As demonstrated by the passion of thousands of geeks, filmmakers and executives who crowded the VRLA expo in downtown Los Angles on May 4-5, virtual reality may well be emerging as the next hot storytelling technology.
To be sure, VR’s road is still a bumpy one. Some filmmakers, including Steven Soderbergh, have expressed doubts about the tech being useful for longer narratives. By contrast, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences symbolically gave its seal of approval to the format by awarding “Carne y Arena (Virtually Present, Physically Invisible),” created by director Alejandro González Iñárritu and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, a special Oscar at the Governors Awards in November.
Among helmers taking virtual reality a step further are Angel Manuel Soto and Nora Kirkpatrick.
Soto, a Puerto Rican director who’s work-ed mainly on shorts and documentaries, helmed VR short “Dinner Party,” an immersive experience based on the avowed alien abduction in 1961 of Betty and Barney Hill, a story widely reported at the time. The mixed-race couple — Barney, a black postal employee, and his wife, Betty, a white social worker — was rare in those days.