Planning underway for WA Virtual Reality festival


The Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries will spend $100,000 on attracting a festival organiser and hopes it will attract talent from around the world and will showcase the work being done in WA.

“Although still in its infancy, the experience of being able to step into a 360-degree movie world has many possibilities,” a department spokeswoman said.

“The festival will attract filmmakers using new technologies such as virtual reality, and showcase the talent base that exists in WA.”

WA already has chops in the VR filmmaking game.

The recently sold out VR film, The Antarctica Experience, premiered at the WA Maritime Museum and was so popular it is now showing at the National Museum of Australia.

FrameVR founder Justin McArdle.

FrameVR founder Justin McArdle.Credit:FrameVR

About 20,000 people watched the film, which was created by Perth-based White Spark Pictures with the help of WA VR developers Frame VR and Hivum.

Frame VR founder Justin McArdle said the growth of his business had been hampered by not having access to the unique skills required for VR work and the festival couldn’t have come sooner.

“It’s a good thing and it’s about time we look at the diversification of the economy,” he said.

“This is an area of massive growth and we need diverse skill sets to cater for that.

“A big pinch point for us is the lack of skills, we could grow but we’re limited by the skill set.

“We need to find good programmers, really good 3D modelling guys, animators, all those skill sets.”

Many Perth VR businesses like Frame VR and software developer Sentient have found good streams of revenue by creating VR training platforms for mining, oil and gas companies.

Mr McArdle hopes this is recognised during the festival and it highlights the potentially lucrative work north of the GMT+8 time zone in south east Asia and China.

“The tyranny of distance is a challenge but we should be making more of our time zone with China,” he said.

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“China is huge, the scale of their VR sector is unbelievable.

“WA’s sector creates work of a very high standard, which is exportable.”

The department spokeswoman said the VR sector in WA is emerging in terms of scale, but is already significant in terms of its expertise.

“WA has the talent and the festival will help market that talent,” she said.

Hamish Hastie is WAtoday’s business reporter.

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