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Ready for some really new cinema?

Get up close and personal with the sun in ‘Solarium,’ one of the immersive cinematic experiences at ArtPower’s day-long Filmatic Festival May 7.
Get up close and personal with the sun in ‘Solarium,’ one of the immersive cinematic experiences at ArtPower’s day-long Filmatic Festival May 7.
(NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Courtesy)

By Lonnie Burstein Hewitt

If you’re ready for some really new cinema, featuring the latest developments in virtual reality and immersive storytelling, put Saturday, May 7 on your calendar. ArtPower’s third annual Filmatic Festival will be a 12-hour adventure in science and art at UC San Diego’s Qualcomm Institute.

Led by Rebecca Webb, ArtPower film curator and Filmatic Festival founder, the 2016 festival will showcase multimedia works that draw the viewer into the worlds of Australian Aboriginals (“Collisions”), Dinosaurs (“Jurassic World: Apatosaurus”); Mongolian yak-herders (“Nomads: Herders”) and outer space (“Irrational Exuberance”).

You’ll be able to track the path of an asteroid, follow a drone through an extensive system of caves, and stare at ultra-high-res NASA images of the sun in Solarium.

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And that’s not all. See digitally-animated Chinese calligraphy set to music, play “Marble Tracks,” an interactive 3D puzzle game, and experience Mass Effect, a new generation of 4D sound.

“VR is really a nascent technology, and we’re just at the very beginning, not just in cinema, but in science and medicine too,” said Webb. “We’re presenting cutting-edge work at the festival, and providing immersive encounters with the possibilities of this exciting new medium.”

The key word, she said, is “immersive.” She compared the effect of Filmatic’s room-scale installations to the early days of cinema, “the way the train feels like it’s coming off the screen and right at you.” While some, but not all, of the pieces will require donning headsets, the festival itself will be “a transformative experience,” a stunning glimpse of the new audio-visual frontiers that are opening wide.

Are you ready for the Visual Revolution? Don’t miss the panel discussion at 7:30 p.m., with some of VR’s hottest movers and shakers telling you everything you didn’t even know you wanted to know about VR and presenting their visions of cinema in the 22nd Century.

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After dark, you can bliss out in the Qualcomm Institute tunnel of lights and geek out at Gareth Walsh’s three-channel, video projection-mapped universe, Ursa Major, as it turns Tim Hawkinson’s 180-ton “Bear” sculpture into a spectacle of light, optical illusion and movement. Then join the celebration at an after-party, with food trucks, craft beer, a slo-mo video booth, and ongoing demonstrations and performances until 10 p.m.

May 7 will be a full day of total immersion in high-tech, multimedia razzle-dazzle that may change the way you think about the future, and the present, too. And you don’t have to be a college-age techie to have fun at the festival. If you’re anywhere between 10 and 100, you’ll surely find something that will blow your mind.

IF YOU GO: Filmatic Festival 2016: Art of Science and Cinema, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, May 7 at Qualcomm Institute at UCSD. Free parking. Advance ticket purchase recommended, $20-$35 (all-day and half-day passes), (858) 534-8497. boxoffice.ucsd.edu


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