The Advanced Imaging Society awarded The Messy Truth VR Experience the Social Justice Award at its annual Lumiere Awards ceremony at the Steve Ross Theater on the Warner Bros. studio lot on January 30th.
The Lumiere Awards recognize outstanding achievement in the creation of immersive storytelling using advanced visual technologies, including Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, High Frame Rate and Stereo 3D.
TV host, activist and Magic Labs Media co-founder Van Jones created the series. The first episode stars Winston Duke, who played M’Baku in the the Oscar-nominated film, Black Panther. Duke also served as a producer. Michael Dutton of 6cc Media is the Executive Producer. Elijah Allan-Blitz is the director.
The Messy Truth VR Experience is a virtual reality series that puts viewers in the shoes of people from other walks of life, in communities that may be unfamiliar to them. Utilizing VR, the viewer sees through the eyes of a 12-year old African-American boy as he and his dad are pulled over by the police. The scenario is based on a real life incident, with research provided by Time Magazine.
“Sometimes it seems nearly impossible to truly understand what a person of a different race, gender or worldview is going through,” Van Jones said. “But a Virtual Reality experience can give life-changing insight. VR has the potential to be the world’s most powerful tool for generating empathy and understanding. It’s time to start using this new technology to bring us together across old divides.”
The Messy Truth began as a three-part video series on Facebook in October 2016. In it, Jones crisscrossed the country and talked to voters of all kinds. The series won a Webby award and became the jumping off point for Jones’ 2017 Random House bestseller: BEYOND the Messy Truth: How We Came Apart, How We Come Together. Now, The Messy Truth VR Experience adds immersive VR to the same kinds of stories to create a powerful feeling of empathy and “being there.”
Jones is also known as a CNN host and political commentator. He recently became the founding CEO of the REFORM Alliance, co-founded by Jay-Z and Meek Mill. REFORM will work to pass common-sense probation and parole reform laws. Magic Labs Media is Van Jones’ Production Company.
“We’re using sensors that track your hands, so when you put on the headset you really experience another person’s world,” director Elijah Allan-Blitz said. “When Van and I started working on this project, the devices we’re using now didn’t even exist. But our goal of using technology to bring people closer together was too great to give up on.”
Allan-Blitz is a VR director, Emmy nominee and previous Lumiere Award winner who is also the first-ever VR director for Time Magazine. He created a VR companion piece for the Ken Burns documentary Defying the Nazis: The Sharps’ War and has also directed VR experiences for Aloe Blacc, PBS, Michael Pollan and surfer Laird Hamilton.
6cc Media is a new media content and software development company dedicated to pushing the boundaries of storytelling and audience engagement. The Messy Truth VR Experience was executive produced by 6cc Co-Founder Michael Dutton has executive produced ground breaking VR and 360 live video content and apps for companies such as the Associated Press, USA Today and Time Inc.