Submarine Channel


Best VR From World VR Forum 2017

We were at the World VR Forum in Switzerland last week to showcase Ashes to Ashes. The WVRF is a sizeable event takes place in Crans-Montana, which is also a ski resort in the heart of the Swiss Alps. Incredible mountain vistas around every corner…

But we also discovered some really good new VR pieces. We encountered adorable flashy-colored kittens, co-created giant structures made from hands, and experienced deadly war memories. Our Top 5 from the #WVRF selected by Ashes producer, Corine Meijers:


HANAHANA – Melodie Mousset and Naëm Baron (CH)

Winner Best Interactivity at #WVRF

In the interactive piece HanaHana you (co-)create a world where everything is made out of hands. The setting is a post-apocalyptic looking landscape. What is great is that every next user’s experience adds up to the previous one. It was as unsettling as it was addictive. And I must admit, they had to pull me out of the experience because I couldn’t stop. This was super fun.

The title refers to the protagonist Nico Robin of the Manga series ‘One Piece’, who —thanks to the power of the Hana-Hana fruit (called also the devil fruit)— can infinitely sprout and reproduce body parts on any surface so her enemy cannot escape from her. HanaHana premiered at World VR Forum.

Where to find it: Not available on online platforms for now.


Chocolate – Lead artist: Tyler Hurd (US)

Winner Best User Experience at #WVRF

Chocolate is the perfect name for this colorful piece, because it has the same endorphin-inducing qualities as the silky brown stuff, filling you with giddy, nonsensical joy. I wish I could wake up in this feel-good universe every day. Better than a cup of Joe! Chocolate is a psychedelic VR Music Video for a song by the same name by Giraffage. In the piece, you are a god that throws cute kittens at his worshippers. Your hands are cannons and there’s… champagne. The piece was made by the acclaimed VR creator Tyler Hurd, who affirms in a Forbes interview that the sheer enthusiasm brought about by his piece led someone at Sundance to yank the HMD cable out of the wall, because he was “going crazy trying to get the cats.

Where to find Chocolate: To get the cats and the feel-good vibes, one has to probably wait till the end for 2017 for it to be available on VR platforms. No release date has been announced yet.


Arden’s Wake – Project creators: Eugene Chung and Jimmy Chung / Penrose Studio (US)

In a world where the sea levels have risen to extreme levels, a young woman and her father live in a lighthouse that’s floating on top of the ocean. When dad goes missing, the daughter must descend deep into the post-apocalyptic waters previously forbidden to her, embarking on a thrilling journey of self-discovery. She unravels her family history, encounters strange underwater creatures and explores unknown worlds.

According to Penrose Studio, Arden’s Wake is the prologue of what is meant to be a series. The animation is absolutely beautiful and raises the expectations for the series. The studio created the piece with  Maestro, a social VR tool which Penrose Studio itself put together.

Where to find Arden’s Wake: It made its International premiere at WVRF. Will be released on various VR platforms in 2017.

PS the image with the girl and the turtle on top of this page is from Arden’s Wake.


My brother’s Keeper – Directed by Alex Meader and Connor Hair (US)

This a must-see cinematic virtual reality narrative that immerses the viewer in the story of two estranged brothers – Ethan (19) and Jackson (16). Fighting in the Civil War on opposing sides, they unknowingly reunite one last time on the battlefield at Antietam. “My Brother’s Keeper” was inspired by the PBS primetime drama series “Mercy Street,” and its launch during the Sundance Film Festival coincided with the premier of the series’ second season, which ends with the same historic battle. Produced by StoryTech Immersive and Perception Squared, this film is anchored in historical fact and places the viewer in the middle of this momentous and extremely deadly battle in North American history.

Where to find My brother’s Keeper: Oculus, SamsungVR, YouTube, HTC Vive, Littlstar, JauntVR and Facebook


Now:Zero – The Glitch Collective (CH)

This image above is the only official image of Now:Zero that I could find, and it doesn’t do justice to the incredible experience. Now:Zero is a VR installation made for Vive created by students from the Master’s program “Immersive Experience” at the Zurich University of the Arts, who made it this in just three weeks. The experience dissolves the distinction between the virtual and the real by tricking the senses.

You’re in a candy colored room with a view. Outside you see tall buildings. There’s a giant fork with a marshmallow on the floor (both in VR and in RL). When you pick it up, the room changes and seems to come alive. Suddenly you are transported and you find yourself on top of one of the buildings that you saw out the window. It’s windy out here (an assistent actually blows a fan on you, which makes the experience so much more vivid). The wind and the visual cues motivate you to carefully step from one rooftop onto the next, being careful not to fall into the looming abyss (very scary for someone like me who suffers from acrophobia). This sensation is again augmented by a physical component: an assistent moves the boxes below your feet that represent the rooftops you’re balancing on. It looks pretty lo-fi on the snapshot I made,  but believe me, Now:Zero was my biggest surprise at the World VR Forum.

Now:Zero - a VR installation by students from the Zurich University of the Arts

The Zurich University of the Arts was in charge of the production.

Where to find it: You might catch it at VR events. We’re trying to get in touch with the creators and we’ll update this space as soon as more info becomes available.



Ashes to Ashes VR

The Making of Ashes to Ashes



Lessons Learnt: Directing Drama in VR