Your local frats favorite comedy group just entered VR.
The infamous comedy website CollegeHumor.com has begun releasing a series of comedic 360 videos on YouTube centered around pivotal moments in U.S. presidential history. The ambitious new project is the direct result of a partnership between CollegeHumor’s production studio Big Breakfast and multimedia titan Google in an attempt to produce a steady flow of 360-degree content for YouTube as well as the new DayDream VR platform. It’s an interesting team-up that could be just what Google needs to help the public ease into the exciting new world that is virtual reality.
The 1600 In 360 series will feature 6 short-form episodes, each highlighting a different president and a comedically-skewed interpretation of their biggest hurdles while in office. For example, episode one follows President John Adams as he dodges women’s rights and slavery issues by focusing on negotiating peace with France, while episode two features Abraham Lincoln dealing with the separation of the south and their wild demands for legal slavery and unlimited Southern Comfort.
The videos will have you laughing, learning and yes at a few points cringing (a few jokes fall further than flat). All-in-all it’s an incredibly interesting project with an ingenious format and shooting-style. To combat the limitations (or lack-thereof) of storytelling in 360 video, each episode is shot inside the Oval Office of the White House in a “fly on the wall” manner. The result is a surprisingly pleasant experience that makes the most of 360-degree freedom.
When asked about the challenges and opportunities of the new format while speaking to TechCrunch, president of Big Breakfast, Sam Reich, said, “I’m going to get really comedy nerdy here. Comedy dating back to Buster Keaton has been about playing with the frame, sort of making use of your body in space. That’s what makes VR so intimidating … There’s not the same amount of room to play around with framing.”
Thanks to some creative blocking and fluid storytelling I never felt as though I was missing any of the action while watching either of these short skits. More importantly I didn’t feel forced to look in a particular direction at any point either. No matter where I looked there was always something interesting happening visually to keep me entertained. Combine that with a fairly well-written script and you have some fine examples of what virtual reality could do for passive entertainment.
When asked whether more virtual reality was in CollegeHumor’s future, Reich said they’ll wait to see the reception of 1600 in 360 and remain cautiously optimistic in the meantime. So while that’s not a definitive yes, the company has openly expressed its interest in VR and teases us even further by stating “We’re only tackling six presidents here. There’s clearly room for more.” You heard the man. Head over to those videos now and start hitting refresh!