A Guide to Navigating New Frontier’s Spaceship

Since its launch 16 years ago, the Sundance Film Festival’s New Frontier has served as a showcase for dynamic, innovative work at the crossroads of film, art, and technology — but this year, we’re doing things a bit differently.

We’ve reimagined New Frontier for 2022 to not only bring visionary, groundbreaking projects online to a global audience, but also to provide a party venue for all ticketholders to gather and celebrate the films premiering at the festival. New Frontier has updated The Spaceship a digital experience that invites you to teleport your body and launch into outer space.

In avatar form, you can reach beyond the boundaries of space and time to experience this year’s lineup of thought-provoking projects, attend screenings, and gather for premiere parties and filmmaker receptions in real time. 

We’ve highlighted the amazing New Frontier lineup and the Spaceship before, but now we’re here to tell you how it will work…

Getting Set Up

To access this year’s New Frontier program, you’ll need to create an account on the Festival’s online screening platform. From there, you’ll need to purchase an Explorer Pass, which will provide you with unlimited access to New Frontier from Thursday, January 20, to Friday, January 28, no matter which corner of the globe you find yourself. You can buy an Explorer Pass for just $50. Explorer Pass is part of all packages. Curious about our tech specs? Check out our blog post for the details.

Build Your Avatar

Open up a separate tab in Chrome (recommended), and go to newfrontier.sundance.org to start your journey into space. Be sure to first go to your browser settings and allow microphone, camera, pop-ups, and downloads, which are necessary to interact on the platform. 

After logging in, you will land in your very own Space Garden, your home base to access all of the unique venues on The Spaceship. Here is where you will set up your avatar — a simple process of uploading a photo of yourself and choosing colors for your avatar body. 

Practice moving around in your avatar body, learning how to move around with the arrow keys (or the WASD keys) on your keyboard. Your space bar will make you JUMP, and the “camera POV” lets you change your perspective.  

Once you feel ready, step into the venue of your choice: Cinema House, Film Party, or Gallery.

When you approach other avatars, you can start a chat bubble to enter conversation. To enter into a chat, move your avatar close to someone and press “yes” when asked if you want to enter a chat. Up to six people can fit into a chat bubble. If you can’t see faces, just move your avatar around, or use the right/left arrows to circle around until you can see faces.

The Attendees button (on the right side panel) will show you who is in the room. You can text chat with anyone there, whether you can see their avatar or not.

Now you can make full use of this easy-to-use interactive map of The Spaceship.

How to Participate in VR

Quest 2 is your best bet for a VR experience, but Quest 1 is supported. With other headsets, you can use a WebXR-enabled browser.

Just open the browser in your headset, go to newfrontier.sundance.org, and when prompted, enter the VR code from your account information panel. In VR, your trigger button will produce a blue column, which will transport you to wherever you place it. Your A button will give you shortcut buttons to the various venues. 

When you’re ready for action, walk toward the venue you want to go to, stand on the light portal, and click “continue.” 

Your avatar will enjoy audio proximity chat (webcam is accessible only via computer). But you will be able to move your arms and your body in more fluid ways. And you will be able to stand in front of others talking to you via webcam chat and experience a sense of bodily presence in front of that avatar. Be sure to charge your headset fully, and keep it plugged in so you don’t drop out!

Pro Tips for Computer Users

  • Refresh your page if you get stuck.
  • Bookmark newfrontier.sundance.org to go in whenever you want.
  • Open up The Spaceship in a separate tab.
  • Shortcuts to all the venues are on the bottom right corner of the screen.
  • Double-click on the floor where you want to be and you’ll “fast forward” there.
  • Holding down the mouse and panning around will change the field of view.
  • If your chat gets weird inside your chat bubble, walk out of it and come right back.
  • Keep your devices charged/plugged in while on the platform. 
  • Jumping when you are happy to see someone brings a wonderful energy to the scene!
  • Take pictures! Use your screenshot function for best quality. Your screenshots are your Festival memories. Cherish them. 
  • To sit on a bar or couch, gently approach the sitting space and watch yourself sit.

Pro Tips for VR Users:

  • You can move your arms so express yourself. And if you hug someone, those around you will feel the love. 
  • When in the Gallery, the best seat in the house is on the very edge, where you can experience the wonder of watching the Earth pass by below your feet.
  • When you are ready to leave the VR environment, gently cross your head past the guardian until you see the room you’re in; then take your headset off. This makes for the best transition between virtual and IRL worlds. 

The New Frontier Lineup

Go to Spaceship’s Gallery where each project is represented as an individual mural. Approach the mural until you see LEARN MORE. Click to learn how to experience the work.

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