Powerful New Experience “Real” Pushes Boundaries of VR Storytelling
One of the fascinating challenges in these relatively early days of Virtual Realty is how to tell actual stories. The most common comparison so far has been to live theater, where an audience watches events unfold with no real time direction to focus their attention. It’s an aspect that allows for a new kind of experience, yet also seems to frustrate many experienced story tellers.
A new experience called Real, which is premiering this week on Wevr’s Transport, explores this question and offers some very creative solutions. It also delivers an emotionally powerful story in an entirely unique manner, powerfully exploring issues of human perception and emotional connection.
The experience’s creator, Connor Hair, says the initial inspiration came from an image he found floating around the internet depicting a woman laying in a dilapidated apartment wearing a VR headset. After experiencing VR for the first time, Hair says he became intrigued by the potential for storytelling in the medium and decided to alter an existing script he had based on the image.
To tell his story most effectively, Hair says he made the decision to move back and forth between classic 2D format and a 180 3D format (instead of the full 360’ VR) “One of the reasons I went with the 180 degree view for the VR segments was that I wanted to maintain some of the control you have as a filmmaker,” Hair explains. “To craft it like you would a film and directed the audiences attention and not worrying about what is behind them. It also enabled me to stand behind the camera and direct actors as I would in a film.”
The decision to use 180’ was not without its limitations. As Hair explains, “Not a lot of people are doing 180, I think mainly because a lot of the playback software doesn’t support it. I’ve had a hard time getting it on platforms, which is why I was so excited when Transport said they could support it in its full resolution.”
He says alternating between 2D and VR was based entirely on the story and its characters. “I thought it was interesting to go between the two,” he says, “The fact that she is actually putting virtual reality goggles on was very fitting. To be able to see through her eyes when you are in VR. You connect with her in the 2D world and then connect with her lost husband in the 3D world.”
The result is an intriguing narrative that utilizes VR to amplify the emotional impact of the story. The use of multiple formats and limiting the frame to 180’ additionally offers an intriguing new way of storytelling.
“I’m totally hooked on virtual reality as a medium,” Hair says. “I’m mainly just interested in telling narrative stories. I think there’s not enough experimentation going on in that right now and I want to see more of it. What interests me most about virtual reality is the ability to get lost in a film to an extent we haven’t been able to do with tradition cinema.”