The best frame is the one you forget is there

We let ourselves cry at a movie because we know it’s not real. We allow ourselves to absorb the tragedy of Hamlet because we know those are just actors on a stage. We give ourselves over to the world of a book because we know it’s all just words on a page.

We use make-believe to allow ourselves access to emotional landscapes that we would find treacherous in real life. Once the frame around the narrative has been established, we are then safe to explore the complex emotions within.

This need to establish a clear frame is crucial. One of the things I have not liked about much VR content over the last several years is that the frame has not been worked out with sufficient clarity.

The idea of a “movie for an audience of one” just doesn’t sit right with me. When an entire narrative is so insistently focused on you the individual viewer, it’s hard for you to create and maintain the proper frame in your mind.

I am hoping that as more creators experiment with other approaches to VR storytelling, such as the “theater on the Holodeck” approach we took for CAVE, we will all get better at constructing the necessary frame — one that is so effective, audiences will simply forget it is there.

The process of discovering best practices for creating that frame will not happen overnight. It will require learning an appropriate visual language for telling stories in VR.

And that’s ok. After all, it took cinema quite a few years to work out its own visual language.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *