8 Key Things The Tribeca Film Festival Nailed About Immersive Tech

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It’s that time of year again: the Tribeca Film Festival. With it comes Tribeca X for advertising, Tribeca Talks for thought leadership talks and panels, and Tribeca Immersive and its Virtual Arcade. The Arcade essentially is a playground of new and boundary-pushing storytelling with Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality. It’s where not only a general audience can try the newest and best VR and AR, but where the XR industry comes and plays and, generally, waits in a queue to experience the next, coolest XR piece.

The Tribeca Film Festival manages to inspire people inside and outside of the XR industry.  Here are 8 top emerging tech takeaways from the 3 events:


  • Advertising Is Shifting: One of the themes of Tribeca X was that advertising is shifting and that brands need to embrace emerging technology. Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard of Procter & Gamble went so far to say that technology might replace advertising completely. He called out the SK-II Future X Smart Store at CES 2019 as an example of how technology will transform branded advertising.

  • Plan for XR Distribution: Without a distribution system with scale, creators need to plan for distribution. Mia Traz of Time Magazine baked distribution strategies into their plans for creating content. Time Inc has used museums and even created its own tour for their VR pieces.


  • Move Away From a “Theater of One”: VR in its current state, especially at festivals, is not suited for throughput. Unless you timed it perfectly or were a VIP at Tribeca Immersive, you can only view a small fraction of the 22 experiences in a 3 hour ticketed block. Ken Perlin’s NYU lab is on the case moving away from what he calls a “theater of one.” There is room for even more operational and technological throughput solutions.

  • Be Technology Agnostic: A technology-first creative development - just VR, just AR, just projection mapping - reduces the creative possibilities unnecessarily. When discussing his ‘When There’s Smoke’ experience, Columbia University’s Lance Weiler said his process is purposefully multidisciplinary and technology agnostic.


  • Set The Stage: It’s important to think about the experiences users have before and after putting on a VR headset. The most dynamic XR experiences put thought and effort into establishing an immersive environment. “Drop in the Ocean” was a standout, and the Gymnasia doll got people talking.

  • Honor The Participant: Ends up Oculus team members are required to say, “Welcome back” when they took off your headset. Brilliant! It respects that the XR user has traveled to a virtual world and needs an adjustment period back into the real world.

  • Branded Content Can Be Festival-Worthy: Doctor Who in VR got great buzz on the Festival floor with it’s great experience and real life TARDIS, and everyone wanted to check out the short Game of Thrones Magic Leap experience.

  • Virtual Beings Can Drive Emotional Connection: The VR piece that got some of the biggest buzz was “Wolves in the Walls.” Within the story, you are the protagonist Lucy’s imaginary friend. She will look at you and interact with you, no matter where you are in the room. This brings a new, deeper emotional dimension to the interaction that goes beyond 6DoF. The Fable Studio team created a virtual being that we will be thinking of for a while to come.

Overall, Tribeca again was inspirational and exceptional. We are only beginning to tap into what is possible for VR and AR and Tribeca proved again that what to come is just amazing.