For only the second time in history (the first was 1996’s Toy Story), the Academy is granting a special Oscar, this time to Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu for the virtual reality experience, Carne y Arena (Virtually Present, Physically Invisible). The experience was hosted at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year and remains on exhibition in Los Angeles, Milan and Mexico, though tickets to it have long since sold out. It meshes both the physical–large, spaces filled with sand; cold waiting rooms–and a cinematic virtual reality presentation to steep its actors in the real experience of an immigrant crossing the US-Mexico border.
A special Oscar is news enough on its own, but we especially wanted to highlight this for all of its sonic contributors–not least of which is this site’s own veteran contributor and beating heart of game audio goodwill, Damian Kastbauer, who served as Technical Sound Designer on the project.
Lucasfilm’s ILMxLab, in collaboration with Skywalker Sound, many of whom are also long-time friends and family of the site, handled the experience’s award-winning sound design and implementation. The full credits list is available on IMDB: Carne Y Arena (2017).
Special recognition from the Academy is a major accomplishment owing to the vision that brought the experience together and the totality of its presentation. It is, plainly, a watershed moment for a new medium, and we especially want to highlight the people who made this possible.
So, to them: a HUGE congratulations to everyone on the sound team who came together and poured their hearts out to tell this story the best they could, striking a blow for sound, artistic achievement and the case for global empathy.
More detailed write-ups of the experience and this accomplishment are available from other fine news outlets, here:
- Alejandro Inarritu: Carne y Arena awarded special Oscar
- Alejandro González Iñárritu’s incredible VR experience is getting a special Oscar award