Real Virtuality

Press Release: Artanim and Apelab at Sundance’s New Frontier Festival

January 12, 2016

San Francisco, California – After the massive success of Birdly at the Sundance Film Festival’s New Frontier in 2015, Swiss talent is yet again shaping up to soar in 2016. Highlighted in this incarnation of New Frontier are two Geneva-based virtual reality studios: Apelab and Artanim. Catch them giving demos and in two special panel discussions. Both projects have previously been shown in California with the support of swissnex San Francisco and Pro Helvetia the Swiss Arts Council.

At Sundance, the Apelab production studio specialized in interactive storytelling for virtual reality and mobile devices, premiere’s Sequenced: An Interactive Virtual Reality Series. Inside this story world, set in a near future, a teenage girl becomes Guardian of the last city on Earth. The characters and story evolve depending on the viewer’s focus.

Meanwhile, Artanim, founded in 2011 by three motion capture specialists, brings its Real Virtuality: Immersive Explorers installation to Sundance. Their multi-user immersive platform combines a 3D environment—experienced through a VR headset—with a real life set. Users are tracked by motion capture, allowing them to see their own bodies and move physically in the virtual world.

The fact that these two innovative companies were scouted through swissnex San Francisco and invited to New Frontier illustrates how visibility in North America  showcases Swiss excellence and leadership in the technologies of the future.

Panel Discussions at Sundance New Frontier with Swiss Participation

Hacking Your Senses

Saturday, January 23, noon–1:30 pm
New Frontier Gateway

Immersive technologies like virtual reality are aimed at creating experiences that are meant to feel real. Our brains trick our bodies into feeling as if we’re in another place, experiencing something that is in fact an illusion. As experiences become more lifelike, we also begin to learn more about the human condition and how our bodies and emotions respond to specific stimuli. How does VR make us feel more empathy, fear, delight and adventure? How do we blur the lines of reality and what are the implications?

Aaron Koblin (co-Founder and CTO, Vrse)
Mike Woods (co-founder and CCO White Rabbit VR
Dražen Bošnjak (founder, composer, Q Department and Mach 1)
Paul Raphaël (co-founder, Felix & Paul Studios)
Caecilia Charbonnier (co-Founder,Artanim)
Moderated by Charles Melcher (founder, Future of Storytelling)

Adapting Genres to Virtual Reality

Friday, January 29, noon–1:30 pm
New Frontier Gateway

Close ups, fast cuts, and pacing were all initially accidents that became staples in conveying mood, tone, and story in film. In virtual reality, much of those tools are gone, and with that, our tools to shape genres are also changing. What have we learned so far in approaching story in virtual reality?

Saschka Unseld (creative director, Oculus Story Studio)
Jessica Brillhart (principal filmmaker, Google Jump)
Eric Darnell (CCO, Baobab, director, Madagascar)
Emilie Joly (CEO, Apelab)
Moderated by Yelena Rachitsky (creative producer and head of education, Oculus Story Studio)

More Info



Apelab’s Emilie Joly, Maria Beltran Reyes, Sylvain Joly and Michael Martin have different backgrounds, but they all chose interaction design for their Master’s degree. After graduating from the University of Arts and Design in Geneva (HEAD), the four designers founded apelab as a studio for interactive storytelling, prototyping and experimentation with new technologies focusing on playful and accessible experiences.


Sylvain Chagué

sylvainSylvain Chagué graduated from the engineering school “Ecole des Mines de Saint-Etienne,” in France, specializing in image processing, computer graphics, 3D animation, and motion capture technologies. His areas of expertise are the use of motion capture data for 3D animation and video games, virtual reality applications, interactive human-computer interfaces, as well as 3D body scanning technologies. He is the co-founder and current Technology Director of Artanim.


Caecilia Charbonnier

caeciliaCaecilia Charbonnier obtained a Master of Advanced Studies in Computer Graphics at EPFL and a PhD in Computer Science at MIRALab at the University of Geneva. She is the co-founder and current President and Research Director of Artanim. She is also lecturer in biomechanics and 3D imaging at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Geneva. Her work focuses on the interdisciplinary use of motion capture for applications ranging from 3D animation, virtual reality, live performances to movement science, orthopedics, and sports medicine.



Media Contact at swissnex San Francisco

Perrine Huber
Head of Marketing & Communication
swissnex San Francisco t: (415) 604-9772 Email