Venice Vr Expanded is almost here: how are we doing ?

Saverio Trapasso
CEO & Co-founder of Artheria
Venice Vr Expanded is almost here: how are...

The inauguration of the Venice VR Expanded, a section specifically dedicated to Virtual Reality at the 77th Venice International Film Festival, is just under a month away.

These days, everyone and everything in the office is trembling. We’re working at a fast pace to implement that extra graphic detail, testing for bugs, improving the user experience. Sometimes we stay throughout the evening, talking about what we would like to improve over a takeout pizza.

Vajont‘s presentation to the public is fast approaching, and we are all working to create a product that can fully represent not only our vision, but also our enthusiasm, our will and our technical know-how. This is something we are doing not only for the public. It is something we are doing first and foremost to live up to the expectations we have of ourselves!

When I decided to embark on this adventure about a year and a half ago – including the pre-production time and the development workshops of Biennale College Cinema VR – I knew it would be a fulfilling but demanding challenge.

As CEO and co-founder of a small independent Italian production company, the idea of producing a VR piece with interactive narrative and photo-realistic aspects in six months time, as foreseen by the Biennale College funding contract, was something that sounded incredibly challenging; it was a way to finally put myself on the line, and express myself with a product that was halfway between a film and a video game project.

Not only that – it was a test, a very important test for what is, to date, a small team. Only nine people are covering all the roles of a major production pipeline.

Would we be able not only to respect delivery times, but to give full life to what we had set for ourselves?

Those were recent times, and yet they paradoxically seem far away, when the words “coronavirus” and “lockdown” had not yet entered our common vocabulary, and certainly didn’t have the meaning they do today. Until a few months ago, I had no idea how tough this challenge would be.

I had no idea that we would experience the difficulty of collaborating remotely, each person locked in their own home, in a production process entirely based on the team’s ability to synchronize and work as a single mechanism.

I also hadn’t foreseen the changes we would have to make in Vajont, compared to the original design: renouncing the real scenography, which would support what we experienced in VR; renouncing a system of interactions based on the real movements of the participant’s body, such as “I sit” or “I stand“; and finally, renouncing the integrated hand tracking, and using joysticks instead – a solution certainly more widespread among users of VR experiences, who have their own home systems for enjoying differente pieces at home.

Due to the coronavirus, and the current regulations on hygiene and social distancing, this edition of Venice VR be held online, and not in a physical place. So we had to make all these adaptations.

And yet, despite these difficulties, I feel I can say that we are making it. And nothing makes me prouder than my team, which in recent months has given me proof several times of its member’s professionalism, ability, enthusiasm and their desire to move forward.

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