Virtual Worlds is Partner of the BREAK DOWN THESE WALLS Festival

The Virtual Worlds Festival currently takes its name literally and is currently participating as a partner in the joint programme of the BREAK DOWN THESE WALLS Festival.
Participation is free of charge. The festival takes place entirely in Virtual Reality for as long as the Corona Pandemic lasts. Daily changing 3D and 360 degree films will be shown, you can exchange ideas with the creators and attend dance parties together.

We talked with the curator of Virtual Worlds, Astrid Kahmke, about the festival:

How did this idea come about?

Since the first big events and festivals were cancelled or postponed in March, everyone has been looking for digital solutions to fill the gaps that have arisen – and so are we. Social VR platforms have been around for years, but they have not really caught on yet. Now it seems their hour has come: Meetings in VR are more intense than video chats and seem almost real, even when a funny avatar embodies you. You can move in the virtual space and feel the presence of others.

The idea behind the BREAK DOWN THESE WALLS FESTIVAL is to open a space where people can forget their worries. A mental time-out, so to speak, to better cope with these challenging pandemic times. We offer a platform where people can meet around the clock from anywhere in the world. Every day we show different top-class 360° experiences and 3D films. There is even a dance floor with music. I joined the Virtual Worlds Festival as soon as I heard about the plans.

Who are the partners?

BDTW was initiated by Stereopsia and VRrOOm. Stereopsia has been an international festival in Brussels since 2009, organized in close cooperation with the Hollywood-based Advanced Imaging Society and its EMEA chapter, dedicated to all forms of 3D / XR / AI. Stereopsia presents the prestigious Lumiere Awards to exceptional 3D and 3D VR creators. The festival creators contribute first-class 3D films and 360° experiences with their network.

There is also VRrOOm, an XR news website. It has published a festival app that supports XR events in digital distribution. Founder Louis Cacciuttolo and I had already planned a cooperation with the Virtual Worlds Festival at the beginning of the year to stream some events simultaneously in VR. Without this platform and the technical know-how of the international developer team, the BREAK DOWN THESE WALLS FESTIVAL would not be possible.

How does Virtual Worlds get involved?

With the Virtual Worlds Festival and the i4c-conferences of the Bavarian Film Center before it, I have been curating and showing VR-experiences for five years.

So of course we have a rich archive of internationally first-class works and a strong network. This is necessary to get permission from the artists to exhibit their work in our VR-Space. We work very closely and unbureaucratically with Stereopsia and VRrOOm. Everybody contributes their part. We collect experiences, promote the event together and are of course in constant exchange.

Which works are shown as contribution of the “Virtual Worlds”?

With Virtual Worlds we could contribute the following works so far:

JONATHAN GRIFFITH with EVEREST, a breathtaking 360°-experience, which was shown at Virtual Worlds in 2019. It is now available as a three-part movie in the Oculus store in the app “Oculus TV”. With Jonathan, who is a professional mountaineer, climber and photographer, we climb Mont Blanc, Mount Everest and Mount Pilot. The pictures in 360° are just great. Part 1 is already running, part 2 can be seen on Easter Sunday, and the third part will come in the second half of April.

RICARDO LAGANARO, who won the Grand Jury Award (VR) in Venice in 2019, will be showing STEP TO THE LINE, a 360° film from 2017, which was produced for Oculus for Good and premiered in Tribeca. We screened the film at one of our i4c conferences and I am very happy that we can show it here again – on Thursday, April 9th.

With TRAVELING WHILE BLACK, FELIX&PAUL contribute an experience that is personally very close to my heart and that always takes me away. We showed the 360° film last year at Virtual Worlds as part of the “Felix&Paul Retrospective”, now it will probably be shown in the second half of April at the BDTW Festival.

And finally, STEFAN GÖPPEL and ANDREA ZIMMERMANN with BAUHAUS IN BAVARIA have also been added very quickly, a production of Schwarzbild Media in Munich, which was also shown at Virtual Worlds last year, and has in the meantime run a real festival marathon. We will also be showing this film in the second half of April.

After keeping the BDTW running until Corona is under control, we will continue to work on the program. Every week a new programme is published. The best way to stay informed is through our social media channels.


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What else does the festival offer besides the works? And how does it work?

You can dance, watch movies, enjoy 360°-experiences or just talk. You have to think of it that way: You log on to the app VRChat, a VR social network with different rooms. This works with most VR glasses, but also without on the PC. There you search for the world “VRrOOm” and teleport there. The world itself consists of three floors, which you can walk through: Below is the dance floor, at ground level the virtual cinema with rows of seats and a big screen, and above the portal to the current 360°-expierence.

BDTW is open 24/7 – and of course globally. So it can happen that you stand alone or with only a few participants in the room. It’s best to make an appointment at a certain time or use our “Creators’ Hour” daily at 6pm CEST (Munich time), at which the producer or creator of the experience or film is present.

Further notes on participation

Technical explanations:

The Break Down These Walls Festival takes place simultaneously at the VRrOOm Social XR cultural hub @ VRChat and the VRrOOm XR Festivals app. It offers the audience a program with one VR film and one 3D film per day for the duration of the lockdown.

How to participate in Break Down These Walls

Via Smartphone, tablet, mobile VR and PC VR headsets you can participate with 3DoF (three degrees of freedom) via:

● Apple App Store / iOS

● Google Play / Android / Daydream

● Oculus store / Oculus Rift, Oculus Go, Samsung Gear VR

● Viveport / HTC Vive

Via PC, laptop (without Mac), all types of PC VR headsets and Quest with Oculus Link* you can participate with 6DoF (six degrees of freedom). Just search the VRrOOm World in the VRChat app.

* Note: Access with Oculus Quest alone allows you to meet people and join DJ parties, but it does not work for the 360-degree movie shows.

Further links:
More about the significance of virtual reality for Bavaria as a media location and how Virutal Worlds, as cooperation partners of the international “Break Down These Walls Festival 2020”, are helping to shape virtual festival innovations, reveal Astrid Kahmke and Benedikt Frank in an interview with XPLR: Media in Bavaria

About the author

Written by:

As head of the XR HUB, Silke Schmidt is responsible for the strategy, the coordination of the three locations in Bavaria and their internationalisation. Previously, she worked for the Bavarian State Ministry of Digital Affairs in the "Audiovisual Media: Film, Games and XR" department. Contact via silke.schmidt@xrhub-bavaria.de


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