VR Cinema Gets The Hollywood Glamour Treatment

on Thursday, Jul. 30th

The other day I got to check out Oculus’ newest VR cinema short Henry.

The other day I got to check out Oculus’ newest VR cinema short Henry. It’s about a hedgehog who loves to hug, and doesn’t have any friends. This piece isn’t about that (no, that’s this piece, over here) this is about the event that Oculus held.

What you’re seeing here are some of the images I snapped at the event space. A very posh mansion in the actual hills of Beverly Hills. The location data on said mansion was played very close to the vest, and out of respect for that I won’t even name the place. Besides, it’s not the name you need.
IMG_9183

I mean, holy cats.

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Murder! Mystery! And A Wedding! Finding ‘The Lost Tears’ or ‘The Accidental ARG’

on Wednesday, Jul. 29th

Christian Marcus is in over his head, and I can tell he’s loving it.

Christian Marcus is in over his head, and I can tell he’s loving it. Hopefully it won’t kill him.

Marcus, a scenic designer by trade who is the wizard behind some of the most beautiful bars in LA (No Vacancy, Butchers and Barbers, Pour Vous), and his fiancé Erika Diehl have found themselves at the center of a web of lies and deceit that is being teased apart by a couple of thousand people around the world.

That is, they’ve started an Alternate Reality Game, of sorts. Partially by accident.

The Lost Tears of Kali first came to the ARG community’s notice thanks to an article in the LAist which teased the existence of the fictional city of Empire Falls. The online component of the game has more in common with early text based adventures than the Rube Goldberg-esque ARGs of the Aughts which were bankrolled by movie and game studios looking to build up rabid fanbases.

What piqued my own interest wasn’t the online component, but the lure of the live events that are a promised part of the Lost Tears package. The spaces that Marcus designs are some of my favorite in Los Angeles, each crammed full of details which suggest layered narratives. This makes me eager to learn just what he has up his sleeve when story is the point and not a side dish.

As it turns out, live events are the entire point because Lost Tears grew out of—and remains a key part of—Marcus and Diehl’s wedding plans.

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Kickstarting A Quest for the Fountain of Youth Inside ‘The Grand Paradise’

on Monday, Jul. 27th

I tend to talk a lot about how seeing the immersive theatre show Then She Fell was one of the peak experiences of my life.

I tend to talk a lot about how seeing the immersive theatre show Then She Fell was one of the peak experiences of my life. That one production crystalized years of thinking about performance, theatre, and storytelling for me in one magical night. So you can imagine that when I saw that Third Rail Projects, the creators of that show, had turned to crowdfunding to make their next large-scale piece even more spectacular they had my full attention.

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Earth: The Educational App

on Thursday, Jul. 23rd

You don’t expect to find yourself looking at educational e-books at the Electronic Entertainment Expo—the leading trade show in video games—let alone being impressed by one.

You don’t expect to find yourself looking at educational e-books at the Electronic Entertainment Expo—the leading trade show in video games—let alone being impressed by one.

That’s exactly what happened when I toured the Indiecade booth this year and found myself talking with Chaim Gingold, the creator of Earth Primer, a “science book for playful people” that uses data visualization techniques to create an interactive educational book on geology.

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Breaking Records, Brooklyn Style: Money & Violence

on Thursday, Jul. 16th

It can be easy, when you live on Internet Time, to forget just how new all this crowdfunding stuff really is.

It can be easy, when you live on Internet Time, to forget just how new all this crowdfunding stuff really is. The oldest platforms—like Kiva—are barely a decade old, and the creative platforms are years younger than that.

Seed & Spark is one of the youngest of those, having turned three years old this past May. The site differentiated itself from Kickstarter and IndieGoGo primary by being laser focused on film and video. For instance, Seed & Spark functions as both a crowdfunding platform as a distributor of indie films. Which has given them the freedom to use tactics that other platforms don’t like in-kind donations.

That’s part of the formula for success that’s driving the campaign for the second season of Money & Violence, a web series that is breaking Seed & Spark’s fundraising records.

“About 45% of what we have received so far has been in kind donations,” said series mastermind Moise Verneau. “We appreciate all types of support. It’s not just financial.”

The success story shaping up around Money & Violence is about a lot more than playing with numbers. Before we get into that, you’re probably going to want to know more about the series.

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Proto Award Submission Deadline Looms

on Tuesday, Jul. 7th

Last year saw the establishment of The Proto Awards, the first awards show dedicated to Virtual Reality experience design.

Last year saw the establishment of The Proto Awards, the first awards show dedicated to Virtual Reality experience design. The event took place concurrently with the first Oculus Connect, the developers conference for the Oculus Rift VR platform which took place in LA.

This year’s edition of the awards are currently seeking submissions in a number of categories, with the awards scheduled to be held at Avalon Hollywood on Tuesday, September 22nd 2015. (For those keeping track, that’s the night before this year’s Connect starts up, also in Hollywood.

