Inside Sundance’s New Frontier spacecraft, an interactive XR experience

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Upon entering Sundance’s New Frontier spaceship, the virtual venue that houses the festival’s multimedia, VR, XR and other emerging tech projects, the first thing you’ll see is yourself – in avatar form. .

The second thing you will see are all the other avatars walking around inside the virtual spaceship. And if you look out the window of the spaceship, you will see the virtual Earth.

Inside the spaceship, which you can access at newfrontier.sundance.org using a VR headset or just your laptop (you’ll need a Sundance connection to participate), you can visit different halls – the Cinema House, which is a virtual arthouse film theatre, the Gallery, where you can experience different multimedia projects from the New Frontier lineup, or the Film Party, where you can meet and mingle with others festival-goers. For the tech wary, Sundance has an in-depth blog post on how to navigate the spaceship here.

Essentially, the spaceship is the closest thing to being at Sundance in person without leaving the comfort of your own home.

A photo of the movie party room inside Sundance’s New Frontier spacecraft. Courtesy of Sundance

This is Sundance’s second year operating the Spaceship, which was unveiled for the 2021 festival to allow festival-goers to interact with each other when the festival first goes live.

There are 15 different projects going on in the spaceship, virtual live dance performances like Cosmogony and Suga’ experiences optimized for VR headsets like Diagnostics and Flat Earth VR. Other New Frontier projects include Gondwana, 32 Sounds, The Inside World, Surrogate, Atua, Seven Grams, Child of Empire, On the Morning You Wake Up (To the End of the World), The state of world peace, they dream in my bonesand This is not a ceremony.

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Gilles Jobin returns to Sundance this year with his live biodigital dance show Cosmogonywhich features three live dancers who use motion capture technology in Geneva, Switzerland, to project their movements in real time onto avatars moving through 3D environments.

“The main idea was to have this continuum from one space to another and it’s like a journey, really,” Jobin said. “The camera goes through all these types of worlds… plus the assets were in real time. So we have to make sure it’s not too resource-intensive. It’s also that question – it’s always a question mark when you’re creating the piece, you never know how far you can really go.

For dancers, the piece requires more than just movement of their body – they need to make sure the motion capture moves with them.

“For the choreography, we are already installed in space, our spacing is very, very precise. And most of the movement [is] too, but we also have a lot of freedom within the structure of the different spaces,” said dancer Susana Panadés Diaz. “But otherwise we’re really, really accurate in space and in frame. Because otherwise the cameras aren’t caught in frame.

To look at Cosmogony and other performances, visit the Spaceship at newfrontier.sundance.org.

Main image: A still image of the movie theater inside Sundance’s New Frontier spacecraft, courtesy of Sundance

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