Crow: The Legend (Baobab Studios, 2018), directed by Eric Darnell, for instance, had the most fluid animated characters I had ever seen in VR. However, regardless of playing the role of ‘spirit of the seasons’, your presence was not really acknowledged by other virtual characters. Although I totally enjoyed the plot and character performances, I would not consider it a very VR-specific experience.
Tales of Wedding Rings VR (2018), directed by Kaei Sou was very innovative in terms of a bold use of cinematic frames referred to as ‘LiveWindows’ by the creators. They were not just static pictures floating around but actually gates to the other 3D environments, which means your movements and viewing angle affects the perspective of each frame, resulting in a parallax effect; dynamic in size and proportion they were sometimes expanded all around and submerging you into their environments.
This reminded me of the Pardehs (curtains) in the ritual of Pardeh-Khani and was an inspiring piece in designing the interaction mechanic that I have been trying to implement for my personal project; to let the viewers step into the worlds of curtains or extend the visual components of the painting out of the flat canvas. Such endeavor to remediate ‘Manga/Anime’ as a narrative culture in VR was also very relevant to the objective my project which has been to revitalize a traditional ritual of storytelling in VR. Regardless, the overall experience did not engage me all along, partly due its thirty-minute length which still seems to be hard to persist in a one-take VR. Also, the Japanese voiceovers which required me to gaze at fairly small English text bubbles all the time was causing a bit of eyestrain.
I found the Spheres (2018) directed by Eliza McNitt the most exceptional and memorable experience from this event. It was the center piece and apparently the main influence to its title. The first intriguing aspect of this experience was the large space devoted to its unique installation design; the idea of extending the VR experience into the physical surrounding was working perfectly well. Walls were all covered with black curtains which nicely represented the infinity and darkness of the space. Large circular mirror on the rear curtain and the polished concrete floor further expanded and dramatized the space. The light rings hanging from a high and dark painted celling were the key features; floating like some celestial elements above the viewer’s head, they set a sort of invisible boundary which indirectly regulated the movements. The darkness of the hall where all other visitors were plugged in alongside with me, minimized the anxious feeling of being exposed to others and was letting me immerse myself more comfortably.