Digital Spotlight: Disney Plans to Debut First-Ever VR Short Film at Association Conference

Author: David McMillin       

The creative magic of Walt Disney Animation Studios will reach a different kind of audience next month: attendees at a computer graphic conference.

If you’re looking to experience some fresh Disney magic, you won’t need a theater ticket or wristband for one of the company’s theme parks. Instead, you’ll need a registration badge for SIGGRAPH, the Association for Computing Machinery’s annual computer graphics conference. From Aug. 12–16, attendees will have a chance to see Cycles, Disney’s first-ever virtual reality short film, in the conference’s Immersive Pavilion at the Vancouver Convention Centre.

Still Image from Disney’s New VR Short Film ‘Cycles’

“What’s cool for VR is that we are really on the edge of trying to figure out what it is and how to tell the stories in this new medium,” Jeff Gipson, director of the film, said in a release. “In VR, you can look anywhere and really be transported to a different world, experience it from different angles, and see every detail. We want people watching to feel alive and feel emotion and give them a true cinematic experience.”

Gipson hopes that the short film — which is inspired by his childhood memories with his grandparents, followed by helping them move to an assisted living residence — will underscore VR’s potential to be a true storytelling tool for the audience at SIGGRAPH. He calls it “an emotionally driven film” that expresses “the real ups and downs, the happy and sad moments in life.”

“VR is an amazing technology and a lot of times the technology is what is really celebrated,” Gipson said. “We hope more and more people begin to see the emotional weight of VR films, and with Cycles in particular, we hope they will feel the emotions we aimed to convey with our story.”

VR Moves to the Mainstream

The debut points to VR’s continuing push toward more screens and more eyeballs. While consumer adoption has been fairly slow over the past two years, Business Insider predicts that 2018 will mark a turning point in VR growth. More affordable hardware will certainly play a major role in the uptick in VR viewing, but leveraging a stage like SIGGRAPH will also create more awareness around the possibilities of VR. Conference attendees include more than 15,000 researchers, academics, and graphics gurus who design games, make films, and leverage new technologies to produce interactive content. If their Immersive Pavilion experience inspires them to dive deeper into the world of VR, it seems likely that there will be a ripple effect, and VR will find a home at more events across different industries.

Interested in learning more about how VR will transform the environment at events? Check out this story in Convene.

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