First SA 48H VR Film Jam in Joburg
From 24 to 27 October 2017, Digital Lab Africa organized in cooperation with the French Institute of South Africa and Wonda VR the first South African VR Film Jam, wich has been held in Johannesburg at Tshimologong – Digital Precinct (Maxum Digital).
12 selected participants learnt how to write, shoot, edit and distribute a cinematic VR experience in less than 48 hours, with the help of French and South African mentors. The 4 final projects were showcased on October, 27th at DISCOP Johannesburg, the world’s number one destination to acquire and co-produce content “Made in Africa” and sell international film, television and digital content.
The Jam was part of the Wonda VR Jam Tour, that covers all continents and aims at empowering a diverse community of creatives to explore the future of cinema in VR, using a proven methodology coupled with Wonda VR Studio authoring software.
According to Arnault Labaronne, artistic director of the Jam, Johannesburg was certainly one of the most successful Jam he mentored. « We met a bunch of very creative people, and the experiences are very good », he said, which is due to the original and artistic profiles of the selected participants.
The 4 short films will be soon displayed on WondaVR Lab App.
Day 1 – Tuesday 24 October
The participants listening to the creative brief
After an « ice breaking » during which the participants got to know each other, the mentors introduced the basics 360° shooting and editing, as well as the Wonda VR software, which allows to create interactivity between sequences of 360° degree videos.
During the Creative Brief, Jam theme has been unveiled to participants: « Mix(c)ities ». The mentors voluntarily chose an extended and polyphonic theme to let the participants be creative. They additionnaly gave them a quote from Desmond Tutu: « My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together » to inspire them.
The mentors then organized four teams, according to the skills of each of the participant: some profiles had film directing skills, meanwhile others had editing skills and other ones had more « exotic » profile with skills from another field of expertise like video games, architecture or performing arts.
A brainstorming led each of the teams to share their ideas and build an original VR concept. The projects took two different paths: 2 were oriented as narrative experiences, and 2 as musical experiences.
At 11pm, the Jam kicked off!
Days 2 and 3 – Wednesday 25 & Thursday 26 October
Theses days were dedicated to the VR shooting and editing.
Blue team shooting with the mentor Florian Pannetier
The Blue Team, made of Anita Szentesi and Muzi Mthembu, chose the French Institute of South Africa’s building to shoot their VR experience: In-Human. The main part of the experience takes place in an elevator, and the viewer has to make the choice to interact or not with the various characters he meet. His/her choices will impact the story and allow him/her to continue or not. Through this experience, the Blue Team aims to interrogate the viewer’s sense of humanity. « No person is either all good, or all bad; everyone has a good and bad side. It’s about being human inside this immersive experience », shared Szentesi.
Red Team preparing the shooting with the mentor Arnault Labaronne
The Red Team was composed by Phumulani Ntuli, Amy-Loureth Worster and Grace De La Hunt. After considering different possibilities, they shot their musical experience, Iphupho, in the music school Central Johannesburg College. « It’s kind of a crazy story because I woke up this morning, thinking we will just gonna meet at Smit Street like yesterday, and then I got a call from Grace saying ‘I found this jazz school, let’s go’ » . This impromptu decision led them to collaborate with three musicians from the school, and to create a musical experience in which the viewer is invited to arrange the audio in various combinations. According to Arnault Labaronne, it’s the first time that participants to a VR Jam use the « Seek current time » function of the Wonda VR software.
Shooting scene from the Yellow Team
The Yellow Team involved Tafadzwa Hove, Marinda Botha and Thembeka Kaula. Their VR experience, Who took my milk? , is based on a every-day life situation in a shared house: the main character, who is the viewer, is looking for his milk in the fridge, but it’s not here anymore. He’ll have to conduct an investigation about his flatmates to find out who took the milk. Mixing the codes of detective movies with the VR interactivity, this experience is cleverly playing with the space in 360°, for the viewer has to look everywhere to find some clues. Read the experience of Marinda Botha about the Jam here .
The Green Team with their mentor Gareth Steele
Sharp-Lee Mthimkulu, Itumeleng Montso and Zamo Mkhwanazi from the Green Team chose to create an immersive experience of Johannesburg, Jozi Music Match, that allows the viewer to see two parts of the city at the same time. « The theme was mix(c)ities so our idea was that no matter where you are in Joburg, there are always two perspectives to any story and we wanted to fuse these perspectives into one », said Sharp-Lee Mthimkulu. The experience is enhanced with different soundtracks for each of the scenes. As a result, the experience contains an impressive number of possibilities, that turns its editing into a technological challenge. The viewer can create his own experience depending on which part of the city he wants to explore.
Day 4 – Friday 27 October
After an intensive day of editing, the participants and mentors were invited to the DISCOP Johannesburg, at Sandton Convention Centre, to present their achieved projects.
Arnault Labaronne explaining the Jam’s outline during the VR Film Jam cocktail (c) Daylin Paul
It was the occasion for the participants to showcase their work, and network with professionals from the Media & TV industry. For several participants, the best moment of the Jam was to see how much people enjoyed their projects, and to share their experience with an audience from different backgrounds. « During the DISCOP, we displayed our work and chat with the people about the future of VR. The energy was great », shared Marinda Botha.
The participants at DISCOP (c) Daylin Paul
« Everything in Digital Lab Africa is regarding innovative content, and how we can help in the process of building a very strong ecosystem in Africa in terms of creative digital innovation. So it was quite a natural fit to collaborate with Wonda VR in the 48H VR Jam, because we are speaking about discovering new forms of storytelling, new forms of editing and new forms of producing films », said Erika Denis, Regional Head of Media at the French Embassy of South Africa.
Showcasing of the VR experiences (c) Daylin Paul