is very much a part of making these films. So, I’d like you to
actually speak just a little bit about context, so
that people can understand that process for you
in participatory media, because I think it goes
to this question again, of showing something acontextually, right? – Yeah, I’m abretion, so I really am not interested
in immersive experiences in that kind of sense, not that, I think it’s a tool that
can be used in these transmedia environments, but I am someone who thinks people have to think critically in real life and ask
questions of themselves, each other and their communities to come to their own conclusions
and that the media work is only simply one
aspect of that dialogue, so, in the relationships that I’ve built through the Lunch Love
Community process over years, which really are very
deep for me personally, and made like a very deep empathetic, you know, I didn’t know that
much about health disparities in our communities, so I
started to learn a lot as well. So, when we went, when
I went to put together all the little bits and
pieces for that short Berkeley vs Big Soda, I put
together a participatory media workshop with about
12 of the stakeholders in Berkeley, to actually
come up with all of the ideas on pieces of paper, on a wall, and to think through what
were some of the dreams they would have of seeing something that could help in the future and it was really relevatory to me, because I learned so much more about what was inside people’s feelings about having had this
particular experience, which was very deep for a lot of people, ’cause it was the first
time they really felt engaged politically in their community, especially young people,
so, I found all these different prisms of
choices that could be made for the final piece, that
I felt then good about because it had bubbled up from
this participatory workshop environment, which is just real life and not a lot of technology, but it surfaced many
different parts of the story that I hadn’t been really
totally clear about myself, so, this is what I kind of like to mean as iterative documentary, that possibly the story’s never end, they kind of keep on going and that is the wonder, in many ways, of transmedia and all the different kinds of tools that we have available. – Could I just jump in a teeny bit? I totally agree with you
and Gordon and with you and I just want to hold up again that the work of Nikki Zaleski, who is trained in trauma informed theater, and she works with kids
who’ve been victims of sexual abuse, primarily, in Chicago and the equivalent of
that kind of research that you do and collaboration
with your subjects happened in a workshop form for us over the course of two days and a lesser version of
that happened with me just going out and meeting
protesters at various locations, which was partially
scouting for locations, but partially me getting
to know them and talk, now, I will say that, in
two of those locations, I went undercover,
which, I’m not quite sure how I feel about and
there’s this whole spectrum of journalism and documentary filmmaking and we can talk about all
that stuff too, if you want, but, I also think that, for me, it’s still very much a work-in-progress to figure out what
those best practices are when it comes to doing this kind of work. – I know there’s some other
question, yes, there we go. I believe you had your
question first, yeah. – Hi, thank you, I’m
wondering what kind of considerations are being made to, I’m gonna sort of explain what I mean, multiple disciplines in science are showing that the brain responds to an experience by creating
grooves in the brain, a certain mix of neurotransmitters and then that’s the impression
in the physiological and emotional everything
of the human being, and so when we have an experience, we then get that impression, and the more we have that experience, the deeper the grooves are in the brain and the more we have, so,
if we’re in a negative experience that happens over and over and it can almost become normalized, so, I’m wondering what
kind of considerations are being made, in terms
of immersing someone in a negative experience,
so that they’re in that negative experience, are we in some way normalizing that, which I would argue, a lot of war movies and all of that do, we’re so used to violence
in the United States as being, sort of a normal thing. So, it’s even deeper in
a virtual reality context and so I know, your goals
are to create empathy and then that tears are
coming out is wonderful because there’s empathy there, but where are you drawing the line between maybe making more
of like a PTSD experience rather than an empathetic experience to cause action for something. So, it’s kind of a dangerous tool, so what are you guys thinking
about in terms of that? – That’s such a great question. A couple of things, one
is that we’re working with Stanford soon on evaluating some of the interaction between
the content and your brain. I would caution that the conclusion, the normalization of
violence or normalization of negativity is very
controversial research, there are lots of scientists
who think the opposite and so it’s not quite there yet. I don’t know what the conclusion is yet, but it’s significant. One of the tensions in this piece was between those of us who wanted to mostly focus on the third scene where you are being yelled at with all kinds of abusive things, which is the most negative
