Is VR Really a Kind of Filmmaking?

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Justin Cone lays down the gauntlet on Motiongrapher in his piece, "Virtual Reality is Not Filmmaking." In it, he argues that people who look for the qualities of traditional storytelling in a VR experience are missing the point of virtual reality, particularly the 'reality' portion.

"While much has been made of immersion as a defining trait of virtual reality," he writes, "a key component of normal (i.e. non-virtual) reality is painfully absent in the live-action and pre-rendered experiences I see being confused with true VR: interactivity.

"In real life, you make decisions. Those decisions change the world around you — or your experience of it — sometimes in profound, unexpected ways. Real life decisions aren’t presented to you as tidy forks in the road."

Among the many points he makes about the differences between a real-life experience and one in a traditional story, the overarching theme of his argument is that the idea of telling a story through traditional dramatic methods, where everything happens in a set way at a certain time, is a useless pardigm for the maker of VR content. "The impulse to 'tell” a story,'" he posits, "is loaded with authorial intent to control the user’s experience. Telling, after all, is a mostly one-way experience. But good storytellers respond to their audiences, skipping details or embellishing others in order to achieve the greatest emotional impact. They read the room and making adjustments to their material on the fly."

Agree or not, it's a strong argument and one makers of VR content should addres head on.


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