“You don’t get to use the camera to manipulate the audience,” said Edge of Tomorrow and The Bourne Identity director Doug Liman about the difficulties shooting a 360 degree virtual reality narrative. “There are all these techniques that we us in 2D to cheat, but you can’t cheat in VR.”
Liman’s virtual reality scripted series Invisible officially premiered today on many VR platforms, one of the first of its kind to debut on the VR medium. During a panel discussion on Hollywood’s perspective on VR at Jaunt Studios, he said what attracted him to the project was “the challenges of doing scripted storytelling in an environment where you can look 360 degrees.”
It was those same challenges that led filmmakers to a stalemate at the onset. “We had to shut the production down and reconfigure how we were shooting the show,” Liman said, adding that eventually the process”evolved” during the production. He admitted that it was a continual learning process for everyone.
“One of the first things we figured out is that you have to write a story for VR, you can’t take something that you wrote for another format and shoot it in VR. It’s a totally different form of writing… The thing that became really clear is that the story has to hook people, the characters have to hook people, so that you want to find them in the frame.”
When asked if he pulled any techniques from traditional moviemaking, Liman insisted that “other than commitment to story telling, I don’t think you can draw anything from traditional filmmaking… it was like a master’s class of filmmaking.” He added, “It was the most collaborative environment I’ve been on, and my films are known for being collaborative.”
Despite the difficulties endured at his first go around, Liman said he was optimistic about the future of VR. “The idea doing an action VR, I think, it’s something we just scraped the surface [on]. It’s so real. I can envision, as we grow and get more money, to do more outrageous things. It’s just so much fun to be so immersed in the world.”