In the late nineteenth century, the advent of the motion picture wowed audiences with a new storytelling medium. Nearly a century and a half later, augmented reality is establishing a new frontier in film.
At the 2020 edition of South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival, kicking off March 13 in Austin, Texas, technology companies Magic Leap and Intel will lead the way in showcasing the wave of immersive cinema.
The SXSW Film Festival will host the world premiere of The Last Light, the story of the relationship between a grandmother and granddaughter that uses Magic Leap's spatial computing capabilities to enable the audience to observe moments in the family's lives as they unfold in the exhibition space.
Listed as executive producers of the experience are Daniel Lehrich, vice president of production at Magic Leap, and Anthony Williams, senior vice president of Magic Leap Studios, with Carrie Watts, associate producer at Magic Leap, retaining producer credit.
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Magic Leap creative director Jeremy Vanhoozer wrote and directed The Last Light. With credits from Cartoon Network, Electronic Arts, and Disney, Vanhoozer was also the director of Magic Leap apps Undersea and Create. So, while SXSW attendees will be the first audience to view The Last Light, Vanhoozer's previous work for Magic Leap gives us a hint at what to expect.
"I am really proud of this story and my team," said Vanhoozer via Twitter.
Joining The Last Light in the mixed reality category are Fragments by director Aaron Bradbury and immersive studio Atlas V and a pair of submissions from director Dani Parr, Dimension X: Dinosaurs and Dimension X: Robots.
Meanwhile, in the augmented reality category, Intel Studios and South Korea-based SM Entertainment will bring nine-member K-pop group NCT 127 to Austin via Superhuman AR.
Through video and volumetric capture footage, NCT 127 will virtually perform their single "Superhuman," which is brought into the physical realm for the audience through tablet viewers.
Diego Prilusky, head of Intel Studios, Intel's 10,000 square-foot volumetric capture facility, serves as executive producer for Superhuman AR. The experience is directed by Jinooya Makes, who specializes in audio-spatial experiences.
Also appearing in the augmented reality category is Hiraeth, an immersive audio experience from producer/director Virginia Galloway.
The presence of immersive cinema at SXSW is the latest in a growing movement to showcase art through mobile augmented reality and head-mounted display-based experiences. At Sundance Film Festival, several artists developed AR experiences for mobile, Magic Leap, and HoloLens. Meanwhile, at Mobile World Congress 2020 later this month, Todd Eckert, founder and CEO of Tin Drum, producer of Marina Abramovic's HoloLens installation The Life, will be one of three speakers advocating for immersive art experiences during the session "A World of Immersive Art."
"As a production company working exclusively within mixed reality, we wanted to take advantage of something that has never been possible before, which is the ability to convey the truth of a human being in the room," said Eckert in a statement.
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