Uncovering the Grammar of VR

November 2, 2015

Saschka Unseld  Creative Director, Oculus Story Studio

In virtual reality, you are at the center of every story. Saschka Unseld, head of Oculus Story Studio, wants to keep you there, experiencing virtual worlds directly, with characters who interact with you in real time. You read a book and you watch a film, but in virtual reality, you experience a story. It’s told through your senses, and Unseld and his team are now discovering what that means—how characters should react to you, how to make your experience interactive and responsive. It’s a learning curve that’s just beginning—built on a heritage of storytelling but breaking down the fourth wall in a new way. Unseld shared some of what his studio is learning at this year’s Future of Storytelling Conference.

The studio has already released two short form experiences, Lost and Henry. The latter was intended to be a comedy, but as Unseld explained, it was difficult to keep if from being a tragedy:

With Henry, for example what we did, we thought, “Okay, let’s try to tell a comedy — typical slapstick kind of animated character comedy.”

The final film turned out to be more sad than funny. If you would cut it as a film, exactly the same thing, you would have a lot of laughs. But in VR, you don’t. If someone falls on their face right next to you, it’s not funny.

In cinema. you have something like the fourth wall, which means there is this wall between the story and the world and the audience. In VR, there is no such thing as a fourth wall, because in VR you are right there with the characters in the world.

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