Storytelling in VR: When Images Come to Life


Virtual reality will change the way stories are told and in the process the way they are created. With the recent tech developments and VR projects in the making there’s little doubt that Virtual Reality will transform storytelling and entertainment. It is not that the old mediums will cease to exist but that we will be captivated by the power of a new one.

Art and storytelling is about emotion. Up until now we’ve focused on their power to convey emotions through image and text. What’s ahead is the emergence of a new medium, one that will be about the power to experience emotion, to step into a setting and live through it, in a way not previously possible.

When 3D Images Come to Life

Glen Keane, an animator at Disney for over 38 years, has brought to life iconic characters like Aladdin, Ariel from The Little Mermaid,and the Beast from Beauty and the Beast. He has been a master in a world where the pencil and brush worked its magic on paper.

Today, he is stepping out of the page and experimenting with different tools, creating characters in virtual reality. With the HTC Vive headset and the 3D painting app Tilt Brush app (now owned by Google), Keane brings characters to life, creating them as real, life-sized beings that he encounters in 3-dimensional space:

That doorway to the imagination is open a little wider, the edges of the page are no longer there, this is not a flat drawing, this is sculptural drawing. Making art in three-dimensional space in an entirely new way of thinking for any artist.
 This is a glimpse in the future of animation:

Storytelling in VR

Virtual Reality will have many applications in Science, Health, Business, Education and Entertainment. But it will likely make its greatest impact on storytelling, on the way we share our narratives, the way we interact with each other and the world. The next chapter of the human experience will be captured in stories that live in virtual reality worlds.

Yes, it will be a Holodeck-like experience, and the tools and techniques to get there are rapidly evolving.

Getting the Image Out of the Box

First came innovators like the Lumiere brothers in the turn of the 20th century – they mimicked an older medium (theater) and yet offered a radically new sensory experience. It was so powerful that people were transfixed, with some running out of the early movie displays. Literal moving images. In our ubiquitous video world, it’s hard to imagine the sheer novelty of this. The shock of a new medium. People had never seen anything like it.

The Doorway is Now Within Sight

Now we enter the world of Virtual Reality which will equally captivate us. As it continues to evolve, it will overpower our senses and work its magic on our minds. It will be a thrilling ride and one that we are about to learn more. This is a new terrain, an unexplored geography of the mind. Storytelling will never be the same. One thing is certain: the doorway is within sight and the key makers are busy working to get us inside.