Virtual reality film in its current state leaves a lot to be desired. Much of it is just 360-degree video and not a true interactive experience. But Janet H Murray, professor of digital media at Georgia tech, says we're in the midst of a "Fascinating moment" for VR. She's onstage at the New Yorker Tech Fest discussing the state of storytelling in VR with Google's principal filmmaker Jessica Brillhart and Wevr cofounder Anthony Batt.
Up until now, says Murray, VR filmmakers have been using old 2D constructs in a new medium. "People have these really productive ideas but they're taking an old medium … copy and pasting it into VR." In order to do really innovative work, they need to leave the old ways of making film behind.
While she was less than impressed with the first Emmy-winning VR film, Henry, she's very keen on the recently previewed film Gnomes and Goblins. Where Henry is a traditional animated story, Gnomes and Goblins is a sort of choose your own adventure game-as-film. Where Henry has one ending, Gnomes and Goblins has many.
"It's very encouraging that in a year we could get that far," says Murray.
And there's more innovation coming. Batt says that in the next two or three years, filmmakers will have more of an opportunity to leave old 2D constructs behind. "Soon we will have people creating VR in VR."
It seems the golden age of VR is just within reach.