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SMPTE Session Explores the Potential for Immersive Storytelling

Victoria Bousis

UME XR Director and Founder

Michael Zink

Warner Media VP of Emerging & Creative Technologies

SMPTE’s Future of Cinema Conference discusses the potential and pitfalls of immersive storytelling with its panel “The Big Screen & Beyond.”

The convergence of VR, cinema, narrative gaming, and human rights is seen in the interactive experience ‟Stay Alive My Son.” Victoria Bousis, a career prosecutor turned producer and XR director, describes the process of turning the real life story of  Cambodian refugee Pin Yathay into a multi-part interactive film.

Bousis explains the concept of ‟CompAction VR (a contraction of compassion-action virtual reality) and utilizing a combination of game engine technologies to craft the most compelling experience for audiences and changemakers.

Bousis’ presentation is followed by Chaitanya Chinchiklar’s (at 25:30)I. As head of business for India’s Whistling Woods International, Chinchiklar explains why their film school is bullish on cinematic VR and how the institute hopes to promote uptake of the technology on the creative side to fix that aspect of the pipeline problem.

The film school established a VR development lab in 2018, and he shares several projects that helped evolved his thinking around immersive tech and storytelling’s potential.

Chinchiklar then joined Bousis for a fireside chat with Warner Bros.-Discovery’s Michael Zink (at 58:00). They discussed the additional opportunities and challenges of working in immersive content. Bousis cited maintaining consistently high production values, the complexity of the score, and balancing the narrative and information. She noted the additional limitations of the individuality of VR (the headset and workstation challenge) and the difficulty of scalability — when it might be more appropriate for 360° video or curved and interactive LED walls.

For his part, Chinchiklar says his students are digital natives who are becoming “immersive immigrants;” they are learning the key fluencies faster in this medium faster. He also emphasized that there is an existing market for VR content, and he believes this immersive is one technology for which the tech sector is actually underestimating the world’s appetite.

Click Watch Now (above) for the full set of presentations and to learn more from the Q&A.