Ah, remember the good ol’ days, when 2017 was to be heralded the year of virtual reality? It seems we’ve still got a ways to go, with sales of VR hardware falling below forecasts and many overseas startups already going bankrupt. With so many challenges facing the growth of the technology on the consumer-level playing field, it seems the tech is still fighting the good fight. Every new industry faces these “growing pains”, according to Clayton Doherty, co-founder and president of the World VR Forum, held last week in Switzerland. But with every setback is an unforgettable experience behind a headset. Creators put together a list of 5 reasons the tech will continue to survive and thrive: from being used as an empathy tool to its potential in other industries, such as healthcare, check out the full list here!

Virtual reality. It’s here. It’s prominent. It’s already playing a role in the way we look at creating within the medium of the moving image in the immediate future, so why not embrace it? That’s what filmmakers James Spinney and Peter Middleton did with their award-winning feature film and virtual reality experience, “Notes on Blindness”. The story follows the life of British theologian John Hull, a man who kept extensive audio diaries chronicling the emotional, mental and psychological experience of becoming blind. As the filmmakers explored Hull’s detailed collection, they found a vast goldmine that offered so much material that their creation couldn’t be confined to just one medium. The result? A film that plays as half documentary/half narrative. When virtual reality became an option, the missing bit of the full experience was complete. It become whole. Without the film component or without the VR component, the emotional pull of the story wouldn't be the same. It’s cinema. It’s the experience. It’s all about transcending what we know and discovering something beyond. Read more about the award-winning experience via No Film School!

Google's 'Quick, Draw!' A.I. Guessing Game

Google has just released their own series of A.I. Experiments that are fun, smart little time killers. One of them, called 'Quick, Draw!', utilizes machine learning and a neural network to become a sort of Pictionary-on-the-go game. How does it work? The user draws a little doodle and the program guesses what they’re drawing while they’re drawing it. The more drawings it sees and guesses at, the smarter it gets. Sound a bit spooky? Yea, it’s as fascinating as it is terrifying to witness when it guesses correctly! But hey, this is the future - why not have a wee doodle on the way there?! Read more on BOOOOOOOM about how the Google app works and watch the video below to see it in action! Get drawing!

Wanna go to the movies? Well, can you actually even afford to these days!? Movie theaters are charging more and more for ticket prices and many people are noticing that they are delivering less and less value in the experience. To help film lovers get more bang for their buck and start to recognise what goes into a spot on projected film experience, Screen Crush consulted with Mark Louis, Director of Presentation for the Alamo Drafthouse. For tips on what to look out for and expect from every theater, no matter what the ticket cost, head over to Screencrush now! 

Yesterday, the New York Film Festival offered a really unique experience for film lovers that I stumbled upon by happy accident. You see, at 1pm they moved a screening of “The Cinema Travellers” to the theatre right next to the 330pm talk by Ang Lee. Leaving one, you ran into the other. Call it a coincidence, but I say it's cinematic fate. “The Cinema Travellers” followed the story of two showmen with traveling cinema roadshows in the remote villages of India. As they started struggling to bring in audiences with their analog ways and old clunky projectors, the digital world of film inevitably started creeping up on them. And Ang Lee’s talk? About the insane, innovative technological advancements on display in his new film “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk”. The contrast of the Indian documentary to Ang Lee’s talk was eye-opening for people curious about film as a physical medium. It was a delight to see both and it was also a delight to then randomly run across this film inspection video via Gizmodo. Learn about what it takes to inspect a physical piece of film and get mesmerised by the images within the frames as they fly by - a somewhat lost art that hopefully will not be lost forever! 