of the three experiences and we all agreed on the first scene because that’s also just
getting you used to VR, it’s very simple, but it’s also creating a kind of caring environment, in context and it’s debunking myths about what the inside of an abortion
clinic looks like, but that’s pretty subtle, but the second scene was where we had the most tension because you can also develop a sense of
empathy for the protester, who, you know, within the
context of his own experience and goals, is trying to give
very loving caring advice, which is basically to go
to a fake pregnancy center where they tell you how you need to give up your baby for adoption, but, nonetheless, one of the
functions it’s there for, I think, is to try to temper
the intense negativity of the final scene, so
I would say that we were kind of aware of all those things, but I don’t know that we’re in
command of all that research enough to know exactly
what kind of grooves we want to make in your brain, which is probably a good thing, ’cause anyone that can make those grooves is probably evil (laughs). – There’s a lot of great
questions, I can tell, so let’s start with this
person in the front. – Helen, you talked about
building community in your media. I guess you do that to some extent online. – [Helen] Absolutely. – How do you make online
community building positive and not get in, the
anonymity of the online world creates a lot of problems
in some communities, some seem to do better than others, and I just wonder what your experience is in terms of making
things happen positively and constructively when creating
community spaces online? – Well, it’s you know,
hashtag people power, it was mostly focusing
our research real people, meaning real interns,
looking for all the different kinds of people online
and organizations that are interested in these kinds of stories and food advocacy and
then offering, you know, on the phone and through email, the films as a way to put on their blogs and talk about the issues, write about it, you know, old fashioned, what
mine kind of gets down to is really old fashioned organizing across these different platforms,
so it was always done with an intention of
positivity and outreach because none of the
shorts, if you see them, are provocative in the
sense of trying to force you into thinking a certain thing,
but to open up your mind to all the imaginative possibilities. So, in that case, someone
could’ve written some horrible thing about
it, but that was one of the interesting ways that you flow out into the beginning of
the internet experiences and that’s what happened,
but rarely did that, that never really happened. – [Voiceover] Sounds like
you’re building on existing online communities and– – Yeah and partner organizations
and partner individuals, so it was all with really great
intentions going out there and you know, it kind of works,
it’s sort of was magical. – [Voiceover] Nice, great. – I notice a question all
the way in the back too, by the wall. – Thank you and good morning. This is such an honor and
an exciting time in media. My name is Kayvela and
I’m part of a very special new project that’s
fostering transformational and experimental media
right here in Ashland and it’s super like, undercover right now, we haven’t done any
promotion or enrollment, so I do want to give a little shout-out and plant a seed, it’s
call The Ark and it’s being fostered as a multi-media playshop and innovation hub and the
dream, by the collective young people that are there, which will grow into a
rotation of membership, is to really have an
immersive and transformative environment of the best
that transmedia is bringing into our lives as we speak and I’m curious if there’s anything
that fosters right now, this level of engagement
and empathic experience, but that could be perhaps,
transferred into a big magic box utilizing the
best of black box theater, which my background if a
hybrid of theater production and then, above the line
Hollywood film production, which I realized I am
being called to leverage that organizational background
into transformational media, of real holistic wellness
and putting people in immersion environments
where the grooves that we’re making are like, yes grooves of inspiration and
wellness and empowerment and really restructuring
the brain with geometries and light and sound and a
transformational healing environment, so, VR that
takes us into a collective experience where we’re
sitting inside the black box theater and having those
kinds of interactions and I’m just wondering if you could speak to the technology and how
soon you think that will come, I know lasers and
holograms are right now, like really small little
table top experiences and we’re trying to
put all the magic beans inside of the box and
then play, so thank you for hearing that and
any ideas that you have and The Ark Ashland is
our brand new Facebook if you like to get involved locally and help us build out
this really incredible transmedia experience, thank you. – Other questions, yes
right in the back row. – Something that I worry about, transmedia is very technology dependent and technology tends to be expensive. I’m sure one of the greatest
challenges you guys face is raising the money to be
able to pay for all this stuff and then I watch things
