Category: News


The FIVARS virtual and augmented reality stories festival will be dropping down into the very heart of Toronto in the very heart of the largest conference and expo in the industry on the Eastern seaboard June 25th through 27th 2016. The conference and expo, run by Constant Change Media Group Inc, which controls VRTO – one of Toronto’s largest VR Meetup groups, hosts Intensive Training in 360 video production, VR authoring, hacking the Metaverse (web VR) plus two days and two tracks of conferences, panels, discussions and keynotes from such luminaries as Brett Leonard (director of Lawnmower Man and Virtuosity), Philip Lelyveld director of VR program at Entertainment Technology program and at University of Southern California USC) and speakers from across North America and beyond.

The FIVARS pavilion, a specially ticketed event, features the same proprietary NoLine ticketing system and will showcase a preview custom selection from the 2016 programme, including several world premieres and new technological approaches to immersive storytelling.

For more information visit the Expo’s official site at

FIVARS presented by VRTO 2015 – In review
The inaugural Festival of International Virtual and Augmented Reality Stories in Toronto took place between Friday September 18th and Monday September 21st, 2015.

The focus of this event was the examination of new narrative possibilities with the emergent media platform of virtual and augmented reality. Through panel discussions and a carefully selected catalog of exhibits – each representing a different possible presentational framework – FIVARS squeezed the discourse on new potentialities for storytelling, attempting important distinctions between games, ambient installations and actually narrative projects.

DorkShelf magazine said “FIVARS at least offers a glimpse at the artistic potential of an entirely new medium,” and Culturetrip said “Here are some experiences that will turn VR skeptics into fanatics.”

VRTO and the FIVARS crew provided:
Event Stats

  • 1000+ VR viewings served
  • over 4 days (including an educational outreach day at Toronto’s Metro Hall Rotunda, and People’s Choice Award at the Cadillac Lounge on Queen St. W)
  • a total of 12 viewing stations
  • 24 different VR experiences
  • representing 11 different countries
    • Canada
    • England
    • Germany
    • Ireland
    • Mongolia
    • New Zealand
    • Norway
    • Russia
    • Syria
    • UK
    • USA

We had a diverse selection – ranging from cinematic to CG, relaxation to horror, documentaries and educational experiences – to startle us awake into alternate, visceral experiential possibilities. All in attendance had a great chance to view a minimum of 30 minutes of VR experiences and many returned for seconds and thirds.

Public enjoys virtual reality at Toronto's Metro Hall Rotunda

Public enjoys virtual reality at Toronto’s Metro Hall Rotunda

Councilman Norm Kelly and his wife Charlotte at FIVARS, Metro Hall public outreach event

L to R: Festival director Keram Malicki-Sánchez, Councilman Norm Kelly and his wife Charlotte, VR Community Liaison Joseph Ellsworth, at FIVARS, Metro Hall public outreach event

People’s Choice Award Winners
The People’s Choice award was divided into two categories: one for interactive experiences, and the other for immersive video experiences.

The ballot voting system:

  • Based on a 1-5 rating
  • 1 staff-attended ballot per viewing
  • Average results based on total score divided by number of ballots

Ballot results for all submissions was a score of 3 or higher, with many of them being over 4 out of 5. This was a strong indicator we got the right content, and that people enjoyed watching the way it was presented at FIVARS.

FIVARS - Meg White

This is Meg White, one of FIVARS’ specially trained volunteers.

The People Have Spoken
In the interactive experience – as shown on the Oculus Rift – the winner was Apollo 11, providing the ability to experience John F. Kennedy’s unimaginably ambitious speech about landing on the moon, the first moments of space travel, and the legimitately transportive experience of sitting in the pod atop the massive Saturn V rocket as you can shift positions slightly in the seated experience to look from multiple angles into takeoff.

This VR experience from VR Immersive Education, located in Ireland, was over 19 minutes long, and we believe it shall have a great future in education at schools, museums, and other locations.

The People’s Choice award for video experiences, as shown on the Samsung Gear VR, went to Sonar, a rendered 360 stereoscopic video that nonetheless feels highly immersive.

In this piece, Filmakademie Baden-Wuerttemberg GmbH used a combination of 360 3D CGI and atmospheric audio to create a dread-inducing approach wherein the unknown turns out to be far worse than you imagined. Utilizing the sense of scale and personal space that virtual reality uniquely affords as a medium, Sonar arrived to us Germany, and it is just over 6 minutes long.

Man watching VR
Every experience proved a fascinating experiment in its own right, and simply because it may have received a lower score in no way diminished its significance, but rather provided great insight into how various techniques resonate with a broad spectrum of end users.

And Beyond
Next year, we expect a much larger audience as awareness of VR and AR grows. According to, in the coming years, there will be many more stations, including a greater diversity of hardware and a variety of AR experiences as well. We will make sure to
Transfer Electric communications when we send out the call for submissions – roughly halfway throughout the year – we look forward to seeing your entries. Based on what we have seen so far, we expect many of your teams & companies will have new submissions for next year’s festival, as well as many more new companies and countries in attendance. (more…)


FIVARS – the Festival of International Virtual and Augmented Reality Stories took place September 18th through 21st, 2015 in Toronto, Ontario Canada. The two center days – Saturday and Sunday took place at UG3 Live – a vibey bar steps away from the Bell Lightbox Theater where the Toronto International Film Festival was taking place.

Over the course of the day, FIVARS hosted a series of discussion panels focused around the challenges and opportunities for new modes of storytelling.

Featuring directors and producers of the latest in virtual and augmented reality techniques, the prime time, 40 minute panel featured Canadian director of “I Am You” – Elli Raynai of Cinehackers, VR game developer Owen Devine of Hacklab, Blake Stone of Shift VR whose clients include Ripley’s Aquarium and Niagara Falls among others, Keram Malicki-Sanchez – FIVARS Festival Director, founder of VRTO and editor-in-chief of, and moderator Tom Emrich of We Are Wearables – one of Toronto’s largest meetup groups, they’ve hosted lots of events including the launch of some of the most popular android games that you’d find featured here


The discussion focused on the possibilities and challenges of creating narrative in this emergent platform for our common stories and beyond. It took place at 5pm at the UG3 Live club at 77 Peter St. Toronto Ontario, Canada and was accessible with a festival ticket ($10 advance, $15 at the door).