Stephen Smith and New Dimensions in Testimony at Sheffield Doc Fest June 10-15

Wed, 06/01/2016 - 5:00pm









In just one week, the Sheffield Documentary Film Festival will showcase USC Shoah Foundation’s New Dimensions in Testimony project as an example of one of the most cutting-edge new technologies in storytelling and virtual reality.

New Dimensions in Testimony (NDT) uses groundbreaking natural language software that allows audiences to have a “virtual encounter” with the recorded image of a Holocaust survivor, who responds in real time, powered by complex algorithms providing realistic conversation. Twelve survivors have been recorded for NDT, including Renee Firestone, Eva Schloss and Sam Harris.

The pilot version of NDT with survivor Pinchas Gutter debuted at Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center in 2015 and is currently on display at United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM). At USHMM, any member of the public can speak into a microphone and ask Pinchas a question directly, without help from docents or moderators.
The Sheffield Documentary Film Festival will showcase @USCShoahFdn New Dimensions in Testimony.

Attendees at the Sheffield Doc Fest in Sheffield, England, one of the largest film festivals in the world, will have multiple opportunities to learn about and try out New Dimensions in Testimony for themselves. The festival is held in venues throughout Sheffield June 10-15.

NDT will have a booth at the Alternate Realities: Interactive Exhibition at Millennium Gallery for the duration of the festival. Attendees can meet USC Shoah Foundation staff and interact with NDT.

USC Shoah Foundation Executive Director Stephen Smith will give “Meet the Maker” presentations at the NDT booth on Sat., June 11 and Mon., June 13 at 11 a.m.

Smith will give a keynote presentation about NDT at the Alternate Realities Summit on Sun., June 12 at 11:45 a.m. at Crucible Studio. Smith will share how the NDT team compiled complex audio and visual data and incorporated natural language software to create a “virtual encounter” between audiences and Holocaust survivors.

Smith will speak on the Innovation in Archive panel at Cutler’s Hall on Sat., June 11 at 2:45 p.m. The panel will explore ways that filmmakers and artists are combining archive and new technologies to engage audiences across TV, cinema, VR, galleries and exhibition spaces, and what the future holds for film heritage.

Finally, Smith will speak about the making of NDT in an informal talk at Doc/Fest Exchange on Tudor Square on Mon., June 13 at 2:30 p.m.

All festivalgoers who encounter NDT are encouraged to share their experiences and thoughts on social media using the hashtag #NewDimensionsinTestimony.