UPDATED! We Met in Virtual Reality: A New, Feature-Length Documentary Filmed in VRChat During the Pandemic Lockdown

A still from Joe Hunting’s new documentary (image source)

Joe Hunting is a documentary filmmaker whose passion is to create movies in and about VRChat (I wrote about him in August of 2019 when he released his mini-documentary A Wider Screen). He is now working on a new project, a feature documentary called We Met in Virtual Reality.

Here’s an overview of the film, from his IndieGogo page:

We Met in Virtual Reality is an enchanting portrait of social Virtual Reality (VR) app VRChat, composed of intimate and hilarious moments inside global VR communities. The film presents an emotive impression on this new virtual landscape through a poetic collage of stories, exploring how VR is affecting the way we socialise, work, love and express ourselves; told authentically by the users of VRChat through a warm heartfelt lens. 

The overall narrative is made up of three distinct protagonists each presenting unique stories of discovering a romantic relationship through VRChat, and using VR to cope with poor mental health. These core narratives flow between each other in a linear fashion through Winter 2020 to Summer 2021, delivering a compelling journey amidst the more observational moments in other VR communities.

Filmed entirely inside VRChat using cinematic virtual cameras during the Covid lockdown crisis, this film captures a precious time in an underground cultural movement that will soon shape the world we live in; additionally highlighting contemporary subjects such as of coping with poor mental health, modern forms of sign language, non-binary gender expression and finding love beyond physical interaction. Everyone appearing in the film will be addressed by their virtual usernames without any real life imagery, immersing audiences into a new cinematic documentary experience.

The trailer for Joe’s documentary dropped yesterday on YouTube, and I must say, it’s looking really good!

Joe is running a crowdfunding campaign on IndieGogo to cover the costs of the post-production work on his documentary before it is released. If the trailer piqued your interest (as it did mine), then why not throw a donation Joe’s way? I’m sure he would appreciate it! I donated £15 to the project, just for the thrill of seeing my name in the thank-you credits… 😉

Joe explains the need for funding:

I have a beautiful rough cut of We Met in Virtual Reality already finished, but it is nothing without your support to get it polished and released! I am raising £10,000 to cover all the music licensing, which is necessary for the films release. Any additional funds will go towards subtitling and captioning, which is an absolute necessity as well, plus submission fees for film festivals eg. Sundance, SXSW, Hot Docs, Tribeca, Sheffield Doc Fest… and LGBTQ+, deaf and hard of hearing focused festivals. These festival screenings will help tremendously is securing the film on accessible streaming platforms for public release in the fall of 2022.

Your contribution can get you a number of special perks, including getting your name and VRChat avatar in the credits, tickets to exclusive screenings and producer credits! If I do not reach my goal, any funds received will still be put towards what is mentioned above, and I will seek further investment elsewhere.

I am quite looking forward to watching this full-length feature documentary when it is released. You can watch Joe’s earlier work, A Wider Screen, below:

UPDATE Oct. 10th, 2021: Joe Hunting sent me the following thank-you card for my donation, featuring an image from the documentary:

VRChat The Movie: Coming Soon!

Machinima (/məˈʃiːnɪmə, -ˈʃɪn-/) is the use of real-time computer graphics engines to create a cinematic production…Machinima-based artists, sometimes called machinimists or machinimators, are often fan laborers, by virtue of their re-use of copyrighted materials…

Machinima (Wikipedia article)

Well, you knew this was going to happen sooner or later: a full-length feature movie shot entirely in VRChat, complete with in-jokes that only diehard VRChatters would get! (Actually, I’m sure it’s not the first movie shot in VRChat, but I’m pretty certain it’s the most ambitious machinima project in VRChat to date.)

Here’s the three-minute teaser trailer for VRChat The Movie:

The cast and crew involved in the creation of this cinematic masterpiece participated in a live discussion panel held at the recently concluded VRCon 2021 (the actual content starts at the 26:45-minute mark for some strange reason in this livestream of the event):

The project even has a page on the Internet Movie Database (IMDb)!

1029Chris: A Duck for All Worlds

1029Chris is among that group which I half-jokingly, half-lovingly refer to as “my people“: passionate proponents of social VR platforms and virtual worlds, the sort of people who believe in the power and potential of virtual worlds, much the same as I do. Many of them belong to the RyanSchultz.com Discord server, where we gather to discuss, debate, and argue over various metaverse projects, and share pictures and videos of our adventures.

One of those people, 1029Chris (she/her), is a Canadian avatar creator. I have written about 1029Chris’ work in passing when I blogged about VRChat’s Virtual Market 4:

1029Chris’ bird sanctuary: feed the wonderfully animated ducks!

…I was invited to experience a special world built by someone I know well from the RyanSchultz.com Discord, 1029Chris, who had spent two weeks creating an amazing bird sanctuary with animated ducks, who milled about, and responded eagerly when I selected food items from a nearby picnic table to feed them! It was wonderfully done, and I hope to return soon for another visit.

Chris’s world is called the Udon Bird Sanctuary, if you are searching for it in VRChat. A visit is highly recommended, especially if you are feeling stressed out!

Chris’ signature duck avatar in VRChat
Another shot of Chris in VRChat

But 1029Chris is active in so many more virtual worlds than VRChat! She has decided to bring her signature duck and opossum avatars into as many virtual worlds and online games as she can. Here are some pictures which Chris kindly shared with me:

Chris’s duck and opossum avatars in Second Life
Chris in Sansar
Chris in Tower Unite
A couple of shots of Chris (in the world she created) on the old High Fidelity social VR platform
Chris in Barotrauma
Chris’ possum avatar in Garry’s Mod
Chris and her boyfriend in Garry’s Mod
Chris in Half Life 1
Chris in Minecraft

But Chris doesn’t just do still pictures! She also does machinima (that is, videos which are recorded in virtual worlds and games):

Chris in Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Chris in Super Mario 64 (I absolutely love the part where she takes off her glasses and mops her brow!)
Chris in Half Life 2
Chris in Jet Set Radio Future
Chris in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Chris in Yakuza 0

1029Chris is only one of many people I know who delight in bringing their avatars from one virtual world to another. All of them possess skills I wish I had!

Second Life Machinima: What Living in a Virtual World for Seven Years Taught Me About It

The following three-minute machinima (i.e. a video shot on a computer platform) was put together by a Second Life user named Luca, who says:

Second Life for me began with curiosity which turned into something really fun for me to express myself that I enjoy a lot, then it became a platform of creativity and self-discovery. And something that I didn’t realize or really think of until recently, is that how by allowing people to see each other for who they really are inside, it also helps unite people by shedding lights into people’s inner selves which would otherwise be shrouded in mystery, and dissipate our innate fear of the unknown.

I found her work captivating, and I felt it deserved a larger audience, so here it is. The final quote of her machinima is:

A bridge that gives way to the unknown content of one’s heart is a bridge that spans the dark chasm of divisiveness and fear.