VR Geschichten partners up with XR BASE. VR Geschichten is a blog dedicated to storytelling in 360 degree, VR and AR, and member of the XR BASE community in Berlin. Together and from now on, we will keep you updated about the newest developments in XR and immersive storytelling. Here and once a month.
Immersive storytelling reaches the next level
Starting with some thrilling XR experiences from the Tribeca Film Festival 2018: A few weeks ago, the famous festival in New York City opened its gates – and its immersive grounds: Along with about a hundred films, the festival also showcased a diverse selection of virtual reality exposés – most of which were world premieres. Of the 291 entrants, only 27 experiences had made the cut for the exhibition hall, known as the Virtual Arcade. Among those, there were a few captivating installations that mixed the physical with the virtual world. In terms of storytelling, those were the ones that stood out the most:
Free-roam VR, real environments and human interaction
With these two projects, VR departs from the world of film, moving towards immersive theater instead:
“Jack, Part One” came into being as a collaboration between Baobab Studios and Mathias Chelebourg. The narrative is based on the famous fairytale “Jack and the Beanstalk”. It was set in a little room where every object, every piece of furniture was translated into virtual reality via tracking tech. The most stunning fact, however, was its level of interactivity. No pre-shot plot, no artificial intelligence – but an actress who, thanks to a motion capture suit and multiple cameras, appeared in the goggles as mother Frog. Nothing beats communication with a flesh-and-blood person in terms of naturality, and the participant had to play the most active part of little son Jack.
Similar to that, the experience “Hero” by the New Yorker production company iNK Stories was accessible only for one person at a time. Here as well, the level of immersion was extremely high as the creators had worked with tracked objects, smell, even heat and wind. The story, however, wasn’t as pleasant as the fairytale. Hero makes the horrors of war palpable in a severe way by taking the audience on a journey to Syria, directly in the middle of a bomb attack. There, they have to become real heroes at trying to rescue a little girl. As happens in any medium, artists also push the boundaries of VR and AR.
Change of perspective with AR and the HoloLens
“Terminal 3” was one of only two augmented reality experiences of this year’s festival. Being an installation as well, it was thriving on its set design. The participants were directed into a small room with bare white walls, reminiscent of an airport interrogation chamber. There, they were given a HoloLens and had to assume the role of a border official of the United States. The task: interview one stranger that appears as a volumetrically captured hologram and decide whether she may enter the country. There always were multiple options for questioning (leading the story to branch out evermore); the virtual counterpart understood the question via speech recognition and answered. In total, the experience involved the possibility to meet 6 very different people who all live in the US now, while stemming from Muslim countries originally. At the beginning, their appearances seemed alien and barely recognizable, but the deeper one pried into their lives via uncomfortably personal questions, they would appear increasingly lifelike. Of course, there was another catch. Upon having reached the final conclusion, participants (aka the border officials) had to round a corner to reach the exit. Around the bend, they met, surprise, the real person behind the hologram, sitting there in silence and listening to the entire conversation.
About VR Geschichten
VR Geschichten is a blog in English and German founded by Pola Weiß. The big question is: How do we tell a good story in XR? There yet is no answer, but many promising attempts. VR Geschichten accumulates explorations and findings into existing solutions, delves into literature, scours the internet, researches, asks experts, observes craftspeople and creative types… The blog is meant for intrigued filmmakers, storytellers, and people curious to hear about the fascinating stories revolving around this subject.