The VR Arcade at the Tribeca Film Festival presented another diverse set of experiences this year. With the release of Oculus Touch and Vive Trackers, the number of VR experiences that utilized motion controls went up since the last festival. But even more impressive, were the projects that used physical objects layered with virtual reality to bring greater immersion.

The most noteworthy of these was Draw Me Close, which I have already extensively covered. This meditation on childhood featured not only Vive Trackers on the back of your hands, but objects you manipulate such as a door and a window.

As Jordan Tannahill, the playwright behind Draw, told Upload VR, “It was important to me to craft an experience that was tactile, that invited full awareness of one’s own body and the body of another. I wanted to invoke the idea that this childhood memory has come to life so vividly it can be touched and interacted with.”


One project at Tribeca was simply called Tree, created by Milica Zec and Winslow Porter. You extend your arms out, holding Oculus Touch controllers. You experience the entire lifetime of a tree’s growth, from a tiny seed sprouting out of the ground, to a towering behemoth looking over the land. A vest vibrated at different stages of your growth, and scents of soil, plants, and later smoke, accompanied the piece. There was even fans blowing air when you grew tall.

But another project really brought trees to life. It used Vive Trackers on the back of your hands and was called Treehugger: Wamona, from Marshmallow Laser Feast, a studio based in London. This project had a unique installation, a large foam tree with sections cut out of it where you can insert your hands. Around this tree were four stations, so more than one person can experience the project at a time.

“We love mixed reality. As artists, we have a mission to create experiences that change the way we see habitats and their inhabitants. Sense of touch & the tactile elements in our work are crucial to establishing and maintaining immersion. Discovering when you reach out and feel — or smell — something helps blur the line between the virtual and the real,” said Nell Whitley, the executive producer of Treehugger.

Read the full article at Upload VR.