Digital Hollywood: Virtual Reality Tests Episodic Story-Telling Formats, By Carolyn Giardina

From ‘Gone,’ in which a child disappears, and ‘Defying the Nazis VR,’ new series formats are entering the picture.

A child disappears. A boatload of children are saved from the Nazis. Virtual reality, as it tests new models for story-telling, is venturing into some surprising subjects.

The results were on display at the Digital Hollywood conference, held this week at Los Angeles’ Skirball Center, as the Television Academy’s Interactive Peer Group presented six, unique virtual reality projects.

Gone, to cite one of the examples on display, is a 11-episode VR thriller from Skybound Entertainment with VR developer WEVR and Samsung that is intended to disturb the viewer as he or she experiences the panic of a couple whose child vanishes.

“The idea was to make you as uncomfortable as possible,” Skybound CEO Dave Alpert said of how the filmmakers tried to combine story with the potential of the technology. “Getting people to put on the goggles was hard,” he said of the model, adding that once they did, they lost the sense of time. “We got to increase the running time on a per-episode basis, since people who came back were willing to binge.” That upped the length of each episode from a few minutes to roughly 10 minutes.

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