Manage 360 VR Film festivals programming

This case study dives into VR film as a emerging medium, and how film festivals like SIFF are integrating VR into their programming

Showing VR content at film festivals 

As VR video technology has advanced, more and more filmmakers are recognizing the potential this emerging medium has for telling stories. Film festivals are responding to this growing community of VR filmmakers by integrating VR content into their programming. Not only does this give outstanding VR filmmakers’ work recognition, but it also broadens public access to this new and compelling form of media.

In this case study we will examine how VR film and VR technology augment the film festival experience, and how the Seattle International Film Festival incorporated VR content into their programming

What VR Film Brings to the Table

VR film has the incredible power to engage viewers in a way that 2D, or even 3D, film does not. By immersing the viewer in a 360° experience, by being placed in the life of a character or in the middle of a storyline, viewers can better relate to the content they consume, fostering empathy and understanding.

VR Film Fever

VR films are being recognized all over the globe, and not just by film festivals dedicated to VR. Many major film festivals have already worked VR film into their programming in some way, including Sundance, Tribeca, Cannes and Venice. In 2017, SIFF presented their first SIFF 360/VR Award to recognize excellence in virtual reality filmmaking

The SIFF VR Zone

At the 2018 Seattle International Film Festival, guests could register for a 90 minute slot in the SIFF VR Zone. In the VR Zone, participants were able to experience personal narratives, love stories, music videos, and more. The selection of VR works shown at SIFF included Sun Ladies, the story of a group of Yazidi women who fought against ISIS after their invasion of Iraq, and Sanctuaries of Silence, an immersive experience which takes viewers on a journey into the Olympic National Park.

“With Pixvana’s technology and VR casting solution, there are no complicated menus to navigate through...Partnering with Pixvana to run our 360 video program allows us to maximize the number of pieces each guest has a chance to see during their 90-minute time slot in the SIFF VR Zone”

Sarah Wilke | SIFF Executive Director

"The 'Auto Play' functionality allowed us to run 18 headsets, showing 26 pieces of content seamlessly.
One docent was able to run an entire room, where typically we would have needed 5-6."

Kim Voynar | CEO of WonderTek Labs and Producer of SIFF VR Zone

Automate the VR viewing experience

90% of film festival goers have never put on a VR headset before, so Pixvana developed a new feature called Auto-Play for the SIFF VR Zone that dramatically improves the viewer experience. Auto-Play launches content automatically the minute the VR headset is put on (with a helpful 5-4-3-2-1 countdown which gives time for adjusting the fit of the headset and settling in for the show).  No VR remote usage is needed, which ensures your event runs smoothly with fewer “VR assistant” staff on hand to deal with viewer VR-related support issues.


Cloud-program your VR Film Program

The SIFF VR Zone, powered by Pixvana SPIN Play, enabled all of the festival’s participating guests to fully immerse themselves in the VR viewing experience on a fleet of ~30 Samsung Gear VR headsets.  SIFF’s VR festival programers were able to use Pixvana’s SPIN Studio to fully manage which films appeared on which headsets and to cloud-to-device download the films onto the headsets without the need for cumbersome cables and manual side-loading of content.  This cloud-based content management greatly reduces time/complexity for setting up a fleet of headsets for screenings.

A complete solution for programming VR film festivals

The combination of SPIN Studio for managing the film programming, and SPIN Play to playback the films on the VR headsets, powered a great festival experience in the 2018 SIFF VR Zone.  The festival was able to operate the VR Zone with less staff than would otherwise be required, thanks to the fully-automated start/stop and headset-on/off capabilities of SPIN Play.  SPIN Studio allowed individual films to be programmed and managed from the cloud–greatly reducing cost and complexity for running the VR Zone.

Watch the SIFF VR Zone Trailer

SIFF’s 2018 VR Zone program was promoted through this VR trailer, check it out.

If you are planning a VR Film festival get in touch with us–we donate our software to film festivals and can help you get started for free!