Volunteer @ HotDocs DocX 1st Virtual Reality showcase! April 24th – May 1st, 2015

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Volunteer @ HotDocs DocX 1st Virtual Reality showcase! April 24th – May 1st, 2015

On May 3, 2015, Posted by , With Comments Off on Volunteer @ HotDocs DocX 1st Virtual Reality showcase! April 24th – May 1st, 2015

I, Joseph Ellsworth, had the opportunity to be a part of a fantastic new experience in Toronto!  HotDocs, for the first time ever was including a Virtual Reality portion to their film festival, called DocX.  Unfortunately due to early scheduling issue I was unable to apply for Virtual Reality coordinator myself, however, not being one to pass up an opportunity when my schedule cleared I applied to be a volunteer exclusively with the DocX event.

My primary role at the event was greeting the Audience.  Kwame, the Virtual Reality Coordinator, hired by HotDocs for the event had done an amazing job preparing the experience.  There were Four 360 Virtual Reality experiences in total, each attendee would  have a chance to view their first choice, and then if they would like to see another they would rejoin the line.  This ensured that while the total run time was around 22 minutes, we could get each group through in 5-7 minutes to ensure the majority of individuals would get a chance to view an experience in a reasonable time frame.  Also for those wishing to view them all they would still get the chance.  We even had a few very enthusiastic individuals watching the same experience a few times realizing there is 360 degrees to view and they can only see 96 degrees at a time.

As part of the challenge of individuals only seeing one of the four Virtual Reality experiences, Kwame discussed with me his vision of presenting the choices as part of a menu at a fine dining establishment.  I had already at the beginning of the very first day ensured I had a chance to savor each of the four experiences, and as a result was able to discuss the flavors and delights of each experience only providing suggestions based on their desired experiences when requested.

During the event I observed closely as Kwame Newman-Bremang, and Renan Ozen working together, showing experiences to the audience, as well as documenting the event.  Renan specializing in Photography for the event, and both Renan, and Kwame, capturing sound bites, quotes, and short interviews.

Over 1200+ demos were provided to the audience over a period of 8 days, with attendance increasing steadily by over 50% from Day 1, to Day 8.  In the later days some audience members actually stepped out of line or chose not to go through more than one demo due to the time frames generated from the line up.

Key learning takeaways:

How to manage large audiences when there are multiples demo choices.
Capturing audience experiences, and documenting the event.
Benefits of Samsung Gear VR vs Oculus Rift for 360 video playback experiences.

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