Samsung today crowned the first set of winners in its ongoing virtual reality content competition.
Last summer, in a bid to seed more and better independent content for its Gear VR headset, Samsung launched its "There in 60 Seconds" contest, which challenged filmmakers to create 60-second virtual reality films.
The competition was just one of three pillars of the electronics giant's new Gear Indie section of its Milk VR channel for Gear VR. The others included a curated showcase for short virtual reality films and a mentorship program meant to team some of those creators with established VR filmmaking professionals.
Three of those mentors also served as the competition's judges: Jason Rubin, the head of Worldwide Studios for Oculus, the Facebook-owned VR hardware and software platform developer; Nancy Bennett, the chief content officer at Two Bit Circus, a Los Angeles-based interactive agency; and Anthony Batt, the cofounder and executive vice president of WEVR, a virtual reality technology company.
At the time, Matt Apfel, vice president of strategy and creative content at Samsung Media Solutions Center America, said that over the coming year, the company would hold between eight and 15 challenges, usually one at a time, lasting between four and eight weeks.
Apfel told Fast Company that the mentorship program was designed to offer direct assistance and feedback to aspiring VR content creators, "not only [specifically about] their videos, but also on how to go out and create."
Someone like Bennett could be very helpful during a sports-related challenge, Apfel said, since she’s made VR films about the Olympics and the NBA, among others.
Each of the five winners announced today receive $10,000 and will have their work shown immediately on the Gear Indie section of Milk VR, as well as this week at the Sundance Film Festival.
The five winners, and descriptions of their projects:
Shoes by Panomalna aka Moses Bravo
"Your Gear VR goggles just teleported you to beautiful Budapest, the capital of an Eastern European country. As you tour the city, you come across something odd on the bank of the Danube river: 60 pairs shoes made of iron. As you stop to investigate, you get teleported again. Now you are at the same place but back in the winter of 1944. You are one of the many Jews the local Nazi party herded to the riverbank. You live in a ghetto during the past few months, you are scared, hungry, and cold. You fill one of the shoes. To your left and right your wife and children the others. Facing the river you hear gunshots and your family members are killed one by one. One last shot, and your life is over. Fortunately the nightmare ends and you are back to present-day Budapest. What will you learn from your dream? Will you stand up against hate, persecution, and discrimination?"
Cardboard City by Kiira Benzing of Double Eye Productions
"Peek inside the enchanted studio of Brooklyn-based stop motion animator Danielle Ash."
Ghats on the Ganges by RYOT
"Join RYOT in 360 VR as we flow down the shores of the Ganges River and walk along the steps of its numerous Ghats. These Ghats have held spiritual and cultural significance for centuries as spaces where people worship deities, bathe, and cremate the dead. Ghat cremation ceremonies hold profound spiritual importance, as the dead are officially released from the process of earthly reincarnation. Strolling alongside these cultural sites gives us a unique insight into the rich history of India and its people."
En Pointe by Spliced Films
"After being cut from the ballet, a young woman stays late at the theater and dreams of her perfect performance. The film is shot in 360 2-D as a virtual reality experience. It is also mixed in 3D 5.1 surround sound that plays directionally in relation to the user's head position."
The Survival Tree by Tripp and Jenna Watt
"Shortly after moving to L.A. to pursue her music career, Paige's mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. Devastated by the news, Paige decided to make a "Prayer Box" and hike her prayers for her mom to the highest point she could climb. Paige has now hiked to this spot over a hundred times."