Earlier this week, we pulled back the curtain on Jurassic World: Blue Episode 2, which continues everyone’s favorite Velociraptor’s journey through the crumbling ruins of Isla Nublar. Today, we’re excited to take you behind-the-scenes with an exclusive developer Q&A—just in time for the 25th anniversary of Jurassic Park’s theatrical release.
We caught up with Felix & Paul Studios Directors Félix Lajeunesse and Paul Raphaël, as well as VFX Supervisor and CTO Sebastion Sylwan, for a closer look at Jurassic World: Blue Episode 2 and continued innovation in the art of immersive storytelling.
How has the experience of Jurassic World: Blue evolved from Episode 1 to Episode 2?
Félix Lajeunesse: In Episode 1, we get a glimpse of Blue’s everyday life, hunting for food on Isla Nublar, after all humans have left the island after the events of the first Jurassic World film. Episode 2 starts in the wake of a catastrophic event that threatens her home and survival, and Blue’s instincts kick into overdrive. It’s a look at how she survived the last four years on Isla Nublar—with an unexpected twist.
How does this project help break new ground in VR experiential and/or narrative entertainment?
Paul Raphaël: In many ways, Jurassic World: Blue is the culmination of the things we’ve learned from five years of immersive storytelling. We achieved many technological advancements on this piece, including rendering the bottom of the 360° image in full stereoscopic 3D, which is a first in a live-action VR piece. We also used our proprietary VR camera on a cable-cam and tracked the environment in 360° to integrate the CG animation of the dinosaurs, resulting in some of the longest VFX shots ever created.
What kind of response did you see with Jurassic World: BLUE Episode 1?
FL: From what we’ve seen on social media, people seem to really enjoy it. A lot of the comments and YouTube reactions are overwhelmingly positive and end with, “We want to see more!” A few of them had been fans of our first piece, Jurassic World: Apatosaurus [available on Oculus Go and Gear VR], so it was nice to see all the support!
How does Episode 2 reinforce and/or challenge that initial reception?
FL: It’s really great to see a fan base from our first experience, and we hope that continues and grows with Episode 2. It definitely ups the ante in terms of action and scale, and we think it will give fans a chance to experience the franchise’s bigger thrills with an unprecedented level of immersion.
What was it like to collaborate with Industrial Light & Magic?
Sebastian Sylwan: This is our second time collaborating with ILM, and it’s a privilege to continue our working relationship with so many talented people there. We have a lot of creative and technical synergy when we create together, and there was a lot of innovation on this project in particular. For example, we worked very closely with the ILM team to adapt their CG cameras to fit with a technique we developed to preserve proper stereoscopy at the bottom of the 360° image, which was essential to convey the sense of shared presence with Blue.
How does Jurassic World: Blue build upon your earlier work in the VR space?
PR: In Jurassic World: Blue, we tried something new with the viewer. In most of our VR work, the viewer is either themselves, such as in our documentaries, or a character in the experience itself, such as in our narrative piece Miyubi. For Blue, we made the viewer an extension of Blue’s senses. This meant not literally seeing through Blue’s eyes, but instead allowing us to still see Blue while creating a sense of connection and identification with her. By following this principle—having the viewer be an extension of Blue—we maintain presence, while getting us closer to liberated VR camera movement.
In an earlier Q&A with Oculus, Félix predicted that, while we currently differentiate between VR and AR as distinct media, in the future that distinction will fade away. Do you think we’ve gotten any closer to that moment of convergence—and what might it ultimately look like?
PR: We’ve definitely gotten closer, especially with continuous innovations in both hardware and software within the past few years. AR and VR are distinct mediums today only because of technological limitations. With AR right now, the field-of-view is rather limited; that will all change once AR attains a field-of-view that is comparable with today’s VR. This moment of convergence has the potential to reach mainstream adoption. In the end, the ultimate AR device will essentially also be the ultimate VR device.
Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
FL: We love seeing and reading viewers’ reactions on social media, so please continue that and let us know what you think!
— The Oculus Team