Mixed reality

Future of StoryTelling: Reinventing the way stories are told

Mixed reality took center stage at the Future of StoryTelling Summit and Festival celebrating creativity, collaboration, and immersive storytelling.

The way we tell stories is changing, moving beyond a static screen or page and into the multi-dimensional. It’s this state of dynamic transition that inspired book publisher Charles Melcher to create Future of StoryTelling (FoST). FoST is an organization that explores how storytelling is evolving in the digital age and hosts two of the world’s leading immersive storytelling events: the invitation-only FoST Summit for C-suite executives, technologists, and brilliant creatives, and the public FoST Festival, the world’s largest immersive storytelling festival. These events host more than 100 innovative and immersive technology exhibits that present stories as something to be experienced rather than observed.

The events are a media wonderland, taking visitors on a journey via virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed reality, haptics, artificial intelligence, gaming, interactive film, and other pioneering feats of technology. It’s a place where people from the worlds of art, media, technology, marketing, and communications come together to define a new age of storytelling.

This year’s FoST Summit and Festival took place from October 2 – 4 at Snug Harbor in Staten Island, New York. Below are some of the boldest ideas, projects, and creators that came together at FoST 2017.

Multisensory storytelling is about putting the audience in the driver’s seat and making them active participants in their own stories.

Charles Melcher, Founder of Future of StoryTelling
Woman using a mixed reality headset and motion controllers
Man standing outside of the Microsoft exhibition test at the FoST festival
Woman adjusting mixed reality headset
Phone displaying an AR experience where the white house is shown as a hologram over top of a simple dollar bill lying flat on a table

"It's time for virtual reality to make us value reality." - Barnaby Steel, Co-Founder & Director of Marshmallow Laser Feast (work pictured)

In the Microsoft tent, attendees explored new worlds and stories through the Acer Windows Mixed Reality Headset.

Included among the 100 exhibits were projects from the finalists of the 2017 FoST Prize, presented by Microsoft.

“It’s from the unexpected collaborations that we'll have the kind of breakthroughs that will create the reason for the audience to be there.” - Charles Melcher, Founder of Future of StoryTelling

“Mixed reality is immediately compelling in that we can augment our world with visual materials that could readily assist us in our day-to-day lives.” - Alex Jenkins, Creative Director of Interactive Arts, Nexus Studios

Barnaby Steel, a Founder & Director of London-based design agency Marshmallow Laser Feast, was invited to speak at FoST Summit and Festival about the promising potential of mixed reality to expand perception and change the way we see the world.

“The uses are endless and can be applied to nearly every aspect of our lives. Mixed reality makes more sense than virtual reality because it’s something that can augment your everyday antics in the real world rather than box you out of reality,” he says.

Melissa Painter, Creative Director, Innovation Strategist, MAP Design Lab

For creatives like Melissa Painter of Map Design Lab, mixed reality gives the opportunity to capture and explore something innately human with their audiences, allowing them to feel the impact their own motion has on the world around them.

“This media has a tremendous potential to capture something that’s really core about humans in a way that flat media didn’t.”

One of the exhibits at FoST this year was 3D holographic live theater show Origin Stories, a component of the NASA-powered immersive show BELLA GAIA. Its creator, Kenji Williams, is passionate about using emerging technology to complement storytelling, and believes Hololens is the most promising technology he’s worked with in the space because it “engages with reality” rather than removing people entirely.

“Technology is the answer to a lot of things, but I believe human consciousness needs to be in a symbiotic relationship with technology, both evolving together.”

– Kenji Williams, Creator of holographic live theater show BELLA GAIA.

4 live dancers onstage interacting with holographic animated objects and characters in 3D augmented reality

Nicole McDonald, Creative Director, Free the Night

Nicole McDonald’s FoST Festival film, Free the Night, is a story inspired by a childhood memory. Through technology, her story comes to life, instantly transforming a personal memory into a universal human experience that audiences can connect with. For her, this is the beauty of mixed reality.

“The breath and heartbeat that we can add to narrative now…it’s not something that’s specifically for someone, it’s just for human beings.”

Mika Peltola is co-founder of mixed reality experience agency Deeptale, whose HoloLens experience Slushpolis Story won the 2017 FoST Corporate Jury Award. When it comes to the future of mixed reality, his hopes are high because of the technology’s ability to tap a deep human element.

“Mixed reality has the potential to be more intimate than any earlier form of media because it happens in the midst of our lives and surroundings. It can be subtle, ambient, and serendipitous—and thereby very powerful.”

Conversations with Charles Melcher

On mixed reality: Technology has taken a turn for the physical, allowing humans to rediscover their physical form and the joy of interacting with the world.
On collaboration: The early stage of mixed reality has its challenges, but events like FoST Festival are a leap towards the world finding its place in a still-emerging space.