Category: Spotlight

TORONTO (August 24, 2017) – FIVARS, The Festival of International Virtual & Augmented Reality Stories — Canada’s first and original VR/AR showcase — returns to Toronto September 15 -17 for its third year. FIVARS showcases a new wave of filmmakers and content producers who push the boundaries of virtual reality cinematography. The three day experience takes place at the House of VR (639 Queen St W) from10am-7pm daily.

The festival features top of the line VR technology and can accommodate 20 or more stations at a time on HTC Vive, Gear VR and Oculus Rift in addition to custom experiences. FIVARS carefully selects material that will not induce motion sickness and has partnered with SubPac to add tactile feedback to every station to enhance each story.

FIVARS showcases the best in cinematic VR and received over 200 entries, selecting the top 20 to bring to Toronto.This year FIVARS features VR films from Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Japan, Netherlands, South Korea, United Kingdom, USA, Argentina and Peru.

“We are always looking for what represents the vanguard in VR while demonstrating a unique approach to the medium itself, ” says founder and executive director Keram Malicki-Sanchez. “We want to represent the spectrum of ideas, themes, genres, voices and territories.”

This year the festival will be held at the 2-storey House of VR at Queen and Bathurst. Tickets are sold in 2 hour blocks for individual days and grant the purchasers a wristband that can be used for access to talks (1 hour special presentation daily) with producers, directors, distributors and special guests, and a paper ticket with 40 minutes of viewing time that can be applied to the catalog of choices.

Tickets can be purchased at FIVARS Eventbrite for $40CAD + HST per 40 minutes of viewing material. FIVARS only allows ages 13+ for VR but the AR experiences can be viewed by all ages with a ticket purchase.

The official selections for the 2017 FIVARS Festival of International Virtual and Augmented Reality Stories have been finalized and announced.

All selections must have been released within September 2016 and September 2017. The adjudication panel had to make some very difficult choices with over 250 excellent entries from all over the world. The final selections represent offerings from 14 different countries in all genres and platforms.

They fall into several categories and are all in competition for People’s Choice, Best Passive Experience, Best Interactive Experience, Impact Award and Grand Jury Prize.

The FIVARS 2017 Selections are, by category and in alphabetical order:

Programming line-up:

360° Viewing Experiences

A Little Love, Director Alton Glass, USA, 8:49 (Canadian Premiere)
When a successful hardworking mother finds herself too busy to make her daughters 8th birthday party on time – the girl makes an unusual wish, sending them on an unforgettable and eye-opening journey.

An Obituary, Director Jean Yoon, South Korea, 12:56 mins (North American Premiere)
Ki-un hears of Sang-Woo’s death and attends the funeral only to receive an email from his presumed deceased friend warning him not to come.

Ashes to Ashes, Director Ingejan Ligthart Schenk, Netherlands, 10:52 mins
A surreal, tragicomedy about how a dysfunctional family handles the dying wish of their grandfather. Seen through the ‘eyes’ of the deceased this short VR film gives a unique point of view on a bizarre set of family relationships.

Asteroids!, Director Eric Darnell, USA, 8 mins (Canadian Premiere)
Mac and Cheez are back with their robot sidekick Peas, this time on a dangerous, deep space mission. Disaster strikes as they are attacked by teeth-gnashing space bugs careening asteroids.

Dolphin Man, Director Benoit Lichtí, France, 10:15 mins
Experience freediving in the footsteps of Jacques Mayol and begin to understand what the underwater world has to offer us all.

Dreamtime 4K Stereoscopic, Director Jonathan Sims , USA, 4 mins (World Premiere)
DREAMTIME is a meditation on imagination and the unknown, and is the first cinematic use of Deep Dream to achieve a VR experience, placing you within a dream that is half human and half machine.

Extravaganza, Director Ethan Shaftel, USA, 5:45 mins (Canadian Premiere)
Busy executive (Paul Scheer) tests a VR headset that promises to be the future of entertainment… but is actually anything but forward thinking. Can technology change society for the better, or does it magnify our worst traits in new ways?

Gladiators in the Colosseum, Director Joerg Courtial, Germany, 6:05 mins
Drop into Rome 80 AD in the centre of the Colosseum surrounded by 50,000 cheering spectators as you witness Gladiators fight to the death, all while Emperor Titus looks on, waiting to pass his final judgement.

Guardian of the Guge Kingdom, Director Bin Huang, China, 7:12 mins
Meet Pasang Tsering, a 28-year-old Tibetan who follows his heart to be a guardian of Guge Relics and Guge culture, giving up all the favorable conditions of urban life.

