Why VR Storytelling?

Oculus Story Studio Blog
Posted by Jeff Brown
April 13, 2015

We’ve spent our entire careers transporting audiences through visual storytelling. This is our language, a vocabulary we’ve developed and become accustomed to. In a sense, virtual realities are what we’ve been creating all along. But if that’s the case, what are we doing here at Story Studio? Why are we so attracted to this new medium?

Every time I visit a virtual world I’m overwhelmed by possibilities. The far-reaching creative implications of actually feeling like you’re somewhere else are palpable, entirely transformative and obvious. That’s the easy part. Now we have to learn how to do this right.

Stories are told through tons of different mediums and the craft has been in a state of evolution as long as we have. Cave paintings, campfires, stage plays, opera, books, movies and games among many others. The truth is, these formats are often non-interchangeable. It’s the reason why great books can make such lousy movies– all the detail of those beautifully written chapters is lost when crammed into just 90 minutes. Story is best told in its intended format—The same is true for VR.

What sets VR apart is the feeling of being present. This creates an entirely new set of opportunities and creative constraints. We believe our environments, characters and situations should be better suited for virtual reality then they would be anywhere else. This is easier said than done, as you might imagine.

Our first short film “Lost” was a chance for us to dive in and work out the challenges of telling a story in VR, everything from using traditional film techniques to scene staging and the many ways to grab the viewer’s attention. We’ll be covering these topics and others in future posts.

In the meantime, just know that storytelling has a new vehicle and we couldn’t be more excited about the possibilities. We’re fully aware that our stories must support the medium. Because of this, we began asking ourselves “Why VR?” as part of our development process. Why is this story better told in this medium? What can we do to leverage the strengths of VR? Its been helping us stay true to our goal— to build truly immersive cinematic experiences that were never before possible.