Cooking up a Chinese VR short

360 view: http://vr8.tv/88/3F1840

Earlier this month, immersive content development took an experimental step forward with China’s first improvisational VR “table read” on the interactive cinematic VR short film, FOUR DISHES AND A SOUP. (full article on AWN)

360 view: http://vr8.tv/88/3F187D

Cooking up a Chinese VR short

The art of indirection

img_6040

The following is a transcript of my presentation on VR┬ástorytelling principles, “The Art of Indirection”, delivered on December 1st at the 7th International Conference & Exhibition on Visual Entertainment in Beijing.

I’m here to talk about the development portion of the entertainment workflow, specifically related to virtual reality. My own background focused upon production during the first half of my career, the 12 years I spent with Walt Disney Feature Animation. After moving to China in 2008, I shifted my focus to development. This development work began in traditional areas of film and television – which I have taught here at the Beijing Film Academy – and shifted to virtual reality over the past year.

Virtual reality requires a different way of thinking. I believe you’ve heard this already. There have been great comments made today on this point, not restricted to virtual reality, but related to any new means of storytelling. When Demetri Portelli talked about shooting at 120 frames per second in 4k, he said something obvious, but also easily overlooked: the director needs to think differently about how to direct; the actors need to think differently about how to act; everybody involved in the production chain needs to review their assumptions, to adapt and expand upon what’s possible in the new media environment. This applies to VR as well. It’s easy to bring your preconceptions and old ways of working into play. In this respect – and I’m not the first person to make this observation – the current state of virtual reality is very much like the early days of… (full post on AWN)

The art of indirection

The joy of VR

image

In the 2015 sci-fi film Ex Machina, Nathan Bateman, CEO of tech giant Blue Book, asks computer programmer Caleb Smith to evaluate a humanoid robot named Ava, who is imbued with artificial intelligence. The twist is that this is a “full disclosure” Turing Test. As opposed to Turing’s classic format – in which the subject of the test is hidden – Caleb must judge whether Ava possesses genuine consciousness, with the full knowledge that she is an artificial construct.

I felt much the same as Caleb when I visited Noitom late last month and experienced PROJECT ALICE for the first time… (full post on AWN)

The joy of VR

The Swayze Effect

Swayze

One of the most compelling aspects of virtual reality is the feeling of PRESENCE: of being there. Yet this powerful feeling of presence can be frustrating if not combined with AGENCY: the pleasure we feel when actively engaged in a fictional world.

The folks at Oculus Story Studio call this discrepancy The Swayze Effect (after the star of the 1990 film GHOST): the disembodied feeling that you are in the room, but no one acknowledges you.

Matt Burdette describes Oculus Story Studio’s creative struggle with this dilemma, citing contrasting issues encountered while making the VR shorts LOST and HENRY:

LOST showed us that not acknowledging the viewer can create a considerable gap in connecting with the story and action. HENRY showed us that acknowledging the viewer is powerful but can contradict the intent of the story being told.

As Matt admits, the takeaways are still being determined. The exciting thing is that we are clearly in new territory, with the rules of engagement being discovered on the fly. There hasn’t been such intriguing creative whitespace since Walt Disney & company worked out best practices for animated feature films during the previous century.

 

The Swayze Effect