Filmmakers VR & Immersive Storytelling (2015)
Reviewed by Joshua Borja. Experienced at AFI FEST 2015.
I was particularly excited for this panel or demonstration as I’m an enthusiast of tech. I was excited to experience virtual reality for myself.
Once I had arrived and tried three separate demonstrations, I noticed that there were two distinct uses of virtual reality at play. One was dedicated to the technology and the other was its application to filmmaking.
The first time I strapped myself into virtual reality and put that headgear on, I was sitting in the audience of the Saturday Night Live 40 Year Anniversary special. I found myself in the same room as such celebrities as Jerry Seinfeld, James Franco, Larry David, John Goodman, and Peyton and Eli Manning. The feeling was thrilling. I even found myself looking down, expecting to see my hands. The only downside was how easy it was to see the pixels of the screen I was looking at, however it has nothing to do with the quality of the screen as it has more to do with the proximity of the screen to the viewer’s face.
The last demonstration I saw was from a small production company who had been shooting films in VR. It was clear to me that their focus was still on storytelling and filmmaking. The camera would still cut traditionally, and sometimes you’d be in the perspective of a character (which led to some nice gimmicks, such the viewer getting punched in the face) and sometimes you wouldn’t be. The experience was jarring and the filmmakers ran the risk of the viewer not watching the action and missing what they want the viewer to see. Virtual reality is an exciting opportunity for filmmaking, however if it were to hit the mainstream, it would have to make filmmakers completely rethink of how to make films, for example composing shots.