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How VR is Changing the Rules of Visual Storytelling

Drea Bernardi of AOL Partner Studios discusses the new approach to visual storytelling demanded by VR production in this excerpt from her presentation at Streaming Media West 2016.

According to Drea Bernardi of AOL Partner Studios, telling stories with VR 360 immersive experiences means throwing out more or less everything you know about filmmaking, and starting fresh with a new set of storytelling techniques and a new visual language that's more sympatico with the new form. In this short clip from her presentation at Streaming Media West 2016, she explains what that means to producers working in the emerging medium.

Read the complete transcript from this clip:

Drea Bernardi: All the rules for filmmaking, we're just breaking them all over the place, which is just so exciting, but we have to really start from scratch to develop them. As we're playing and experimenting with storytelling, we're finding out the rules by breaking the rules and having it not work.

I just had a conversation on a brainstorm this morning that said, "Can we please not do any more profile pieces in 360 filmmaking?" When we're inside of this experience, we've lost our lenses. We've lost our ability to frame things. It's democratizing the space around us. I'm talking specifically to live and 360 where we have one camera that we set down.

We're figuring out very creative and interesting ways to move that camera around the space using drones and robots to move the camera in the space, but when you're sitting there and you're experiencing a film in that way, you're not getting this closeup feeling of your person that you're covering. You have to think, how can I create that emotional connection now if I can't do that with the old form of storytelling and filmmaking, where we could frame a shot in a very specific way and the director could really work out the details of that frame?

Now, when the entire room is your frame, when the entire universe is your frame, you really have to come up with new ways to try to engage that viewer. I come from a theater background and an improvisation background and I think we're going to see a new kind of narrative storytelling. The hybrid shows like Sleep No More on Broadway in New York right now, where you have this interactive theater experience where you have to get the audience to follow you through a space, I think we're going to see a lot of that--new formats being implemented for content creation.
The other thing that is really, really important is audio. When we aren't able to direct a viewer with the camera movement, we're really going to need to start depending on audio, on audio cues to help get people moving around the space.

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