The subtitle to this could be: VR Continues To Ruin My Life. It Might Ruin Yours Too.
While binge-watching Stan Lee’s Lucky Man, I was cursed with VR being in the back of my mind, like an annoying Windows Process that couldn’t be killed and kept displaying a random pop-up.
The pop-up was, “What would this shot be like in VR?”
As far as I know, given the currently-available VR cameras — even the sixty-thousand-dollar Nokia OZO — there are just some shots that aren’t possible with VR.
Let’s just set aside the limiting distance subjects have to be from the lens, as well as the disorienting sensation of having someone too close to the viewer in VR, here are some shots not yet possible in VR.
Using focus to highlight a subject:
Notice how the background is blurred to concentrate the viewer’s attention on the person.
That’s antithetical to the VR experience, which is for you to be there and see everything.
Focus used in the opposite direction:
And if you look closely, you can see the room seems crooked:
True vertical and horizontal lines. The back wall is slanted. That must have driven both the cameraman and the Director of Photography crazy. Looking at it again after I inserted the lines, there’s even more wrong with that shot but beyond the scope of this post.
And look at that shot again. Given the height of the foreground character, in VR your height would be basically where the bottom of the frame is. Feeling short?
This shot …
… would have you floating in mid-air.
And these next two shots would be very big problems in VR:
The first time at the police station. You wouldn’t be looking at them at the desk. You’d be swiveling around to take it all in.
This one would make you swivel even worse:
And here …
… would she be too close in VR?
This would be instant motion sickness:
And now some shots that shouldn’t be done in VR.
Suddenly VR makes you a midget:
How many people would be looking at their shoes?
Too close for VR:
Suddenly you’re in mid-air:
You’re the height of a cat:
Now you’re kneeling next to seated people:
Subtle focus change likely not currently possible in VR:
And what height are you there?
One shot that would be fun in VR if it didn’t induce motion sickness:
For VR, just NO:
Now you’re underwater watching someone struggle:
I dislike the very idea of Trigger Warnings, but for someone who has had water-induced trauma, that could be a bad experience.
Way too damned close for VR:
Here is a heart-attack-inducing sequence if done in VR:
Color and centering are used to focus viewer attention on her:
In VR, people can look all around, including up and down, so how to maintain her as the important bit?
This shot …
… would make a VR viewer feel as if sitting on top of a file cabinet.
I could go on and on but I think I’ve made the point.
Sometimes it’s just no longer possible for me to watch something without thinking of the “VR consequences.”
What’s going to happen?
Will shots like those go away for a time as people become used to VR? And then people will expect their height to change inside VR for the sake of the shot?
I just don’t know.
As with the original home video revolution way back when, pr0n might lead the way to the popularization of VR.
But if pr0nhub is the future, will people expect VR stories to be flat and 180, like this:
The black is the viewer falling off the edge of the half-sphere image, not censoring by me.
Well of course I had to go there. For Research Purposes Only. Besides, lacking even basic Cardboard, all I can do is check it out on a flat screen, with everything being distorted. (What are they filming that with? Anyone know? It seems like a Ricoh Theta S with one lens taped over!)
I haven’t even addressed the stereoscopic aspect of VR in this. That’s an entirely separate thing and at least there’s been some experience with 3D in Hollywood for decades.
Filmic storytelling in VR is going to change things. How much is going to be interesting.
Gone on the Gear VR isn’t the future. It’s one future, but not the future.
And now some of Stan Lee’s Lucky Man. Think of every shot for VR.