Virtual reality explores cancer via revolutionary methods

A new documentary that debuted at the 2019 Dallas Video Festival is using virtual reality (VR) to raise the awareness of a rarely-discussed disease.

Director Ryan Hartsell (“I’ll Make You Bleed,” 2016) introduced his new film project, “The Evolution of Testicles,” about male testicular cancer, using a platform that gives a fresh outlook to the future of cinema and gives VR the opportunity to talk about issues that are rarely examined.

While testicular cancer can be embarrassing to discuss, it is important for men to get informed and talk to their doctor.

Hartsell’s project takes advantage of the 360-degree view that brings audiences a new level of immersion and story delivery.

“It’s not like in the theater where the experience is shared with the group. With VR [the audience] has a deeper connection with the movie” Hartsell said.

Since its initial introduction in the mid-20th century with the introduction of the Sensorama, VR technology has become widely popular in the entertainment industry. From gaming consoles to YouTube videos, VR is a technological milestone that expands the field of possibilities for film pioneers.

Barton Weiss, director of the Dallas Video Festival, said, “It is a whole new field. The rules on how to use VR for filmmaking have not been written, so it is interesting to see what people will come up with.”

With VR, filmmakers choose where they want to focus their attention. If done well, it can be a powerful asset to enhance the storyline. VR is rewriting the rulebook.

The technology, still in its infancy, has been improving at an impressive rate. Consumers now have greater access to personal VR headwear systems, which are becoming more affordable.

Just like in the days when VHS or DVDs/Blu-ray were introduced, VR is having the same reception.

Weiss is always eager to see what new creative work will be presented at the festival. Just like Hartsell, he can see the creative potential VR can bring to cinema.

It has already made a big impact in the gaming industry. Microsoft’s Xbox and Sony’s PlayStation officials are introducing their own VR systems to enhance players’ experiences.

The project is a collaboration with the technology company Oculus VR, the Male Cancer Awareness Campaign (MCAC) and video game developer Flight School Studios.

The success of “The Evolution of Testicles” has the potential to help raise awareness of the disease and specifically raise the awareness of male testicular cancer.

Hartsel is excited by the technology and is planning to create new projects using VR.

“It is like the Wild West: A frontier of unknowns,” Hartsell said.

The movie is free to watch with or without an Oculus headset at https://www.facebook.com/MaleCancerAwareness/videos/1057665654372803/.