A world-first film experience using 3D technology and artificial intelligence (AI), developed at UNSW's iCinema, is one of the centrepieces of this year's Sydney Film Festival.

The eerie yet beautiful film, Scenario, involves a group of avatars who are trapped in a bunker. The avatars are trapped by their father.

Described as a "fractured fairytale", Scenario adapts and reformulates a number of narrative elements borrowed from the works of the Brothers Grimm.

Viewers are propelled into the interactive, immersive film, in which no two viewings are the same. The audience and the characters jointly create the story.

"How brilliant that this world-leading technology, which foreshadows the future of 3D cinema, has been generated in Sydney," says Clare Stewart, Director of the Sydney Film Festival.

Director Dennis Del Favero, who is an ARC Australian Professorial Fellow in the College of Fine Arts (COFA) and the Faculty of Engineering, says the film is "a dramatic shift in what cinema can be".

"Instead of storytelling in cinema being about what the viewers think and believe, it can also be what the characters on the screen believe and think," he says.

The collaboration also involved AI expert Associate Professor Maurice Pagnucco from the Faculty of Engineering and playwright Stephen Sewell, who was Literary Fellow at UNSW.

While it may never replace mainstream cinema, the researchers believe 3D cinema could be suitable for a niche audience, such as home theatre.

"Two decades ago, if I had described Facebook, you wouldn't have believed it," says Del Favero. "You would have thought: 'how is that possible?' But now it's increasingly becoming our public forum, where we meet and interact. It could potentially be the same with AI cinema. The future could very well surprise us."

Media contact: Susi Hamilton, UNSW media, 0422 934 024.