3D cinema was supposed to be the next big thing, but it’s lost momentum. Yet filmmakers are excited about virtual reality. So how come major film and TV studios have been slow taking on VR? What kind of cinema will emerge?
Probably not traditional narrative productions: filmmakers and production companies must come up with new storytelling techniques to account for a technology that explodes the frame, placing the spectator inside the space of the film. I’ll be looking into creative content from creators such as Oculus Story Studio but also reviewing if this content will be accepted by the likes of the general public rather than focusing solely on companies who’ve invested millions into their projects. I produced an online survey in which 110 people participated, I’ll be collating the results which will hopefully give me a greater insight into how the public perceive VR.
Film within VR is becoming more individualised as you’re placing someone inside the space of the film and I believe one of the most powerful potentials of this is user emotions. Such as empathy, creating cinematic projects that are able to respond to and react to the viewer’s choices. This would require database-style narratives, where an alternative path taken by a viewer – for example, where to look and when – would have different outcomes designated by the filmmaker. A great documentary example of this would be Clouds Over Sidra. The United Nations teamed up with directors Gabo Arora and Barry Pousman and VR firm Within to create a short film documentary raising awareness of Syrian refugees’ daily struggles. There’s also the dark side to it being such a powerful tool for playing with viewers emotions which I’ll cover.
I’ll be looking at theorists such as Dennis McQuail, a communication theorist and professor, to help me understand how audiences are influenced and effected. Although his work is over 20 years old he believed that VR had a powerful potential of changing audiences roles from passive to becoming active through the use of VR products.