The immersive film festival season is well underway with Venice VR Expanded being held last month. Today it’s the turn of the BFI London Film Festival and its XR showcase LFF Expanded. As VRFocus reported a few weeks ago, LFF Expanded will feature a selection of works from creators worldwide, accessible in person at London locations as well as online. The Expanse is your virtual reality (VR) portal into the online content, here’s how to access it and what’s on offer.
2020’s LFF Expanded was held in The Expanse so if you attended last year then not much has changed. It’s split into two main areas, the VR Exhibition hall and Auditorium. The latter hosts a rolling video of the festival’s content whilst the exhibition hall lets you into some of the works on show.
First up access. If you’ve got an Oculus Quest/Quest 2 then you can download The Expanse from App Lab. If you’re on a PC VR headset then head to Viveport to download the app. Non-VR PC users can directly download the software from the BFI website. All of this is free by the way. Once you’re in then a quick setup shows you the basic controls – purely teleport in VR – lets you input a username and select a hairstyle from one of five options.
Then you can have a wander around. If you did try any of the Venice VR Expanded 2021 content you’ll notice LFF Expanded is a far more minimal setup that’ll you’ll get around fairly quickly. There are 15 pieces housed in the exhibition hall but they’re not all fully interactive or 360-degree films, as it turns out some are only trailers depending on which platform you’re using.
On an Oculus Quest 2, VRFocus found that A Life in Pieces: The Diary and Letters of Stanley Hayami, Adult Children; Ghost in the Atom, Container; Virtually There, Noah’s Raft, Inhibition and Future Rites all worked as immersive experiences. The rest were 2D trailers. It’s worth checking them all out seeing as they’re free but Virtually There and Container definitely stood out.
Over on Viveport using a Valve Index, Laika and Samsara both became available. Eternal Return was of particular interest but as a live mixed reality (MR) performance that was never going to be available online.
The BFI London Film Festival and LFF Expanded run from 6th – 17th October 2021. For further updates from the event, keep reading VRFocus.