Skip to main content

Inside the five best immersive experiences at the Tribeca Film Festival

After last year’s impressive slate of virtual reality experiences, the Tribeca Film Festival decided to up the ante and feature 29 new experiences at its Virtual Arcade exhibit. This year’s experiences will have you sniffing virtual trees, fighting immortal babies, and ultimately unable to separate reality from fiction.

The lineup is jam packed with VR games and films that are sure to leave you wanting a more virtual reality. Digital Trends has narrowed down the field of VR experiences to the five best.

Related Videos


Alteration is an 18-minute short film about a young man named Alejandro who tries making some extra money by participating in experimental studies on dreams. What he comes to realize in viscerally visual detail is those tests are really digitizing his subconscious, with deleterious effects.

Created by Jérôme Blanquet and demoed on the Oculus Rift, you get to move your head to visibly clear the darkness away from the screen in certain scenes, and question what is real in others. All of that helps the 18 minutes fly by, and will have you clamoring to go deeper into Alejandro’s memories.

Bebylon Battle Royale

Having babies fight on hoverboards in virtual reality is more fun than most adults may care to admit. The latest VR experience from start-up Kite+Lightning is Bebylon Battle Royale, an addictive head to head VR fighting game for the Oculus Rift where you power up with taunts and do special moves with selfie sticks, all while flying around as an immortal baby.

The game has simple controls similar to Super Smash Brothers, and almost everything you see is a place you can battle on. You’ll be swiveling in your chair to keep your eyes on all of the action. It will be available for the Oculus Rift, Playstation VR, and HTC Vive later this year.

Unrest VR

Virtual reality is often used to entertain, but its potential to inspire true empathy in people was on display in the the Unrest: VR experience. Based on the documentary film of the same name, Unrest attempts to put you in the life of someone suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome. The only way you can interact with your environment is by staring at items around you that then trigger audio recordings that explain their context.

Inspired by the real life events of co-creator Jennifer Brea,  Unrest: VR is the closest you’ll ever come to filling a set of VR goggles with tears.

Talking With Ghosts

Talking With Ghosts is a compilation of four illustrative stories made with Oculus Story Studio’s VR painting app Quill, which unfold like immersive comic books. With a simple click of the Oculus Touch controller, you progress through each story, mimicking the feeling of flipping comic book pages.

The best story by far was Reservoir, by Ric Carrasquillo, wherein two people discuss their relationship over a game of miniature golf that becomes a warped emblem of their dysfunction. The story was so engaging, I often forgot how fantastical it is to see cartoon characters hanging above and around you. Talking With Ghosts will be in the Oculus store later this year.

Treehugger: Wawoma

Marshmallow Laser Feast’s Treehugger: Wawona places you in a forest while rain pours down as you examine around, with the smell of redwood tree filling your nose. For the experience, you don an HTC Vive equipped with a device made by SenseAble Technologies which can spray different scents at you in milliseconds, based on actions happening during the experience.

For the experience, a giant piece of foam was rigged with sensors. If you lean your head into the large makeshift foam tree you not only see inside the tree in VR, but you’re met with rich scents of plant smells, and when you stick your head out, you are met with the misty scent of rain. This was by far the most immersive VR experience at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival.

These are just a few of the virtual reality experiences that blew us away at Tribeca Film Festival. At this rate, next year’s Tribeca Film Festival is sure to be the festival’s biggest VR showing to date.

Editors' Recommendations

Pricing and lack of content are still barriers against the adoption of VR
htc vive screenshot

A recent survey questioned 595 virtual and augmented reality professionals about their business growth in the consumer and enterprise markets. Conducted by VR Intelligence and SuperData, the survey shows that 24 percent of the respondents report strong sales in the enterprise market while only 18 percent show strong sales in the consumer market.

According to the report, the two main barriers VR needs to overcome are headset prices and a lack of content. Although first-generation headsets like the Oculus Rift ($400) and HTC Vive ($500) have fallen in price since their debut, they’re still a high-dollar investment. These headsets also require a decent desktop capable of rendering the experiences, which could be an additional high-cost expense.

Read more
YouTube VR gets bolder with the Gear headset and communal experiences
A person wearing a virtual reality headset.

Exploring the world through YouTube VR just got a little bit easier and a bit more inclusive. On Wednesday, July 25, the video platform announced that its VR experience is coming to Samsung Gear VR, building upon its existing availability on Daydream View, HTC Vive, and PlayStation VR.

But given the popularity of the Gear headset, it's likely that this latest expansion will help YouTube reach a wide new audience. Beginning this week, Gear VR users will be able to download the YouTube app from the Oculus Store for free.

Read more
VR is in a tailspin, and the sales numbers prove it
proof vr sales numbers sinking htc vive pro preorder getty feat

HTC has published a response to our editorial in an official blog post. Check out our take on what the company had to say.

If you watch CNN, you’ve likely witnessed the commercials for its CNN Go streaming app, which introduce the “new” (as of a couple years ago) virtual reality division. The ad shows reactions from people who’ve never tried VR before as they slip on a smartphone-based headset and react to the life-altering moment of experiencing VR for the first time.

Read more