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Brooklyn startup partners with veteran documentary filmmakers to produce virtual reality

This week, the Tribeca Film Festival will be giving virtual reality increased exposure at its festival hub in downtown Manhattan. Gary Hustwit launches Scenic. Filmmakers such as Liz Garbus and Marshall Curry bring their nonfiction skills to short VR films

Virtual reality filmmaking is getting a creative upgrade.

Academy Award-nominated documentary filmmakers have signed on with a new production company in Brooklyn to direct and create documentaries using the 360-degree computer technology. The goal will be to give viewers the sense they are physically within the filmed environment.

Nine veteran nonfiction storytellers, including Liz Garbus (What Happened, Miss Simone) and Marshall Curry (If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front) will work with Brooklyn-based Scenic, which launched last week, to help create and release 40 VR films within the year. The first batch is set to debut this summer.

By bringing proven filmmakers into a space that up until recently has been crowded with advertisers, gaming and adult entertainment fare, Scenic CEO Gary Hustwit believes that the quality of VR content will increase, ultimately accelerating the technology's adoption.

“By allowing these creative minds to wrap their heads around how to use VR to tell stories and be free to experiment and not have commercial pressures on them—that's when you get truly groundbreaking work,” Hustwit said.

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