IFP Film Week just wrapped up with a run from September 17 to 22 of this year. Though it has been around for a few years, you may be asking yourself, what exactly is IFP (Independent Filmmaker Project) Film Week anyways?? According to their website, they describe themselves as a “place where filmmakers, artists, and storytellers cross paths with people who help move their projects forward. Creators get funding, advice, and opportunities. Industry insiders get to discover new talent and ideas. The public gets to screen cutting-edge work. It’s a space where doors open, info is exchanged, and everybody gets creative.” One of their panels this year saw moderated discussion on the future of cinematic storytelling in the upcoming age of virtual reality. A variety of industry professionals, from Michael Deathless, Jump Into the Light VR gallery owner, to VR filmmakers, Lily Baldwin and Benjamin Dickinson, pondered the topic and offered their insight and thoughts on the future of film. From major shifts in storytelling rules and performance, click here to read about some of the takeaways from the panel discussion.

Search “photos” in your App store and you’ll be met with an insane amount of options. From editing, adding filters, and doing a million other things associated with the perfect Instagram post, wouldn’t it be fun to have something just totally unique and different? That’s where Finger Quilt comes in. Designed by Jeffrey Scudder and at $2 a pop, this iOS mosaic-style app brings that fun back into photography on the iPhone. The app works like this: you see your screen through a grid (big or small). When you tap a square, the image within that part of the grid freezes - sorta like you’re taking a microphoto. From there, you can move your camera around, freezing little squares as you go, until you create a full image - or, a “quilt”. With hardly any other options built into the app, it’s fairly minimal. The fun is all in the tapping. Click here for more info on the app and to see it at work. If you like what you see, you can purchase Finger Quilt via iTunes here!

Got your virtual reality kick on? While it is mind blowing to see how far the technology has come over the past couple of years and can still go over the next few years, it’s often important to look back and see how we’ve come this far. And I’m talking way, way back. Before their was the HTC Vive, Rift, or any of the other VR headsets and variants, the world had…paper. Yes, paper peep shows. Tiny, layered paper dioramas created the illusion of depth. Bringing to life scenes like the 1851 Great Exhibition, theater plays, images of far away places and hundreds of other places beyond the viewers own experiences, paper peep shows were sought after souvenirs in the 19th century. The world’s largest collection of these little pre-VR headsets/pre-3D glasses now exists at the V&A Museum in London. An amazing resource of what was once considered exotic and popular entertainment back in the day, paper peep shows are even thought to be ancestors of film. Click here to be transported to a different time and place and learn more about the paper peep shows of the 1800’s!

VR is always finding new ways to astound us and change up the playing field. Take for example, Tilt Brush by Google. By simply setting up your HTC Hive and installing Steam, you can be painting in 3D space with virtual reality in no time! They call it: “Painting from a new perspective”. Indeed! Though it’s already a truly immersive experience in its own right, the audio-reactive painting brush feature will take it to a whole new level. Head on over to The Creators Project to check out the psychedelic video demo and get prepped for a new way of “seeing” sound!

AI…it threatens to take over our factory jobs and much, much more over the coming decades. But who would have that artificial intelligence could mimic the talent of….a screenwriter? Well, “Independent Things”, an indie horror film by Jack Zhang of Greenlight Essentials, was reportedly produced partly by a software tool that uses augmented intelligence. It analyzed audiences response data in order to help screenwriters create plot points that connected with what viewers wanted. “Impossible Things” is the result of this experiment, called “the scariest and creepiest horror film out there.” Zhang is currently raising funds via Kickstarter to release the film. If this mix of tech and horror sounds up your alley, you can check out the crowdfunding campaign here. Read here for more about the project in general.

Just last weekend, Canada saw the opening of its first ever pop-up virtual reality cinema in Toronto. Starting on July 16 until later this summer, for 20 bucks a pop, visitors can enjoy a fully immersive experience at the VIVID VR cinema using Samsung VR gear. Launched by three Queens University grads, the cinema will allow each visitor 40 minutes to learn about VR and take in a curated selection of films showcasing the technology. If your based in Canada or just going through Toronto, the exciting program could be worth stopping by for - read more here about the one stop, pop-up VR shop!