The deadline for submissions is July 15th. Check out the categories involved, submission fees and more after the jump.

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Get Your Bard On (HFF15 Dispatch #3)

on Tuesday, Jun. 23rd

Our coverage of the 2015 Hollywood Fringe Festival continues.

Our coverage of the 2015 Hollywood Fringe Festival continues.

Somehow my Fringe this year has become increasingly haunted by The Bard of Avon.

This is not a difficult proposition. Fringe theatre festivals are often hotbeds of reinterpretations of Shakespeare. For starters the plays are in the pubic domain, so you don’t have the good folks at Samuel French breathing down your neck. Since just about everyone knows the broad details of Shakespeare’s work it’s possible to riff on Will while leaving out the details. Which is perfect for the hour-or-so length of Fringe shows.

Yet the crop of Shakespearean inspired works at the 2015 Hollywood Fringe Festival doesn’t limit itself to anything approaching a conventional reimagining. I’ve already discussed Rogue Artists Ensemble’s Shakespeare(ish) in a previous piece, and written about Capital W’s Hamlet-Mobile. Since then I’ve had more time inside the Hamlet-Mobile van, and I’ve taken in two more shows that draw inspiration from the English language’s most famous poet.

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E3: Perpetual Tomorrowland

on Friday, Jun. 19th

The thing you have to remember about the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo which takes place in Los Angels every year is that it’s a time machine.

The thing you have to remember about the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo which takes place in Los Angels every year is that it’s a time machine. Oh, I know that it is set up as a trade show—the main stage for the multi-billion dollar video game industry—where buyers from major retailers go to get a handle on what will be on their store shelves for the next few holiday seasons.

But that’s not where all the heat gets generated, and it’s far from the messaging that gets blasted out onto every blog, Twitch channel, and mainstream news source.

No, E3 is all about the future, and an increasingly in-the-future one at that.

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‘Getting To Know You’ – An Intimate Immersive Experience at the Hollywood Fringe

on Thursday, Jun. 18th

The 2015 Hollywood Fringe Festival is in full swing.

The 2015 Hollywood Fringe Festival is in full swing.

Let me start off these notes with some qualifications: Getting To Know You isn’t a highly polished immersion machine. It’s a show at the Hollywood Fringe, and as such it shares some of the quirks of the best Fringe shows: experimental in nature and held together as much with sheer will and charisma as anything else.

There’s work to be done before I’d hold up Annie Lesser’s work as an exemplar of the intimate-interactive subgenre of immersive theatre, but this is Lesser’s first immersive rodeo and for a freshman on the immersive scene the writer shows incredible promise. It doesn’t hurt that the intimate-interactive subgenre—which puts the “one on one” style experience front and center—is my favorite. Every experiment with this form gets my undivided attention.

In a moment here I’ll get into a moderate analysis of the work, but if you’re looking for a recommendation the following will have to suffice. If you’re the kind of person who enjoys interacting with actors in scenes then Getting To Know You is going to be up your alley. That’s the sum total of the interactivity in the piece: audience members sit in a chair and are visited by the performers in a kind of round robin. The actors have a conversation with each audience member, a small slice of their life, tied around a thematic fear.

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Promo Pic via Capital W

Promo Pic via Capital W

Look for the Van! Hamlet-Mobile @ The Hollywood Fringe (#HFF15)

on Monday, Jun. 15th

Continuing our coverage of the 2015 Hollywood Fringe Festival.

Continuing our coverage of the 2015 Hollywood Fringe Festival.

When I head that Lauren Ludwig and Monica Miklas, two of the producers of the perennial Fringe favorite Lost Moon Radio were taking a year off from that show to produce something else I was intrigued. When I found out that it was a series of pop-up performances based on Hamlet centered around a van?

I was ecstatic.

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Prepare Yourselves For The Personal VR Video Revolution

Virtual Reality is rapidly approaching a watershed moment.

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Spoiler Alert: Hollywood Isn’t Taking Cyber Security Seriously (LA Film Fest)

Tonight at the Los Angeles Film Festival, squeezed in between movies and red carpet events, a symposium on Cyber Security is being held at the Grammy Museum.

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Rent Video Straight From Social Media Via Gumroad

The people who brought the “Buy Now” button to Twitter are going all-in on film distribution.

Siegel's NOME meditation machine.

Hacking Consciousness: Silicon Valley’s Next Frontier

Is there something that lies beyond the quantified self movement?

Detail from the cover of Snow Crash.'

Bright, Bold Future: Magic Leap Has Hired The Godfather of The Metaverse

There’s a rapturous term thrown around by VR enthusiasts: “The Metaverse.” It is a term that comes from the seminal Neal Stephenson science fiction novel Snow Crash, where it described a kind of embodied virtual reality.

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