Nadia Persaud Independent Learning Requirement
Prior to shooting my final project over Thanksgiving break, I decided to take the course on Lynda.com entitled VR Video and Photography: Storytelling. When I had filmed my 360 dog park video toward the beginning of the semester, capturing the footage was simple, but telling a story was not. Everything we captured was great, but I was missing a way to tie each shot together into a story that meant something. I didn’t want to make this mistake again, especially since I’d been planning on creating a 360 documentary about my grandparents for my final project. Documentaries definitely tell a story despite the footage being “raw” and “real”; I’ve made short documentaries before, but never in 360. Storytelling, as we’ve learned, can be much different and more complex once you introduce a medium that encourages exploring. Because of this, I wanted to ensure that I was telling the most compelling story possible with 360 video.
From the course, I learned many tricks to developing a story in 360 and keeping the audience engaged. For instance, the narrator of the course suggests recording a general view of the whole space before getting into specifics. This is to set up the background and get the viewer comfortable with being in that space virtually. So, when I was filming over break, I took at least 2 minutes in each new setting to film the space without any interruptions (no asking my grandparents questions, no conversation-baiting, etc.)
The narrator also suggests experimenting with angles to make the story more interesting and suggestive. If you want someone to feel like they are bigger than what they are seeing, try placing the camera above the subject you’re filming so that, when the VR headset is worn, it’ll seem as if the viewer is above the subject and looking down on them. I haven’t taken a look at how my footage came out yet, but during my filming process, I experimented with both high, middle and low angles to see which ones I could best weave into my story.
The video reinforced the importance of keeping your subjects a couple of feet away from the camera to avoid any stitching issues, so of course I made sure to remind my grandparents not to get too close.
The video also mentioned the importance of telling your subjects not to look directly at the camera. This is important to avoid, especially in VR, because it can feel artificial and even a bit uncomfortable to have someone staring right at you when you’re viewing content through a VR headset. However, I also learned that looking directly at the camera can be useful if used strategically. At certain points in my film, I wanted to “break the fourth wall” and have my grandma connecting with the audience. During these points, I told her it’d be alright if she looked at the camera.
Finally, I learned the importance of interviews and narration when you’re telling a 360 story. Since there is a lot going on in all directions, you’ll want a voice there to push the story forward and add context to what the viewer should be looking at and seeing. Because of this, I made sure to interview both of my grandparents. My grandma’s interview had much more substance than my grandpa’s, but I want to see if there’s a way to incorporate both so that there’s a diversity of voices in my film.