“Sick Rose”, other RV works show Taiwan’s power on the platform

With seven titles selected for Venice VR expanded at this year’s film festival, Taiwan has once again demonstrated its potential as a world leader in virtual reality content production. But this time, the technology center in Asia has more to offer: it has a higher goal than to show its technological advancement and the quality of locally produced works. He wants to rise as an international actor who collaborates with creative forces around the world.

Of the seven titles, five in competition and two out of competition, four are talented co-productions from other countries. Among the five titles in competition with the support of Taiwan Creative Content Agency, three are international co-productions. Tickets for this year’s Expanded VR have set a record for the independent agency that promotes the island’s creative and content industries established under the Yuan executive and the Ministry of Culture.

“Taicca’s efforts to encourage international co-financing and co-production, promote international talent exchanges and support technology content development are now bearing fruit after two years,” says Ting Hsiao-Ching, President of Taicca.

Taiwan had impressed the world in 2019 when it exported seven RV titles to the Venice Film Festival. Most, however, were local productions. Subsequently, the agency launched in 2020 the first edition of the immersive content grant aimed at joint ventures or international co-productions between Taiwanese and foreign companies.

“We will continue to cultivate global talent, consolidate resources around the world to incubate more content, and promote Taiwan’s excellent creativity in the world to further push the boundaries of XR content and raise Taiwan’s global profile,” says Ting.

Technology giant HTC, a world leader in the development of hardware such as headphones and VR software, as well as a key factor in Taiwan’s original VR content, under its HTC Vive Originals tile, sees the need to strengthen Taiwan’s global network to further enhance the virtual reality of the island. industry.

“Our hope is to build bridges with global resources,” says Liu Szu-Ming, president of HTC Vive Originals and producer of the contestant of the expanded Venice VR competition “The Sick Rose,” a stop-motion animated short film that unites the state of the art macro macro photography 8K S3D with the traditional craft of dough figurines. Directors Huang Yun-Sian, a descendant of a family of pasta figurine artists, and Tang Chi-Chung, compared the experience of spending days in the studio to shooting in virtual reality with being in a dream.

“Whether it’s co-production or investment or distribution collaboration, we look forward to building a global distribution network for our VR content,” Liu told Variety.

This year, HTC Vive Originals partnered with Astrea, a distributor specializing in immersive entertainment with offices in Paris and London, to expand its global reach, especially in Europe and North America. HTC itself manages the Asian territory.

“Through [international] collaboration in production, distribution or investment, we can increase the number of virtual reality productions and expand them. We hope this helps with VR content marketing in the long run, ”says Liu.

International creators who have collaborated with Taiwan and won their tickets to the Venice Film Festival have excited the island to be an attractive partner and not just because they have received a grant from Taicca. Antoine Cardon, producer of “Bedlam,” which offers the audience an immersive experience in a 17th-century mental hospital, praised the technological experience offered in Taiwan.

Jörg Tittel, the British director of “The Last Worker”, one of the Taicca-backed VR titles and the only gaming title to compete in Venice this year, says Taiwan is not only a technology hub, but also a hub of talent.

“The development of‘ The Last Worker ’is brought from here to the UK, but it wouldn’t have been possible without Taiwan,” says Tittel, also director of production company Oiffy. “The Last Worker,” co-funded by Oculus and Wired Productions, features Taiwan’s Pumpkin Studio.

“Taiwan has been one of the main benchmarks in the immersive space since day one: HTC Vive is a good example. But what’s most important to me as a director is talent, and Taiwan is full of brilliant artists, programmers, and creative thinkers with an open perspective on the world, ”Tittel told Variety.

“Taiwan is a shining example of what international collaboration and diversity is all about … I think a great job is promoting itself and Taiwan is partnering in a whole wave of amazing VR projects across a wide spectrum. of genres “.

“Talk to Awaken Ep. 2 Kusunda “, a virtual reality documentary experience that revolves around the disappearance of the endangered indigenous language co-directed by Felix Gaedtke and Gayatri Parameswaran, is a project that was made possible by international collaboration. It involves not only the participation of Kaohsiung VR Film Lab from Taiwan and NowHere Media based in Berlin, but also from Nepal, Sweden and Switzerland.The play appears in Best of VR Experience, out of competition.

Co-productions are challenging but rewarding at the same time, says director Parameswaran, as they allow teams to explore the knowledge and cultural identity represented by languages ​​without borders or barriers. And this global collaboration on the universal theme of the disappearance of languages ​​is done through technology, says Lai Kuan-Yuan, co-producer of “Kusunda.”

New media artist and director Huang Hsin-Chien has two titles on this year’s VR Expanded, “Samsara Ep.1” and “The Starry Sand Beach,” a co-production with Paris-based Lucid Realities Studio that he co-directs. with Nina Barbier. Both titles are supported by the Taicca Scholarship. He said the beauty of virtual reality lies in its interactive nature.

“Virtual reality is story rather than narration,” Huang told Variety. “I hope the public can experience the story I want to tell with their body. Programming, interactive design and storytelling come together closely to achieve this. ”

In “Samsara”, the public is invited to experience the lives of different beings and characters through technology. “That’s why I want to create with VR. I don’t just tell a story. I want the public to live a story, ”he says.

To deepen Taiwan’s virtual reality content development, the cultivation of private funding sources will be key, but Huang continues to hope. HTC’s VivePort has been one of the top virtual reality content outlets in Taiwan, the artist notes, adding that there have been a growing number of location-based sites, such as ViveLand at Syntrend in Taipei, introducing virtual reality to a wider audience. These sites may not be able to function as usual due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but he believed the momentum will increase again once the pandemic is over.

“With more VR content products available on the market, there should be more investors willing to invest in VR content. If Taiwanese industry awards, such as the Golden Bell Awards and Golden Horse Awards, could also include RV as an awards category, it would be a great stimulus for RV creators. “

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