IORANA Rapa Nui, Director Damián Turkieh, Argentina, 4:03 mins
Travel to the mysterious Easter Island, discover its ancestral culture, know its traditions and live the music of the most isolated place in the world with 3D spatial audio as if you were really there.

Kiss Me, Director Ryutaro Nakamura, Japan, 5:43 mins (World Premiere)
The new age of music videos is here. A 360, fully immersive take on the music video genre with the latest VR & 3D sound technology.

Miyubi, Director Félix Lajeunesse & Paul Raphaël, Canada, 40 mins
A Japanese toy robot – inhabited by you, the viewer – is gifted to a young boy on his birthday. Over the course of a year, you’ll experience a hilarious and endearing interactive story. Starring Jeff Goldblum, P.J Byrne, Emily Bergl, Owen Vaccaro, Richard Riehl, Ted Sutherland and Tatum Kensington Bailey.

My Brother’s Keeper, Director Connor Hair and Alex Meader, USA, 10:56 mins
“My Brother’s Keeper” is a Civil War inspired narrative that pushes the boundaries of immersive storytelling while remaining anchored in historical fact. It is the story of two estranged brothers who, fighting on opposing sides, unknowingly reunite one last time on the battlefield at Antietam.
Directed by the FIVARS 2016 winner of the Grand Jury Prize Connor Hair

Rose Colored, Director Adam Cosco, USA, 14 mins
Victoria’s personal A.I., Klive, is only doing what his programming considers will benefit his user. It’s his job to make sure she’s happy, no matter what, but deep down, Victoria knows something is amiss.

Sanctuary, Director Shivanya Mulekar. Canada, 8:11 mins (World Premiere)
A VR Documentary that captures the life of the Juhasz family who has been seeking sanctuary in a Canadian church since November 2014.

Songs of the Vine, Director Maira Clancy and Blake Montgomery, Peru & USA, 15:27 mins (Canadian Premiere)
Shot over the span of two months in the Peruvian Amazon Rainforest, ‘Songs of the Vine’ immerses the viewer in the depths of the Amazon jungle, exposing them to the medicine songs and perspectives of Shipibo healers, and illustrates an ancient but increasingly relevant dynamic between humans and nature.

Submerged, Director Nishtha Jain, India, 8:10 mins
Climate change and defective government policies are precipitating one of the largest exoduses of migrant labor in the world.


Alteration, Director Jérome Blanquet, France, 18 mins
Alexandro volunteers for an experiment carried out to study dreams in this poetic trip into the future. He can’t imagine that he will be subjected to the intrusion of Elsa, a form of Artificial Intelligence who aims to digitize his subconscious in order to feed off of it.

The Cooties, Director Josh Gladstone, USA, 3:30 mins
You are in control of the content, in this one-of-a-kind live-action VR music video. The more you look around, the more things change.

The Dream Collector, Director Mi Li , China, 12 mins (North America premiere)
Join an ordinary old man and an optimistic dog living in a garbage dump, picking up the ‘garbage’ people that have been abandoned.

Floresta Encantada, Director Ygor Marotta and Ceci Soloaga aka VJ Suave, Brazil, 15 mins (North American Premiere)
Journey through an enchanted forest filled with magical characters that leads you to a shamanic experience.

The Golden Note, Director Chris Forde & Cedrik Portron, France/Canada, 36 mins (World Premiere)
Follow the Quest of Frenchman Jerome as he travels to Toronto in search of his father’s secret…

Halcyon, Director Benjamin Arfmann, USA & Canada, 5-50 mins
When the CEO of the world’s leading Virtual Reality company is murdered in VR, Detective Jules Dover is pulled down a rabbit hole that could threaten the very fabric of real life. Set in the year 2040, Halcyon is a futuristic murder mystery that explores the dark side of VR.

HooDoo, Director Catherine Salkeld, UK, 6:30 mins
Follow along on the adventures of Claw, a simple cat exploring a mysterious fragment of a forgotten world. With the help of the audience, will Claw get through his journey in one piece?

In His Presence, Brenda Colonna , USA, 15 mins (World Premiere)
A prayer and meditation app to spend time with a photogrammetric Jesus.

Manifest 99, Director Adam Volker, USA, 10 mins
Journey into the afterlife aboard a mysterious train inhabited by a murder of crows in this ominous and eerie virtual reality experience.

