Film Festivals: Platforms for evangelizing VR filmmaking

The Think in 360 VR masterclass series is growing in popularity in Asia, and the MiddleEast. While film festivals in Europe and North America have already been promoting Cinematic VR filmmaking, 2016 saw India, and Asia begin to look at Virtual Reality as a knowledge stream to complement a festival’s ‘curated’ VR films section.

No doubt, credit for awareness of Cinematic VR as a medium is due to Tribeca, Cannes, and Sundance – it’s still the West that sets trends – but, as emphasized during the Think in 360 Masterclasses, for once, everyone is on a level playing field and even Hollywood is making mistakes in Cinematic VR while they learn the ropes.


Think in 360 VR masterclass: VR Filmmakers Panel: Dubai Film Festival (DIFF)

In late 2015, while preparing for a workshop on VR filmmaking for a private Production Company, I was called in to host a panel of VR filmmakers and personalities, at the Dubai Film Festival (DIFF). During the discussion, enthusiasm shown by the audience to learn more about this emerging platform made it apparent, the Think in 360 masterclass would be of benefit to a wider audience than just Production studios looking at entering the market because “VR films” was becoming a buzz-word.

This lead to hand picking the best of topics from the 2 day “Think in 360” workshop to offer in masterclass format at Film Festivals. Topics, language and terminology had to be fine tuned to appeal to a wide audience. Typical attendees at Filmfestivals range from  Film Producers, to filmmakers, distributors, Agents and even scriptwriters.

Keeping them engaged for 2 to 3 hours (the typical run time of the masterclass) is what has made this VR filmmaking masterclass grow in popularity.


Think in 360 – Masterclass meets Workshop:

Most masterclasses are typically a mic and chair affair involving a monologue followed by a Q n A session. The Think in 360 VR filmmaking masterclass dares to be different. Live, hands-on demonstrations on VR filmmaking aim to explain to Directors and tech savvy filmmakers alike, the intricacies of creating a VR film or “storytelling in VR”. The image above for instance, explains a film time-line inside a Game Engine which can be used for narrative driven VR films.

Other interactive topics during the session include on-stage demonstrations of scene blocking for live action video capture, and getting audiences to understand the difference between vanilla 360 video and what might qualify as “cinematic VR”. At Film festivals that have a knowledge stream, the Think in 360 VR masterclass has consistently been voted the best session, with audience engagement running at nearly 100% for over two hours.


On invite by the Govt. of India for the recent International Film Festival of India (IFFI) which was held in the picturesque city of Goa, over 160 Filmmakers attended the masterclass.

Earlier versions of the masterclass were also held at Google MENA at Google’s Dubai headquarters in Dubai. Over 50 creative heads of the regions top Ad agencies (BBDO and JWT) attended.

More pictures of the Think in 360 VR filmmaking masterclass, here.