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Get Together in Gather Town, The 61st Ann Arbor Film Festival’s Virtual Lobby!

Starting today, March 7, we encourage you to explore our unique digital playground and virtual lobby for the 61st Ann Arbor Film Festival, created for us by visual artist and experimental animator Tracy Miller-Robbins. Just follow our link to Gather Town, watch trailers for the Festival and the 10-minute preview reveal that is available online only in this space, but most importantly meet other 61 AAFF Festival goers and filmmakers too!

Gather Town (also known as gather.town or Gather) is an online world for remote get-togethers. The Ann Arbor Film Festival’s Gather Town space was created by Miller-Robbins to be a game-like environment to be explored on your own and with others. You can have conversations similar to Zoom, but Gather Town is unique in that your camera turns on when you are near others in the game-space so that you can chat. If you walk away, your camera will turn off. In this way, you can approach others and have conversations more naturally.


Describing her own work and her interest in Gather Town, Miller-Robbins said that she has “a long history of creating expressive artistic experiences that are personal and universal. My work is rooted in drawing, resulting in images that are abstract, semi-narrative, deeply personal. For the AAFF Gather Town space, I incorporated my own cutout drawings to create a strange but inviting hand drawn world with a sense of place for the viewer to explore, prompting conversations among visitors just as the real world might." Join us on March 12, from 2 to 4 pm, for a mid-afternoon Sunday Brunch in Gather Town with Miller-Robbins who will make some spotlight remarks about the world she created for AAFF, and meet AAFF staff, filmmakers, and friends of the Festival.


We encourage our Online attendees to create their own AAFF virtual reception in Gather Town! Here’s how it works: pick a time and invite your friends to an online watch party. When the program concludes, meet online in Gather Town!


We encourage Features-in-Competition directors to use Gather Town as a meeting place to discuss their film, which will be available for viewing when the online festival goes live at noon ET Tuesday March 21, 2023, through the conclusion of the online festival at 11:59pm Wednesday March 29. We also encourage 61AAFF Filmmakers with Shorts-in-Competition to consider hosting a watch party for their shorts-in-competition program when it launches online, which will be at the same time as it plays in person (find the screening time on this 61st AAFF Film List). From that point forward, these shorts programs can be viewed through 11:59pm Wednesday March 29.


GATHER TOWN FAQ & TIPS FOR EXPLORING


What is Gather Town?

Gather Town (also known as gather.town or Gather) is an online world for remote get-togethers. The Ann Arbor Film Festival’s gather.town space is an artist-created game-like environment to be explored on your own and with others. You can have conversations similar to Zoom, but gather.town is unique in that your camera turns on when you are near others in the game-space so that you can chat. If you walk away, your camera will turn off. In this way, you can approach others and have conversations more naturally.


gather.town is browser based

It works on a computer with a web browser (best with the latest versions of Firefox or Chrome). While it is possible to access gather.town on a phone or iPad, it is very difficult to move around without a keyboard.


When you login, use your real name. Create an avatar- go crazy, or create a likeness of yourself.

Clicking on the Gather Town link brings you to the login. Once you respond to the prompt to allow your audio and video, you will see your video. Take time to customize your character, or just go with the one randomly assigned. If you make your own, have fun, be creative, or try to create one that resembles you.


We do recommend using your real name, and add a * if you are a filmmaker with work in the festival so others in Gather Town can congratulate you and ask questions about your film!


Like Zoom, with camera and audio, but different

What is unique about Gather Town as a virtual space is that it is a game environment and also similar (but different than) zoom in how you interact with others. Enter the world and roam around on your own, like in real life, and choose to connect with others in the space by approaching them. Once you get close, their video audio will come on. When you move away, you will see their video fade. The audio will fade too.


Open 24/7

AAFF’s Gather Town will host events, and like a festival lobby, it will be open all the time. We invite you to check it out and become acclimated prior to events. It is set up for you to stroll around and explore.


Look for:

Artist-created rooms that have AAFF bumpers made by local student filmmakers, featuring a commissioned trailer by filmmaker Steve Wood. There are also drawing battle games and other surprises in the space.


Interactions

Gather Town is unique in that it turns on your camera and audio when you are a small distance from other people. There are private spaces (look for couches and tables) where you will only hear people in that space. Approach the tv monitors to watch the videos. Press the X key to go full screen. Play like a normal video. Press X again to return to the map.


Navigation

Doors will lead you to other rooms. You can move through the space with your arrow keys if you have them (or use AWSD keys to move left, up, down and right).


Additional keyboard shortcuts

Press Z to dance. Use “G” to move through a crowd like a ghost, which is helpful if you are surrounded by people and want to move. Keys 1-6 on the keyboard will create speech bubbles above your character’s head to express what you are feeling in emoticons. Discover these for yourself.


We look forward to seeing you in AAFF’s Virtual Lobby soon!


All Screenshots Courtesy Tracy Miller-Robbins




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