VR + MAGIC - Effective Augmented Storytelling in Live-Action VR Using Illusion and Tricks -


Application of Live-Action VR

Virtual reality is a reality now. It’s been said that 2016 marks the start of VR era. Video game industry seems to be the hottest market where many investors actively put their money into, but I personally believe that live-action VR contents have a lot of potentials, too.

Let me give you some examples, let’s take news reports. We must admit that current news reports, for example when they’re broadcasting demos and parades, are sometimes edited intentionally to make things seem bigger than they actually are, to manipulate viewers’ perception on the news. However, with VR videos, viewers can watch and know “the truth as it is.”

reference)- Journalism utilizing Vice news begins ” VR ( virtual reality ) .” – Media no rinkaku

Even some news from conflict zones that seems to be too far away from our everyday life with standard video footages, VR could report them with a very real, sense of urgency.

Also, for a long time in the world of entertainment, conveying a message from one point of view by cutting has been the mainstream method. If we could give viewers a free viewpoint inside the 3D environment created by VR, we could incorporate entirely new viewer experiences such as “movement of viewpoint” and “first-hand discovery” in a video content.
(Although, some of interactive experiences within media contents have already been discovered with the development of web application. You’ve seen contents which you’re given choices that lead to different consequences, or lead to different events depending on where you click.)
Could we revamp conventional storytelling and make it more understandable or more impressive by adding new viewer experiences? We were convinced that it was something well worth challenging for.

Applying Illusion and Magic Tricks for Live-Action VR

What we did this time was to exploit some techniques used in illusions and magic tricks to extend storytelling in a VR content.
Illusions and magic trick can enable plots with betrayal. Since live-action VR videos are much more immersive than the one with CG animation, if we implant a deceiving factor in a live-action VR video, we believe that it can give a stronger sense of awareness to the viewers or evoke stronger interest from them. Of course, there are too many issues to overcome, including lighting and digital removals, before we could carry it out on a commercial level.

Anyhow, I will show three prototype movies that applied techniques of illusion and magic tricks. This is the first one.
(Please make sure to watch the videos with Google Chrome browser on your computer, or in case of smartphone, with YouTube app.)

VR test “Tricked You!”–Room-

How was it? We created a sideways room and recorded the movie with a VR camera sticking out from a wall. We cast a pantomimist and used all kinds of magic techniques, such as placing ornaments and using magnets to a cup, to trick viewers to believe the false gravity.
If I were to elaborate this idea further, I would construct an up-side-down set and reveal the truth at the end. Any deceiving twist in the plot will greatly enrich the storytelling.
Among the three, this content attracted the most attention in the Dentsu Lab Tokyo session in Japan House of SXSW.

Let’s move on to the second movie.

VR test “Tricked You!”–Barber-

In this movie, we actually produced the world inside the mirror and made two actors move in mirror symmetry to cause an illusion that a mirror exists between them. We tried to strengthen the prejudice of viewers by placing mirror-surface design articles in front of the mirror.
VR test “Tricked You!”–Room- was an illusion of gravity, whereas the second movie was an experiment to cause an illusion of spatial perception. However, in VR, viewers are the ones who are immersed in the virtual world. This particular movie cannot reproduce the reflection of viewers yet, but it should be possible in the near future by utilizing facial capture and composite technologies.

The last but not least, our third movie.

VR test “Tricked You!”–People-

You might have to watch it several times to understand the trick.
This is an experiment of an illusion of time’s direction. You see a lot of people, some playing with a ball, some drinking beverage, some writing on a whiteboard, and another dancing. Each of them is moving in a room. And soon you would realize that they are moving in reverse motion. It’s pretty obvious if you paid attention confetti flying upwards towards the ceiling.
However, if you look close enough, there’s one person who is moving forward. Did you notice it?
All of his actions, such as knocking down blocks, releasing a balloon, drawing on the whiteboard, and dropping a paper balloon, are filmed in reverse motion, so when everything is played backwards, he will be the only one moving forward, just like a magic trick. (It might not be too plain to see. Sorry.)
As I mentioned earlier, viewers are able to change viewpoints in VR, which means VR can give a content with 360-degree space where viewers can shift their views and discover something. Examples of the application may be something like mystery-solving contents or new-generation mystery films that disclose truths to only viewers who were able to notice key factors.

Live-Action VR Brings Storytelling and Direction to a Whole New Level

We worked on three prototype movies to experiment on VR contents with different factors causing illusions: gravity, space, and time.
In a live-action, 360-degree view video content, namely a live-action space, we can create something little strange but fun and entertaining when we play around with premises that we take for granted. Unrealistically smooth texture of CG animation and conventional rectangular video format make us think that the content might be edited artifacts, but live-action VR has a potential to dispel such notions.
What we created here are mere prototypes with many graphical issues. We will continue to explore methods of VR expression that strongly delivers a message to audiences, by providing more immersive and surprising viewer experiences.

Researcher:Kazuyoshi Ochi(Dentsu Lab Tokyo)
CW/Communication Planner:Kazuyoshi Ochi(Dentsu Lab Tokyo)、Togo Kida(Dentsu Lab Tokyo)
CP:Akiyo Ogawa(Dentsu Lab Tokyo)、Kohei Ai(Dentsu Lab Tokyo)、Jun Kato(Dentsu Lab Tokyo)
P:Masashi Fujioka(Dentsu Creative X)、Wataru Odakura(Dentsu Creative X)
PM:Atsushi Nakamura(Dentsu Creative X)
DIR:Ryosuke Sone(Dentsu Lab Tokyo)
ART:Hidehito Mifuji(NVC)
MA:Nao Tokui(Qosmo)

Dentsu Lab Tokyo