like, Berkeley vs Big Soda, where these big corporations
throw around 23 million dollars, I gather that transmedia
is still so cutting edge that they haven’t figured
out that it may be an effective tool for them to use, but I worry that, at some
point, they may indeed, figure that out, and
start throwing money at it and trying to use transmedia
for their purposes. – They already do. I mean, there’s already a whole range of transmedia projects and
advertising in Hollywood film, so this is another kind of,
both a transmedia and VR in those huge corporate context, so this is a kind of different utilization of both transmedia and VR and so, the technology does
facilitate a quick start-up and access to a lot of people, but definitely there are
powers that can use this and do already and have
been for several years. – I just want to echo,
Vicki’s writing a book about transmedia, so
she’ll really be able to define it, I don’t think
transmedia’s new at all. I mean, with the advent of television and then you can go to a store
and sign up for a raffle, I mean, that’s transmedia, right? That’s two different platforms. We do a radio series. Now we’re doing a live stage performance based on the radio series with the kids in our Precious Lives and what Helen has done involves a lot of different platforms,
including the face-to-face platform, and certainly,
the Blair Witch Project probably was the first
in this era of transmedia to start using it as a way to
bring people to the theater by doing online and also
in your mailbox tricks to get you involved in the story. – Really, as we finally
leave the 20th century and we leave the proscenium theater, and the screens are everywhere, I think what you’re hearing is artists who are coming from a different place then corporate media, trying to
take control in some little way of the tools for the public good, for the aesthetic good, for
personal transformation, so, that’s the battle, really,
that we’re trying to fight against the matrix, right? (laughter) – The good news is that
a lot of, I won’t pretend to say that VR is cheap, it’s not, just to give you some sense, this cost about $230,000
for a seven minute film, that’s absurd, right,
but it’s start-up land, and so, there is some
money and there’s interest, but, it’s solving all the
post-production problems that are endlessly expensive
and take up all your time, but, transmedia itself
has the opposite effect, it’s figuring out what
platform your audience is on, how to reach them, Twitter
is practically free and a very effective transmedia strategy. – The way that you flow,
the way that the media has disseminated across platforms with your little deck
of cards of different possibilities that you’re
gonna throw out there and I won’t ever wanna end
the panel without saying and what we also have to be thinking about is the way that we preserve and keep these very ephemeral forms. Which is another panel altogether. – Yeah, that’s another panel and then, I wanna say one other thing too before we switch over to Brad’s demo video, is also I’ll just do a little shout-out for education and media
literacy and critical skills because just because,
so 2010, there was the Conspiracy for Good, do
people know this one, Nokia, Tim Kring project, which looks like it’s a game for social change but it’s actually just cellphones, to sell Nokia phones. So, you really need to be understanding how these cross-platform
things are being implemented and you really need
critical skills to really be able to unpack this, so I’m gonna do a big shout-out for not
just media literacy, but digital literacy,
Greg Ulmer, scholar at University of Florida, calls it electracy, so that’s digital literacy
in the electronic age, so let’s just, I’ll just throw that out, I have my educator hat on and I’m gonna have Brad maybe show your video right now. – I gotta say, there’s so many questions. – I know, do you wanna, yeah yeah, let’s– – [Voiceover] Here, I’ll give you the mic. – Thank you so much for the important work that you’re all doing,
it’s people like you that are gonna save us
all and all the people in the community helping you. I think I really am
excited to hear a little bit about the technical
aspects of the VR production. I’m looking at the
camera and I’m thinking, did you set it in the car
and then get out of the car, how is it recording all the way around and then I also wanted to ask what your favorite distribution platforms are, for both of you, in
getting, VR’s obviously completely different, so
I’m wondering what camera you used, how you shot that scene and then how you’re getting it
out and then for Helen, I’m wondering what your
favorite platform is in communicating to the public
and getting your films out, is there anything new and
different and exciting that you could share with us? – Okay (laughs), I’m gonna
do a quick little run through and then actually, just so you know, it’s very complicated
and if anyone is gonna be in Los Angeles or lives there, April 21st, 22nd, 23rd, we
and five other VR people are gonna do a panel Thursday night and then Friday a demo day
and then Saturday is an all day workshop on how to make VR, where we’re gonna break
down how we did this. That’s through the International
Documentary Association, but the big questions, I
can say really quickly. So, first of all, to shoot it, it’s 360, so it’s an array of cameras, now, there’s some on the
