Tribeca Film Festival Campaign Has People Casting Colorful, Moving Avatars in AR Videos

The dancing, clapping and exercising figures can be superimposed on any setting

Photo of avatars
The new campaign features a range of digitized avatars. Tribeca Film Festival

With the Tribeca Film Festival confined to digital spaces, event organizers have landed on an outside-the-box way to keep people engaged with the idea of filmmaking.

The festival has rolled out a set of colorful augmented-reality avatars of creators that do things like break dance, exercise and applaud with lifelike movements modeled on real people. The campaign encourages people to film the models with their phones in whatever setting they like and share the results on social media.

People have already risen to the challenge, putting their own twist on the mannequin routines. Videos posted on social media cast the figures joining the nightly window applause for healthcare workers in New York, jumping on the bed or running on a spinning record.

Australia-based artists Tin Nguyen and Ed Cutting produced the creative for the project by digitizing the movement of the models, who include Ben Sinclair, creator of HBO’s High Maintenance, Hedwig and the Angry Inch playwright and actor John Cameron Mitchell and Queen Collective filmmaker B. Monet.

“There was quite a lot of synchronicity between what we were doing and what Tribeca is always trying to do which is exploring new mediums and our work is about how do we bring communities together using this sort of emerging technology,” Nguyen said in a behind-the-scenes video on the project.

The production process, which took place before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, involved filming the stars with 120 synchronized cameras from Brooklyn-based scanning service Lenscloud and rendering them in a real-time gaming engine called Unity.

The tool is easy enough to use. Just click on any of the links for the various characters on the landing page from a mobile Chrome or Safari browser.

The Tribeca Film Festival was set to take place during the second half of April, but it has been postponed to an undetermined date in digital form. The organizers announced the winners of its Juried Awards via Instagram last month in partnership with Jam3. The event is almost entirely funded by brand sponsors and partners like AT&T, Diageo and P&G.

@patrickkulp Patrick Kulp is an emerging tech reporter at Adweek.