The future of storytelling is looking bright.
With all this attention on gaming, it’s easy to forget that VR can be a powerful narrative tool in the hands of an experienced filmmaker. The technology offers storytellers the unique opportunity to immerse audiences in ways that would be impossible or considerably more expensive to replicate using conventional film techniques.
VR filmmaking is a relatively new art, which means creators, both amateur as well as professional, are still working out the kinks. That said, we’ve already seen a handful of incredible immersive films make their way to VR headsets over the past couple of years. The following are just a handful of VR films guaranteed to leave you wanting more.
An oldie but a goodie, Arden’s Wake tells the story of Meena (Alicia Vikander), a young woman who, after a series of unfortunate events, finds herself on a daring rescue mission in search of her father who’s lost somewhere deep within the ocean. The game makes excellent use of scale in VR to immerse you in a captivating adventure unlike anything else we’ve seen before.
You can lean in at any point in the film and experience the story true-to-scale or backup to view the action from a god-like perspective. However you choose to watch, Arden’s Wake’s emotionally-draining story will have you bawling your eyes out; at least that was our experience with the film.
If you’re a fan of Tim Burton films such as The Nightmare Before Christmas or Corpse Bride, then you’ll definitely want to check out Gloomy Eyes. Narrated by Colin Farrel, this three-part series follows a half-human, half-zombie hybrid named Gloomy who finds himself caught in the middle of an ongoing war between humans and zombies.
Things get even more complicated when our pint-sized protagonist falls in love with a human girl. The only thing standing in the way of true love in these unpredictable times is her zombie-hunting uncle. It’s a dark, but inspiring story made even better by a unique animation style reminiscent of classic claymation.
Another certified tear-jerker, Madrid Noir is part VR film, part interactive narrative experience. In this painfully-adorable 46-minute adventure, you follow the adorable protagonist Lola as she works to uncover the secret behind her mysterious uncle’s shadowy behavior. The story is told through a series of flashbacks as the adult Lola recounts her childhood misadventure while clearing out her uncle’s possessions.
Unlike the other films included on the list, Madrid Noir features a handful of interactive segments woven seamlessly into the narrative. During one part of the film, for example, viewers use their motion controller as a flashlight to locate Lola’s uncle, who’s sculking somewhere in the shadows. Another part has you taking photos of the uncle from a hidden location as he conducts some mysterious business. Whether you’re a fan of the film noir genre or just quality story-telling, Madrid Noir is a must-watch.
A Baobab Studios original, Namoo is a ‘narrative poem’ that takes you through the life of a man from his birth to his inevitable death and every special moment in between. The entire film takes place atop a grassy knoll inhabited by a lone tree. Here you watch as the protagonist experiences the joy of childhood and the heartbreak of adulthood.
In addition to the emotional rollercoaster that is the story, Namoo features an absolutely beautiful art style. Brought to us by celebrated Korean director Eric Oh, the film was created using Quill, Meta’s (formerly Oculus) own VR animation tool. The result is an expertly-crafted VR animation that will leave you weeping into your headset.
Space Explorers: The ISS Experience
Space Explorers: The ISS Experience is an Emmy award-winning live-action series shot in outer space by real NASA astronauts. Developed by Felix & Paul Studios in collaboration with NASA and TIME Studios, the series offers viewers an unprecedented look at life aboard the International Space Station. The team built a custom 360-degree camera designed specifically for use in a zero-g environment, with the astronauts themselves serving as both cast and crew.
The team captured over 200 hours of footage and 18 hours of interviews and video logs over the course of two years. Each episode features its own special theme or subject, from daily life aboard the ISS to the accomplishments of women in space. Spacewalkers – Space Explorers: A Special Feature takes it a step further with the first spacewalk captured in VR.
Image Credit: Baobab Studios