Directing for Cinematic Virtual Reality: how the traditional film director’s craft applies to immersive environments and notions of presence

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Virtual Reality (VR) has been an area of research for over 40 years yet only recently has it begun to achieve public acceptance. One key to this has been the development of ‘Cinematic Virtual Reality’ (CVR) where media fidelity approaches that found in feature film. Unlike traditional VR, CVR limits the level of control users have within the environment to choosing viewpoints rather than interacting with the world itself. This means that CVR production arguably represents a new type of filmmaking. Grammars for filmmakers have developed significantly resulting in a rich vocabulary available to use to create compelling stories. Relatedly, researchers into VR have also begun to understand mechanisms behind compelling engagement within VR. This paper looks to find a bridge between these two previously disparate media. It is argued that the concepts of ‘suspension of disbelief’ and ‘presence’ can be linked via ‘transportation theory’. The applicability of existing filmmaking directing techniques for the creation of CVR projects is then explored. Existing film production methods are considered in a manner adapted to establishing ‘presence’ in a CVR space. Finally, areas for future exploration are considered in light of the immaturity of CVR as a medium.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14-25
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Media Practice
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 19 May 2017

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  • directing
  • cinematic
  • virtual reality
  • Directing

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