The 8-minute virtual reality short-film from Emmy-nominated director Brad Lichtenstein ASHE '68 was part of the 2019 Sundance Film Festival New Frontier Installation for innovative film work. The virtual reality experience brings together video re-creations, archival material and sand animation to tell a unique story of famed tennis champion, Arthur Ashe of the 1968 US Open at West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills, New York.
Executive producer Mike Jackson shares, "Arthur Ashe used his US Open Championship to advocate for social change and he devoted his life to social justice and human rights." Jackson notes, "Our virtual reality (VR) film immerses the viewer into the mind of Mr. Ashe and the challenges he faced on the day he won his first US Open."
The film previewed at the 2018 US Open and travel to various tennis tournaments, schools and conferences to connect audiences with the relevant topics of all time (today as was decades ago) that blend sports and social justice. The goal is to keep the conversation alive among the diverse audiences.
The combination of live action with sand animation has never been tried before in the VR world which makes this art creation unique and engaging. Lichtenstein says, "Together with his actual voice culled from hundreds of hours of footage and interviews, we created an experience that takes you inside a moment when Arthur Ashe the rising star became Arthur the champion both for tennis and human rights."
The sand animation team Mashable Vasilkovsky and Ruah Edelstein created over 4000 frames of "sand paintings" for this film and worked hours on end on detailed creations that made ASHE '68 come alive using Jeff Fitzsimmons amazingly large light table for the final production. In collaboration with artist Matt Kemper, his team at Legend 3D to create the visual effects in 360 fashion and the music guru, Vernon Reid, each brought the vibe of 1968 back to life for a total immersive experience not to be missed.