market, Jaunt is a manufacturer of VR cameras, but we
didn’t like all the products because they all have to be four feet away and we were going for intimacy, we wanted to be here, so we
wanted a wider angle lens, just like in documentary,
so we used Go Pro’s, but that was a problem because they’re not set up to sync together, so
luckily Jeff, my partner, wrote some code that would
sync the Go Pro’s together, which he’ll share, I mean, it’s all open and then we also realized
there’s a battery problem, so we took the batteries out, ’cause we didn’t want them to overheat since it’s an array of eight cameras and we ran them all off
an external battery, so we just basically hacked the Go Pro’s and then we 3-D printed
a holder, like an array, which he’ll share too, I mean, and we did lots of prototypes and stuff and we did, positioning really matters, ’cause you’re not like
changing in the moment, so it’s like, do you want to be here and look down a little bit, do you want to be right
on, Sam and Christina are different heights, so you know, so we did a lot of testing for that scene and then making sure that
we could have visibility at the windows, so we
did lots of run-throughs to make sure, but then the real fun starts in post-production, so you use a program called FourEyes, which
is the stitching program and that means, ’cause you’re
taking all these cameras, so you have to stitch them all together and the big challenge is to
avoid what’s called parallax, the warping of each of
them, you don’t want, you want it to be a seamless sphere, so that takes a lot of
work and specialized work and we ended up stitching
them together ourselves ’cause there wasn’t really
a program that could do it automatically for us,
that was very tedious and then, there’s the audio, so, for that scene, just
to break down that scene, I think we had 16 mics in the field, each of the women had mics on, we mic-ed the car, I think in four or five different places and then
we had me with a boom pretending to be a radio
reporter out in the field. We had two other people
wearing wireless mics out in the field as well. I’m trying to remember, and
then Rich, our sound guy’s hiding under a blanket
in the back of the car, so if you watch it once just though and look behind you the whole time, you’ll see him move at one point. So, ’cause we wanted to
capture what is called, with this 360 sound, we used what’s called an ambisonic mic for one of our mics, so it points in all directions and we put that right
in the middle of the car to get that kind of sound and then you have to audio mix this, there’s a lot of different tools, but Unity is the game
engine that we mostly used for this, so you map
the sounds to different places in the sphere and
then as you turn your head, that’s all responding to
what you’re looking at. So, it’s complicated (laughs). The camera operator isn’t there, that’s what I was saying,
you have to get away and you have to composite out the camera, so the downward facing camera, that’s all a big compositing job, yeah. – Every single distribution
methodology has a different flavor to it
and a different set of intensive labor-intense efforts, so, when it’s online, it’s
really, same old thing, people outreaching to people
to try to make that contact, so that they’re interested
and so that takes it’s own flow, you know, those 15,000
views of that little film just didn’t happen randomly, they happened because of a concerted
campaign, so to speak, of getting it out to the right people, so that is what way of doing it, but for me personally, when you ask, I know everyone here will wonder, but that intimate town hall meets theater media social where the
films integrate with life, conversation and curiosity and inquiry are really the ones that I love the most, but then there’s an actual
DVD or streaming product which is stable compared to what I feel is the fluidity and instability
of the internet over time because it’s lasted for three
and a half years online, which means that there’s a
decay process that happens, so, the idea of having an
actual product at the end is also compelling because
then it’s not self-distributed, it’s in the hands of another distributor to get it to another set of audiences, so I can’t really say that
one form is specifically better than another, but
again, it’s the deck of cards, it’s the array that filmmakers now really have to be thinking about and
that form follows function, and that’s a wonderful thought. – Okay, so, we’re actually
out of time because, so let’s just thank our panelists here. (audience applause) I was under strict instructions
to end at a certain time, both so people can go to the next film and also for people who
want to see the demo, so with that, I’ll just let
Brad show your clip, right? – [Voiceover] Did you need
to make an announcement? – No. – Alright, so I’m just gonna end it with, this is a short little
video with Maddie Power on our staff who worked
on Across the Line, showing you how to put
together your Cardboard and I will stay here, if
anybody wants instructions and if you wanna try it in the Gear VR, there’s more Cardboard up here, you can take these all home. There’s a swivel chair up here, so if you’re interested– (upbeat music) (electronic blips)

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