- For years, the entertainment industry has been excited by the possibility of using Virtual Reality to tell stories, but so far few have seen real success.
- At this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, two executives from companies making strides in VR and AR discussed the presence and future of these technologies in storytelling in a panel moderated by Business Insider CEO Henry Blodget, State of the Art: How AR, VR, and AI are Transforming Media.
- The panelists agreed that turning a traditional movie into a VR experience wouldn’t cut it – here’s what they said works when it comes to a different medium that calls for a different set of rules.
Virtual reality is a relatively new form of storytelling that Hollywood is trying to master, as experts discussed in a panel at the 17th annual Tribeca Film Festival in Lower Manhattan.
The panel, titled “State of the Art: How AR, VR, and AI are Transforming Media,” included Mitzi Reaugh, VP of development and strategy at Jaunt, as well as Michael Ludden, the Director of Product for Watson Developer Labs & AR/VR Labs at IBM. It was moderated by Business Insider CEO Henry Blodget.
Over the course of the panel, the tech experts discussed use cases for the different technologies in VR storytelling, where they’re seeing success, and what they’re most excited about going forward.
“I think photogrammetry is going to be a big part of immersive entertainment going forward,” said Ludden, referring to a sort of 3D model visual that users can walk around.
Both Ludden and Reaugh agreed that if a filmmaker were to take a traditional movie and just turn it into a 360 experience, it’s not going to work – in fact, it would just be boring, Ludden said.
“Fundamentally, [VR]’s a different medium, so there is different storytelling things that you need to consider,” said Reaugh. She said to consider two things that really help make a great story: “escape” and “empathy.”
Giving headsets to patients in hospitals and allowing them to temporarily transport to another location allows escape, while connecting with someone by seeing what they see creates empathy; this is why Ludden refers to VR as “an empathy machine.”
That isn’t enough to make a distinction between what works for a traditional film and what works for a VR film, of course. Plenty of movies today allow us to escape or feel empathy, albeit not in an immersive way. Reaugh outlined three things to keep in mind in order to create a good 360 or VR experience that people will actually pay for:
- Pacing: “It’s not the same pacing that you would get in linear video, because you have to let somebody settle into the environment and recognise where they are.”
- Sound: “There’s a lot of opportunity to use sound to help the person look where they need to go and follow where the story’s happening.” You need to know which direction to turn your head in, for example.
- Location: “I think you really have to think about stories where the location matters,” she said “Thinking about where it is that’s compelling to transport people.”
Looking forward, the panelists were excited about AR and VR’s presence in industries including athletics, healthcare, and enterprise. But storytelling stuck out to the panelists as the application for VR that’s most poised for success.
“You can literally be in the perspective of somebody that’s not you,” said Ludden. “There’s a really powerful emotional, low-hanging fruit piece here.”
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