Manimal Sanctuary, Postopian Games, Canada 10 mins
Play an elder god, half coral reef half cthulhu, that surrounds Toronto Island. After the rest of the world has been devoured, the quirky Islanders provide you with your main food source, emotions.

Meta-Dimensional, Michaella Vu, USA, 6:31 mins (World Premiere)
After the death of their secretly brilliant father, two erratic sister’s discover a headset that allows them to dimensionally travel discovering their mysterious past.

UTURN, Director Ryan Lynch, USA, 10 mins (Canadian Premiere)
What happens when a young female coder joins a male-dominated floundering startup that’s deep in an identity crisis?

Under Neon Lights, Director Jono Brandel and Zach Richter, USA, 5 mins
Under Neon Lights is an interactive, colorfully animated VR music experience for The Chemical Brothers’ song “Under Neon Lights”, featuring St. Vincent, A psychological and physical coming-of-age story, Under Neon Lights is framed around a girl whose world builds in neon color as she runs through the different environmental stages of her life.


Pacha’s Pyjamas, Director Allah El Henson USA, Book
After an asthma attack, Pacha’s mother gives her a pair of magical pyjamas. When Pacha goes to sleep, the plants and animals on her pyjamas become her guides on a dream adventure.

Priya’s Mirror, Director Dan Goldman, USA/India, 10 mins
When Priya and her flying tiger Sahas come upon a castle sheltering women burned by acid attacks, she helps free them from their victimhood by confronting Ahankar, the demon-king who’s told them their scarred appearances have no place in society.

City of Ghosts, Director Olivier Asselin, Canada
City of Ghosts is an interactive, 360-degree mobile augmented reality film experience that allows users equipped with a smartphone, tablet or AR glasses, to interact freely in real space with life-size 3D virtual characters ? all within an elaborate scenario and even across several locations. City of Ghosts invites visitors to make a journey through time to relive a story of love, death, ghosts and technology all in glorious augmented 3D animation mixed with real places.

In 2016 the winners were
People’s Choice Award – Best Immersive Spherical Video
Title: Help
DIR: Justin Lin
Country: USA
Production Company: Google Spotlight Stories

People’s Choice Award – Best Interactive Experience
Title: Pearl
DIR: Patrick Osborne
Country: USA
Production Company: Google Spotlight Stories

Grand Jury Prize
Real by Connor Hair
Title: Real
Connor Hair and Alex Meader
Country: USA | RT: 12m46s
Production Company: Perception Squared and Spliced Films

In 2015 the Winners were
People’s Choice Award – Best Immersive Spherical Video
Title: Sonar – A 360° Experience
Director: Philipp Maas, Dominik Stockhausen
Germany | 6m9s
Production Company: Filmakademie Baden-Wuerttemberg GmbH

People’s Choice Award – Best Interactive Experience
Title: Apollo 11
DIR: VR Immersive Education
Ireland | RT: 19m
Production Company: VR Immersive Education

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It has been said that art is a tryst; for in the joy of it, maker and beholder meet.
― Kojiro Tomita

CARDBOARD GOLIATH, a live action Virtual Reality film chronicling the construction of a thirteen foot cardboard sculpture of Ivan Drago (from ROCKY 4) by Los Angeles street artist, Calder Greenwood, experiments with the interplay between the actualization of the artist, the audio-visual information presented by the filmmakers, and the kinetic reaction of the viewer to create a mesmerizing artistic experience and cultivate a “plastic point of view”. We want to push the envelope of engagement of the audience to a physically active viewing experience directed through camera placement and editing choices to encourage an immersive cinematic dance.

This physical interaction, we believe, is a critical technological step for audiences to develop the kinesthetics necessary to enjoy emerging VR, AR, and mixed reality interactive experiences. Johannes Birringer asserted that, “Interactivity, as a mode of technical mediation within a collective infrastructure, points to a new understanding of environments of relations and a relational aesthetics based on interhuman exchange or physical interaction, to a new technological kinesthetics. (Dance, the body and the internet, 2003).


CARDBOARD GOLIATH situates the viewer in the environment of the artist, surrounded by his previous work, and in the midst of creation. The viewer is transported to the artist’s studio, to stand among astonishing pieces (a reproduction of a Japanese subway car; a capsule hotel; a giant tentacle that once emerged from a drainpipe at the Roslyn Hotel; an enormous wolfman’s claw; and a twelve foot Nicholas Cage from CON AIR), while observing the process of creation occurring (seemingly at arm’s length) before their eyes. The presence created by both the viewer and artist at work, interact to instigate a spontaneous performance curated by the filmmakers.

