On a chilly springtime evening in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, World VR Forum has officially declared Cedric Gamelin of Emblematic Group with his touching and controversial VR documentary piece, After Solitary, as the winner of the Imperial Crown at the WVRF’s Annual Summit’s Award Ceremony, at Le Regent Congress Center, on Saturday, 13 May, 2017.
Gamelin is a French VR Producer and a revolutionary storyteller at Emblematic Group – an industry leader in Virtual and Mixed Reality, redefining media through photogrammetry, videogrammetry, visual effects and user interaction, whose works, some of which he produced independently, were showcased at the White House, in front of the U.S. Congress and at numerous venues and festivals. As a pioneer in his field, Gamelin often ventures into unexplored territories, seeking out new innovative trends in different entertainment mediums and integrates them into the development of unique, groundbreaking content.
As Shari Frilot, Senior Programmer and Chief Curator of the New Frontier section of the Sundance Film Festival and one of the judges of WVRF Festival’s Official Selection complimented the winning chef d’oeuvre, After Solitary, “for its fresh approach and clever use of room scale VR technology to elegantly and viscerally communicate a pervasive sense of confinement,” Gamelin took the stage.
After heartily thanking WVRF’s Co-Founders: Salar Shahna, Clayton Doherty and Delphine Seitiee, for his victory and for organizing the Annual Summit; as well as the Knight Foundation; After Solitary’s Directors: Cassandra Herrman and Lauren Mucciolo; Technical Director: Jonathan Yomayuza and Executive Producers: Nonny de la Pena and Raney Aronson-Rath, Gamelin shared the story behind his stunner of a film.
First, Gamelin stated his project’s purpose, “for the ones who didn’t have the opportunity to see it, our company, Emblematic Group, made a Virtual Reality film in partnership with PBS Frontline on the detrimental effects of solitary confinement on prisoners.”
The partnership has been funded by the Knight Foundation, and the goals of the project are twofold: to produce a series of VR documentaries, and to craft and share best practices for the use of this new medium in the service of journalism.
As cameras snapped and fingers casually glided across the glowing smartphone screens, tweeting the supreme victory of the night, Gamelin told the blood-tingling saga of Kenny Moore, who, spent five and a half years in solitary confinement.
“In fact, since he was released from prison a few months ago, he says he continues to walk around asking people, "Do I act normally?", because getting back to socializing again with people was THAT difficult,” noted Gamelin.”
Before joining Emblematic Group, Gamelin produced a traditional short film in 2D about solitary confinement. After months of research to produce an accurate story, the film was successful enough that Gamelin and his crew were invited to the White House to present it.
After joining Emblematic Group, Gamelin made the VR film, After Solitary. Having been on the production on these two projects, one in 2D and one in Virtual Reality, but both dealing with the same subject, Gamelin testified to the powerful impact that VR has over a traditional film.
“So I found myself walking in this solitary confinement cell, yet, despite all the research to make my narrative short film I still didn’t have a clear idea of what solitary confinement was,” confessed Gamelin, “but when I put the goggles on, it only took me a few seconds to understand, I just got it.”
Furthermore, Gamelin emphasized, “no traditional film, no article, no talks could make me feel the abyss of solitary confinement the way that I felt it in this Virtual Reality experience; and this is the potency of VR, to put you in a story that you can feel and remember with your entire body.”
Gamelin pointed out that through all of these projects, Emblematic Group continues to push the boundaries of communication, taking it one step further and expanding the concept of what VR is used for, building a stronger collective understanding that will only continue to grow as the technology evolves. Gamelin announced that he would like to invite creators to create brilliant stories and investors to invest in such stories.
As applause soared, Gamelin concluded, “whether it is documentary, science, immersive journalism, data visualization, gaming, education, VR strikes us with moments of realization that we don’t see coming to take us on a new storytelling journey. And this is only the beginning.”