Interview with Camille Donegan – Curator of Carlow Arts Festival Slice #5
Slice #5 is the VR segment of the Carlow Arts Festival. It’s free to watch and is available online from the 1st of August. The programme was curated by Camille Donegan. We got the chance to put some questions to her on VR and the various films in the programme. You can see the results below.
Broadcast On Carlow Arts Festival YouTube channel – 1 August until 31 August 2020 – SLICE #5 of Carlow Arts Festival 2020
What equipment do you need to view VR films at home? Are there any cheap options?
At Carlow Arts Festival, accessibility is key for us, that’s why we are hosting the VR films on YouTube and the audience can experience the VR films on their phone or desktop without any device. However, for a more immersive experience, you can purchase a Cardboard VR viewer for €10 (You can find them here).
Aside from the Carlow Arts Festival VR Cinema films, once you have cardboard VR viewer you can use it to enjoy tons of free content available on YouTube.
Where does Ireland stand in the VR world? Are many people here producing VR projects?
As a founding member of Eirmersive, an umbrella organisation for the VR and AR sector in Ireland, I can say that the wealth of both creative and tech talent in this country is extraordinary.
Many artists have turned to VR during the lockdown and I have been supporting several theatre makers looking at upskilling and embracing the storytelling mediums of AR and VR. I believe that with the right supports in place, the artistic community of Ireland are well placed for best-in-class XR (VR and AR) storytelling. The support of the Arts Council and the government of Ireland are key to supporting this transition towards XR art creation.
Since the lockdown, many large film festivals brought their VR offering online – Tribeca and Cannes for example. I’ve enjoyed watching and reviewing those VR films which could only be seen if you had an Oculus headset (You can see Camille’s reviews here)
It was wonderful to then contact several of these directors and include their projects in our curation for an Irish audience, to be viewed without requiring an expensive headset.
There were no specific guidelines bar curating content that an arts audience would enjoy. It was important to us that we curated best-in-class content in terms of production quality and storytelling. In the final programme, we whisk audience members out of their ordinary world and off to hard to reach places like the Arctic, Australia and even Mars!
What works are you most excited about at the festival?
Several of the films are quirky and fun like Passenger which is created with stop-motion animation and puppets. In the film you have just arrived in Australia as an immigrant and the taxi driver, your new feathered friend is showing you around and you are travelling in the back of his taxi. As the story progresses you are whisked away on an immersive adventure where you ride on his back through the city.
In Extravaganza you become a puppet in a super offensive puppet show, with self-referential aspects as the VR headsets owner is saying how “great VR is”!
In -22.7c, you get to experience the solitude of the Arctic as music composer Molecule collects sounds there and brings you on a sonic adventure through his music composition inspired by his journey.
Are you surprised Hollywood hasn’t embraced the technology yet, or when do you think we’ll get our first proper VR or 360 Video film release with major stars attached?
I think Covid has sped up the adoption of VR technology for a consumer market by at least a year. Very soon, those of us who are interested in this medium will have our own VR headset, probably the Oculus Quest.
Knowing this is a key aspect of the future of storytelling, there are pockets of activity from Hollywood. For instance, Colin Farrell is the narrator of Gloomy Eyes that we curated for the festival (headset viewing only) plus The Crow features the voice of Oprah Winfrey. With platforms like The Under Presents coming online, there is the ability for actors to embody characters from the comfort of their bedroom. While we are only scratching the surface of the possibilities of this powerful storytelling medium, the future looks bright for the artistic community who embrace it early.