FirePanda’s Nick Pittom talks ‘Gaze Cues’ and the Art of VR Storytelling at SWVR 2015

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SWVR‘s (Southwest VR) inaugural UK event in February attracted a great selection of industry talent to talk on their experiences developing for VR. One of the current hot topics amongst creative thinkers in the VR space is how to tackle the storytelling challenges and grasp the narrative opportunities that virtual reality presents. Nick Pittom, who has pioneered VR storytelling through his acclaimed Studio Ghibli VR dioramas, has more experience than many in this area and was asked to speak on the subject at the event.

There are quite a few virtual reality community celebrity that have emerged during the technology’s growth over the last few years. Happily, these personalities generally gain note through the community’s appreciation for their creative or technical efforts in furthering VR in some way. Pittom found ‘fame’ for his VR ‘adaptations’ of much loved Studio Ghibli animation scenes – the first of which based on Miyazaki’s surreal fantasy Spirited Away (2001) followed later with a diorama based on My Neighbour Totoro (1988).

See Also: Exclusive: Enter the World of Spirits in the Spirited Away Boiler Room Oculus Rift Demo (download + video) 

spirited away boiler room boiler oculus rift

Later he successfully wielded the power of crowdfunding in a creative attempt to get himself to Oculus’ Inaugural ‘Connect’ event and provide his backers with an original VR experience to boot with “RedOfPaw’s Big Crazy Stupid VR Adventure and American Pie“.

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Most recently, he’s formed part of the two-man team behind the VR dungeon crawler (again, successfully crowdfunded) Crystal Rift.

This interview, conducted by Road to VR’s Jon Tustain, was recorded shortly after Pittom’s talk at SWVR 2015 entitled “Real-time VR storytelling experiences – Opportunities and possibilities for Filmmakers and Animation Studios”, and alludes to some of the concepts explored. In particular how to tackle the challenge of getting and holding a viewer’s attention in an immersive and distracting 360 degree environment – a problem which challenges the very fundamentals of traditional game and film narrative techniques we’re all so used to. You can watch the talk below.


Our thanks to Nick Pittom for sparing his time at SWVR 2015, and for Jon Tustain for conducting the interview. You can pre-order Crystal Rift right here and check out the FirePanda website here.