Virtual Reality (VR) is set to be the future of entertainment. The release of consumer VR headsets is only the beginning. As one of the small handful of independent studios taking steps into the uncharted world of storytelling in VR, we are in a privileged position to discover which techniques work - and which don’t. During the creation of our VR drama Ctrl last year, we learned a lot - and we want to share that with you. Let’s start with the basics.
Forget everything that you know
VR is not film. Film has very specific elements, such as frame and camera direction, which are exploited and consistently used in almost every production. VR, by its very nature, does not have either of these and in turn, has its own key elements which are ready to be explored and exploited. Trying to force filmic techniques into a VR world will feel jarring. We need to approach VR like the unique creative medium that it is and be open to all the possibilities that it holds.
The film / game divide
Gaming is another major industry taking interest in VR. Video games have already made major advances in storytelling, blurring the line between films and games. Some newer titles strip back gameplay elements almost completely, focusing more on the narrative. With interaction set to become integral to virtual experiences, VR is destined to redefine this division once more.
VR is the first medium to achieve 100% of the audience’s attention. You can’t check your phone, chat with friends or gaze mindlessly around the room. You have to engage with the content. This is an amazing opportunity for storytellers, but also comes with huge responsibility. You have someone’s undivided attention - the content you show them has to be worthy of that.
2017 is lining up to be a huge year for VR and we hope to see many more productions and games released. The industry is growing at a dramatic rate with new directors, developers and creative teams turning their hand to VR all the time. Here at Breaking Fourth, we’re starting work on two new drama productions for release in mid-2017, and we hope you’ll join over the coming weeks us as we share our journey to uncover the creative secrets of VR. Next time, we will be looking at how narrative content is shaping people’s perception of VR.