A 2017 RTA School of Media practicum project has been nominated for a Canadian Screen Award.
Contravision has been nominated for the 2019 Best Immersive Experience – Fiction.
Josh Gonsalves, one of the creators of the project, said it was a big honour to receive the nomination.
“I’m honestly at a loss for words,” he said. “(The nomination) was really unexpected.”
Viewers use virtual reality headsets to transport themselves into Contravision, allowing them to interact in the storyline from a first-person perspective. The plot is set in an alternative universe where people use VR headsets in every aspect of their daily lives and rely on artificial intelligence assistants to interact with one another.
“I think the idea is really to change people’s perception of reality and what could be,” Gonsalves said.
Since graduating, Gonsalves and his fellow practicum group member, Marisa Tassone, have focused on building the technology to showcase these types of films through their company Contraverse.
“Contraverse is an end-to-end virtual reality studio and distribution company,” Gonsalves said. “We started off purely just creating content. We created three VR short films that are about 10 minutes long. We’ve kind of shifted our focus from creating the content to creating technology and a process to showcase it.”
Gonsalves said that Contraverse has continued to build a relationship with Ryerson by working out of the Transmedia Zone. The company has also partnered with the school through events at the Catalyst and a consultation with the journalism program.
The Canadian Screen Awards were created in 2013 after a merger between the Geminis and the Genie Awards, according to the Academy’s website. The awards celebrate the best in Canadian film, television and digital media.
This is the first year that the Canadian Screen Awards have had the Best Immersive Experience category for both fiction and non-fiction work.
Also nominated for Best Immersive Experience – Fiction is Biidaaban: First Light, The Great C, Jurassic Park: Blue and Isle of Dogs: Behind the Scenes (in Virtual Reality). The award for the 2019 Best Immersive Experience – Fiction will be presented on March 28 at The Globe and Mail Centre.
Gonsalves said even though they had a limited budget, the quality of their work has allowed them to compete against these bigger productions.
“We’re literally up against juggernauts in Canada, the best of the best, the top, the biggest, and these are multi-million dollar productions,” he said. “For us, this was created as a student project originally (and) we did it with a very limited budget.”
Although Contravision was brought to life as a practicum project, the idea originally started when Gonsalves was a teenager.
“At the time, I loved going to the movies and I went almost every weekend,” he said. “I remember having this vision, I just thought, ‘what would this be like if I could go inside the movie?’”
After attending a game development conference in his first year, Gonsalves realized he finally had the technology to make his idea a reality.
In the future, Gonsalves said that Contraverse is still planning on growing and this nomination has been validating for the work that they’re doing.
“(The nomination) gives us more of a clear vision of where we can go if we had a bigger budget to create more content,” he said.
The Canadian Screen Awards will be hosting their annual Canadian Screen Week from March 25 to March 31.