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Report – Panel 6, Ten Things You Need To Know About VR

Posted on: Friday 17 November 2017 12:06pm by Catherine Trewavas

An expert panel discussed the future of VR, the platforms it lives on and the opportunities it offers to the UK animation industry.

Takeaway:

  • Ensure storytelling is at the heart of VR projects
  • Unlock creative possibilities as the technology develops
  • Using additional technology such as SubPac systems can make experiences even more immersive

Detail:

Professor Andy Miah introduced the VR session on behalf of The University of Salford. He described the surge in activity in this area over the last year and encouraged members of the audience to test out the technology using Samsung VR headsets that were passed around. The panel then discussed the latest developments in VR and looked to the future, debating what may lie ahead for this exciting and developing area.

Storytelling through VR

Chad Eikhoff, Founder and CEO of Trick 3D, said that he “wants VR to be a meaningful and lasting experience that combines the benefits of storytelling and technology”.

Andrew Lord, Co-founder and Managing Director of Flipbook, discussed how his VR projects have evolved through working closely with brands.

For Alison Norrington, Founder and Creative Director of Storycentral, a crucial point of importance within the emergence of VR in animation was the significance of emotion in storytelling. She said there are three things that need to be at the heart of every project: narrative design, experience design and emotion design. However, Alison also warned that “VR lends itself to important messaging”, but sometimes the immersive experience can make difficult situations or environments feel too real.

The immersive experience

The panel discussed the immersive world of VR in further detail, with Chad explaining that “as most operating systems are inherently 2D, VR stands out as it is more like the real world”. This presents a variety of exciting, creative possibilities.

Andrew emphasised that you cannot approach production in the usual editorial sense as it is not possible to frame shots – instead the whole 360 degree world is your shot. Alison developed this idea saying that your set is the story as well. She believes that creating the environment is really important.

Creating unique projects

Chad described how his company Trick 3D have worked closely with Make-A-Wish Foundation, and have used VR to create unique experiences for children by making seemingly impossible dreams a reality. Seven-year-old Zayden asked to go to Saturn in a red rocket ship and meet an alien. With VR technology this became a fantastic example of how possibilities are opened and something great and meaningful can be achieved.

VR has also been used to develop commercial campaigns. Andrew described a project for clothing brand Diesel which formed a 5D, multisensory experience in a virtual world made of fur, created for the ‘Fur Me, Fur You’ campaign. We also saw a clip from the VR experience created for the NHL All-Stars Ice Hockey League with Reebok. This put the user in the middle of a game and used a wearable SubPac system to enhance the experience with vibrations and an added physical dimension.

Conclusion

Alison said that techniques to move through VR experiences are being developed and there is much more to learn as the technology evolves. The industry is in its infancy and Andrew describes it as “a learning curve”.

So what are the top ten things you need to think about if you are looking to create VR?

  • Focus on the audience
  • Know your platform
  • Duration is key
  • What is the role of the participant?
  • What are they doing? Is there any activity?
  • Is there an added value relevant to VR?
  • Has the idea been written or rewritten specifically for VR?
  • Does it have relatability?
  • Do we need to rethink practises and processes around the industry?
  • Is there an instant wow factor when you put on the VR headset? Are you going to places you’ve not been before?
Catherine Trewavas

About the author

Catherine Trewavas

BBC Children's Acquisitions & Independent Animation, Production Management Assistant

Catherine is the Production Management Assistant for BBC Children's Acquisitions and Independent Animation – the team responsible for programmes including ‘Hey Duggee’, ‘Clangers’ and ‘Scream Street’. In addition to her day job, Catherine has a keen interest in journalism and writes articles for BBC newspaper Ariel. Catherine has previously worked… Read more

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