Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab asked Talespin to collaborate on “The Crystal Reef”, a movie debuting at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival, where Virtual Reality and interactive storytelling took center stage this year.  The Tribeca Film Festival has a celebrated legacy of innovative storytelling and it was a natural extension to include both 360º video and VR experiences in the VR Arcade section of this year’s festival. (Sundance Film Film Festival, SXSW, TIFF and other such events have become the premiere showcases of notable projects in VR).

The Crystal Reef set out to use VR to tell the story of what reef acidification is and why we should care.  The piece transports viewers to Italy where they see the effects of CO2 on a reef first hand in an attempt to better explain the potentially devastating impacts this issue might have on our planet.

  • Virtual reality (VR) and interactive storytelling took center stage at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival (TFF), presented by AT&T
  • The Virtual Arcade invites audiences to explore the world of VR, taking them to vastly different places via projects crafted by some of the leading creators working in the medium
  • Talespin worked alongside Standford's Virtual Human Interaction Lab to complete The Crystal Reef
  • Talespin helped use the power of VR to better explain an issue that impacts us all and is not getting the attention it deserves


Talespin was already a trusted resource for project Director, Cody Karutz.  Karutz was finishing a project at Stanford's Virtual Human Interaction Lab and asked Talespin’s experienced team to guide the post-production which was presenting various challenges.  Some of those included image clean-up, restoration, light VFX; all of which were in a 2:1 latitudinal/longitudinal format.  We also guided editorial fixes to enhance the storytelling and helped to script the voice-over which had to directly address the viewer to convey scientific information within the 360 degree frame.





Using VR for “The Crystal Reef” proved to be the ultimate medium to present the environmental issue of reef acidification at the core of this story in an impactful way.  It allows the viewer to virtually dive down into the damaged landscape below the waves and view the problem first hand .The strong response to the film during its premiere at Tribeca inspired a series of invitations to VR festivals and meet-ups all over the world.

Learn more about The Crystal Reef here

Learn more about the Stanford Virtual Human Interactive Lab here

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