Lately, some key figures in the movie industry have questioned the viability of narrative storytelling in the VR medium. Sent is Light Chaser's first attempt in answering the question.
The 5-minute, 40-second short tells the story of an emoji "Goodbye." The narrative begins inside the phone of a boy who is having a quarrel with his girlfriend. Behind the chat screen, all kinds of emoji characters are gathered and vie to be chosen and applied to the conversation. When the boy selects "Goodbye," the emoji embarks upon a magical journey that would turn things in surprising ways for all.
During the 5-month production period, Light Chaser explored novel ways to do storytelling in VR. For instance, the team used natural movements of lighting, sound sets, actor reactions as "indirect control" to help viewers follow the storyline while still having the freedom to look in all directions. To reduce viewers' sense of disorientation when switching between Sent's three environments, the team designed the location shifts to take place at key story moments, so that the viewer's attention is focused on the narrative and the environment transitions naturally. And the opening scene – the "emoji theater" – was designed to allow the viewer to instinctively feel comfortable with his/her identity as an audience member from the very start. "Virtual reality presented us with many challenges as well as opportunities, and it was very exciting for us to explore this new medium for storytelling," said Mi Li, the short's director.
As a short produced in 2K panoramic 3D, Sent was also a significant technical undertaking. Compared to Light Chaser's animation feature movie Little Door Gods, Sent used 5x the amount of animation data, 12x the special effects calculation time, and 877x the Little Door Gods' per-minute average in lighting and compositing. Light Chaser developed many in-house tools for the project, including a 360-degree stereoscopic rendering tool, which rendered the VR short in 3 million core hours – a time comparable to Little Door Gods despite the heavier rendering calculations required. "We were able to leverage the capabilities of our experienced CG team here at Light Chaser to create the impressive visual content in Sent," Mi said.
At an invitation-only preview event held last month, viewers were able to experience the short first-hand. "I've never seen a story told in this way, it was so cool," one viewer said. "If this is how movies are going to be like in the future, I'm all for it!" stated another.
Sent is now available on VR platforms such MilkVR (Oculus) and YouTube (Google Cardboard), with a release on Oculus Cinema coming soon.
YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FDPgRqIRCvg
About Light Chaser Animation Studios:
Light Chaser is a Beijing-based animation studio with the goal of producing world-class animation content from China. Its first feature film, Little Door Gods, was released in theaters across China on Jan. 1, 2016.
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SOURCE Light Chaser Animation
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