IDFA DocLab Immersive Network R&D Program

    Just like a decade ago, when the internet began to converge with traditional media, the future of interactive and immersive media is once again unknown and being shaped by pioneers working in very different disciplines. That is why IDFA DocLab is opening up its platform and launching a five-year R&D program in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT Open Documentary Lab).

    Instead of focusing on a single medium, technology or discipline, IDFA DocLab has been openly and independently showcasing the best interactive documentary art and storytelling since 2007. It has become a key international platform for new talent, artistic innovation, and interdisciplinary collaborations. Meanwhile, new developments in immersive technology—like virtual reality, as well as AR, MR and AI—have introduced explosive new opportunities. But as new immersive consumer devices are being introduced to the masses, key questions still exist around how to successfully live up to the true potential of immersive media.

    Living Lab

    The IDFA DocLab Immersive Network Research & Development Program uses the festival as a living lab for experimentation, research and development. The program is aimed at the growing international ecosystem of artists, developers, scientists and entrepreneurs working in interactive and immersive content, and each year we will focus on specific research questions that arise from developments in the field.

    This year, one of the research domains is aimed at developing a robust evaluative framework for AI-based storytelling systems. We will do this by investigating how makers and their audiences conceptualize Artificial Intelligence (AI). A second research domain is the narrative coherence in VR/AR experiences. The starting point here is the evident tension between strategies based on ‘story-telling’ and those based on ‘story-finding’—between makers trying to communicate a particular narrative, and users being free to explore and find their own—often different—stories.

    The Immersive Network Summit

    An integral component of the research program is the Immersive Network Summit, a think tank event for experts from all corners of the interactive and immersive storytelling industry to explore next steps in developing the medium. The program presents information gained from research, case studies and demos of interactive and immersive storytelling experiments in progress as well as cross-sector expert meetings. By invitation only.

    The IDFA DocLab Immersive Network R&D Program is made possible by the Ministry of Economic Affairs of the Netherlands, CLICKNL, the Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science, The Netherlands Film Fund, Diversion, and Flanders Audiovisual Fund.

    DocLab research collaborations: MIT Open Doc Lab, The Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision, Diversion, The Immersive Storytelling Studio (The National Theatre), and Popkraft.