SOURCE: Unity Technologies

January 22, 2016 13:05 ET

The Leviathan Project to Exhibit in New Frontier Section at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival

LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwired - Jan 22, 2016) - The Leviathan Project, developed by The USC World Building Media Lab and Alex McDowell's 5D Global Studio, in collaboration with Intel and Unity Technologies, will show its latest iteration in the New Frontier section at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. 

The project, in development for over three years, originated at The USC School of Cinematic Arts World Building Media Lab and Intel, and is based on Scott Westerfeld's book series of the same title about a scientific lab aboard a flying whale and a world of genetically fabricated creatures.

The Leviathan Project presents experimental, narrative exploration across multiple transmedia platforms. It imagines the next generation of immersive, mixed reality storytelling, utilizing haptic feedback and motion tracking. The experience creates a powerful sense of presence and participation, making users feel like they are not just viewing a place but actively part of an entirely different world.

"In the new iteration of The Leviathan Project we are extending the relationship between users and the narrative space by making them participants in the outcome. No longer are the stories fixed, now they are changed by the action of each participant," says McDowell, Lead Artist of the project.

For the augmented reality portion of the project, the titular whale flies through a user's tablet screen and releases Huxleys, playful jellyfish-like creatures that users can interact with via Intel RealSense technology. Then, with gestural interfaces, a user can fly up close to the whale and enter the VR laboratory under the whale's belly, which is populated by Unity-driven characters.

The main VR narrative takes place in the laboratory of the Leviathan's gondola, where preeminent British scientists create, test, and study fabricated beasts. The narrative is designed to be emotionally engaging and to exploit the full capability of VR, taking the viewer through an arc that highlights spectacle and awe, scale and geography, motion, delight, curiosity, confusion, empathy, surprise, and accomplishment. Ultimately, users get to create their own fabricated creatures in VR.

"Virtual reality has created a completely new medium through which to tell stories, and The Leviathan Project is one of the most innovative storytelling platforms to date," said Clive Downie, CMO of Unity Technologies. "Using Unity, the creators Alex McDowell and Bradley Newman developed an immersive, layered experience with incredible depth -- one that demonstrates what is possible using this new technology and perspective. We are proud to be part of this groundbreaking project and can't wait to see what people come up with next."

"Intel is excited to continue our collaboration with Sundance Institute, the USC World building Media Lab, and their partners on these amazing experiences, bringing imagination into reality by providing new and innovative solutions that make them come to life," said Sanjay Vora, VP of User Experiences at Intel Corporation. "Intel® RealSense™ technology gives sight to computing, enables more natural interactions, creates a powerful connection between virtual and real worlds and empowers creators everywhere."

The Sundance Film Festival takes place January 21-31 in Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden, and Sundance, Utah. The Festival is one of the world's premiere places to debut new independent films and over the course of its more than 30-year history has launched films including Whiplash, Boyhood, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Fruitvale Station, Little Miss Sunshine, sex, lies, and videotape, Reservoir Dogs and Napoleon Dynamite.

Alex McDowell, RDI is the Creative Director of 5D Global Studio, a multi-platform, cross-discipline narrative design studio. He is a professor at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and Director of the World Building Media Lab and Institute, which received the Interaction Award's 2014 Future Voice Award. An acclaimed production designer, he has collaborated with directors including Steven Spielberg (Minority Report, The Terminal) Tim Burton (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), and David Fincher (Fight Club).

Intel Labs develops technological innovations today for a better tomorrow in enterprise, consumer, and academics.

Intel® RealSense

The Intel® RealSense™ camera fits remarkable technology into a small package. There are three cameras that act like one -- a 1080p HD camera, an infrared camera, and an infrared laser projector -- they "see" like the human eye to sense depth and track human motion. Intel® RealSense™ technology redefines how we interact with our devices for a more natural, intuitive and immersive experience, supported by the powerful performance of Intel® processors.

Unity Technologies is the creator of Unity, a flexible and high-performance end-to-end development platform used to create rich interactive 3D and 2D experiences.

*Unity Technologies is revolutionizing the game industry with Unity, the breakthrough development platform for creating games and interactive 3D and 2D experiences like training simulations and medical and architectural visualizations, across mobile, desktop, web, console and other platforms.

Unity was created with the vision to democratize game development and level the playing field for developers across the globe. Through industry-disrupting pricing and business plans, incredible ease of porting to multiple platforms, a deep yet approachable project editor and our innovative game promotion, user retention and analytics services Unity makes making successful games far easier than ever before.

USC World Building Media Lab, directed by award-winning designer and professor Alex McDowell RDI, defines an experiential, collaborative and interdisciplinary practice that integrates imagination and emergent technologies, creating new narratives from inception through iteration and prototyping, into multimedia making. Through story logic and a redefined multi-user viewpoint in counterpoint to experience and environment, World Building allows us to actualize the imagination, and terraform worlds.

5D Global Studio is a narrative design studio at the forefront of World Building and specializes in immersive, multi-platform storytelling.

*5D Global Studio is a multi-platform, cross-discipline design studio that uses World Building in service of real-world problems and real-world impact. 5D generates stories that have emotion and purpose, and the company specializes in designing for immersive experiences and technologies. World Building was born in cinematic storytelling. For Minority Report, 5D Creative Director Alex McDowell enlisted experts to envision the year 2050. The process used fiction to prototype reality. As its legacy, over 100 technologies that appeared in the film have been patented, indicating the power of evocative future visions to inspire individuals and organizations to bring these visions into reality. Today, 5D uses World Building to provide every partner it works with a clear vision of the future it wants to move toward. 5D's diverse clients includes film and game studios, Nike, Boeing, Intel, Technicolor, Autodesk, Burberry, Warner Bros., and academic institutions like the University of Southern California.

For more information about The Leviathan Project at the Sundance Film Festival, visit http://www.sundance.org/projects/the-leviathan-project
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