The artist, Calder Greenwood, works in cardboard, a medium widely associated with virtual reality in the mind of the public through the Google Cardboard platform. We were inspired to create this film after being approached to make a Muay Thai boxing virtual reality film for a fight themed art show at Titmouse Studios Gallery in Hollywood. Calder Greenwood was about to embark on the construction of his Ivan Drago sculpture, and we thought the cardboard/virtual reality associations would be interesting to pursue.

We captured Greenwood’s building the piece over the course of five days and nights, as well as the transportation of the large sculpture from the historic Indian Alley (adorned with murals by Shepard Fairey, Wild Life, Free Humanity, and many other celebrated LA artists) where Greenwood lives and works in Downtown Los Angeles, to the gallery space several miles away. The massive sculpture had to be divided in two pieces for delivery, and we invite the viewer to ride along with the bottom half of the sculpture through the palm tree lined streets towards Hollywood.

About the Producers

dpyx Dpyx is the filmmaking team of Marcy Boyle and Rachel Holzman. Their first feature film, NOBODY CAN COOL, a graphic novel and film noir influenced thriller released in the USA/Canada in 2013, and UK in February 2016. Our interest in Virtual Reality stems from an aspiration to elicit a visceral response and explore alternative storytelling structures. In 2015, in advance of a screening they hosted of Marguerite Durasʼs film, INDIA SONG, they wrote an article for Indiewire referencing the virtual reality narrative possibilities suggested by Durasʼs hypnotic, enveloping masterpiece. Their first virtual reality film was a profile of two Muay Thai boxers that was shown at “The Art of Fighting” show at Titmouse Gallery in Los Angeles.

CARDBOARD GOLIATH was shown as a work-in-progress at London’s first virtual reality Festival, VRUK, where Marcy participated in the Filmmaker Panel. Marcy was one of a hundred content creators invited to participate in Oculus Launch Pad. Dpyx is currently in the Green Screen Institute accelerator program developing Hot Bit VR, a virtual reality entertainment destination.

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As you may know by now, The Festival of International Virtual & Augmented Reality Stories – better known as FIVARS, focuses on content that demonstrates unique mechanics or approaches, breaking away from the pack to highlight new techniques and experiments.

Though Cream’s series Wild Things is vastly popular on The Travel Channel, the 360 version caught our eye for different reasons. First of all in season 1 episode one – The King Cobra, – it put the camera into the frightening and hypnotic middle point between a trained wrangler and a real live cobra in the wild. The sense of scale that immersive media provided with a vertical field of view, brings to life the sense of time and place with a dangerous animal like a King Cobra on alert in an unprecedented manner.

Dominic Monaghan waving from just beyond a real wild King Cobra on Cream360's Wild Things

Dominic Monaghan waving from just beyond a real wild King Cobra on Cream 360’s Wild Things

But this episode also implements infographics to show the strike zone in “real-time,” and display other data in the heat of the moment. This combination of ideas, all available at once in 360, afford the user the opportunity to experience the variety of stimuli as they best see fit.

Wild Things on The Travel Channel

Infographics demonstrated in the Cream 360 production of The Travel Channel’s Wild Things

WILD THINGS is the first of three VR components of an exhilarating travel-adventure series that follows actor and wildlife enthusiast, Dominic Monaghan, (Lord of the Rings / Lost) as he explores the remote corners of the globe in search of some the most badass animals in the world. Travel channel commissioned Cream to shoot VR versions of their series and we did just that. Traveling to the remote island of Bali Cream360 VR team (Tristan and Andrew) shot alongside Cream’s TV crew and covered Dominic rescuing a king cobra. The mission was to illustrate of how VR can be used for documentary in the field.

“Shooting the episode in Indonesia during rainy season was tricky and Cream360 had to build their own custom cameras to meet the challenges,” explain directors Andrew MacDonald and Tristan Cezair. “The result is a camera we could place very near to subjects, such as the mighty king cobra. With this rig we really get very up close and personal with Dominic and these wild animals.”

Indonesia on Cream 360

“In the next two pieces in this series, to be released this year, you will have a one of the world largest spiders, (Nephila (s01e02) golden orb spinner) crawl right over your head(!), and in last installment titled The Kecak Dance (s01e03) Dominic will show you the famous Uluwatu Kecak dance, from the inside of the mandala of singers.”

WILD THINGS “the King Cobra” Makes its VR Festival Debut at FIVARS 2016