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Brief Published: 23 Sep 2015

Sculpting VR Story Spaces with HTC

In a video promoting the US Future of Storytelling festivals, American animator Glen Keane draws life-sized versions of his beloved Disney character designs within a 3D virtual reality (VR) setting using Taiwanese manufacturer HTC's position-tracking headset, Vive.

Keane – who previously experimented with mobile storytelling on a Spotlight Stories project with Google's Advanced Technology and Projects group – uses the VR painting tool Tilt Brush to sculpt drawings of characters into the virtual space around him.

VR as a creation space stands to push the limitations of visual storytellers by literally giving them a new perspective on their work, as Keane says in the clip: "When I draw in virtual reality, I draw all the characters real-life size. The doorway to the imagination is open a little wider. The edges of the paper are no longer there."

The medium has already shown itself to be a powerful immersive storytelling tool, as its perceived immediacy increases a sense of empathy in users. This has prompted exploration of the viability of VR as a news coverage tool by The New York Times, while US film distributor Fox Searchlight Pictures used the technology to allow viewers to step into its feature film Wild alongside actresses Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern.

Now, Future of Storytelling's exercise indicates how the technology may impact the creation of story landscapes, opening up the potential of crafting VR experiences in the same space in which they are consumed.

For more on the use of VR environments in storytelling, see our coverage from Tribeca Film Festival 2015. Additionally, Retail Beyond the Algoritm explores applications of position-sensitive VR in retail spaces.

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